|Early Stage SEO: optimising a website from the bottom-up|
|Written by Barry Adams|
|Tuesday, 01 February 2011 03:59|
Often a SEO doesn't get involved with a website until after it's been fully designed and built. But sometimes we can enjoy the luxury of being part of a website build process from start to finish - especially if you work for a full-service digital agency (as I do) or if you're an in-house SEO working together with your company's chosen web agency.
Today we'll look at the various phases of a typical web build process, and how a search engine optimiser can and should contribute to each.
Bringing SEO to the web build process
In this stage the web agency's sales people pitch the company's services to the potential client. If you're the SEO for the agency, your input is absolutely vital here to make sure that sales doesn't over-promise in order to get the business. Basic keyword research and competitive analysis are required so that there will be realistic expectations of what can be done for the client.
In the early wireframing phase the designer makes a lot of decisions about where information goes and how it can be accessed. Input from the SEO at this stage can ensure that the site's information architecture isn't hindered by the designer's concepts. Usually this amounts to the SEO reminding the designer that certain functions need to have a place in the wireframe, such as breadcrumb links and a navigation that allows for easy access to the site's money pages.
At this stage the designer fleshes out the wireframes and turns them in to visual representations of how the website will actually look. If the SEO has given sufficient input in the previous wireframing phase, there's usually not much to do for an SEO here. It is nonetheless a good idea to keep in the loop with the designer to see if he's deviating from what's been agreed in the wireframes, and to ensure that such deviations don't have negative repercussions for a site's SEO-friendliness.
The build phase is where the actual website gets built. Depending on the type of site and the CMS it's being built on, this stage can encompass everything from database design to CSS coding. The SEO should strive to work closely with the web developer to ensure all the small details that help make a site more search engine friendly are in place: a good URL scheme, indexable and semantically rich navigation, structured content, and so on.
Test & Fill
In the testing & content filling stage the site is usually active on a staging environment where the client can see the site in action. Hopefully the site is fully featured at this stage and just needs to be filled with content. The SEO should ensure the site is fully indexable - doing a XENU crawl is a good idea - and all the recommendations regarding on-site optimisation have been implemented.
LaunchAfter a hopefully successful testing stage the site is ready to go live. The site is ready and mostly bug-free, all the content is in place, the SEO has prepared the 301-redirects, and the switch is ready to be flicked.
Once the new site is up the SEO needs to monitor closely what happens with search engine traffic and diagnose any potential issues that might crop up.
For an entirely new site it'll probably be a while before you'll start to see any meaningful SE-traffic. For a redesigned site a temporary drop in Google rankings and traffic is to be expected, but if the SEO has been involved in the right stages and has done their job properly, eventually the new site should outperform the old one.
After all, why else would you re-do a website? ;)
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 February 2011 06:26|
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