When it comes to getting your new website ready for takeoff into the internet galaxy, good aesthetics and a modern design alone won’t get you far from the launching bay. No matter if you’re building out a new site, redesigning an existing site, or migrating to a new CMS, giving the go-ahead to launch a website without a powerful SEO engine can have a negative impact on your business trajectory.
Regardless of how alluring your shiny, new site may be, a website that’s not properly search engine optimized before launch will unintentionally prevent search engines and potential customers from finding your business online.
Here at Go Local Interactive, we know just how mission-critical it is to start optimizing your site before launch, which is why we advocate to implement an in-depth, whitehat SEO strategy early in the web design phase – allowing your business to be accessible by all audiences, devices, and search engines shortly after liftoff.
Search Your Customers’ Feelings: Organic Queries
Organic search accounts for 73 percent of all traffic to business service sites, outranking paid search, social media, display, email, and referred traffic by a significant percentage. With such a massive amount of internet users utilizing search engines – such as Google or Bing – to seek out solutions organically, it’s imperative that your site is accessible and ranking well on a regular basis.
Without proper optimization before launch, your site can become buried within search engine results pages (SERPS), preventing your target audience from discovering your business as they hunt for answers on the web – bringing your digital growth to a screeching halt.
The SEO is Strong with this One: Site Ranking
When you launch a new site without a proper SEO program in place, web crawlers – such as Googlebot – will have a difficult time indexing your web pages properly. Because search engines can crawl and index a site in a matter of seconds, the architecture of your entire website must be cohesive and structurally sound right from the get-go.
In order to make your website easily accessible to crawlers, a thorough SEO strategy must be implemented during the design phase and continuously updated post-launch.
An in-depth SEO strategy optimizes:
- Page Speed
- Keyword Strategy
- Site Architecture
- Schema Markup
- Usability & Accessibility
These SEO tactics make it easier for search engines to comprehend what your website is all about, which helps crawlers index your site properly and rank it higher on SERPs in the long-term.
Launch Your Site into Hyperspace: Page Speed
The speed of your site – meaning the speed of every page within it – is one of the key signals Google uses to rank it. When considering page speed, Google’s algorithm measures “time to first byte,” meaning the time it takes for your browser to receive the first byte of data from the web server. If your site has a slow page speed, search engines will have a difficult time crawling it, which could have a negative impact on the way it’s indexed.
To increase your page speed prior to launch, it’s best to focus on:
- Optimizing code
- Compressing CSS files, HTML files, and images
- Reducing URL redirects
- Leveraging browser caching
Page speed – especially with mobile and voice search – is a crucial element in how your site is ranked, and can make or break your customer retention if your site loads too slowly.
Turn On Your Targeting Computer: Keywords
Search engines and potential customers alike won’t be able to find your site if each page doesn’t target relative keywords and phrases. A comprehensive keyword strategy implemented during the design phase will target exactly what your customers are searching for, as well as pinpoint geographical regions you do business in.
Keyword targeting comes into play during major aspects of your site design, which include:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Image alt text
Without a keyword strategy in place prior to site launch, your website will be difficult for search engines to index properly, making it that much harder for your targeted customers to find your business.
Write High-Quality Prose, You Will: Content
In order for search engines and your target audience to establish trust with your business, you must have digestible web content that homes in on expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E-A-T). E-A-T ratings are how search engines like Google can ensure the content on your website is credible and trustworthy. They also play a major role in how your site is ranked!
Your website can achieve a high E-A-T rating more quickly through informative content that features keyword-rich headers and short, descriptive paragraphs. From your homepage all the way to your blog, engaging web content written throughout the design phase will help boost search engine rankings when it comes time to hit the launch button.
- URL Optimization
When launching a new site, one of the most important aspects of a technical SEO program is writing high-quality, optimized Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). URLs – colloquially known as “web addresses” – specify the exact location of each page on your site. Well-written URLs created before site launch will provide search engines and potential customers with a simplified way to understand the information your web pages contain.
Semantically accurate, relevant, and keyword-rich URLs are much easier to read than ID numbers or strings of code, which helps your site rank higher on SERPs and ensures your target audience can easily get an idea of what your page is all about before they click on it.
- 301 Redirects
If you’re migrating to a new CMS or rebuilding an old site, URL optimization will also include one of the most critical steps of SEO: 301 redirects. With the creation of newly optimized URLs for pre-existing web pages, these new URLs must accurately target the old URLs indefinitely – and a 301 redirect is the correct way to do so. This type of URL redirect maintains 90-99 percent of link ranking power, which means that your redirected pages won’t lose out on previously established SERP rankings.
Occasionally, it can take awhile for search engines to re-crawl your pages, pick up on your redirects, and reassign them their previous ranking. Due to this, it’s best to get as many of your 301 redirects completed before site launch.
- Title Tags
Title tags are displayed on SERPs as headlines (blue links) that users click on to access a web page. Important for SEO, usability, and social sharing, title tags show succinct, keyword-rich descriptions of a page’s content.
Like many elements of SEO, title tags not only help search engines understand what your page is all about and affect your ranking, but they are also the first impression users get of your pages.
- Meta Descriptions
Located directly underneath the title tag, meta descriptions provide a more descriptive summarization of the information each web page contains. While meta descriptions don’t have a direct correlation with site or keyword ranking, they provide significant value for users browsing through SERPs.
With concise, compelling meta descriptions that have a clear call-to-action (CTA), users will be more inclined to visit your page, which increases click-through rates to your site.
- Image Alt Text
Image alt text (alternative text) are descriptions of images written within the HTML code of your site. Alt text plays a key role in describing the appearance of an image if a user’s browser has a difficult time loading it. Additionally, this string of text helps search engine crawlers get a better idea of the context of an image, helping it index properly.
Most importantly, alt text is a key element in helping visually-impaired users understand what the purpose of an image is, as special web tools are used to read image alt text aloud.
These Are The Pages You’re Looking For: Site Architecture
Googlebot and other search engine crawlers navigate through your site’s architecture by following links from one page to another. With a new site launch, these web crawlers will have a tough time discovering your web pages if you forget to include internal links within each page.
Internal links are hyperlinks that point to other pages on your website – and your site must have an interconnected, main link navigation in order for it to be crawlable. Internal link structuring also ensures your customers can easily move throughout your site, helps to establish an information hierarchy, and spreads ranking power around more universally.
Charting Course with Sitemaps
To make it even easier for Googlebot to find your new site, it’s crucial to develop a well-organized sitemap. A sitemap gives Googlebot’s desktop and mobile crawlers information about the architecture of your site, including details about important pages, files, and the internal links between them. This pre-catalogued data implemented prior to site launch can aid crawlers in their ability to maneuver seamlessly from page to page, indexing and ranking your site appropriately with little lag time.
Power Up Your Decoder: Schema Markup
Through a collaboration between Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo!, schema.org was created to help websites provide more detailed information to their search engines. By adding a semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) to your HTML, the content of your site will be better understood while it’s being indexed – improving the way your page shows up in SERPs through rich snippets that are displayed beneath title tags. Schema markup can be used to provide additional data for a plethora of page types, such as product pages or event pages.
Although no direct correlation between schema markup and higher site rankings has been discovered, adding schema to your site before launch enriches your customers’ search experience and provides your links with a higher click-through rate.
A11y Wars: Usability & Accessibility
For a website to be usable, it must feature a design that’s user-centric – meaning that the user experience (UX) is familiar, consistent, simple, and credible. While half of a site’s usability is centered around functionality through design, the other half is dependent upon the duality of whitehat SEO and the content created around it.
Normally, the focus of SEO is simply to attract people to your site through SERPs, while the focus of usability is on people’s behavior once they’ve landed on the site. But, for the most part, these two elements are mutually inclusive.
If you have a stellar SEO program implemented but poor usability, then the majority of traffic you’re driving to your site won’t experience what they need to convert. Conversely, if you have a user-friendly interface without an SEO program in tow, your site won’t receive many visitors – and the few visitors you happen to get won’t be able to connect with your content.
Suffice it to say, good SEO – like the strategies mentioned earlier – mirrors usability.
Let Everyone in the Galaxy Onboard
Website usability isn’t just about making your site easier to understand and navigate, it’s also about including internet users that may have trouble accessing the web. Both SEO and UX play a pivotal role in your site’s accessibility to users who have some form of disability. Some 37 million people in the US alone experience disabilities – including eyesight loss, auditory impairments, or cognitive impairments – that hinder their ability to browse the web easily.
During the design phase of your new site, it’s detrimentally important to ensure that your infrastructure allows for special web accessibility tools – such as screen readers, special keyboards, speech recognition software, and screen magnifiers – to be usable with the design and content of all your web pages. Websites like A11y and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide informative checklists that can help you create a website that’s available to all.
While launching a site without an SEO program is a quick way to get lost in space, releasing a site that isn’t accessible to everyone can exclude a massive amount of potential customers that have money to spend…not to mention that it’s just the right thing to do.
Conquer the Web with Organic Solutions from Go Local Interactive
Designing a new website is an intricate process with complex deadlines, but skipping out on an in-depth SEO program before launch will lead your site straight into a tailspin. Without optimized content throughout every page, search engines will have a difficult time indexing and ranking your site appropriately, which means potential customers searching the web –via desktop, mobile, or voice search – won’t be able to find your business when they need you.
At Go Local, our organic team works closely with our web developers every step of the way to ensure your new site is usable, accessible, and optimized before launch – a vital aspect to creating a website that checks all of the SEO boxes from day one. Once your website is off the ground, we can implement an ongoing SEO strategy based on technical site analyses and search engine algorithm updates that keep your business ahead of the curve.
Reach out to Go Local Interactive today to find out how your new site can achieve long-term organic growth!