Whether you’re about to launch your first website or you’re giving your brand an overhaul, it’s important that you think about search engine optimisation during development. Without an SEO strategy, your website won’t be found on search engines such as Google, and you will miss out on the potential thousands of organic visitors who may have stumbled across you. Below, we’ve rounded up five essential features that you should include in your new website.

1. Room for lots of content

One of the most important aspects of any successful SEO campaign is content, so you should make sure that your new website design leaves room for you to add lots of text. Sure, a minimalistic design may look better and prettier, but a homepage with only a couple of words isn’t going to rank on search engines. One way that you can include lots of content on your pages is to write paragraphs (like an introduction to your business and information about your products and services) before you head to the development stage. From there, your web designer can work around your material and make sure there’s enough room, without having to sacrifice on your design.

2. Speed, speed, speed

Google considers pagespeed a ranking factor, so the faster your website is, the higher you will rank. It’s therefore essential that your web designer is efficient and sensible when designing your website, and keeps file sizes as low as possible. Other ways that you can speed up your website after launching include switching to a faster web host, using cache tools, hosting your website on a content delivery network (CDN) like CloudFlare, and reducing image file sizes.

3. Blogging functionality

There are a number of benefits of content marketing for small businesses, but simply put, the more high-quality articles, tutorials and blog posts you write, the better. Your new website should have blogging functionality enabled by default. We recommend building your site on a content management system like WordPress, which is already optimised for search. From there, you can download and install plugins such as Yoast SEO to further optimise your content and manage your metadata. Which brings us to our next point..

4. Easy-to-edit metadata

Metadata (the titles and descriptions of your web pages) may not be as important as it was several years ago, but it’s still essential that you can edit your metadata on a page-by-page basis. If you run an eCommerce store, for example, then you should be able to log into your website and add your own meta titles and meta descriptions to optimise your pages and include keywords which you’d like to rank for. Each page should have a ‘focus keyword’, with content, images and metadata all using the keyword naturally to help you rank

5. Mobile-first design

Earlier this year, Google confirmed the rollout of its mobile-first indexing. In simple terms, its search robots, known as crawlers, will now visit websites as if they were a mobile visitor, rather than a desktop user. Because of this, it’s essential that your website is not only mobile-friendly but mobile-first. That is, every part of your website has been optimised with mobile browsing in mind, rather than leaving users’ mobile and tablet experiences as an afterthought. Think about touch points, font sizes, readability of images like info graphics, and overall user experience.

Wrapping up

 It doesn’t matter whether you’re an SEO pro or you’re a beginner: the essential features we have mentioned in today’s article make a great starting point. Be sure to work with a developer that is experienced in search engine optimisation, and don’t settle for a half-finished job. Thinking about SEO at the beginning of your project could save you thousands of pounds in edits, tweaks and optimisation work that should’ve been done from day one. Good luck.

About the Author

Max Greene is the Managing Director of Muffin Marketing, a marketing agency specialising in content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimisation.