What’s the most vexing question that we get as web designers? Anything to do with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) really.
SEO is an insanely complex and highly specialised field these days and the most common mistake people make is that their website designers are SEO specialists too. Unfortunately this is simply not the case and one of the hardest jobs we have as designers is explaining this to people. That’s why last year I compiled a 15 post strong series on SEO so we could show our clients everything that needs to be done to effectively optimise a site for google. And that is also why I am going to keep things as basic as I can today. Hopefully the majority of you are like me … you’ve done very little SEO work on your site so anything you do from here is going to make a difference to your search results. While we won’t be able to compete with businesses that pay SEO companies thousands of dollars each month to optimise their site, the little things we cover today are the foundations of a very solid, ongoing strategy. So without further ado, I am going to jump straight into what I am going to do with The Smile Collective sites.
The first thing you have to consider with regard to SEO is the keyword phrases you will optimise for. How you determine your keywords is covered well in these three posts below so I am not going to go back over it today :
Instead, here are the keyword phrases I have decided to optimise for:
As you know from this post The Smile Collective is actually two separate sites so I will be optimising on two different platforms – WordPress for my main site and Shopify for the e-commerce part of the site. Happily, WordPress is inherently search engine friendly with regard to its source code – and this is what search engines read when they crawl through your site. What this means is even when I do absolutely nothing to optimise my main Smile Collective site, WordPress is a doing a bunch of stuff in the background to make it easy for Google to find me. What I am going to do now is optimise a single page in my site as an example … I will then need to go through and optimise ALL the pages in my site for the best results. The page I will optimise is this one which describes my three major products. Note that when you are optimising a page, it is best to stick with one or two of your keyword phrases. For simplicity’s sake I am going to stick with one keyword phrase for this whole post. As I use the Genesis platform for WordPress, I am able to easily define each of the three SEO elements below for each post and each page (if you want to know more about the hows and why of optimising these elements, click on them):
Of all of these, the title tag is currently the one that Google most cares about with regard to search. The meta description is more a marketing tool to get people to click on the link if they do find this page in Google. As far as keywords go, back in the day they were the big thing to have optimised on your page but nowadays Google cares little about the keywords in your meta tags. Regardless of their importance, it is easy to drop something into each of those fields so I am going to optimise them all for the phrase best baby shower gifts. Then I need to turn my attention to the actual written content on the page. Not once is the term best baby shower gifts mentioned in the page text so I need to work it in there without making the text awkward to read. In the perfect world I would work that phrase in around three times for the amount of text on the page but I see no way of doing that without messing up my beautiful, friendly words. I have managed to get it in there twice-ish though:
FROM THIS: So that’s what A Manifesto for Mums is all about – it is a reminder that the needs of our kids are very simple indeed! TO THIS: So that’s what A Manifesto for Mums is all about – it is a reminder that the needs of our kids are very simple indeed. We think it’s right up there with the best baby shower gifts a mum-to-be can receive!
FROM THIS: I hope you find A Manifesto for Dads as inspirational as these lovely people did! TO THIS: I hope you find A Manifesto for Dads as inspirational as these lovely people did and once again, if you are looking for a great baby shower gift, why not look after the dad-to-be too!
Step three in the process involves the links on the page. Every link on your site can be given a title tag that allows you to squeeze more of your keywords into your source code so that Google can find it. The person reading the page can’t see this text unless they hover over the link so it doesn’t compromise their reading experience. Happily, WordPress allows me to easily insert title tags for all my links (see below).
The final thing I can optimise on my page is the ALT tags of my images (you can also optimise the image names as well but for the sake of brevity I am not going to go there!)
Phew! Now that I have done that for this page, I need to go through and optimise EVERY page on my site for a different keyword phrase from my list. You’re probably starting to get an idea of why SEO costs so much when you pay someone to do it for you!
Shopify, like WordPress is already well set up for search engines with regard to source code. It doesn’t offer all the same optimising capabilities as WordPress so I will optimise what I can, starting with the site meta description (see below). I have noticed however that this meta description does not come up on the Google search results which is annoying. Now I will optimise one individual product: And finally I will add some extra text to the front page as there is not a lot of searchable text on that page at the moment and Google likes a bit of copy on home pages: All the extra text on the home page means the product images get pushed below the fold. This is something I will need to monitor – whether having the extra text on the home page is worth making the user scroll to see the product images. I think it will be ok as it is fairly logical for people to scroll.
And that wraps up the SEO side of things for this series. There is PLENTY more I could have gone over today and if there are any SEO experts out there I am sure they are rolling their eyes, but I needed to keep this as simple as possible – already this post has taken me three hours to write! Later on in this series I am going to talk about blogging as something that is great for driving traffic and ALSO good for the search engines. If you have a blog on your website already and want to do some solid SEO on it, my friend Annabel has written a great post here on the topic. Any questions? Let me know in the comments 🙂