When you're launching a new website (or doing a site redesign) it's vital to take SEO into account. From square one, you should do everything you can to make sure that the people interested in what you offer will be able to find you. And most people will be looking via search engines.
There's an endless list of things you can do to optimize a website for search engines, but at a basic level, SEO-friendly site design is user-friendly site design. It's important to create a site that:
- Is logically structured
- Incorporates keyword research to ensure relevance to your audience
- Is easily navigable from both the home page and deep pages
Step 1: Do your keyword research.
Hopefully, you'll already have a keyword list of some kind before you start plotting out your site. If not, do your keyword research now! An extensive list of keywords that are relevant to your business forms the foundation of an easy-to-find site. This means more potential customers can find you (and become actual, paying customers).
You can seed your list with public keyword suggestion tools like our own Free Keyword Tool. Look at synonyms and related terms. Focus on relevance, not popularity. If you can, use private data sources too. If you've been operating a related website, mine your log files or Web analytics for real keywords that drive traffic and conversions. Also, look at competitor sites to see what keywords they're targeting. This will give you a broad initial list.
Step 2: Drop your keyword list into the Free Keyword Grouper.
Next, just let the Free Keyword Grouper do its work. You can cut and paste directly from a .csv (or Excel) file. Drop in just the keywords or keywords along with their associated frequencies – up to you. Including relative frequency information, especially if it's real data from your analytics, can provide more valuable, relevant results.
Let's say you plan to launch an e-commerce site for perfume. Drop in your list and click submit:
Click on any of the groupings on the left to see the keywords clustered in that group:
If one of the groups looks irrelevant to your business, just click the red X button next to it to remove it from the results.
The tool will then add another grouping to the list.
Step 3: Align keyword groups with your site's IA.
The next step is to use these keyword groups to build a natural, branching site structure. For example, the above results suggest that your top-level groups will mostly correspond to brands. In other words, a visitor landing on your home page will see top-level categories for popular perfume brands like Armani, Versace, and DKNY. When they click on a brand, they'll be taken to that brand's main page, and from there they can drill deeper into specific perfumes, formulations, bottle sizes and so on.
To create a more detailed site structure, you can expand your research for each top-level group. Go back to the Free Keyword Tool and do a search on "Armani perfumes." Then you can run the Armani-specific keyword list through the Free Keyword Grouper and get more ideas for subcategory pages on your site. Repeat the process with all your top-level brands.
Obviously, website design is a little more complicated than a high-level site map. But planning your information architecture is a hugely important first step.
It's equally important, after launching your site, to refine your site structure—in other words, pay attention to which keywords and keyword groups are driving traffic and triggering sales. Devote more resources to those sections of your site, and eliminate keywords that don't perform.
If you're interested in a longer-term solution for ongoing keyword discovery, organization and analysis, you can try our subscription-based SEO product, WordStream Keyword Management for SEO, free.