A SEO ready website is one that is well coded, loads reasonably fast, displays nicely on all devices, has a great internal link structure and it should be easy to navigate by humans and search engines. There should be one keyword for each page and the content within each page should correctly reflect the keyword/title. The content should be easy to read and deliver the information the visitor expects. That’s my short version for the definition of a SEO ready website. As you might expect, there’s more to it as I’ll explain below.
Recently I was asked, “What is a SEO ready website?” Honestly, I had to stop and think for a moment and even then, I didn’t have a good explanation. Looking back, I realize as a SEO consultant I’ve studied and practiced search engine optimization for so long, it’s become instinctive. For me, it’s a little bit like trying to explain how to ride a bike. So, if you’re wondering exactly what is an SEO ready website, here we go.
Of course, if we pay close attention Google will tell us exactly how to make a new website be search engine ready. However one must be able to read between lines to properly interpret the instructions. Regardless, if you’re planning a new website that is to be SEO ready I offer the following list for consideration.
What is Included in a SEO Ready Website
- The website’s pages must load reasonably fast. Of course we all want our web pages super fast, but if you want attractive pages, you’ll have to give a little. Regardless, a good developer can do some creative caching and still deliver attractive pages that load reasonably fast.
- An SEO friendly WordPress website should be hosted on fast and secure servers using at least php v7.4+ and the latest database versions. No matter what, avoid using cheap shared hosting.
- Websites should be secure and encrypted with a SSL(Secure Sockets Layer). Your URL protocol begins with https as opposed to http so that communication from your browser and your website is properly encrypted and secure.
- Websites should display properly on ALL modern browsers.
- Websites must be responsive, displaying nicely on all devices, especially mobile phones. Include accessibility in this. Font that is too small is not good for people with vision problems, etc.
- Your new website should offer a simple and pleasant user experience.
- SEO ready websites should have a well thought out internal link structure and be easy to navigate for humans and search engines.
- Each page or post should have one unique keyword/title and the content within each page should be “on topic” and properly related to the title. Additionally, each keyword should be researched for search volume and difficulty level before using.
- Each piece of content should be properly distributed into buckets. These buckets will be your parent pages or category titles.
- Use broader keyword terms for your parent or category pages and use long tail terms for your child or blog post pages.
- Your website should include the proper structured data coding to those sections of your website where appropriate. If you are a local business, it’s especially important to add local business and/organization schema.
- Even though social media integration is a separate subject, it’s important to include links to and from your social pages. Rather we like it or not, having those connections is a signal and adds validity to your website.
- The website must include an accurate XML Sitemap and it should be submitted to Google via the client’s Google Search Console account.
- If it’s a WordPress site, your developer should install a properly configured SEO plugin, making it easy for the client to manage and add their own meta titles, descriptions and content.
- Reduce website bloat by deleting all unused plugins, themes, content or sections and pages that were discarded during during development. If any of this was indexed, be sure to provide 301 redirects to avoid 404 errors.
- Your SEO ready website should have a robots.txt file instructing web robots how to crawl pages on their website. Be sure to ALLOW crawls when the new website is launched.
If your new website includes the the optimizations listed above, it is considered to be SEO ready. The thing is, it’s up to you to continue the wash, rinse and repeat cycle to move forward. Never forget, search algorithms are constantly changing, making SEO a moving target. This is exactly why we all must follow the data by reading analytics reports and taking advantage of what we learn from our results to improve and be successful in the future.
SEO Ready Follow Up Questions
Do you provide FULL SEO services in addition to making the site SEO Ready? Yes, but because it’s time consuming, there is a cost impact. Remember, no one knows your business better than you, the owner or operator. Even if outsourcing the whole works, owner/operator involvement will still require a bit of a time commitment. Regardless, I can do it, but it will include determining your audience, extensive keyword research, mapping keywords to content, site mapping, structuring & optimizing your website and more. Yes, in 6 to 9 months you will see measurable results. That does NOT mean you will rank #1! NEVER believe anyone saying you will rank #1 for a high search volume keyword. Certainly, you can easily rank #1 for terms no one searches for, but that is not helpful! Remember what mom said about claims that sound too good to be true.
My SEO ready website was launched but I’m still not ranking very well in the search engines?
This is not uncommon. First it takes time to see the results of your SEO efforts. Also, in the beginning many brand new websites don’t have enough content to make much of an impact. SEO is not an exact science and you must continue to monitor your analytics, make adjustments, continue to monitor and do it again. It’s a cycle of wash, rinse, evaluate and repeat.
Is a SEO ready website required for every new website?
Of course not, but if you want to rank in the search engines, it’s a MUST. Even if SEO is not going to be one of your methods for marketing, it’s till important to at least make a strong showing for your brand.
Who manages my SEO in the future?
Once your developer has delivered your SEO ready website, all ongoing SEO service is up to the website owner. You can do it yourself or outsource it out to an expert. If you prefer a hands on approach, perhaps a monthly chat with a consultant will help keep you on the right path.
Things to Avoid
Never Use Black Hat SEO Tactics
Nowadays, the search engines are pretty good at catching and penalizing those websites using less than legitimate SEO tactics. No more keyword stuffing or buying links. Don’t bother trying to outsmart the search bots. Although you might enjoy some short term success, eventually it will come tumbling down like a ton of bricks. If you’re not sure just ask yourself if you’re truly keeping things honest. Remember, it’s all about providing the searcher with the exceptional content, exactly as they expect to see when clicking or tapping on the link in the SERPs. Put your site’s visitors first. Provide them with the best experience possible and all will be well.
I know all this can sound a bit overwhelming and yes, SEO is hard work and it does take time. There is no magic lamp however, done right your new website will be ready you to move forward and continue optimizing and improving your website in the future. Once you have enough well structured content you will see measurable improvements in your search engine rankings and yes, it will pay off later.
Update 2022 – Core Web Vitals
Based on my experience and observations with Core Web Vitals, I see NO difference in rankings for those web pages with performance scores at 50% vs 90%. If you have a page that scores, say 60% and a similar page scoring 90%, there is no noted difference in page ranking. My suggestion with this is, just try to keep your pages scoring at 50% or better. Even some sites scoring very poorly are still ranking as high as they were before Google made page performance a factor. I firmly believe, as long as your page speeds are in the average range, you will NOT suffer any negative SEO results. There really is no reason to spend money and jump through hoops to score above 90%.
Remember, do what is best for your visitors. Make sure your pages are loading fast in real time and pay no attention to page speed tests.
Core Web Vitals and Web Development Costs
Since Google made their Core Web Vitals a ranking factor, building a SEO ready website just got much more difficult! Why? Because business owners are scared! As a result, I now offer 2 types of website developments. If you are hyper focused on SEO and really want your new site to score at least 90% in page speed insights, I can do it, but the price will be substantially higher. You also will not get all the bells and whistles, On the other hand, I can provide you with a more affordable, SEO ready site using my usual development stack, but the pages will likely score somewhere between 60% and 80%. You will also have a much easier time making your own edits later.
By the way, even if your website pages are scoring high in page speed insights, do NOT expect your site to rank higher than others just because it’s faster and scoring higher. Ranking in the search engines is a huge topic and there are many, many factors that determine where your pages will rank. No matter what, content is still king! I don’t care if you have the fastest site ever, it won’t matter unless you have great content. I will say, my family and I enjoy tremendous ranking success with our websites, but it’s a ton of hard work. For us, it’s worth it!