Setting up your website for success

Optimising your website is about more than content, so you should think about ease of navigation, site health and off-site SEO


  • Grace Gay

22 November 2021

Young Indian man in domestic setting, looking at laptop and smiling

While content is crucial when looking to optimise your website and search ranking, the context for that content is likewise critical.

Good design, for instance, allows the user to navigate your site easily and find what they need. Meanwhile, maintaining links from and back to your site will also help the way it is ranked by search engines.

Design for the user experience

Improving the user's experience on a website is critical. Monitoring and mapping how people are navigating your site is intertwined with SEO: a website will not rank prominently on search engines if you provide a poor user experience, so you should be working on the two simultaneously. 

Designing for the user experience doesn't just mean creating functioning products or service pages; it's crucial to consider how long users are on the site and how engaged they are as well. There is no single definition of a good user experience, but it will meet the specific needs of everyone coming to the site. 

As you improve the website and the ways users respond to the designs and navigation, this will take them where they need to go – and you should start seeing more leads coming through the site. 

Everyone needs to be able to use a website, regardless of any visual, hearing or other disabilities, and this is becoming another vital ranking factor for search engines. So when optimising your website, you need to be sure you are making it accessible to those with disabilities. This is the case even if they're not your target users because Google's accessibility algorithm is applied to all sites. 

Providing sufficient contrasts in colour and texture can differentiate separate sections; for instance, using a limited number of distinct colours will make it easier for people with poor vision to focus on the page in front of them. Even magnifying software, online chat functions, subtitles, alternative text tags and adjustable text sizes can be game-changers for those who are visually impaired. 

Your site should meet all users' requirements while helping you achieve your goals. By mapping out their likely journeys, you can see which areas will need changing to increase the speed and ease of navigation. For example, if you need to create an error page, make sure that it contains links to other parts of the site so users can get where they need to be, rather than building a dead end from which it is unclear where to go.

'It's crucial to consider how long users are on the site and how engaged they are as well'

Site health

The top 10% of websites have a site health of 92%, as measured by Semrush. You can use plug-ins and online tools such as this to measure your site health, but you'll also get a good indication by objectively using and testing your own site. 

A website that is unhealthy, in technical terms, could contain multiple broken links and have pages that load slowly so will not satisfy your users, and Google will not list it. Web development and technical SEO can help improve site health, so there are several things to think about when reviewing your site. 

Setting up your style sheets properly when designing your site will ensure that your content is optimised off the bat. For example, when you create a new page the headings will be styled by default, with H1 as the most prominent and the following headings following suit in descending size. 

You should also check whether you have any broken links on your site, which occur when you click but the linked page does not load. This is one of the worst technical errors because it interferes with technical health. To fix this, you should replace the links with the correct URLs or delete them entirely. 

Ensuring your sitemap is correct is also essential. You can simply use plug-ins such as RankMath to create these, or log in to Google Search Console to create and check them. A sitemap helps to guide search engines around your site and ensure they can find all the pages you want to rank.

Heading off site

Any SEO work that isn't taking place on your own website but elsewhere online is, naturally, referred to as off site. For example, your LinkedIn activity could be classed as off-site optimisation if it is done to drive traffic to your webpages. 'Off site' is often used as a catch-all term for external influences on your site's performance, some of which you may not be able to control. 

Domain authority is a metric used by marketers and website owners to assess how they are ranked by Google. Although it isn't verified by Google – given that it was developed by software company Moz – this is nevertheless an accurate representation of search results that essentially scores your website for likelihood of ranking. Domain authority will help you to understand why other websites rank higher than others, which is another reason why researching your content and competitors is so useful. 

Various factors are evaluated to calculate your ranking, but the two most prominent are the other websites or domains linking to yours – backlinks – and your domain age. Typically, Google identifies an older site as more reliable, but of course, there are exceptions. Alongside the SEO work you do on your site and the steps outlined in the previous article, making sure you have a strong backlink profile will strengthen your site's ranking and visibility. 

Guest-posting is another great way to achieve better domain authority, especially if you post on a website that has a strong authority of its own. Always aim for the best links – quality is better than quantity. 

When choosing your topic and identifying the correct site to post on, there are a couple of key points to consider. First, a high-quality site will be one that relates to your industry. For instance, if you are a surveying company, there is no benefit in posting on a website about cars. Good, relevant examples for surveyors would be RICS' website, business pages, housing sites or anything to do with construction, property or building. Remember, they must also be written in the same language as your site – don't guest post on French sites if you only serve the UK. 

Second, when you are guest-posting, make sure that the topic is relevant to your service. It doesn't have to be exactly like the things you would post on a blog of your own, but it should be connected to your expertise. This will allow you to refer back to your own experience, as well as building brand awareness and introducing users to your site.

Continuous competition

SEO is an ongoing process. Competitors will be trying to rank for the same keywords as you, so you need to keep monitoring how you compare with them while trying to make sure you stay ahead.

Remember to ask yourself the following questions.
  • Which keywords are you targeting?
  • What platform is receiving the most traffic?
  • How do you compare to your competition?
  • Where are you currently ranking?
Continuing to use SEO will help address these issues.

Grace Gay is SEO manager at Damteq 

Contact Grace | Email

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