SEO for websites: Should you start before or after the website launch?

The earlier, the better

When companies plan their website, they focus on choosing a perfect domain name , a suitable hosting plan, an attractive web design and compelling content. Then after the launch they start working on the Search Engine Optimization for their website. Search Engine Optimization(SEO), is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.The question is: Should companies start on SEO for websites before or after the launch?

Great, so can I begin planning the SEO for websites after their launch?

There are some elements that you can certainly work on after the launch of your website. Some of them are related to content and others are related to technical configuration. “Backlinking” for example, is a post-launch task because you need the website’s pages to be created first.

The short answer: No! Why? Read on to know!

The right time

Let’s assume that you have a broken water pipe and it’s leaking. Then you fixed it by using some duct tape and finished up with laying some cement around, do you think you did a good job? But did you think through what would happen if that duct tape was broken as water gushes through the pipe? You’ll only have to remove the wall and rebuild it again!

SEO works quite the same way. If you didn’t implement it correctly and thoroughly in   the very beginning, you’ll have a hard time optimizing your website as it grows in the future.

Here are few reasons why you should start SEO for websites before launching it:

  1. To ensure you don’t lose opportunities for organic traffic: the sooner your website is optimized, the less time you’ll need to grow traffic.
  2. Avoid the hassle of submitting your website to Google for inspection after each SEO change you make. Set it up in advance in an automated way.
  3. Avoid the waste of time, effort and even cost involved fixing the SEO for websites as an afterthought.

The how

Now that we have gone through the importance of proactive early SEO, let’s move on to another question: how? How can I start working on SEO for websites before its launch?

You’ll need to keep in mind that the SEO process should start during the website planning and way before thinking about the content and design of the website. We will go through three important SEO aspects that should be covered before any website’s launch:

  1. Website Structure
  2. Keyword Research
  3. Website Speed

Website Structure

Google checks your website’s structure and how deep your pages are, starting from the home page onward. When you’re planning your website and drawing the tree diagram for all your pages, make sure you prioritize the most important pages to be on the second or third level of the website.

For example: You have a page called important.html.

The page address will be www.example.com/important.html or  www.example.com/Level1/important.html

website structure SEO for websites

Why is this important?

If you prioritize the most important pages – the ones that you want users to read – and put them up front, you will allow users to navigate easily through your website. This will lead to an increase in the average time spent on your website and could lead to a desired decrease in the bounce rate. Also, when you put those important pages closer to the home page, this will make life for Google’s crawler reaching those pages and indexing them, which will improve your site’s SEO performance.

Keyword Research

If you’re a beginner, at intermediate level or an advanced SEO guru, you’ll know that keyword research is necessary and fundamental to good SEO. Keyword research needs to be done before you start creating any content. The main purpose of this research is to identify which topics users are interested in. By taking this into consideration you can dig deeper into these topics to identify how users are searching for them, that is using which ‘keywords’.

Keyword Research can be done using different tools, such as Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Ahrefs or keywordtool.io.

Please note that some of these tools are paid. If you want to use a free tool, I recommend using Keyword Planner from Google. The only downside with it is that that it will show you an average of search volume, not the exact numbers, unless you’re a regular spender on Google Adwords.

keywords SEO for websites

Why is this important?

Without the right keywords, you will not be able to write good quality content that will attract and grasp a user’s attention to keep them on your website for a longer time to explore your website’s content. The keywords that are identified are used to create other elements that will help SEO for websites.

These elements are:

  • URL & Category/Page name
  • Page title
  • Page description
  • Website Content
  • Image ALT text

So, make sure you start with “Seed Keyword” and then generate relevant keywords related to it.

Website Speed

Website speed is critical and considered one of the most important factors for SEO. If you did a speed test for your website using GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights, you’ll gain insights on elements that need to be optimized to increase the website’s loading speed.

I’ll take you through two of the main issues:

  • Server Performance: Make sure that your website is hosted with a powerful and reliable server that will respond instantly to all user’s requests. If your website gets high traffic and requires better performing servers you can resort to VPS Hosting or a Dedicated Server.
  • Coding structure: Your web developer can help you with the coding structure and programming of your website. They can make the website’s development and code more structured.

A simple example: instead of having code that sets the font color, size and type placed on every page, it can be collated into one single file to apply this font style across all pages. This is a kind of code compression.

Bonus tip: Ask the developer to implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) to have fast loading pages designed for mobile users only.

Why is this important?

In July 2018, Google officially announced that website speed will be considered as a ranking factor. It’s a great opportunity that you can easily take advantage of, especially if you did not launch your website yet.

These are the 3 basic SEO elements that you should take into consideration before launching the website. Please note that SEO for websites is divided into 4 phases:

  1. Planning (What this article is about)
  2. Implementation
  3. Pre-launch
  4. Post launch

Each phase must include one or more elements of SEO to be implemented – either it’s technical, content, or backlinks.

To summarize the most important issues with proactive SEO for websites:

  • Remember not to start SEO after launching your website.
  • If you start working on the SEO during the website’s planning phase, this will reduce effort, time and costs later.
  • Make sure that your website’s hierarchy doesn’t place important pages too deeply, and instead put important pages at the second or third level.
  • Do your keyword research based on what your services or goods you provide for users.
  • Website speed matters: ask your developers to compress the code and try to reduce coding and server resource usage.

Image by: LinedPhoto via Unsplash