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Guides & Advice

How soon should you start SEO when building a new website?

By Chris Worthington / May 15th 2017

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SEO is a process that can reap huge rewards for a website, from providing market research to helping with design, considering users, developing content and making sure everything is in working order when a site goes live.

It therefore stands to reason that SEO should be involved in a web project as early as possible, but how exactly can it help if you don’t yet have a website to optimise for search?

We explain the different stages of site development and when, and how, SEO can be used throughout the whole process of building a website.

Step 1: During conception

SEO should be involved as soon as the brief for a new website is put together and the concept for the site is formed.

Analysing link profiles, competitors, content and keywords can help to build an idea of the size and shape of a website. This helps to develop a structure to a site that ensures all the relevant terms and audience requirements are met.

This can also provide invaluable market research that can be used to great effect when producing content. You’ll know what long-tail terms are being searched for, so you can tailor content to specific audiences.

Step 2: During development

Laying the groundwork for a site using SEO at a conceptual stage ensures that when the site is being constructed, and content is being developed, SEO can take a more advisory role.

This means overseeing web pages and site navigation, ensuring SEO covers the areas identified that are important to search, such as keywords and content.

It also involves providing the necessary information to create compelling and search-friendly content for web pages and blog posts to populate a website when it goes live.

Image of a crane listing the letters SEO up to a large screen where a person is building a new website

Step 3: During go-live

If SEO has been a consideration prior to this point, then involvement during the go-live process should be minimal. This is because any technical issues that would normally surface at this point will have been rectified.

At this stage, simple checks should be made to ensure everything is in place and that the site is sound from a SEO perspective. This includes general checks, such as ensuring meta titles, image tags and redirects are all in place before the site goes live.

Beyond this point, SEO becomes strategic; rectifying issues and overseeing the continued development of content to help improve the rankings and authority of a site.

Why get involved in SEO so early?

It might seem strange to optimise for search before a site is even built, but online visibility should be a huge consideration when creating any website.

The worst-case scenario for any SEO practitioner is being presented with a site and being told: “This website has gone live, SEO it”. This often means, at worst, dealing with a site mired with technical issues that has been designed without search in mind. It also means more work will be needed in the long run. At best, it means working with a site that has previously had its SEO handled to a decent technical level, without a long-term strategy being put in place.

Getting involved earlier also means the site is designed with the search aspect of user experience in mind. Essentially, your interaction with a website doesn’t always begin when you reach the site. Search engines present lists of sites to users, so you need to understand what you want to rank for, what users search for, and create landing pages that will help convert those visitors to your site.

You can then focus your efforts towards keywords where there is demand, customers and revenue, helping you to capitalise on key areas of your target markets. This is opposed to basing the beginning of your user experience on a visitor landing on your homepage.

Oops … what if you’ve left SEO until later?

No need to panic – while starting SEO earlier is preferable you can still benefit from strategy and insight if you’ve left it a little late. In depth audits can identify issues that would have otherwise been spotted earlier, and work can be done to refine navigation, page titles and meta descriptions, helping to make a site more search friendly. Content can be refined, and the strategy for what to create and what pages are required can be developed. However it will take time to put into place, and runs the risk of undoing some of the initial work.

Making these changes, even after a site has gone live can have a positive impact on search. The difference is you need to wait for a site to be re-indexed by search engines before the benefit will start to be felt as opposed to as the site goes live.

Involving your SEO provider or internal team as early as possible can avoid costly issues further along the production process. This can help you to develop a stronger and more informed long-term SEO strategy.

We’d love to explore how our SEO strategies could help deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.