Before you can proceed to model your own website, there are some important factors you must put in place. Most clients sent their website brief to developers to help them with the design work. For any website to have a good organic ranking, there are some set of specifications that must be met. A diligent tech audit, a conversation funnel review and market analysis will provide an easy approach to designing your website architecture.
This approach will also be relevant if your site is already up and running and you want to migrate the site or redesign it to fit your business model. Alongside with your SWOT structured analysis, you can make an exemplary website by paying a keen attention to the strategic areas discussed below.
Here are some of the factors you need to work before designing your digital place.
• Wider Strategic area
• Technical areas– to be discussed with the site developers
• Design areas– to be discussed with the website designers
All the factors discussed here are meant to help you during the design and developing stages of your website and not a pre-launch checklist; meaning it’ll be hard to use this list of SEO-affecting areas with an already-built and running website.
Vital strategic design questions
1. Communicating your mission statement online
The first thing that should come to your mind before planning to design a website is how you are going to communicate the mission statement using the site. After identifying the classic value proposition, what comes next is how to communicate the sense out of it in the best ways possible.
You have to check it out whether the terms describing the customer challenges and those describing your solutions are being searched for. The value proposition itself, might not have many searches and in this case; you’ll need to come up with a brand associated with the problem-solving for a set of customers’ needs. There are different ways of getting traffic which can work out for your case. Another thing you should consider is how competitive the terms are? If the space is way too competitive, you’ll need to look into other alternatives or the long-tail variations of the very terms.
2. Understanding the customer segments
This is one of the essential parts you can’t do without. There are some relevant questions here that act as the starting point in your research.
• How is the market?
Here, you will figure out if the potential audience is growing or simultaneously shrinking. To have the best of results, you can use some supporting tools such as the Google trends for accurate results.
• What or how are the main personas?
These include their motivations, roles, demographics and needs. A very important tool to get along with is the “Persona Research in Under 5 Minutes” by Craig Bradford which will help you if you are short on time. This tool will also expound on how to draw insights using twitter.
• Online and Offline Behaviors
Here you try to get that deep understanding of your prospects’ behavior when they are online and when they are not. You’ll also learn their touch points beyond the site. Having a deeper understanding on this will help you build your website’s architecture in and around the stages your customers need the most. This will provide a platform where they can go through successfully before completing their goals.
With a proper approach of mapping the keywords, you can build a killer content that will generate traffic and see your site grow. Ideally, the process should be planned and executed in advance of the website build. This will guide which pages should target specific intents and the keywords that signify them.
3. Who are the digital competitors?
Competition in every organization or business setup has a role to play. Knowing the people you are competing with is one step to getting ready to face the outside world. This will inform you of the position you are holding in the digital space and the areas to improve on so as to better your services. From monitoring your competitors, you can easily make some informed decisions about the site outreach, architecture and user experience. With this, you will also identify who fall under the 3 main types of competitors:
• Your Search competitors:-
These are the competitors rank for services/ products you offer. They’ll compete for nearly the same keywords as those you’re targeting and may cater to an absolutely different intent.
• Your Business competitors:-
These are the competitors who are currently solving those customer problems you are aiming to solve.
• Cross-Industry competitors:-
These are those competitors who solve your customer’s problems indirectly.
After coming up with the above list of competitors and matching them respectively; analyze where each of them stands and how much operational resources it’ll take you to get where they are. Here there are some important questionnaires you can create for an effective follow-up:
• What are the competitors’ performance, size, and market share?
• the way in which the competitors differentiate themselves?
• How does the competitors’ link profile look like?
• How strong is the competitor’s brand?
• How do they modify/ update their site architecture?
For you to analyze and come up with a complete comparison among your competitors; you’ll need some software to assist with competitor link analysis. Such tools include- Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs and SEM rush for easy identification of those competitors ranking for your targeted keywords.
Vital technical areas to consider in order to avoid future website rebuild and migration
1. Choosing between HTTP and HTTPS
To avoid future inconveniences, you need to take your time during the site building process and choose keenly between the two. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is one of the systems for receiving and transmitting information across the internet. This application layer protocol is said to be stateless hence it doesn’t remember anything about the previous web session and its benefits lies within the speed at which it transmits data.
HTTPS, on the other hand, is the most preferred because it has an advantage on the Google ranking factors over HTTP. If you’ll also need to receive and accept payments on your site, an HTTPS is more than necessary.
2. Deciding on the version of URLs
Uniqueness is one factor that determines the performance of your website. A duplicate content issue may arise if Google is able to access the same piece of information/ content through some multiple URLs. Without any distinct version, website pages will compete with one another unnecessarily.
According to developers, a page is said to be unique only if it has a unique and distinct ID in the site’s database. However, for the search engine, the UR are read to be a unique identifier. This way, a developer is reminded that every piece of information and content should be accessed through only one URL.
3. The Site speed
Your site and page speed is one important factor that will determine the rate at which information is processed on your page. Some developers might be under pressure to deliver the codes on time hence neglecting the vital areas affecting page speed. Communicating on the importance of site speed to your developers and emphasizing on the same during the design process will save you the hassle of poor site performance.
4. Languages & locations
Depending on the goals and purpose of your website; you may decide whether the site will serve only to your home country or target users from different countries. Here, you’ll decide if the site will be multi-regional, multi-lingual or both. After coming up with the above consideration, localized keyword and duplicate content can be addressed well before the site build.
The use of various country-level domains gives you an advantage of being in a position to target a region, country or language more precisely. The approach is, however, reliant upon you having adequate resources to build and run the infrastructure, write & update unique content and to promote each of the used domains.
If you are to go down the multiple language and country combination on one single site; the best approach will definitely to use the subfolders (examples; .com/UK or.com/de etc). Such subfolders can run from one given CMS/platform which means the development maintenance/setup is significantly lower.
5. Ease of editing & flexibility in the platform
Google platform tends to update most of its recommendations & requirements all the time. Your platform, therefore, needs to be that flexible so as to make quick changes on the site. Some of the Design areas you need to consider in order to avoid future inconveniences
(i) Architecture & internal linking
Having effective information architecture is vital if you want the search engines to find your content fast enough and serve it to users. If the crawlers can’t access your content, they cannot rank it well. Information architecture is important for the users in that they can easily find what they are searching for.
It’s always advisable to come up with a flat site structure such that it keeps more pages no deeper than four clicks from the homepage. This will then allow the users and search engine to find content in just a few clicks. Using competitor research and keyword to guide which pages you should have will also aid in navigation within your site.
The way in which pages should be organized and grouped should be user-friendly and content-oriented. Some of the strategies in which the users map out the relationship between the content in various sites make it necessary to have a well-connected site profile. Another relevant content sorting technique is the use of card sorting which can improve your information architecture.
(ii) Content-first design
Make a thorough research and come up with the type of content you will host. Choose whether it’ll be large whitepapers/ guides or a collection of video contents. The content strategy needs to be mapped out distinctly so as to understand which formats you’ll use & the kind of functionality this will need. After you have fully decided on the type of content you’ll be dealing with is one step to having an exclusive design of the page types and create an even more consistent user interface.
(iii) Machine Readability & structured data
In order for you to have an all-inclusive site with a good user experience, the site’s machine readability needs to be made a priority. Your page should be marked up with structured data that allows the crawlers access the content with ease.
(iv) Responsive design
With the ever evolving technology and widely developed devices; variations exist from the mode of operation, the design features, specification and the behavior patterns. Mobile devices, for example, are nowadays the commonly used tool to access the web. Due to this, the long-term goal should be to create and build that consistent user experience and a seamless platform that supports a variety of devices.
In the interest of this common goal, dynamic serving skills and responsive design methods can assist with creating device-oriented experiences.
If you are a business owner or running a website, you have got a lot on your plate. It’s not actually a difficult task to maintain your website running but the big deal is there in the designing process. Knowing what you want and working towards attaining it seems to be the bigger challenge. With this article in hand, you can always avoid the loopholes when coming up with your website. Proper planning avoids future challenges such as transferring the website or even unnecessary remodeling.Knowing the difference between HTTP and HTTPS for example; will let you choose from the very first instant what you want for your website. With all these, you are surely ready to create your own website and emerge to be successful.