If you’re wondering, what does SEO-friendly mean, perhaps the easiest way to answer is to explain what SEO-friendly doesn’t mean.
SEO-friendly does not mean optimized. It does not describe an SEO campaign or specific types of work done within and SEO campaign.
What SEO-friendly does mean, as a practical matter, is that your website platform is:
- Configured to be crawled and properly indexed by search engines
- Configured to efficiently support an SEO campaign should you decide to launch one
If you are contemplating building a new website or moving your existing website to a new platform (e.g., WordPress, Drupal), then you need to know whether that platform is SEO-friendly — whether or not you are running or thinking about running an SEO campaign.
There are two big reasons why you want an SEO-friendly platform:
- You want Google to be able to crawl and index the pages of your site. Even if you’re not running an SEO campaign, your website content may rank well over time for searches conducted by people in the market for your products/services. If your website is invisible on Google, you’ll miss out on new business. Furthermore, being invisible on Google is very bad for your brand image and credibility. Prospects, or even customers, will check you out on Google before ordering; if they don’t see you, it raises a red flag.
- If you reach a point where you want to run an SEO campaign and your platform is SEO-unfriendly, you may have to rebuild your website from scratch or else make heavy modifications to the inner workings of your current website. This can be very, very expensive, and we’ve seen it happen to companies of all sizes.
What Is SEO-Friendly in Terms of a Website Platform?
Many elements go into making a website platform SEO-friendly. Here are 10 major ones.
- Your platform should make it easy to create unique, keyword-optimized, fully custom title tags for every website page. Title tags are a huge ranking factor for Google and other search engines.
- Your platform should make it easy to create optimized, user-friendly URLs — also tremendously important for SEO and the user experience (UX) of your website.
- Your platform should make it easy to create fully customized meta descriptions for each website page. Meta descriptions — 160-character or shorter snippets of text — appear in Google’s search engine results under the link. Persuasive meta descriptions encourage click-throughs and are fundamental to any SEO campaign. (Even if you aren’t running an SEO campaign, it’s wise to compose excellent meta descriptions for well-trafficked pages of your site.)
- Your platform (and in this case, your website host) should facilitate fast page loading and keep downtime to a minimum. Slow page loading is terrible for UX and tends to hurt organic rankings.
- Your platform should — let’s make that must — support responsive web design. Responsive design is a technique that enables web pages to adjust formatting for optimal viewing on any size screen (desktop, tablet, mobile phone, etc.). This is HUGE for SEO and UX because more than half of Internet usage today comes from mobile devices. Google is placing ever greater importance on mobile-friendly websites in its rankings. Again, even without SEO, you’ll be turning away a lot of people and possible new customers if mobile site visitors have trouble viewing your information.
- Your platform should support customizable H1 tags (the visible main title of a web page) and enable you to make the title tag (see point #1) different from the H1 tag, something that is often useful for SEO and UX purposes. This may seem like a minor point, but it can be quite important — the title tag and H1 title greatly influence rankings, especially for those highly relevant search queries that stand the best chance of converting.
- Your platform should also support user-friendly navigation, with the ability to easily customize topline navigation, create sub-navigation menus and add breadcrumb menus. Internal site navigation must be intuitive and enable Google crawlers to understand the relative (usually hierarchical) importance of web pages.
- Your website should have a robust and easy-to-use internal search feature, which is extremely important for e-commerce sites and lead generation sites with hundreds or thousands of pages.
- Your platform should make it easy to install an XML sitemap, integrate Google Search Console and Google Maps, create custom 404 error pages, set up 301 redirects, and incorporate other programming and applications (such as plugins to automatically create internal links to related blog posts) that carry SEO benefits. It will take an expert in technical SEO to properly evaluate SEO-friendly capabilities in this area.
- Your platform should be well supported by an SEO-savvy team that makes frequent updates. SEO best practices change all the time; a platform that was SEO-friendly in 2005 but neglected in subsequent years is hopelessly out of date today.
To review your website platform or discuss an SEO campaign, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.