Want to build a New Search Engine Optimized Website?

These 6 questions must be answered during the planning and design phase of a new web site if SEO will be a priority.

1) Who is your target audience?

SEO is useless if you do not have a clear plan on who you want to bring to your site. Thinking you site is for EVERYONE would be pretty outlandish, unless you are looking to replace Wikipedia or Google. You must really drill down and figure out details on the niche of your target audience before moving any further. There are plenty of general ?marketing resources? to help with this, please use them.

2) What content will your target audience find useful to READ?

SEO is about helping other find the information THEY want on YOUR site. It is not a bunch of tricks trying to get visitors to your site. So, to me the MOST IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION in the planning phase is establishing a plan to develop all of the content that will meet your target audiences need and a plan to continue to develop new and fresh content over time.

3) How will you incorporate the content to meet your target audience?s needs?

Developing the content is not the same as the layout of the site, but once someone is at the site, it is very important to make sure they can easily find the other information they need. This means it should be easy to get from some content to some other content, products, etc. A plan on how to ?move? a site visitor from some content to other content, allowing the user to ?interact? with the site is essential. This strategy should include a degree of flexibility as not all visitors will land on the home page (especially true of a site with good SEO) and not all visitors will want to go from page 1 to page 2 to page 3, they will want to find their own path to the content most important to them.

4) How will you update content over time?

You can pay a full time webmaster, have a team of developers, have a part time independent contractor or do it yourself (using a CMS perhaps), but regular updates are a very critical component to long term SEO. Waiting to figure out that strategy until AFTER the site is created could be a DISASTER. If a single developer hand coded each page, it could be a very big undertaking to update that site, while a Content Management System (CMS) could be much easier for an individual to add new content. (Note: while not directly related to SEO, it could be a solid marketing strategy to capture willful visitors email addresses on the website then email them when updated information is posted on the site. If you intend to employ this strategy it could have a significant impact on the method used to develop the site as it will need a component to handle this.)

5) How will you ensure the site structure and code will be “clean” and easily indexed by the search engines?

Again, this is not about fancy tricks, but it could be about avoiding unnecessary items on the site that do not help SEO (such as flash, etc). It is VERY IMPORTANT to make sure your site developer understands proper SEO design techniques and if not, hire a consultant to ensure these are “built in” to the site. Many people build a site first thinking optimization can happen later, but this could involve “redesigning the site” because much of the fixes could be simple cleaning up of code. The number of people that can build a SEO website from scratch if far less than the number of people that can just give you a pretty website.

6) Who will link to your new site?

Link Building will eventually be a necessary component of your SEO strategy, so you must also consider who might want to link to your site and how the site can be built in a way that would help facilitate this process. Consider who you would freely link to from your brand new website. What type of content would they need to provide for you to deem it useful to link to them? Again, more than likely people will not be lining up to link to your site unless you give them a compelling reason to do so. Unless you want to make the compelling reason a dollar value by PAYING for every link, making useful content for others is the best way. This generally means USEFUL INFORMATION in general, not just USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS.

There are of course other considerations, but plan for these first, than you can start the “fine tuning” process of your SEO.