How to build a website with SEO from the ground up

SEO optimisation is something that many people engage in to improve a website that has already existed for some time. It’s no secret that SEO takes time to really work for a website, and this is why proper SEO requires a long-term commitment to a carefully-planned strategy.

With that being the case, it’s natural to assume that applying best-practise SEO principles from the initial concept and design stage of a website will help produce the fastest possible results. While you won’t get to page 1 the moment you launch your site, there’s no doubt that baking SEO principles into the design of your website will ensure that it has the best possible start.

Following our SEO company principles from the beginning will, logically, put you in a great position to start building your authority from day one. The quicker your authority grows, the sooner you will enjoy the benefits of a higher SERP ranking.

Below, we’ll take a look at some steps you should follow so that you build an SEO optimised website from the ground up.

Follow these SEO tips while building a website for best results

Keyword research

Keyword research

Keyword research is a fundamental aspect of SEO and is the basis of any campaign. Before you design or write any copy for your website, it’s useful to know what search terms you want it to rank for.

You need to think about the keywords that are most relevant to the products/services that you offer. It’s a good idea for you to leverage the power of SEO tools that allow you to analyse trends regarding keywords related to your business to see what your long-term focus should be.

When selecting keywords to target, you need to be considerate of your budget and market position. If you have a limited budget for SEO, it will be incredibly hard for you to rank on the first page of Google for the most competitive keywords.

Instead, try to go for long-tail keywords that you can have an easier time ranking on. The more specific a keyword is (such as keywords tied to a certain geographic location), the less competition you will have overall.

For example, if you sell musical instruments and your business is located in Liverpool, then it would be easier to rank for “musical instruments Liverpool” than it would be to rank for “musical instruments” in general. If your services are offered digitally, then location keywords are going to be less relevant, and you will need to find a niche you can focus on.

Website architecture and navigation

Website architecture and navigation

Website structure is not just important for planning how you will link pages to one another, it’s important in terms of SEO as well. You need to have a logical flow from your homepage to the other pages on your website that make it easy for both search engines and users to navigate.

The better your layout, the more easily people will be able to find their way around. This means people will spend longer on the website and not become frustrated by not being able to find what they are looking for.

The longer people spend on a website, the more likely they are to engage with calls to action and make inquiries/buy. Also, the longer a user dwells on your pages, the more credibility Google associated with them, since user dwell time is a ranking factor.

It’s important to think about the user’s journey when they visit your website and try to accommodate their needs as best you can. The ultimate goal is to get them to engage and take the next step to spend money, so you need to get inside their head and give them everything they need to turn into a conversion.

URL structure

When Google scans your website, the first hint it gathers about the context of your webpages is in the URL. For example, “” lets Google know that this page they are looking at is supposed to be a blog. Here is great video explaining it:

It’s a good idea to incorporate your keywords into the URL of each page where relevant. Going back to the music store example (let’s say it’s called Johns Music Store), your page about the guitars you sell could have a URL that said “www.johnsmusicstore/guitars”.

This is letting Google know directly what the webpage is about. It also lets users know that the webpage is about if they ever saw the URL in isolation (such as when it is posted on another site), which can increase CTR (click-through rate).

It would be even better to use subcategories in the URL structure so that the flow of information is clearly identified. The URL “www.johnsmusicstore/musical-instruments-liverpool/guitars” is great because the URL structure follows a logical path – Google understands that a guitar falls under the category of a musical instrument.

URL structure is also helped when you have logical internal linking. Internal links are those that link to other pages on your website, and it can make sense to use them in calls to action on a page (for example, your might include a link to your contact page when you invite the user to inquire about your products/services).

Ensure that site speed is optimised

Ensure that site speed is optimised

You need to make sure that you are building a website that not only looks great and has great architecture, but that loads quickly as well. Site speed is a very important ranking factor since visitors are going to leave a website that’s frustratingly slow to use, even if it has excellent information/offers on it.

The rate of visitors leaving vs the time they spend on the site is calculated as something called a “bounce rate”. Your goal should be to maintain the lowest possible bounce rate, so Google knows that when people visit your website, they don’t leave right away.

Having an attractive and functional website is important for reducing bounce rate, but so is having a website that loads quickly. Analytics show that most people won’t tolerate a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load when they open it.

With that said, 3 seconds is still considered too slow for a modern website. These days, most people expect websites to load almost instantaneously. Therefore, it’s essential that you do everything you can to design a website that loads quickly.

When it comes to reducing the loading speed of your website, it mostly comes down to ‘cutting the fat’ from some of the on-screen elements. For example, high-resolution pictures, videos, animations, widgets, HTTP requests, or clunky CSS/JavaScript can all contribute to an inflated site load time.

Sometimes fancy graphics that make the site look nice ultimately produce a poor user experience because of the impact they have on usability. You need to make sure that you prioritise creating a lean and effective website over one that is overly-elaborate.

This is where having a talented web development team comes in handy, as they can help streamline elements of the website to give you something that looks great but is still highly functional for the user.

Remember to have a mobile-friendly website

mobile-friendly website

Having a website that is mobile-friendly is extremely important since the majority of website visits these days will come from mobile phones. These days many people don’t even own desktop computers since they can access the internet, send emails, do online banking etc. all from their smartphone.

Mobile-friendly essentially means that the website will scale to look and function well on a mobile touch screen. The same design principles apply to tablet devices as well.

Since so many people are using a mobile device to access the internet, it makes sense to actually design your website with a mobile-first approach. Just as with a desktop website, the mobile version needs to load quickly and be easy for the user to navigate/interact with.

Because Google understands how important mobile-friendly websites are, not having a mobile-friendly version of your website will work against you in SEO. When you’re building your website, prioritising the mobile version is an absolute must for SEO.

Make sure your visual content is indexable

Make sure your visual content is indexable

When you are designing a website, you may include several visual elements that look great and communicate meaning to human eyes but are difficult or impossible for a search engine to interpret. In order to boost your SEO on your new website, you need to think holistically about how every element of the website works to not only serve the user but indicate to Google what it’s about.

For example, certain Javascript elements should be built with an SEO-friendly framework that helps to tell Google what it is when it indexes your website. You absolutely need to optimise the metadata of images and videos that you use on your website.

Optimising images and videos will even factor into what you name the files that you upload to your website. For example, if your image is named “yourkeyword.jpg”, then it will help give Google more context about what the page is about.

This is where you start to notice the importance of balance when it comes to SEO optimisation of any website. You want to make sure that your site is highly indexable by a search engine, but you need to balance this with creating an optimised user experience.

Driving traffic to your website is great, but it won’t be very impactful on your bottom line if the user experience is poor and stops people from converting. Remember; the end goal is to create a website that is both highly discoverable and can easily convert visitors into paying customers.

Make sure you have optimised title tags and meta descriptions

Meta title and description tags

It’s important that you ensure the title tag and meta description of your pages are optimised with your keywords. Since the title tag and meta description are what is displayed in search engine results, you need to make sure that they succinctly convey information about what the website/page is about.

This is where some marketing/copywriting savvy comes in handy since you want to use language that entices a user to make the decision to click. You should try to include the primary keyword towards the front of the title tag and meta description since Google will be scanning it to learn what the page is about when it starts indexing.

While the amount of text you write here is very little, it can take some time to craft the perfect title tag and meta description. You have a limited amount of characters to work with, and you need to describe what your website/page is about both for users and the algorithm.

Optimising content

couple reading timeless content

The content (text) that makes up the bulk of the information on your website is extremely important both in terms of engaging your visitors and building your SEO authority. Content needs to be well-written, accurate, in-depth and optimised with your keywords for it to have maximum impact on your SEO.

The golden rule with SEO copywriting is to avoid keyword stuffing. This means that when you include keywords you need to do it naturally without repeating the same phrase over and over again in an attempt to artificially inflate the relevancy of the webpage.

Google is always getting smarter with how it evaluates written content, and their advice is to put the user experience first. Above all, you need to make sure that what you are writing is effective at engaging an actual human being.

Some long-tail keywords can be tricky to naturally incorporate in content, so you can’t afford to rush the copywriting process. You need to think ahead of time about the best way to structure your content so that keywords can appear naturally.

Headings and subheadings in your content are great places to include keywords. They function similarly to your title tag in that they tell the algorithm what this part of the webpage is about.

Remember; keyword stuffing can cause your website to incur a penalty since Google sees this as an unethical SEO tactic that seeks to exploit the algorithm. Google is seeking to provide the best results to its users, so they will punish websites that seek to ‘game’ the system.

Having a plan to push new content

plan to push new content

Along with optimising the static content that you are going to have on each of the pages of your website, you should also develop a plan for publishing new content about your business/products/services. This is why most websites have some kind of blog because it allows them to publish new content on their domain on a frequent basis.

When you are publishing new content on a regular basis, this can improve your rankings on Google since the algorithm favours websites that remain active and current. For example, a lawyer who publishes frequent blog articles about the industry will be more favoured by the algorithm than a competitor who does not publish any new content.

Of course, this content can be keyword optimised, just like the rest of the website. However, since so many websites have blogs, you will often need to prioritise having more in-depth and informative content than your competitors to get ahead.

One of the best techniques with your website’s blog is to try and create ‘evergreen content’. This means content that will remain relevant for a long time and continually draw visitors in because of the great information it has. One of the most reliable ways to create evergreen content is to conduct studies and design infographics that communicate interesting insights, which hopefully others will link to organically.

For example, if a lawyer published a great infographic that revealed a unique insight into rates of criminality, then there is a good chance articles on other websites would reference it in their content on the issue. Having a link to your website posted on another website can be extremely beneficial for SEO, which leads us to our next point.

Having a backlink strategy

backlink strategy

When a link to your website appears on another website, Google notices this when indexing your site. The context of this link placement is extremely important. Having your link on a high-quality website which ranks well is going to act as a vote of confidence in your website, telling Google that you’re the real deal.

These links are known as “backlinks” because they link back to your website. For a backlink to be considered by Google, it needs to occur naturally. This means that sponsored link placements aren’t going to have an SEO impact, since Google knows you paid for them.

You need organic backlinks—the best way to get organic backlinks is via guest posting. Guest posting means that you offer content to a website for free, and they will hopefully include a link back to your website.

Make sure you can sustain and adapt your SEO strategy indefinitely

While having a website that is SEO optimised from day one is useful, you won’t get to the first page of Google only doing that. SEO is something that you need to be continually committed to in order for you to grow and sustain results.

This is why engaging a professional SEO agency is a recommended path for many businesses. Creating a winning SEO strategy and paying a 3rd party to manage it allows you to focus on what you do best and leave ongoing optimisation to a professional team.