How to Build a SEO friendly Website

Website creation can seem incredibly daunting at first. Not only do you need to create a pleasing site people want to use, you need to ensure it gets found by search engines so that they can recommend it to those people in the first place. Don’t worry: there’s a lot to learn, but the task is far from impossible. The tips below, in conjunction with other lessons in our SEO Guide, will show you how to build a SEO friendly website.

The below chart is essentially an overview of everything that goes into search engine optimization and how to build a seo friendly website. We have already covered most of the variables below in our SEO Guide, but a few may be introduced in our future advanced lessons. 

How To Build A SEO Friendly Website ChartSource: Originally Created by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz Optimized by: Chad Luckie of The College of Marketing

Make Sure Your Content Is Visible

One of the biggest problems for first-time site builders is failing to distinguish between human eyes and robot eyes. Because search engines like Google use complicated algorithms that crawl a website’s HTML (a special web language), the majority of your SEO friendly website information should be contained therein. No matter how pretty the site is, if most information telling the search engines what your site is about – titles, keywords, images – is contained in non-HTML form, your site will not be indexed. Remember, searching is all about relevance, so even extremely relevant content is useless if invisible to search engines. Avoid this by:

  • Making sure that images and videos have alt attributes (explained below)
  • Complimenting non-indexable material (like Java or Flash) with HTML material
  • Using HTML wherever possible (navigation bars, for instance, are commonly made with images or HTML, so opt for the latter)

Do Your Keyword Research

It’s important to know what people are looking for. Because you are relying on the search engines to give your site value – in other words, to rank it highly when people enter a certain term/phrase in the search box – you need to use terms that people are looking for. Do your keyword research! If you don’t know how, read our guide before designing your site. Until you have a firm understanding of whom you’re targeting, you can’t help the search engines help you.

Don’t abuse keywords, though. Sticking them in every which-where won’t improve your ranking, and will only annoy humans. Instead, use them strategically:

  • In the title tag (the phrase in the topmost bar of your search browser)
  • In the page title or header, or some other prominent place
  • A few times naturally throughout the text
  • In meta descriptions
  • In image alt attributes
  • In the URL (often taken from the title of the page)
  • For more on check out our lesson on SEO Variables

This last is particularly important to pay attention to. Many websites have messy URLs, such as

It’s hard for everyone, humans and robots alike, to see what’s going on after the “.com,” and it isn’t necessary. Go for a cleaner URL like…

Use Page Titles, Headers and Sub-Headers

One of the best ways to ensure that search engines are getting what you want from your site is to clearly label the content you are presenting to the human viewer. Yes, you always want your page to look great when someone visits your site – clean copy, valuable content, an attractive layout – but you also need it to catch the algorithms’ attention. Clearly label the top of each page, each section on that page and any subsections you might nest within them. Using tags in HMTL helps the engines see where the important information is on the page. For instance:

h1:  Breeding Specialty Rabbits

h2:  Breeding Lop-Eared Rabbits

h3:  Lop-Eared Rabbits in Small Hutches

Page titles, headers, and sub-headers are some of the most important places to embed keywords. If you are trying to sell used cars, then “used cars” needs to make an appearance everywhere that’s relevant. Headers that say such things as “Driving in California Can Be Fun” might help you attract an audience, but is that audience necessarily in the market for a used car? You have no way of knowing. If driving in California is relevant topic for you, then great; just make sure it also relates to your highest goal. A better header would be “Used Cars Make Driving in California Fun.” Make sure they’ve come to your site for the reasons you choose by using keyword-rich, relevant titles.

Use Alt Attributes for Images

Alt attributes are a way of making images, which are nice to look at but meaningless for SEO purposes, visible for search engines. An alt attribute, very simply, tells the engines what the picture is about. Let’s say, for example, that you have a site dedicated to gear heads that love upscale sports cars. A snazzy picture of a Ferrari is relevant to your site, but without an alt attribute it is invisible to engines. So give it one, and use keywords: if your alt attribute simply says “Fast cars are fun” you will miss out on the opportunity to grab everyone searching “Ferrari F430 Scuderia.” Always be specific.

If you are working with HTML and other languages designing the site yourself, make sure to embed keywords in the image tag. If using a content management system (explored below), usually they will offer you the opportunity to give your images alt attributes. This, like meta descriptions (to follow), is an option you should look for when choosing your CMS provider.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are an extra chance to tell what a page is about. Though search engines take them into account, they are an especially good chance to convince a person to click on your site. When someone conducts a search – say, on Bengal tigers – a list of choices will pop up. The link first, then the full URL, then a description. If this description says “Learn all you wanted to know about Bengal tigers with our amazing videos and photos,” that’s helpful. One that says “Sumatran Tiger; Amur Tiger; Bengal Tiger; Indochinese Tiger … ” and so on is not.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of different Meta descriptions below:

A Good eCommerce Description That Includes A Promtion

Meta Description Example For Building A SEO Friendly Website


Good Link Structure

No matter how good your content is, it’s meaningless if the search engines can’t find it (have we made that point yet?). People and engines must have the ability to navigate around within your site. This can mean linking to another page in the text, but especially relates to the overall site hierarchy. Good, easily navigable, easily indexed sites usually show you where you are. At the top of our site, for example, you might see our breadcrumb navigation.

Picture of BreadCrumb Navigation For Building A SEO Friendly Website

This helps the viewer know where they are, and the search engines know how everything links up.

Content Management Systems

If you don’t possess the necessary skills or desire to build a website from scratch, use a CMS. Basically they enable you to input your titles, content, images, and various SEO boosters into a user-friendly web form. When you publish the content, the CMS will put it all together for you in an appealing package. But don’t be fooled: this doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility to create good, keyword-rich, intentional content. Whether you’re designing a site yourself or getting some help, everything above still applies. But pay attention to these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a site that gets you the traffic you want, from the people you want to reach.

In my opinion no matter what route you go always build your website on a SEO friendly CMS like WordPress. WordPress is a free open source CMS that millions of websites today are built on and the framework is great. Google’s Head of Spam Matt Cutts once said, WordPress can solve 80-90% of all technical SEO errors. While this is important it still need to be optimized by doing the things we have mentioned in this SEO Guide

Check Out Lesson 12 – Must Have SEO Tools