An Search engine optimization-friendly (i.e., search engine-friendly) web site is one that’s technically sound, pleasant to make use of, and search-focused. Right here’s a Venn diagram explaining this: An Search engine optimization-friendly web site is the intersection of those three units:

Venn diagram showing an SEO-friendly website is the intersection of 3 aspects: technically sound, delightful to use, and search-focused

If you wish to design an Search engine optimization-friendly web site or be sure that yours is like that, observe the guidelines under.

Search engine optimization-friendly web site guidelines

Your web site’s design and efficiency can impression your search rankings and even forestall your website from rating. Use our guidelines to ensure your web site is each Google’s and the consumer’s pal.

Complete checklist of the various things that make up an SEO-friendly website

Make your web site technically sound

First, it’s essential assist engines like google discover, crawl, and index vital content material in your web site.

Factors from this part of the guidelines will usually have to be arrange as soon as and revisited solely when it’s essential introduce adjustments (e.g., updating your sitemap).

1. Plan web site construction (for brand spanking new websites)

Planning your web site construction could be a advanced course of, particularly in case you plan on having one thing greater than a portfolio in your web site.

Nevertheless, from the Search engine optimization perspective, these are the issues that actually matter:

  • Depth of the location construction – Attempt to not have vital pages too distant from the homepage (conserving at two or three clicks away is finest and nothing additional than six clicks). That is one thing huge web sites ought to particularly be careful for, as overly nested pages can get crawled much less usually.
  • Key phrase optimization for top-level pages – Class pages may rank on engines like google. You possibly can enhance the possibilities of that in case you optimize your top-level pages for key phrases with search demand.
  • Inner hyperlinks – Amongst different issues, inside hyperlinks are a rating issue and may ship a sign to engines like google to crawl sure pages extra usually. Since hyperlinks in website navigation rely as inside hyperlinks, your vital pages can get a further Search engine optimization increase simply because they’re correctly positioned within the construction and linked within the website navigation.
Flowchart showing an example of a site structure

Tip: use colours to distinguish navigation components (right here in white) from pages (blue).

Advisable studying: Web site Construction: Methods to Construct Your Search engine optimization Basis 

2. Arrange Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is without doubt one of the three free instruments that you would be able to’t do Search engine optimization confidently with out. It’s a free software made for monitoring your website’s natural search efficiency on Google’s search engine (92.07% market share worldwide).

Establishing GSC is crucial for creating an Search engine optimization-friendly web site as a result of it permits you to:

  • Discover web site errors.
  • Discover alternatives for UX enhancements (e.g., web page pace).
  • Submit sitemaps (one of many subsequent steps in our guidelines).

On high of that, GSC can even allow you to see the key phrases you rank for (as much as 1,000 within the software itself) and test rating positions.

GSC's Performance report

You may get GSC right here.

Advisable studying: Methods to Use Google Search Console to Enhance Search engine optimization (Newbie’s Information)

3. Arrange Bing Webmaster Instruments

Microsoft’s Bing Webmaster Instruments is an equal of GSC that it’s best to use to get information from Bing’s search engine (the second-biggest search engine).

Bing Webmaster Tools' Search Performance report

You may get Bing Webmaster Instruments right here.

4. Arrange Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments

Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments (AWT) is our free software that helps to enhance an internet site’s Search engine optimization efficiency and get extra natural search visitors.

One other method to consider it’s that the software takes off the place GSC leaves you:

  • It routinely screens your web site for 100+ Search engine optimization points—and emails you the report in case you want.
  • It reveals all recognized backlinks with helpful Search engine optimization metrics.
  • It reveals all recognized key phrases with helpful Search engine optimization metrics.

Get it free of charge right here: Webmaster instruments – Audit & Enhance Your Web site.

SEO health report results

Pattern electronic mail Search engine optimization well being report from AWT.

Advisable viewing: Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments (AWT) – Our Free Search engine optimization Software

5. Create and submit a sitemap

A sitemap is a file saved in your server that tells engines like google the place to seek out vital content material in your web site. Furthermore, it could possibly additionally present info about that content material, such because the video operating time or publication date of an article. All this information helps engines like google crawl your website extra effectively.

Excerpt of a sitemap by YoastSEO

Most CMSs can create sitemaps for you. That is an excerpt of a sitemap created by the YoastSEO plugin.

Typically talking, engines like google (at the least Google) are designed to work with out the necessity for sitemaps—inside hyperlinks and backlinks are all they want. Nevertheless, in case your web site is de facto huge (over 500 pages), has remoted pages, or has few or no backlinks, it’s best to create a sitemap and submit it.

Advisable studying: Methods to Create an XML Sitemap (And Submit It to Google) 

6. Create a robots.txt file

Plainly talking, a robots.txt file is a textual content file that tells engines like google the place they will and may’t go in your website.

It’s in engines like google’ “nature” to crawl just about all the things they stumble throughout. On the one hand, that’s a great factor since you need folks to seek out stuff that you just publish. However there are some conditions the place you received’t need that to occur. For instance, the cart web page or pages generated by way of faceted navigation.

Example of robot's disallow directive

So mainly, you have to to create a robots.txt file solely if you wish to hold some components of your web site inaccessible to engines like google.

However you may additionally wish to test if there’s an current robots file (created routinely by your CMS or by your web site developer) to be sure that vital pages are crawlable. Simply go to yourdomain.com/robots.txt and see if there’s something there.

Moreover, it’s possible you’ll wish to see the Protection report in GSC to test for any undesirable robotic guidelines that will block sure pages.

Coverage report results in GSC

Advisable studying: Robots.txt and Search engine optimization: All the things You Must Know 

7. Ensure your web site is indexable

Indexability refers to a search engine’s potential to investigate and retailer a webpage in its database.

Regardless of a web page being accessible to look engine internet crawlers, that web page can nonetheless not present up on the SERPs. This occurs within the following conditions:

  • Noindex” worth within the robots meta tag in robots.txt file
  • Noindex” or “none” worth in x-robots-tag in HTTP response header

Ensure that a web page doesn’t have these tags if you would like it to rank. You possibly can test that within the Protection report inside GSC or the Indexability report in Ahrefs’ Web site Audit (a part of AWT).

Indexability report results in Site Audit

Take note, although, that these tags are nonetheless helpful. For instance, it’s possible you’ll wish to noindex sure pages like thank-you pages or inside search outcomes.

8. Ensure your web site is accessible at just one area

In different phrases, it’s essential select the canonical area identify. This may make your website seem constant to customers and internet crawlers and stop points like diluted hyperlink fairness (this could occur when some web sites hyperlink to the HTTP model and others hyperlink to the HTTPS model).

With AWT put in, go to the Web site Audit software and open the Web page explorer report. Contained in the report, insert these 4 variations of your area utilizing the “Superior” filter:

  • http://yourdomain.com
  • http://www.yourdomain.com
  • https://yourdomain.com
  • https://www.yourdomain.com

Like this:

Advanced filters in Page explorer report

What you wish to see is a) your required URL to report a “200” (ideally the HTTPS model) and b) others reporting a “301” redirect to that “200” web page. If that’s not the case, you have to to use redirects to non-canonical domains.

Table showing http status codes for a few URLs

Advisable studying: 301 Redirects for Search engine optimization: All the things You Must Know 

Make your web site pleasant to use

How customers understand your web site just isn’t one thing that Google ignores utterly.

Factors from this part of the guidelines will usually have to be arrange as soon as.

1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Google is utilizing mobile-first indexing. Which means that it indexes and ranks content material primarily based on cellular variations of webpages. Consequently, having an internet site optimized for cellular gadgets is “strongly really helpful,” as Google places it in its documentation.

You possibly can test in case your web site is mobile-friendly within the eyes of Google utilizing its take a look at software or use the Cellular Usability report in GSC.

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool

2. Ensure your website hundreds quick

Loading pace is a rating issue and the fundament of Core Internet Vitals, that are efficiency metrics used for measuring consumer expertise.

Relaxation assured—Google nonetheless promotes probably the most related content material in its database. However when all the things else is analogous or equal, Google might rank the quicker web page larger. 

Performance report results in Site Audit

You possibly can monitor your web site for pace points with Ahrefs’ Web site Audit. For this, use the Efficiency report.

Advisable studying: Methods to Enhance Web page Pace From Begin to End (Superior Information) 

3. Be sure to’re utilizing HTTPS

Simply as Google needs to supply helpful pages, it needs to supply safe pages too. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Switch Protocol Safe, i.e., the safe model of HTTP.

Secure connection at ahrefs.com

Customers can inform straight away in case your web site is utilizing HTTPS or not.

This step is sort of easy. You simply have to get an SSL certificates and add it to your website (the simplest method is to get one out of your internet hosting supplier). You possibly can even get one free of charge right here (sure, Google acknowledges it too).

Advisable studying: What Is HTTPS? All the things You Must Know 

4. Keep away from intrusive interstitials

The final on the checklist of web page expertise indicators. To Google, a web page with out intrusive pop-up home windows is a usable website—and it’s onerous to disagree with that.

There are some exceptions to this rule, although. Google “accepts”:

  • Messages displayed out of authorized obligation (e.g., cookies consent).
  • Login dialogs for pages with out public entry (e.g., content material behind paywall).
  • Banners that use an inexpensive quantity of display screen house.

Infographic showing pop-ups of cookies consent or ads taking up a reasonable space are Google-approved

Advisable studying: Interstitials and Dialogs | Google Search Central | Documentation

Make your web site search-focused

Craft your content material with searchers and linkers in thoughts.

Factors from this part of the guidelines must be arrange for every new content material that you just wish to rank.

1. Select the fitting key phrase

If you wish to get visitors from engines like google, it’s essential create content material about one thing folks seek for. And one of the simplest ways to do that is to optimize your content material for a great key phrase.

Right here’s what makes a great key phrase for Search engine optimization:

  • Search visitors potential – Typically talking, the extra usually folks search for one thing on-line, the extra visitors these key phrases can generate. However this isn’t a rule, and it might range from key phrase to key phrase. It’s finest to test the visitors potential to your key phrases as nicely.
  • Search intent – Individuals use engines like google to both study one thing, purchase one thing, or discover a particular website—that is their search intent. When selecting a key phrase, it’s essential ensure that your content material matches what folks wish to see within the search outcomes. 
  • Enterprise potential – A key phrase might deliver you visitors. However will it additionally deliver you new enterprise? Prioritize matters extremely related to what you provide so to naturally characteristic your services or products. 
  • Not too tough to rank – The quickest strategy to estimate that is to make use of a metric like our Key phrase Issue (KD). However you may additionally have to take different elements into consideration (see really helpful studying under).
Matching terms report results for "tea"

What’s a tea pet? It’s one among 1,500+ key phrases that aren’t aggressive and have appreciable search volumes associated to tea. One thing I’d positively wish to cowl on my weblog about tea (might even embrace an affiliate hyperlink there—get it?).

2. Make your content material fascinating and helpful

Google admits that the one strongest rating issue is the content material itself. Specifically, the content material’s usefulness and its potential to seize readers’ curiosity. In Google’s personal phrases:

Except of Google's article talking about the importance of creating compelling and useful content

So listed below are some ideas that may make it easier to make your content material fascinating and helpful. Guarantee it is:

  • Straightforward to learn.
  • Clearly organized.
  • Recent.
  • Distinctive.
  • Aligned with E-A-T pointers.
  • Targeted on offering important info to unravel a searcher’s drawback (this brings us again to the search intent).

The entire above refers to designing content material for searchers. However there are additionally “linkers,” i.e., individuals who won’t solely learn your content material but in addition embrace a hyperlink to it on their web sites.

Why design for linkers? As a result of hyperlinks from exterior web sites (backlinks) are probably the most vital rating elements for Google. Extra backlinks from distinctive domains = larger rankings = extra visitors. Typically talking.

You possibly can enhance your possibilities of incomes or constructing hyperlinks in case you make your content material link-worthy. Meaning together with one thing so invaluable and fascinating that bloggers and journalists will wish to hyperlink to it (aka hyperlink bait).

Except of Ahrefs' blog article showing a graphic about long-tail keywords

When you needed to hyperlink to a great useful resource on, say, long-tail key phrases, it’d positively be one thing that features a graphic explaining what they’re, proper?

You can too create content material only for the linkers. It’s OK if it has minimal search quantity, so long as it’s enticing to your audience.

Site Explorer overview of an article about how 90.63% of content gets no traffic from Google and how to be in the minority that does

Very low visitors. But it surely’s all proper—that is hyperlink bait content material.

3. Optimize title and outline tags

There are two explanation why it’s essential optimize title tags: They’re a rating issue (a small one), and other people see them on the SERPs. So it’s best to:

  • Make the title eye-catching and correct.
  • Insert the goal key phrase in your title. It really works. Key phrase stuffing doesn’t.
  • Match them inside 60 characters.
Example of title tag

Factors #1, #2, and #3 checked.

There may be one cause why it’s essential optimize description tags: Individuals see them on the SERPs. Listed below are some good practices for engaging searchers to click on. You need to:

  • Make your description compelling. Reassure readers that that is the content material they’ve been in any case alongside.
  • Guarantee the outline just isn’t longer than 920 px (attempt SERPSim).
  • Hold the outline related to the title of the web page (and vice versa).
  • Use a novel description for each web page.
Example of meta description that may be a bit too plain; it satisfies the other points, though

Factors #2, #3, and #4 checked. Level #1? Hmmm.

4. Add schema markup

Schema markup is a code that helps engines like google to know your content material and higher characterize it within the search outcomes.

For instance, to show a picture subsequent to your Fender Stratocaster evaluate, you’ll have to deploy a code like this:

"picture": {

"@context": "https://schema.org",

"@kind": "ImageObject",

"url": "yourimage.url",

"top": "689",

"width": "1225”


Example of ratings found under various results on a Google SERP

Stands out on the SERPS fairly properly, proper? These star scores and thumbnails are served to the searcher through a couple of tags within the schema markup.

There are various kinds of schema for various events: evaluations, FAQs, individual, place, group, and lots of extra. All of them will assist Google present wealthy outcomes on the SERPs (like those within the image above) to your pages and probably deliver you extra clicks. Right here’s the complete schema documentation.

You possibly can create and take a look at your schema markup with instruments like schema.dev.  

Advisable studying: What Is Schema Markup? Methods to Use It for Search engine optimization

5. Use quick and descriptive URLs

An Search engine optimization-friendly URL is mainly a user-friendly URL. So when optimizing your URLs, it’s best to do it with the consumer in thoughts. That’s the way you’ll make two pals with one reward.

Right here’s an instance:


This URL makes use of HTTPS, doesn’t have a very nested construction, and signifies clearly what the web page is about. So when customers see this URL on the SERPs, they may know the web page is definitely about one thing they’re in search of. And once they click on on it, the URL will point out the place within the website construction they are.

Advisable studying: Methods to Create Search engine optimization-Pleasant URLs (Step-by-Step)

6. Hyperlink to related sources

You most likely received’t bounce in rankings simply by including outbound hyperlinks to your content material (they’re most likely not a rating issue). However you should still wish to add outbound hyperlinks to quote your sources and hyperlink to useful supplies on the subject.

In response to this video from Google:


Linking to different web sites is an effective way to supply worth to your customers. Oftentimes, hyperlinks assist customers to seek out out extra, to take a look at your sources and to higher perceive how your content material is related to the questions that they have.

John Mueller

So together with related outbound hyperlinks is a finest observe when creating good content material. However on high of that, citing your sources will make it easier to to align your content material with E-A-T search high quality pointers, that are particularly vital for Your Cash or Your Life matters (well being, finance, security, and so on.).

Advisable studying: What Is EAT? Why It’s Necessary for Search engine optimization 

7. Optimize photos

In brief, optimizing photos for Search engine optimization means it’s essential do three issues:

  • Compress photos – You should use a plugin like ShortPixel or a bulk picture optimizer like Kraken
  • Use descriptive picture file names – Sure, Google can (and possibly will) learn the names of your picture recordsdata to know what they’re about.
  • Use descriptive alt texts – Alt texts serve a few functions. But they’re usually missed. Not solely do they assist visually impaired customers, however additionally they may help Google perceive the context of your web page and make it easier to rank on Google Photos.
Laptop on a table next to a cup of coffee and glass coffee pot

Alt textual content for this good photograph must be one thing like “a laptop computer on a desk subsequent to espresso.” “A espresso pot and a mug admiring a Floor laptop computer whereas nobody’s trying” is my subsequent guess.

8. Add inside hyperlinks

Final however not least, don’t neglect about inside hyperlinks, i.e., hyperlinks from one other web page on the identical web site.

Make no mistake—inside hyperlinks are a rating issue. They’re actually vital. Google makes use of inside hyperlinks to:

  • Uncover new pages – Inner hyperlinks present a crawl path to focus on pages.
  • Move hyperlink fairness between your pages – Inner linking can increase different pages in your web site.
  • Perceive what a web page is about – Understanding the content material of your pages helps Google rank them. The anchor textual content of the inner hyperlink issues too.

So ensure that to interlink related content material in your web site and remember the fact that you need to use hyperlinks to spice up different pages (aka the Intermediary Methodology).

Advanced filters in Internal link opportunities report

The extra content material you could have, the tougher it’s to maintain up with inside linking. That is the place AWT can do the heavy lifting for you. You should use the routinely generated report or use the “Superior” filter to see hyperlink alternatives to a particular web page.

Closing ideas

All in all, that is numerous work. And sadly, there’s no method round it. However you can also make your job simpler in case you’ve acquired the fitting instruments.

To begin with, it’s possible you’ll wish to take a better have a look at the “Search engine optimization-friendliness” of the CMS that your web site is constructed with.

Some CMSs will attempt to simplify issues as a lot as attainable, which can lead to much less room for personalization. Others would require extra consideration from you however offer you extra potentialities in return. These three articles ought to make it easier to make a extra knowledgeable selection:

Secondly, as talked about in our guidelines, ensure that to arrange Search engine optimization audit instruments for computerized Search engine optimization well being monitoring (amongst others). As you add extra content material to your website, it’s possible you’ll run into Search engine optimization points like damaged hyperlinks, damaged photos, or canonicalization points. An audit software will catch them for you.

One final piece of recommendation: In case you have a JavaScript-heavy web site, ensure that to take a look at some extra steps coated in this information.

Acquired questions? Ping me on Twitter.


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