Planning your website properly is often something that is overlooked.
While it’s easy to dive straight into the design phase of your new website if you don’t invest enough time in planning it out correctly it can become a mess.
The importance of website planning is paramount because websites are so easy to change and update as and when you feel like it.
We advise all our clients to use a website planner worksheet to look at the overall structure of the site before we all start getting excited about the design stages.
Start with a site map.
The most basic SEO website planning tool is a site map that will give you a visual representation of the structure of your site and should be the first item on your website plan checklist! (note that the sitemaps we’re talking about here are different from a Google Sitemap).
Sitemaps generally start with your homepage and then list off all the top-level pages of your site and any child pages.
In the example above, we’ve just mapped out the page, post and archive content of the website to create a simple visual plan so everyone knows what’s what.
Moving onto a spreadsheet.
Whilst a sitemap will give you a snapshot of the site structure, it all gets a bit messy if you start to add all the other information that needs to go on there.
This is why we plan our websites on Google Sheets.
Each page of your site needs to have the following information mapped out from the get-go.
- Title of each page (usually the H1 tag)
- The subtitle of each page (usually the H2 tag)
- The Slug (the URL of your page – for example, www.searchworthy.co.uk/this-is-the-page-slug)
- An external link for the page
- The higher-level internal link
- The focus keyword
- Keyword details (competitiveness, monthly search volume etc)
- Broad match terms (other words to use in the content)
- Where you currently rank for this URL (if you have a live site)
- Assets needed for the page (videos, downloads etc)
All this information needs to go somewhere, and it’s not practical to have it on a PDF, and Yoast only stores some of it.
This data forms your website plan template and will grow as the project does and as your site does once it’s live.
There are other website scoping tools around that allow you to plan your website, but we’ve found that nothing beats a spreadsheet because you can tailor it you your requirements.
Website planning for Engenie.
We helped Engenie (now called Osprey) plan the structure and content of their redesigned site prior to designing and building it for them.
Website plans are effective for both brand new sites and rebuilds.
If you already have a live site, the planning process can still be applied retrospectively.
We’ve worked with clients to build new websites, replacing old ones by offering a wide range of WordPress SEO services, but starting with planning everything thoroughly.
Your website will be more effective.
How you plan your website’s structure has a huge impact on how Google indexes it and ultimately where your content ranks.
It also means you have a go-to site plan for your website that all your team can access and manage.
The main benefits of this site planning process are:
- A section-by-section breakdown of your site
- The ability to see all the page titles, slugs, focus keywords and internal links in a sortable list
- You can quickly see what is overly linked too, where you have keyword gaps and where content is missing important SEO factors
- Spot content gaps easily
- Start to plan future content before you’ve even started designing the site
- A reporting tool that most people will understand – Yoast can get complicated, we all know our way around a spreadsheet
The main purpose of any website outlining process is to ensure that your ongoing Search Engine Optimisation makes sense.
One thing is 100% true of all website projects:
The more complicated your site is to manage, the less likely it will be managed well.
This approach to website plans gives you a site plan for your site and a template to move forward with.
It will help you get into the habit of planning your site content properly rather than just writing endless blog posts that don’t ever rank for anything.