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New Website SEO

New Website SEO isn't any different from regular SEO except it is a little easier. In this comprehensive post we cover all things a new website needs to do to start off on the right SEO foot.

New Website SEO isn’t necessarily different than regular SEO, but it makes things easier to start on the right foot. As our first official blog post, we thought this was the perfect topic. Don’t worry, we will update this post every 6 months or so, which is a tip we’ll talk about later on. Let’s dive in:

Before you Even Start

If SEO is a top priority for your site (and it should be) then you should make the most basic decisions with SEO in mind.

SEO Friendly Domain (within reason)

While we were brainstorming our new company, we tossed around a few ideas. Once we had a shortlist, we started putting them into GoDaddy to see if the domains were available. Not surprisingly, most if not all the powerful keywords in the website design and marketing space were taken.

So we moved unto what would sound the best to our potential clients. And we found the domain (and company name) that encapsulates the emotion behind our service. All That Website Stuff speaks both to the all-inclusive nature of our service as well as our client’s not-so-interested-in-the-details-just-make-it-work attitude. Which was perfect for us.

Domain names are a factor for Google. So, if you can find a domain name that includes a keyword or keyword phrase you will want to rank for it, consider it. Just remember that everyone will be using that domain so it should be easy to remember, and make sense for your company.

For example, as of this writing you can go to GoDaddy and purchase “DentistNearMe.com” for around $18k. It’s a premium domain because it has a search volume of 1.5 million a month. There are 2 glaring issues for purchasing this domain. One, Google is pretty smart and the algorithm takes the user’s location into account when they search “Dentist Near Me” so if you are a local Dentist, you will rank better just by being well… a dentist near that person. Secondly, if you are a local Dentist, you will be getting useless traffic. Out of that 1.5 million searches each month very few will actually be looking for a dentist in your area. Now if your business is an affiliate marketing website or even a lead generation company this domain might make sense for you.

So our suggestion is to consider SEO but don’t force it with your domain name.

Web Development Platform

Once you own your domain (or at least have picked out what domain you want to buy) it’s time to start shopping for a web development platform. On what soil will you build your amazing new website? There are loads of options. Wordpress is still terribly popular. Something like 80% of the world’s websites are on Wordpress. There are pros and cons to that. Wordpress being so popular means there are loads and loads and loads and loads of plugins built to use on it. One major con though is Wordpress is also the target of most hacks.

This article isn’t about us but we use Webflow exclusively for all of our client websites. And the reason we use Webflow is that it is (in our humble opinion) the best website development platform for SEO. It’s not the easiest platform to use, but ease of use isn’t our priority, SEO is. But the point we want to make is that Wordpress isn’t your only option. There are oodles of website development platforms to choose from.

So, if you are choosing a web development platform with SEO as a priority, here are the things you want to consider:

  • Site Speed: Loading speed is a factor for Google. Some platforms are faster than others.
  • Intuitive Navigation/SEO friendly site structure: Some platforms prioritize clean code making them easier for site crawlers to index pages.
  • The ability to modify SEO elements. There are a lot of factors to SEO (some of which we will cover below) and the vast majority of web development platforms provide you the opportunity to leverage those elements. For example, all but the most rigid platforms allow you to create meta descriptions or title tags. That’s why they all claim to be good for SEO. It’s not that their platform is inherently better, but that you have the option of doing all the on-site and other things that could make your website more SEO friendly. If you know what you are doing.

New Website SEO = Clean Slate

The best part of new website SEO is that you can start with a clean slate. No worries about going back and changing things. So here are the basics to consider right off the bat:

Create Your Master Keyword List

Here is where the real fun begins. There are a lot of factors when it comes to keywords and therefore the strategy for creating your master keyword list is really up to you. Let’s break it down as best we can:

  • Pick the tool you want to use for SEO research. Here at ATWS, we use SEMrush. It’s expensive if you are only using it for one site but it’s a bit of a no brainer if you are an agency. You can also use SEOmoz, Spyfu or you can create a Google Ads profile to access the Google Keyword Planner for free.
  • The tool you use will somewhat dictate what strategy you use. Obviously paid services are going to offer more insight than free ones. And if you are truly, truly on a budget you can do your best to milk the most out of the free trials for your new website SEO needs.

Here are some keyword factors to consider for your strategy:

  • Volume: Obviously the whole point behind SEO is to get traffic and therefore the volume of traffic is important. It would be silly to spend a ton of SEO capital (like your domain name) on a search term with very low volume. On the other hand, high volume keywords are out of reach for a new site and will be out of reach for a long time. So unless you want to wait years for the payoff it’s best to have a mix of low, medium and high volume keywords in your master list.
  • Keyword Difficulty: Every software is different but in general the keyword difficulty is based on a brand new site getting traction with this particular keyword. And while it may seem intuitive that keywords with the highest volume come with the highest difficulty that isn’t always the case. In fact, a lot of people search specifically for low difficulty, high volume keywords exclusively.
  • CPC: Depending on the tool you are using you can see the CPC or cost-per-click for that keyword. This is how much people are paying to be the ads above organic results.
  • SERP Features: Every keyword SERP (the page you see when you search for that keyterm) has a collection of features. Some keywords have videos, reviews, also asked questions, etc. One strategy could be to focus only on keywords that have videos in their SERPs and work on crafting content with videos in order to rank for those terms.
  • Funnel Stages: Keep in mind that keywords are just the words people put into search when they want something. Those terms change depending on where they are on the sales funnel. For example, if you want to find an accountant you might type in, “accountant near me” but if you are unsure how to do something on your taxes and need to hire someone that knows you might type in “exact problem” + “accountant” to get your answer. The first search is more broad and is for people “kicking the tires” whereas that second, more specific search is for someone much closer to picking up the phone and making an appointment. A smart strategy is to have keywords in all stages of the sales funnel.
  • Common Sense: If your competitor has been around for 10 years or their services differ from yours, chances are high they will have loads of keywords that simply do not apply to your website. Make sure that as you are building out your master keyword list that you are only adding terms that make sense for your site and your site visitors.

And you can always combine strategies. Example: Competition and Low Difficulty.

  • Competition: Go to your keyword research tool and type in the domain of your competitors. In SEMrush you do this in the “Domain Overview” under “Competitive Research” and from there you can select a Keyword Density Percentage. By combining these two things you can see what low hanging fruit your competition is already ranking for.

Plan out overall Site Structure

A lot of these bullet points could be their own blog post or guides even. In order to make this specific article into a pillar page, we would then create a post or guide or something dedicated to each one of the bullet points and link it back to this article. This is one way that site structure works.

If you take a step back and consider all of your site pages as individual islands, without structure they have no organization. They are just all floating around. But with site structure you then build what looks like an organizational chart. Who’s on top vs who’s on bottom.

Setting up this type of site structure is important for a myriad of reasons.

One, it let’s Google know which page is more important. If you have 15 different blog posts all talking about the same keyword (and eventually if you write content consistently you will have multiple posts on the same topic) then all of those pages are competing for one another. If Google can’t tell what page is more important, then whatever SEO benefit your domain is getting is spread around all those 15 pages.

Two, it helps with your site navigation. There’s a lot of strategies out there but everyone should be making things as easy as possible for their end users.

Three, it lends itself to internal linking. When you link to your own content, you are in fact building site structure. You are also helping your visitors find the best, most complete content. As you keep an eye on your site structure, you will consistently link to the best content. And as you can imagine, it’s a heck of a lot easier to do site structure when a website is new vs after you have a bunch of content to then straighten out.

On-Site Checklist (for each and every page, blog post or landing page)

On-Site or On-Page SEO is at its core, making sure you are using every opportunity to make sure Google understands where to rank your content. Once you have your keyword, here are all the places you want it to show up. Thereby creating a bright neon sign to Google that ready “hey, this is what this page is about!”

  • Make sure it is the only page on your site using that keyword (remember that part about site structure and not competing against yourself?)
  • Have 3-6 other related keyword handy that aren’t your main keyword. You’ll need this later.
  • Title the page with the keyword in the title. Remember that you are writing to actual people so don’t force the keyword at the front or make the whole title sound funky just to include the keyword. Titles should have an H1 tag but that is probably done for you.
  • Use the main keyword throughout your page but don’t go overboard. For example this page’s keyword is “New Website SEO” and we’ve used it 8 times over 3800ish total words. Shoot for no more than 1-2%. The quality of your content will matter more than a specific keyword density.
  • Use those related keywords from above one or two times each in the copy, depending on the length. Longer copy obviously allows you more space to use them more than once.
  • Write for the web. Meaning use subheads, break up paragraphs, use a lot of white space. This makes your copy easier to read by humans and web crawlers.
  • Use the main keyword in at least one of the subheads. And subheads should be H2.
  • Use relevant links with the preferred anchor texts. Remember that site structure thing? This is where you can use it. But don’t abuse it. Only link to other pages that are appropriate and helpful to your audience.
  • Especially for brand new websites, leverage the expertise of others. Link to resources that are appropriate and relevant to your copy. By linking out to pages that Google is already ranking for your main keyword, you are bolstering the value of your content.
  • Add an image. It helps make your site pretty and it gives you the opportunity to write another meta tag with your keyword. We like to save the image file with the keyword in it as well but be careful with that. You should only write the keyword in the title and description of the image if it is in fact relevant to that image. All your SEO efforts are wasted if Google flags you as spammy.
  • Once you have written all the tags and description for your image, be sure to do it for the entire post/page as well. Using your keyword only as often as it is natural.

Set up Google Analytics

Google Analytics has both a free and paid version. You are most likely just interested in the free version. Everything you need to know from sign up to setting up your analytics can be found on this helpful google support page. It’s free and from Google. If your goal is to rank higher in Google, you should soak up all that Google offers as free tools.

Even if you don’t max out all the options on Google Analytics like setting up A/B testing, you should at least set a calendar alert to review your traffic and other analytics one every quarter.

Create your Calendar

Once you have a master keyword list, a rough site structure and you think through your sales funnel, the content calendar pretty much makes itself. Spread the love across a few broad topics and then continually drill down to produce better and better content. All the SEO in the world can’t help you if all you produce is lousy content.

Remember that at the end of the day, Google wants to be a great search engine. That means when people search google for something they can trust the results will have value. If you aren’t producing value, Google doesn’t want you in their searches. Your bad copy makes them look bad. If people stop trusting Google, the search engine (and all the gazillions in ad dollars) will disappear like Ask Jeeves or Alta Vista. Remember them? A short history, in 1995 (before Google), Alta Vista was a search engine. But their algorithm was easily manipulated. So when Google hit the scene in 1997, it quickly overcame Alta Vista and other search engines. Alta Vista was bought by Yahoo! And then Yahoo! used it as their search engine. Have you ever searched on Yahoo! for something? Me either.

There are loads of strategies behind creating your content calendar. Some companies prefer to only post once a month with a 3k word masterpiece. Other companies post 3 times a week. Some companies schedule so that the sales funnel is evenly spread, others do it by keyword difficulty. At the end of the day, there are two things that are key to SEO success in regards to content: quality and consistency. If you post three times a week, you better be prepared to post 3 times a week for the next 5 years. And quality. As mentioned, Google cares the most about the quality of your content. Using these SEO tips are like raising your hand in class. It let’s the search crawlers know you are there and what you want to talk about. But if you are the knucklehead in the class who never takes things seriously, you aren’t going to be called on. Make sense?

Get the Word Out

Once your site is ready for publication, you need to start marketing. Let’s assume you aren’t doing any paid stuff and everything is good old fashioned sweat equity:

Submit Site index to Google

If you are a Webflow user, this is a simple step in your process. Just go to Settings>Setting> Turn on Auto-Generate site map. If you are on Wordpress, there are oodles of plugins that will submit your sitemap for you. If you are looking for a tool just for XML sitemaps, I would encourage you to scope out Screaming Frog. They are out of the UK and lovely. SEER Interactive wrote a massive manual on 55 ways to use Screaming Frog.

If you want to see how popular Screaming Frog is with the professional SEO crowd just google anything with “screaming frog” and instead of their main site coming up, it will be full of other top SEOs talking about them. Amazing.

Set Up Google My Business Profile

If you are a local business, you simply HAVE TO create a Google My Business Profile. It’s helpful for any kind of company but if you have a physical location it’s a no brainer. If you are a lawyer and someone in your area googles “lawyer near me” your Google My Business Profile will be at the top of the SERPs. No targeting keywords, no writing extra copy. No extra work.

Now, if you are in a busy area and you have lots of competition there are plenty of ways to get your Google My Business Profile more recognition. Here’s a quick rundown of ways your competition might not be using their Google My Profile business that you can:

  • Pictures. Google My Business LOVES pictures! And videos! Don’t worry about spending a huge amount for a professional level video. Walk around your office with your iphone and introduce people.
  • Ask people to post pictures along with their reviews. Again, pictures are awesome. And if someone is willing to post a review, chances are they are also willing to post pictures. It can seem silly to take photos while you are at a business so go out of your way to encourage it. Are you a dentist? If you have people running around the waiting room taking pictures of their kids, encourage them to post it to your Google page. They will likely love the idea.
  • Announcements. This is a very seldom used but very effective way to get noticed. You can announce a promotion or an anniversary. Think of it like a mini blog post or tweet.

Beyond all that there is the obvious: completely fill out your profile. Add in your hours, keywords, during Covid-19 you can post things like how you are keeping your staff and customers safe, etc. Remember that Google owns Google My Business Profiles. So it would be in your best interest (because it is in their best interest) for you to use it to the max. Half empty profiles are not going to rank as well as highly active ones. Google is not stupid :)

Create Your Social Media Profiles

I remember a marketing guru telling me back in 2005 that it is never too early for social media profiles. And he was so right! Even if you are still just thinking about your website, go ahead and start the profile. Get the traction rolling there. If you need graphics for social media including the profile stuff use Canva. Or better yet, real actual photos from your smart phone. Having a real face, a genuine person behind a profile is always better than a company brand. Unless it’s Wendy’s. If you can be Wendy’s by gollie, just be Wendy’s. Their social media is awesome :)

While we are talking profiles, let me get on my soapbox a bit. There are a ton of automated services, please only use those as filler posts. Social media should be social in nature. If you want to plan out a daily post for the next month or two based on your content calendar that’s totally cool. And actually what we do here at All That Website Stuff. But we also make a point of going into all of our client profiles for some genuine interactions. And that makes a huge difference.

Have a plan for email contact, possibly email marketing

Once your site goes live, you will get some emails. They might be potential clients or they might be people signing up for other reasons. Be clear in your site design so people know what they are signing up for and have a plan in place to handle these emails.

For example, if you are a service, create sales collateral that your team can send along with a welcome email. Or, simply have a plan in place so that every email makes it into your CRM. Even if the email is completely bogus, put it in your CRM anyway. It won’t hurt anything and it will help you track later if it pops up again.

And of course if you are promoting a newsletter or drip campaign on your website, make sure all the hoops are jumped through before you go live.

Monitoring Progress

New Website SEO isn’t going to skyrocket you to the top of SERPs right away, so how do you keep the train moving in the right direction?

Have Realistic Expectations

A general rule of thumb is that SEO takes about 6 months to see results. And an active SEO campaign should then dwarf those first 6 months in the first year. SEO is a bit more tedious than creative but it’s very important in the long run. If your company is going to be around in 5 years, you might as well use the time wisely. I can’t tell you how many of our friends work specifically on websites that have been around for ages without any SEO. It never made it into the budget and now, years, sometimes a decade later they have to go back and change things. It’s ludacris. New Website SEO is easier just by the nature of being new. Enjoy it!

Bi-Weekly or Monthly Reviews of Results

The first 6 months of an SEO campaign can be frustrating, but it’s important to keep tabs on everything. Look for new key words every couple months. Keep tabs on your competition by running monthly reports on them. And every other week go to your analytics to see what your content is doing. Whatever you schedule, put in on your calendar and stick to it. It’s the little tweaks along the way that make the biggest impact. SEO is definitely not a one and done kind of effort.

Update your Best Content Regularly

Revisit your pillar content so that you can improve it. Do more than just change the date though! Go through and add more information. Maybe add or tweak a little of On-Site SEO but be careful that you don’t lose any momentum you’ve already earned. But if you have a great performing piece of content, chances are you will only keep the momentum going when you add more value to the page.

Phew! That was a lot of information! I hope this post was helpful to you as you work on your own new website SEO.

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