Setting up a new website is an important step, but getting it to actually rank on Google is an even bigger task. Often it can take weeks, if not months, for search engines to crawl your web pages and rank them in searches. Our checklist will walk you through the process.
SETTING UP YOUR SITE
Choose your domain name
Get the perfect domain name to help your website rank. Of course, you should always include your business name as your domain name but, if it’s possible, get your product or keyword in there too.
For example, if you’re a deli called ‘Louie’s’, chances are www.louies.com is already taken and isn’t going to help you get found. But, if you opt for www.louies-deli.com you’re getting that key product term in there as well as your actual brand name.
Make sure it’s easy to pronounce, and, ideally, easy to spell. Avoid numbers, hyphens and other symbols where possible. Once you’ve got your domain, register it. Use a website like 123 Reg to do so, as they are renowned and competitively priced.
Check out the competition
Before you start building your content, check out your competitors and scope out what they’re doing online.
What pages do they have and what are they ranking for? Try out some keyword searches and see who comes up and what content they’re sharing to rank.
Plan your structure
Try Google’s Keyword Planner to check out what traffic you can expect for particular keywords and start building out the architecture of your website based on that. For most websites, your architecture should be a basic pyramid. Your homepage will sit at the top, underneath which will sit your most important pages. These are likely to be your service or product pages, along with your company profile and case studies. You can add subcategories or other individual pages. This is a great place to build out content around keywords. Think about the content your website visitors will be searching for, and how they will navigate through your website to do so.
Keyword map your content
You’ve got all your keyword data, but what keywords do you need for each individual page? Back to Google Keyword Planner we go, as we check the traffic and insights for each page and what we need to include to help us rank.
If you’re writing a page on “lemurs in the wild” for example, you’ll want to ensure you include words and phrases like “species of lemur”, “types of lemur”, “native” and of course, “lemur”. But don’t stuff your page with keywords every other word. Build informative, helpful content that answers a particular question and you’ll find your pages ranking much higher.
Optimise page URLS – Customise the URL of every page on your website. If you followed the previous steps in our checklist, then each of your pages will have a set, target keyword. Ensure your URL incorporates this word. Remember, if you’re using sub-pages and categories, then you’ll need a relevant and useful URL structure. For example, if you’re a clothing brand, then you’ll want a top category of ‘dresses’ under which you may have a sub-category of ‘daytime dresses’, under which your individual product links will sit. Done correctly, your product URL structure will look something like www.website.com/dresses/daytime-dresses/product-name.
Optimise headings – Headings are a great way to organise your copy and give your page a better sense of design. However, they also signal to Google what your page is actually about.
Strategically add your keywords in the headings of your web pages – but only where it makes sense to do so – to help it rank better overall.
Optimise your content – There are plenty of tips out there to writing good SEO-friendly blogs. The main one to remember is that all of your content should be answering a question. If you have at the forefront of your mind what your user is searching for, then you’re onto a winner.
Quick tips are to avoid keyword stuffing, try to opt for long-form content and be informative but scannable.
Define your meta descriptions – While these don’t generally affect your SEO ranking, they will affect your click-through-rate. When a person sees your web page in the search result, the meta description is the bit of text that sits under the page title.
Write a short, snappy description that matches the terms they’ve search, to help draw their attention to your result. Make sure you edit every description on every page to avoid the automatic ones pulled into Google.
Is your website even being seen by search engines? There’s only one way to find out. You can check crawlers like Screaming Frog or Google Search Console. They’ll run a scan of your website to double check the search engine crawlers can get to all your pages.
They’ll find any errors out too, like broken links, duplicate content or broken pages.
You’ll also want to check how your website looks across devices and internet browsers, because designs can often be mis-translated across different screen sizes. Last but not least, page loading speed. This is essential to check. If you have large files on your website, chances are your loading time is going to grind to a stop. With web users more impatient than ever, it’s essential you keep your loading time quick to keep your users on site. Try Google Speed Test to check how long your website takes to load.
Submit your sitemap to Google
Now your website is error-free, it’s ready to be crawled by Google. Usually the crawlers will make their way to your website without you doing anything, but you should kick-start the process by submitting your sitemap through Google Search Console. This should help your website be found in search results, faster.
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Set up tracking and key services to help you monitor your site and brand
Once you’re done with the website, there’s a bunch of other stuff that is essential to set up to make sure you’re truly getting the most out of your web pages.
Web analytics –
Google Analytics is free and absolutely essential to tracking your website. Ensure you integrate your website to GA and you’ll be able to track visitors, their actions on page and even set up conversions so you can see how many goals your website achieves per day, week and month.
Google Search Console –
If you haven’t already set this up, then definitely do so, along with Bing WebMaster Tools. It’ll reveal any website errors as well as providing you with details on your rankings for set keywords.
Retargeting setup –
You might not need to retarget after initially launching your website, but setting up a social and Google pixel straight away ensures you don’t miss out on any valuable sessions on your website. This means you can remarket to them at a later date that’s convenient to you.
SEO tool –
To properly track your SEO, you’re going to want a tool to do the hard work for you. There are a bunch of great options out there including Moz, SEMRush and Ahrefs. They will show you link-building opportunities, competitor analysis as well as doing a regular crawl of your site.
Brand alerts –
Now your website is up and running, you’ll want to know if people are talking about you. Google Alerts are free and easy to set up. They’re a great way of getting news about your business straight to your inbox.
Social profiles –
Last but not least, social! Claim your brand name on social first, even if you’re not sure you’re going to use that channel yet.
Amplify your launch
Link building and engagement is a big indicator to search engines that your website should be ranking. First, identify a list of people who can support your website launch. They could be customers, journalists, bloggers or even just friends and family. Start outreach and build a list of potential supporters to help you spread the news.
Being timely is everything so make sure you complete this outreach prior to launching, nobody cares about old news.
According to Google, social doesn’t officially help SEO rankings but getting more traffic to your pages will help them rank higher. Use your social channels, and those on your outreach list, to help drive good quality, long sessions online. Ensure all your social pages are fully branded and make a big splash on launch day.
Create an SEO plan for the future
Your SEO journey is only just beginning. SEO is a commitment to continuing to deliver clear, relevant content to your target audience. So set aside some time to map out a plan.
Building an SEO strategy is essential to ensure consistent tracking, tweaks and hopefully, a high ranking for your website. Continually review your pages and the traffic they receive and analyse why it is you’re appearing, or not appearing for keyword searches.
And there you have it! Hopefully this checklist gets you on the way to building a successful, highly ranking website. To take your SEO strategy to the next level, contact our digital marketing experts for additional guidance.
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Are you using search terms which specifically describe your business but your website does not come up in Google searches? Follow these steps to ensure you rank higher in searches and potential customers can find you with ease.