Finding yourself running a business right smack in the middle of the digital age means it’s a must to have your own website. This allows you to have a wider reach by giving you new channels to market your product or service. A website also helps you stay relevant in your industry and deliver top-notch customer experience while giving the competition a run for their money through effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
This may all sound simple, but while having a website could help you reap a ton of benefits, you must first go through a laundry list of items to complete before going live. Similar to building a skyscraper, you should first draw the necessary plans before starting to break ground, allowing you to cover all bases prior to running the show.
The whole point of building a website is to establish an online presence, which is crucial if you’re trying to market a modern brand. Many companies have already been taking advantage of this for years. However, you can’t just have a skilled web designer to create one for you and have a developer to make it work. The key is to lay a good foundation by going through an SEO checklist, so you don’t get lost in the mix.
Why Is SEO Important for New Websites?
SEO has been around since the early days of the internet. Up to this day, search engines are doing their job to crawl and rank websites so they can deliver all the right information that you’re looking for. Consumers are heavily reliant on search engines to help them find everything from the best places to eat near you to recommended B2B software providers.
Optimizing your website for search engines regardless of what you offer makes it easier to reach your target audience. It’s a surefire way to attract them to your site through keywords that are relevant to what you offer. Your strategy will determine how you’ll rank on search engine results pages (SERPs), giving you more brand visibility and driving quality traffic. Here are important reasons why SEO is needed for your new website:
1. It helps build your brand
While branding may often be considered as a more traditional approach, SEO is firmly classified into the digital marketing category. Despite their differences, the two involve similar steps, and the key to understanding how to build your brand is by considering both what you offer and what others say about it.
2. It draws more traffic
The primary goal of SEO is to improve your site’s rankings in SERPs. However, it goes beyond this since the purpose of gaining high rankings is to attract more traffic, which would ideally convert into leads and eventually customers.
3. You don’t have to pay for ad space
One of the best benefits you can get from SEO is not having to pay for ad space. Unlike traditional ad campaigns, you don’t have to determine a location where you want your brand to appear and pay the company that owns that media channel for placement. SEO happens “organically.”
4. It helps your target audience find your website
SEO can help your business appear in front of your target audience while they’re actively searching for information about the product or service you’re offering. And if you take a moment to think about how common it is for consumers to use search engines to look for information about products and services, this is a massive opportunity.
A convincing of consumers use search engines if they first want to learn more about a new business, its product, or service, with 41% using them when they’ve made the decision to make a purchase.
5. It establishes and increases both your credibility and authority
When SEO is combined with content marketing, you have the opportunity to create informative and valuable content, which can build trust and credibility with your potential customers during the research phase.
6. It can let you stay ahead of the competition
Not only does your site rank well on SERPs when you optimize, you can also steal search share from your competitors, enabling you to dominate the market.
Consider these stats: the first result on any given SERP gets an average of 20.5 percent of the clicks, and it goes down from there. The second result gets 13.32 percent and the third 13.14 percent. So, as you move up in ranking, you’ll get a higher percentage of clicks for your target keywords while the competition will be earning less.
7. It enhances user experience
Google’s single goal as a search engine is to deliver the best possible results to its users. This has resulted in many algorithm updates that are focused on making sure they point their them to the right direction, which are sites that not only provide relevant content, but also a fantastic user experience.
This is why technical factors such as mobile-friendliness, site speed, and usability play much bigger roles in rankings than ever before.
8. Results are easy to measure
SEO allows you to measure virtually every aspect of your results using tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs to monitor your traffic, conversions, referral sources, and other metrics that matter to your business. This way you can keep an eye on what’s working and what’s not.
SEO Checklist for New Websites
Now that you know how important SEO is in building a website, let’s go through the checklist, so you know what to address when you plan to launch:
The proliferation of mobile devices has led to people using them more often than desktop or laptop computers for browsing. For this reason, Google now indexes and ranks the mobile version of your website before the desktop.
In this regard, if your site delivers a similar experience both on desktop and mobile, this probably won’t have a big effect on your rankings. However, it’s important to note that if you have different content across your desktop and mobile versions, mobile-first indexing may cause you to rank lower in SERPs.
If you’re planning to benefit from this, you may want to make some changes on how to set up your website. Remember, mobile searches tend to lead to more purchases. In fact, around 76 percent of people who used their smartphone to perform a search visit the business within 24 hours, and 28 percent of those end with a purchase.
How fast your site loads is crucial for retaining visitors, since a high bounce rate will eventually make waste of all your SEO efforts. So, if you optimize your website’s speed, you’re already one step ahead of the competition.
The bad news is, more than 70 percent of the pages analyzed by Google during a study took seven seconds to load visual content above the fold. On average, most landing pages take 22 seconds to load fully, but more than 50 percent of mobile site visitors will leave if it takes more than three seconds to load completely.
To make things worse, as page load time increases to seven seconds, mobile site visitor bounce rate increases to a whopping 113 percent. You’ll have to consider the number of elements on a page, which not only increase loading times, but also affect your conversion rates.
Planning your site’s architecture can help you establish a flexible structure as you continue to build as you go. For most websites, having a pyramid composition is the way to go. It involves having your homepage at the top, with the next most important pages—those that are on your main menu— right below it. Underneath those, you can add subcategories and other pages that fall within them.
SEO and user experience will always be inextricably linked, which can be broken down into two parts: navigation and design. However, these two will only be mutually beneficial to your website launch if you get them in the proper order.
The key is to design your site’s navigation by keeping in mind what your customer wants from you first. The best way to approach this is to create content silos that address the needs of your customers and direct them to content or products that fill these needs. Once this is set up, you can start designing the pages by how they can easily navigate through your site.
When you’ve achieved fluid navigation, your next step would be to test your site for usability. But while usability testing can have a large scope, you should address a few vital aspects that include:
- Functionality in various browsers
- Intuitive UI
If you’ve managed to tick all these off, you’re on the right track. All you need do is refine these elements until launch day and just keep on making the necessary improvements as you go on.
While your initial keyword research can help you look at the bigger picture in terms of the language you plan to use in building your website, it’s also good practice to target a specific keyword or two for each page on your site. Also, to avoid competing against yourself, decide on unique keywords per page.
There are a number of tools that can help provide keyword suggestions and data about the amount of traffic and competition you can expect from them. Most require you to pay a subscription fee, but you can always use Google’s free Keyword Planner to get you started.
Once you have selected your keywords, you’ll want to optimize all of your content around them. Use them where it’s easy for both visitors and search engines to know what the page is all about. One of the best practices is to use one focus keyword per page. While it’s also okay to inject a few secondary keywords in your page, you would generally want to designate one official keyword per page or post.
Customize each page of your website’s URLs. It should be easy to remember, communicate the content on that page, and, if possible, contain your target keyword for that specific page.
Your site’s architecture should also be set up to help create a more optimized structure for your URLs, which provides your visitors with information regarding their positioning on the site. For instance, if one of your top-level categories is “bags” and a subcategory is “backpacks, your product page might be something like “www.yourwebsite.com/bags/backpacks/product”.
A title tag is a part of a website that Google looks at to learn what the page is all about, making it another good place to use your target keyword.
Try to keep it short, since Google only displays 50-60 characters on SERPs, and even less of it will show up in the tab at the top of your browser. Avoid stuffing keywords here; using your primary keywords once should be enough.
Each image you upload on a webpage gives you an added opportunity for optimizing your page through your main keywords. You can customize the filename of every image as well as the alt text on the page to include the keyword you’re targeting.
When creating articles for publishing on your website, headings are a great tool to better organize your copy, making them easy to read and scannable for visitors. An added bonus is that your headings become another signal to Google regarding what your page is all about.
A good strategy is to include your target keywords in the headings, but only when it makes sense to do so. Forcing words may sound strange to your readers, so make sure their insertion is natural and justifiable.
When dealing with text optimization, you have to be careful and avoid keyword stuffing or risk being penalized by Google. However, as long as you use target keywords and their relevant synonyms in contexts where they make sense, it’s good practice to integrate them into your page’s text content.
Meta descriptions don’t have a direct influence on rankings, but they do play an important role in boosting your click-through rates from the search results. When people spot your web page in SERPs, they’ll see your meta description right below the page title, and any words that match their search will help draw their attention to it. Whatever you write here can make a case as to why your page is worth the click.
Just like writing text content, go for a relevant meta description for every page on your website. Try incorporating your keywords naturally and hopefully end up with bolded text on the SERP, and at the same time use the space to offer a short description of what’s valuable on the page to make people click through. Also, try to keep it short—around 50-160 characters to achieve optimal length for readability.
Internal linking is a way to signal Google what your page is all about through your anchor text or those words that are hyperlinked in your content. Google knows when this happens and takes these anchor texts as information about what’s on the page.
Internal links also show search engines how your web pages within your site are connected and how they drive keyword authority from one page to another. Ideally, you’d want your visitors to stick around and spend time on your site. Providing helpful internal links can help make this happen.
Before any of your web pages can show up on SERPs, Google has to crawl your website first. Typically, these crawlers will eventually make their way to your website over time regardless if you don’t do anything. However, you can speed things up by directly submitting your sitemap through Google’s Search Console. Once done, your website will have a stronger chance of improving its rank quality.
You’ll probably be able to tell how well your website is doing in SERPs based on the increased activity your business is having. But if you want a more accurate picture of what’s going on, Google Analytics is the tool you need. You can measure all the essential metrics of your website, so you’re up to speed on its performance and make any adjustments if necessary.
Cover All Your Bases
Getting your website prepped for SEO may appear to be a daunting task, but this checklist can prove to be invaluable in your efforts to make sure your website is ready to perform and rank high in SERPs. Just like planning the blueprints of a building, it’s vital to cover all bases, so you don’t end up having a difficult time figuring out where you’re having trouble when things go wrong.
Once everything’s in place and have all the SEO essentials, you’re ready for launch. Marketing your website from here on will be relatively easier, but remember, don’t stop making improvements. Keep creating the right content, refine your SEO strategies, and continue building your brand. Pretty soon, results will come and you’ll be able to reap all the wonderful benefits of your efforts.
Contact us today to learn how we can help grow your new website with the power of SEO!