Launching a new website can be an exciting venture, but ensuring it’s primed for success in the digital landscape requires careful planning. A crucial part of this planning is implementing a robust new website SEO strategy. This is key in making your website visible to search engines and, consequently, to your target audience.
At Digital Hothouse, we work with a wide range of clients across a huge range of industries and whether they are just starting out with a brand new website, or they are an established market leader in their field, we always start with identifying the basics and ensuring that several key SEO factors are in place.
This blog post outlines a 10-step checklist to guide you through essential SEO tasks for your new website, positioning it for optimal online visibility and successful organic traffic growth.
1. Ensure your website is indexed by major search engines
It seems like an absolute no-brainer, however, it’s remarkable how many businesses have issues with how content on their website is indexed by major search engines including Google.
For new websites, the entire website must be available for search engines to crawl and index the content on the site. Starting with a fresh site means that you shouldn’t have pages that you don’t want search engines to index, no content that needs to be redirected, and no content that doesn’t add value to your target audience.
Ensuring that your website is properly indexed by major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo is a fundamental step in new website SEO. This process enables these search engines to discover, crawl, and index your site, making your content accessible and visible in search engine results.
To facilitate this process, start by creating and submitting a sitemap to Google via Google Search Console (GSC). A sitemap is essentially a map of your website, providing an organised list of all the pages on your site. This helps search engines navigate your content and understand the structure of your site.
Remember, however, that indexing doesn’t guarantee high search ranking. Your content needs to be high-quality, relevant and optimised in line with SEO best practices to rank well. But the first step is ensuring that search engines know your website exists — and that’s where indexing comes into play.
2. Create sitemaps for easy navigation and improve indexing
As mentioned above, a sitemap is a crucial SEO element for new and existing websites and something that all sites should have.
To create a sitemap, you can use various online tools such as XML-Sitemaps or Screaming Frog, or, if you’re using a Content Management System like WordPress, plugins such as Google XML Sitemaps can simplify the process. Once created, your sitemap should be submitted to Google via Google Search Console. Simply go to ‘Sitemaps’ under ‘Index’, enter the URL of your sitemap, and click ‘Submit’.
Sitemaps play a significant role in SEO for several reasons. Firstly, they make it easier for search engines to discover and index all the pages on your site. This is especially important if your site is new, has a complex structure, or contains pages that aren’t well-linked to others. Secondly, sitemaps can provide valuable metadata to search engines, such as information about when a page was last updated, how frequently it changes, and how important it is relative to other pages on your site. This data may influence how search engines crawl your site, and ultimately, how your pages are ranked in search results.
Remember, a sitemap is not a ‘quick fix’ for SEO, but it’s a fundamental tool that enables search engines to better understand and index your site. This, combined with quality, relevant content and adherence to SEO best practices, can improve your site’s visibility in search results.
3. Build a user-friendly mobile version of the website
When you are designing and building a new website, it is crucial to think about how that site will appear on mobile devices. A lot of SEOs and agencies advocate for a mobile-first approach to the design and development of a new website, however, we prefer to look at both side by side.
Whilst Google has now completed the roll-out of their mobile-first index that first started in September 2020, this doesn’t mean that the majority of your visitors will view your website on a mobile device. Mobile is important for Google and the way your site is indexed, however, your site must be optimised for user experience across all devices. That being said, as Google is now using mobile-first indexing for all websites, there are a few things you need to focus on.
A mobile-friendly website is not simply a scaled-down version of your desktop site. It requires a thoughtful design strategy that prioritises convenience and usability on smaller screens. Factors such as easy navigation, readable text sizes, and quick loading times are paramount. Moreover, mobile-friendly sites typically rank higher in mobile search results, thereby increasing visibility and potentially driving more traffic to your site.
Building a mobile-friendly website also helps enhance your local SEO. Search engines understand that mobile searchers are often looking for quick, local information and they prioritise results that are designed to answer these queries effectively.
Therefore, creating a mobile-friendly website is not just about adhering to Google’s mobile-first indexing but also about meeting your users where they are. By delivering a stellar mobile experience, you are not only improving your search engine rankings but also enhancing user engagement and satisfaction, which can lead to higher conversion rates.
4. Utilise meta tags and titles to improve visibility in search engine results
Meta tags and titles play a crucial role as major on-page SEO factors. They provide search engines with information about the content and relevance of your web pages, influencing how your site is indexed and where it ranks in search results.
The title tag, visible as the headline in search engine results, is one of the first points of interaction users have with your website. This makes it a vital tool for attracting clicks and driving traffic to your site.
Meanwhile, meta descriptions summarise your web page content, giving searchers a quick insight into what they can expect from your page. While meta descriptions don’t directly impact ranking, a well-written meta description can significantly boost click-through rates, indirectly impacting SEO.
In addition, specific meta tags like the viewport tag are essential for mobile-friendly websites. It helps control your page’s layout on mobile browsers, further underscoring the importance of optimising your website for all devices.
The effective use of meta tags and titles can significantly enhance your website’s visibility, engage your audience, and improve your SEO performance. So, it’s of utmost importance to optimise them as part of your overall SEO strategy.
5. Conduct keyword research to understand what potential customers are searching for
Keyword research is the cornerstone of developing an effective SEO strategy for a new website. It essentially involves identifying the words and phrases that potential customers type into search engines when searching for products or services similar to yours. Understanding these ‘keywords’ enables you to tailor your content and SEO efforts to match these search patterns, thereby increasing your website’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).
We may have put the cart before the horse with some of these recommendations, however, keyword research is one of the most crucial stages of new website SEO. It is probably something that should be done before you think about the architecture of your website and the pages you want to include as the way people search for the products and services you offer can greatly influence the way you present that information on your website.
Keywords aren’t just about SEO, though. They are the connection between what people are searching for and the content you provide to fill that need. In essence, your keywords reveal the thoughts and desires of your potential customers. By using the right keywords, you can drive targeted traffic to your site, which in turn leads to higher conversion rates.
Keyword research also helps you identify niche segments, understand market trends, and gain insights into the strategies used by your competitors. In essence, it provides a sort of roadmap for your SEO strategy, guiding your efforts and helping you prioritise tasks. Therefore, failing to conduct thorough keyword research can result in wasted time, resources, and missed opportunities.
Consequently, before you start building your website or creating content, take the time to understand the language your potential customers are using and how you can leverage that information to drive traffic and conversions. Keyword research should not just be a one-time exercise; it should be a continuous process, evolving as market trends shift, consumer behaviour changes, and new products or services are introduced.
6. Use backlinks from reputable sources to boost SEO rankings
Building domain authority is of paramount importance, particularly for new websites aiming to establish a strong presence on the internet. Domain authority, a metric developed by Moz, is a numerical representation of your website’s credibility and expertise in its niche, as perceived by search engines. A higher domain authority score signifies a greater likelihood of higher search engine rankings and more organic traffic.
Backlinks, particularly those from reputable and high-authority websites, play a critical role in this equation. These serve as positive ‘votes’ for your website, indicating to search engines that your content is not only reliable and valuable but also trusted by other reputable entities in the digital space. Each high-quality backlink your website receives effectively bolsters its domain authority, enhancing your SEO performance.
However, it’s essential to focus on the quality of backlinks rather than mere quantity. Links from high-authority, relevant sites are far more beneficial than a plethora of links from low-quality or irrelevant sites. Therefore, as part of your SEO strategy, aim to cultivate high-quality backlinks through methods like guest blogging, content creation, and influencer partnerships.
Remember, building domain authority is a long-term process. It requires consistent effort and a strategic approach. By focusing on securing high-quality backlinks, you can gradually build your domain authority, enhancing your website’s visibility, and driving more organic traffic.
7. Optimise images for better page loading times
Page load speed has been an integral part of successful SEO strategies for a number of years now, and as a new website, it is important that you start out on the right foot when it comes to page speed. You have a blank canvas to work with and there should be no reason why you should design and develop a site that is slow-loading and that therefore provides a poor user experience.
Optimising images is one crucial aspect of enhancing page load speeds, a key factor affecting your website’s SEO ranking and overall user experience. Large, high-resolution images can significantly slow down your page load time, detracting from the user experience and potentially harming your search engine ranking. Image optimisation involves reducing the file size of your images without sacrificing quality to increase your website’s speed.
There are several techniques for image optimisation. These include compressing images, using responsive images that adapt to the users’ screen size, embracing newer image formats like WebP, and leveraging lazy loading, where images only load when they come into the user’s view.
Importantly, image optimisation isn’t a one-time task but a continuous and ongoing process. As you add new content to your website, each image should be optimised. Regular audits of your website can also help identify and rectify any images that are unnecessarily slowing down your page load speed. By continually optimising your images, you would be taking significant strides towards maintaining fast page load speeds, thereby providing a smoother user experience and boosting your site’s SEO performance.
8. Make sure all of your content is original, informative, and helpful
Creating original, informative, and helpful content is pivotal not only for driving traffic to your website but also for adding value to your visitors’ experience. When crafting content, your primary focus should be on providing informative and valuable insights that are unique to your site.
Originality is key, as content that is duplicated from other sources can negatively impact your website’s SEO performance. In addition to being original, your content should be relevant to your target audience and provide valuable insights or solutions to their queries or needs.
Ensure that your content is reader-friendly, using clear and easy-to-understand language. Remember, the aim is to educate and engage your audience, not overwhelm them with industry jargon or technical terms.
Informative content goes beyond simply providing information. It involves offering insights, analyses, and valuable takeaways that aren’t readily available elsewhere. It positions your website as an authority in your field and encourages visitors to return for more valuable insights.
Lastly, helpful content is all about providing solutions. Understand your audience’s pain points and craft content that provides effective solutions. A helpful piece of content is like a service to your audience, and when users find value in what you offer, they’re more likely to become loyal site visitors and customers.
By focusing on creating content that is original, informative, and helpful, you’ll be adding substantial value to your visitors’ experience, encouraging repeat visits and ultimately boosting your website’s SEO performance.
9. Submit your site to local business directories and listings
Submitting your website to local business directories and listings is a potent strategy to bolster your local SEO and extend your reach within your community. These directories work similarly to online Yellow Pages, providing your potential customers with your business’s vital details. They can include your business name, location, contact information, and sometimes, customer reviews, enhancing your online visibility in your local area.
Beyond being a tool for improving local SEO, local directories are also an integral part of successful link outreach campaigns. When your website is listed in a local business directory, it creates a backlink to your website. The more reputable the directory, the more valuable the backlink. These backlinks are crucial for your website’s SEO as they signal to search engines that your site is trustworthy and reliable, thereby improving your ranking. Here is a list of some of the most important local directories to get a listing in:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
- Yellow Pages
Moreover, these directories can boost your reputation and credibility. Users often trust companies that appear in reputable business directories, as inclusion can be seen as a form of validation. Therefore, the combination of local directories and a strategic link outreach campaign can significantly improve your website’s visibility, online reputation, and SEO performance.
10. Monitor your SEO progress regularly with analytics tools like Google Search Console
Setting up Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Google Search Console (GSC) when launching a new website is vital for tracking and understanding the website’s performance metrics. These free tools from Google provide comprehensive insights that are key to shaping effective SEO strategies.
GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics, offering a more holistic view of how users interact with your website. It tracks varied user interactions such as clicks, scrolling, and conversions, among other metrics. Furthermore, GA4’s advanced machine learning models can automatically alert you of significant trends or changes in your data, such as rising demand for a product you sell.
Similarly, GSC is an invaluable tool for monitoring and managing your site’s presence in Google Search results. It helps you understand which keywords are driving traffic to your site, how often your site appears in search results, and how these impressions convert to actual clicks. GSC also alerts you about any issues that could affect your site’s visibility in search results, such as crawl errors, manual actions, or security issues.
In essence, both GA4 and GSC serve as the foundation of any successful SEO strategy, helping to monitor your progress, understand your audience better, and make informed decisions to optimise your site’s performance.
In summary, SEO is a critical component for both new and established websites, acting as a catalyst to elevate online visibility and reputation. The implementation of tools like Google Analytics 4 and Google Search Console are instrumental in understanding website performance metrics and shaping successful SEO strategies. These tools not only provide insights into user interaction and traffic-driving keywords but also alert to any potential issues affecting site visibility. While these strategies are vital for new websites to gain traction, they are equally relevant for long-standing websites, warranting regular auditing to ensure optimal performance and relevancy in an ever-evolving digital landscape.