7 First SEO Steps to Take After You Launch a New Website
You’ve had a great new business idea, registered your domain name and started to build your website. How can you make sure it’s easy for Google and other search engines to discover and rank?
SEO is a long-term process and results are rarely immediate, but the first steps you take after you launch a new website can have a big impact on the website’s potential to rank in Google search for its target keywords and start bringing in traffic, leads and sales.
Get things right at the beginning, from an SEO perspective, and you’ll save yourself hours and hours of work further down the line fixing a website that wasn’t originally built with SEO in mind.
Below, we’ve listed seven first steps that you should take whenever you launch a new website to make sure it’s designed from the very beginning to rank for its target keywords and attract as much traffic as possible from organic search.
Structure your website for your target keywords
The structure of your website has a huge effect on its ability to rank. In order to rank effectively for your target keywords, you need to structure your website so that each page targets its own set of closely related, highly relevant keywords.
For example, pretend you’re launching a website for a men’s shoe shop. You sell a variety of different men’s shoes, from leather shoes and boots to sports shoes. You’d like each category to rank for its target keywords and attract searchers looking for a specific type of shoe.
This means breaking down your website’s structure into categories, with each category aimed at a different search keyword. Below, we’ve included an example site structure, with the homepage targeting the main keyword (“Men’s shoes”) and subpages for each secondary keyword:
Structuring your website like this has several benefits. First, it creates a clear theme and target keyword for each page on the website, instead of having one page target multiple keywords. It allows you to closely target each keyword on each page for maximum relevance.
It also allows you to further break down each category into subcategories. For example, if our example website sold several different types of men’s leather shoes, we could further break it down to target additional keywords with subpages:
This structure lets each page target its own primary keyword, as well as a set of secondary keywords. A website structure like this, with each page dedicated to its own set of keywords, gives each page greater relevance and improves its potential organic search visibility.
- Make sure each page of your website targets one primary search keyword and several secondary keywords.
- Structure your website so that each page is as relevant and specific as possible using the example structure shown above.
- Avoid optimizing one page for too many keywords. It’s better to have several pages, each extremely relevant, than one page covering multiple topics poorly.
Make sure each page has great, Google-friendly content
In the world of SEO in 2016, content is one of the most important on-page factors for helping your website rank. Before you start any active SEO efforts, it’s important to make sure your website has content that engages and helps its users.
Data shows that pages with 2,000+ words of content typically rank higher in Google search than pages with short, light content. Going into detail might take more time, but it has a positive effect on your website’s ability to rank in organic search for its target keywords.
Research also shows that long, detailed pages are more likely to get links than short pages. As time-consuming as it might be to develop long-form content for each of your pages as you build your website, doing so can pay for itself in a greater number of inbound links to each page.
A great way to think about your content is as the solution to someone’s need. We’ve previously written on using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a source of inspiration for your content. If you can solve a crucial need, your on-page content is far more likely to attract valuable links.
For optimal on-page SEO, include your target keywords in your content occasionally, but don’t overdo it. Google’s algorithm is smart enough to detect keyword stuffing, and it will usually lead to your website being penalized in the rankings for its target keywords.
Instead of stuffing keywords into your content, use them strategically. Add your keywords to H1 and H2 tags on your page. Add long tail keywords to H3 and H4 subheadings. Once you finish writing each page, double check it to make sure your keywords fit naturally into the content.
- Try to write at least 2,000 words of content for each page, using your keywords when relevant without overusing them or “stuffing” them into the content.
- Use the H1, H2, H3 and H4 tags to mention your primary and secondary keywords, as well as long tail keyword variations you’d like to rank for.
- Don’t just write for writing’s sake — try to answer questions your users might have and solve their problems in your on-page content.