SEO For New Websites: How to Set Yourself Up for Success
Updated: Jul 13
So you've got a brand new website for your business and want to set yourself up for long-term success? SEO can help you with that.
But what is SEO?
SEO is the process of getting your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). In other words, search results. Doing SEO can help drive organic traffic to your site and increase its online visibility. This is a huge benefit since the traffic coming to your website through organic search is essentially free, besides the work you put into it.
In this guide, we'll cover the basics of SEO and provide tips on how to get started with optimizing your website. I'll also assume that your website is for a small business.
Before anything else, look at what your competitors are doing in terms of SEO. What keywords are they ranking highly for, and how much organic traffic do they get?
Choose the Right Keywords
The first step in optimizing your website for search engines is to choose the right keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases that people use when searching for information on the internet, and they are the foundation of SEO. Choosing the right keywords is essential because it can mean the difference between ranking at the top of search results or getting buried on page 10.
How to Find the Right Keywords
To find the right keywords, you need to understand what your audience is searching for. There are several tools you can use to research keywords, such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. These tools provide data on the search volume, competition, and relevance of keywords, which can help you make informed decisions about which keywords to target.
When choosing keywords, look for those that have a high search volume but low competition. These keywords will be easier to rank for and will attract more traffic to your site. Also, consider the intent behind the search query. Are people looking for information, products, or services? Understanding the intent can help you create content that meets the needs of your audience.
How to Use Keywords in Your Website's Content
Once you have identified your target keywords, the next step is to use them in your website's content. This includes your page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and body copy. However, it's important to use keywords strategically and not overdo it.
Keyword Stuffing: What Not to Do
One mistake that website owners make is keyword stuffing, which is the practice of using a keyword excessively in an attempt to manipulate search rankings. This can result in penalties from search engines and damage your website's reputation.
Not only can you run the risk of being penalized, but your web page will look unreadable to the average visitor leading to higher bounce rates, which can also hurt your site ranking.
Instead, use keywords naturally in your content. Use variations of your target keywords and related phrases to avoid sounding repetitive. Also, avoid using the exact same keyword in every instance. Instead, use synonyms and related phrases to broaden the scope of your content.
Optimize Your Website's Structure and Content
In addition to using keywords in your content, you need to optimize your website's structure to improve its search engine rankings. This includes creating a sitemap, using heading tags, and internal linking.
Optimize Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions hold significant importance. These elements serve two purposes: aiding search engines in comprehending your page's content and presenting it in search results.
The title tag represents the clickable headline that users encounter in search results. Crafting descriptive and informative title tags is crucial to encourage user clicks.
On the other hand, the meta description is a concise snippet of text displayed beneath the title tag in search results. Although search engines don't utilize it for ranking purposes, a well-crafted meta description can impact your click-through rate (CTR). In some cases, search engines can take content from your web page and display it as a meta description.
Create a Sitemap
A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website and their hierarchy. Sitemaps help search engines crawl and index your website more efficiently, which can improve your search rankings. You can create a sitemap using a tool like XML Sitemap Generator or Yoast SEO.
Use Heading Tags
Heading tags are used to structure the content on your web pages, just as I'm using them to organize this post. Search engines use these tags to understand the hierarchy of your content and determine the relevance of your page to a given search query. Make sure to use H1 tags for your page titles and use H2 tags for subheadings.
Proper utilization of heading tags is crucial for effectively organizing the content on your web pages, similar to how I am employing them in this post. These tags play a significant role in assisting search engines in comprehending the structure of your content and assessing its relevance to specific search queries. It is essential to employ H1 tags for your page titles and utilize H2 tags for subheadings.
Optimizing your images is fairly simple, but is often overlooked. For starters, compressing images and converting them to next-gen file types, like webp files, can optimize the load time of your website pages.
Once uploaded, you should also add alt text to tell search engines what the image is about. Not only that but doing so makes your website ADA-compliant, which is a requirement for every website!
Use Internal Links
Internal links are links within your website that point to other pages on your site. Internal linking helps search engines crawl and index your website and tells them which pages on your website are most valuable. Use descriptive anchor text for your internal links, and make sure to link to relevant pages within your site that you want users to visit.
Create High-Quality Content
Creating high-quality content is essential for successful SEO. Google and other search engines prioritize websites that provide valuable, engaging, and informative content. Here are some tips to create high-quality content for your website:
Identify your Target Audience
Before creating content, it's essential to understand your target audience. What are their needs, interests, and pain points? What type of content will resonate with them? Understanding your audience will help you create content that meets their needs and keeps them engaged.
Research your Topics
Once you understand your audience, it's time to research the topics you want to cover. Use keyword research tools to identify relevant keywords and topics that your audience is searching for. Look at what your competitors are doing and find ways to differentiate yourself.
Write Engaging Headlines
Your headlines are the first thing people will see when they come across your content. Write headlines that are attention-grabbing, clear, and concise. Use numbers, questions, and power words to make your headlines more compelling.
Write for Humans, not Search Engines
While it's essential to use keywords in your content, don't stuff your content with them. Write for humans first, and then optimize for search engines. Use natural language, avoid jargon, and make your content easy to read and understand.
Use Visual Elements
Including visual elements like images, videos, and infographics can make your content more engaging and easier to understand. Use visuals to break up long blocks of text and illustrate your points.
Optimize your Content
Use on-page SEO techniques to optimize your content for search engines. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to make your content easier to scan. Include internal and external links to other relevant content.
Once you've optimized your website's structure and created high-quality content, it's time to focus on getting backlinks. They are important for SEO because they signal to search engines that other websites consider your content valuable and relevant.
In addition to that, it actually can make it easier for you to rank!
What are Backlinks?
Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your website. When another website links to your website, it's like a vote of confidence for your content. Search engines consider backlinks to be a sign of quality and relevance, and use them as a ranking factor when determining the order in which websites appear in search results.
How to get Backlinks
Getting backlinks can be extremely challenging, especially if you have little to no experience in link building. But it's essential for SEO. Here are some strategies for getting backlinks:
Create quality content that other websites will want to link to. If your content is informative, interesting, and engaging, other websites are more likely to link to it.
Create NAP citations, which are business listings located in business directories. These are very common and build a good foundation for your website's link portfolio.
Reach out to other website owners and ask for backlinks. You can do this by sending an email introducing yourself and your website, and asking if they would be willing to link to your content.
Guest posting on other websites is another way to get backlinks. When you guest post on another website, you can include a link back to your own website in your author bio or within the content itself.
Participate in online communities related to your niche. By sharing your expertise and engaging with other members, you can establish yourself as an authority in your field and attract backlinks to your website.
Avoid Low-Quality Backlinks
While backlinks are important for SEO, not all backlinks are created equal. Low-quality backlinks from spammy or irrelevant websites can actually harm your website's SEO. Here are some tips for avoiding low-quality backlinks:
Avoid buying links or participating in link schemes. These practices violate search engine guidelines and can result in penalties or even deindexing of your website. HOWEVER, it is a common practice in the industry because of how time-consuming link-building is. I personally am for buying links, but only from trusted sources! It does have its risks, and that needs to be considered when making the decision to do so.
Only link to and from reputable, high-quality websites that are relevant to your niche.
Check the domain rating of the websites linking to your website. This is a score given by SEO tools to judge the quality of its backlink profile. If a website has a low domain rating, it may be a sign that it's not worth getting a link from.
Monitor your backlinks regularly and disavow any low-quality or spammy backlinks that you find.
Monitor your Campaign
Once you've implemented your SEO strategy, it's important to track your results and make adjustments as necessary. Here are some tools and metrics to help you monitor your website's SEO performance:
This free tool from Google allows you to track website traffic, including where your traffic is coming from and which pages on your website are most popular.
Google Search Console
This free tool from Google provides insights into your website's performance in search results, including the keywords that people are using to find your website.
You can also use Google Search Console to submit your pages for indexing, which tells Google to scan your web pages and rank them in Google search results accordingly.
Track your keyword rankings to see your progress throughout your SEO campaign. Keep note of changes you make on your website so you can see any potential effects of these changes on your target keywords.
Also, note that not every single edit made to your website will affect keyword rankings.
All in all, it's key to remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Hammer it into your brain, because you won't see any crazy progress for a few months, especially with a brand-new website. If you're not up to the task, maybe consider hiring an SEO agency to consult with or just manage the campaign for you. Either way, SEO is super important for getting your website found organically.