As a start-up owner, you have a lot on your mind. Bootstrapping is never easy. At the digital marketing agency I run, I talk to overworked start-up owners every day. And they all know about SEO and its importance.
But very few of them have the time or the resources to allocate to optimizing their website from day one. Since getting things right the first time is much easier than fixing things afterwards, I always encourage our clients to start early.
When it comes to SEO for a brand new website, with a domain authority of 1, it can be challenging to get results. However, you have one thing going for you: a blank canvas that you can shape any way you want.
In time, we have set up a process to help our clients who need to optimize brand new websites get results as quickly as possible. These are the steps we usually follow.
SEO for a brand new website: the basics
The items on the checklist below are all crucial for successful optimization. Some of them only take a few minutes, while others can take hours or require professional assistance.
1. The technical part
For a new website, content is crucial. But before publishing a single word, some technical aspects need to be taken care of:
- Install Google Analytics and link the Search Console to it. This will help you track all your sources of traffic and understand the performance of your keywords.
- Create a robots.txt file and then upload it to your site’s root directory.
- Do the same for the sitemap.xml file. Additionally, submit this file to Google Webmaster Tool and request indexing.
2. The research
Some of the tools we use to come up with the perfect keywords (both long- and short-tail, as well as LSI keywords) for our customers are:
- Google search – Yes, the plain, simple, free one. It’s amazing how many SEO copywriters forget about the basics. The suggestions that accompany every search will give you a better idea about what your customers look for.
- AdWords Keyword Planner – Even if you don’t plan to invest in AdWords, you can use this tool to get even more suggestions and learn about search volumes.
- LSI Graph – Perfect for finding the LSI keywords that can bring you ROI-oriented traffic (the only kind you should be aiming for!).
- Moz Open Site Explorer and Buzz Sumo — To understand what you’re up against. You can also use the first one to “steal” some of your competitors’ backlinks in the future.
- Moz Explorer — To check the difficulty of the keywords you are planning to rank for.
3. The on-site optimization
- Make sure each of your pages has a unique title tag. Use your main keywords in these tags.
- Ensure that each of your webpages has a unique meta description. Again, use your main keywords here.
- Each of your URLs should also contain your keywords.
- Use ALT tags for your images to help Googlebots understand what they are crawling. Add your keywords in the ALT tags.
4. The content
- Get to know your buyer persona(s). What tone of voice do they respond to? What type of content do they prefer – blog posts, webinars, white papers, podcasts, videos?
- Each webpage should have at least 350 words. For landing or sales pages, I usually advise more than 1,000 words.
- Choose one primary keyword (preferably a long-tail one) and at least five LSI keywords for each page.
- Set up a blog and (if needed) a news section. When you make your website public, you should have at least three blog posts.
- Create a content calendar – how often are you going to publish new posts and what are you going to write about?
Next on the agenda: start earning links. Do this by publishing great content and reaching out to influencers, of course.
However, before you think about earning backlinks, you need to make sure that you publish excellent content. I always teach my writers that great writing means respecting the reader first and foremost. Everything else (SEO included) comes afterward.
When you plan your content calendar, start by identifying the topics that your readers are interested in. What do they need help with? What are their pain points? What valuable information can you offer them?
Answer these questions and turn them into blog topics. Afterward, you can start researching keywords for them and writing meta descriptions. But remember: if your readers don’t like your content, search engines won’t like them either.
I also advise my clients not to stretch themselves too thin. We can take copywriting off their plate and even content marketing. Still, they should always be comfortable with the blogging frequency they choose. When you publish content just because everyone says you have to, it shows. Your potential clients can see it, too. And the ultimate goal is not to rank higher in SERPs. That’s just a means to an end; your ultimate goal is ROI from every piece of content you publish.