SEO Checklist for Brand New Websites
Setting Up Your Site’s URL Structure and Plugins for SEO Success
1. Have A Clean URL Structure.
What does that mean? Make sure that your URLs are nice and short, have your keywords in there, and don’t list dates. Sometimes I know if you’re using WordPress, one of the defaults may be to have the dates in your URL.
That’s not good because Google sometimes will see that this might be outdated content if it was new content. So really what you want are URLs that are going to help you with your evergreen content. I would say that that’s number one.
2. Install a Metadata Plugin Like Yoast
This applies especially if you’re on WordPress. If you’re using something like Wix or Squarespace — which you really shouldn’t — you should have SEO tools. But on WordPress, we like to use Yoast.
What Is Yoast And How Does It Help?
Yoast and All In One are the best plugins for your metadata for just easily implementing your meta titles, your meta-description and more. Yoast will include your breadcrumbs in your web pages, which is really important for just a passing link juice between your pages and keep that organized.
Why Do You Prefer Yoast Over All In One?
All in One is a little bit older of a plugin and then kind of Yoast came into the game and shook things up a little bit. I think the UI is a little bit nicer. It’s a little bit more intuitive.
Yoast can also help with schema markups. I think that that’s just an added benefit that Yoast has that I’m not sure if All in One has or not. But again, I think it’s just personal preference, but definitely those are number one and number two. Those are one A and one B. You want to go with either one. Again, that’s to help you optimize your meta titles, meta descriptions.
3. Have Your Category Structure Set Up And Organized.
One of our clients has disorganized categories. He has all the products: toys, wholesale products, and accessories. They’re not really targeted.
I think having that category structure in a way that’s intuitive makes sense not only from an SEO standpoint but also from a UX. That goes back to having a clean URL structure.
If I have a clean category hierarchy, then I’m in turn, most likely going to have a clean URL structure. If I have a category, a parent category, that’s toys, and then for specific make or model or brand, I have that as a subcategory, I want it to be “toys” or the brand name. And now if there are specific accessories for that brand name, it would then be “accessories”.
Users will go through your site and find exactly what they’re looking for, improving navigation. Search engines will crawl and understand the hierarchy of your site and see that nice clean URL structure. I think, yeah, absolutely.
It’s extremely important and it’s definitely something you want to do in the beginning. Once you have a site with thousands of pages and thousands of products and categories, it becomes very, very difficult to try to clean your structure.
The advantage of working with somebody who does SEO and keyword research from the get-go means you can plan ahead fo time. Have that in mind before you even start building your site because then we’d just have to go back and correct it. Then you won’t see the right results.
The eight things here on this checklist are really the basics, right? This is what you absolutely need before you go live. Obviously, there are a lot more advanced SEO to dos prior to going live that again, you will need to consult with an SEO, either an agency or an individual. But absolutely, I agree with you there Carlo.
Forming a Content Strategy and Link-Building
4. Make Sure You Have Content On Your Page Prior To Going Live
You don’t want to publish a site and have it go live that doesn’t have any content on it. Make sure that you’re prepared to publish regularly. We know Google likes to see fresh content being posted consistently, so be prepared for that. If that is not something that you feel like you can handle, just know that you will suffer in the beginning, right?
You’re not going to see the growth that you would see as if you know you were ready to go. That’s a given. Instead, you had a content marketing strategy in place and you know that you can handle content on a regular basis.
Content also covers videos, audio, images, and other media. Again, make sure you have content on your site prior to going live and make sure that you have a content marketing strategy in place.
If you have limited resources or time, the way you should prioritize your content building would be first your homepage because that’s usually the most commonly visited page on your site. Then people visit your service pages, if you’re a lead generation business, and your category pages, Prioritize by which pages you want to rank well, which pages you need to convert and then sort of go on down the funnel and do your product pages and so on.
You might not be able to handle everything all at once. That’s why you need to be able to prioritize. And again, if you’re not sure how to prioritize these pages and knowing which one,
5. Build Your Links
We know that backlinks are an extremely important ranking factor with Google. Acquiring these backlinks is not, however, always easy. Buying them is one potential solution, but is more complicated than it seems.
In the beginning, it’s going to be hard for you to get these backlinks because nobody’s really heard of you or knows you. How do you make the connection? Reach out, and build a structure.
Establish relationships with individuals. Reach out and kind of build professional bonds before you ask for anything in return. See if there’s anything that you could provide them. People know when they’re just being used, and will express their displeasure.
Maybe it’d be a partnership opportunity. If not just one person, maybe it would just be a group that you’re a part of if it’s relevant to your niche. Even so, be patient when acquiring backlinks. It will take time.
When You’re Just Starting Out, Do You Think That These Backlinks Should Be Branded Backlinks To Claim Your Brand? Should You Pursue Your Target Keywords?
You need a combination of brands and an exact match. The exact match is basically the exact keyword and the title of the page that you’re trying to point it to. You need a long tail. Have a combination of all of these. You shouldn’t just go after one form of a backlink and just focus on that anchor text only, it should be a combination of all of them.
Rather than worrying about that, prioritize the backlink source. You’re a brand new site, your domain authority is probably one, right? Maybe two or three.
Ask these questions. Where am I getting this backlink from? Am I getting it from a domain authority 24, 25, 30, 40, and is that site relevant to my niche? Is it relevant to the content that I’m pushing it from?
Get the highest quality site to point back, whether it’d be branded or an exact match, because you want both. You want to rank for your brand, obviously, and now branding is very important. However, you know that branding is going to take time. You’re new, which means no one has heard of your site. Go across the board and spread it out.
Thinking Mobile First: Responsive Design and Social Media Marketing
6. Utilize Social Media
Make sure that you have all of your social media accounts set up. Implement published content as well.
You can have links pointing back. These will be no-follow links, but still social signals and utilize social media. At least you can generate some engagement and traction on your social media pages prior to having your website go live. You know that you can easily start to get some of these individuals that are following you and engaging with you on social media to come to your site once it’s live.
One step that’ll help you a lot in the long run, as well as when you’re just starting out, is investing in building your content library. In other words, hire a professional to take professional photos. Don’t rely solely on free stock images.
With web design, that’s a constant battle in trying to get the right photos and high-quality images from the clients. For social media, it’s going to make your life a lot easier too and it’s going to make you look professional.
Social media is important to invest in early on because with SEO, we’re not going to be able to generate traffic until a few months down the line, just because of the nature of SEO. Social media and Facebook advertising, Instagram, LinkedIn, et cetera, is a good way to give you some visibility and traffic to your site when you’re just starting out.
7. Double-Check Your Schema Markup
The schema markup is essentially what allows you to potentially get position zero, right, which is what you see at the top now on Google, right below the ads, right above the organic searches. It could be either an FAQ schema markup, it could be reviews, ratings, questions. There are different types of schemas that you can get, but ensuring that you have this in place prior to going live is very important.
It’ll save you a lot of headaches rather than going back and having to retroactively make corrections. That precious is tedious. You can be proactive rather than reactive later on down the road with your SEO strategy.
8. Set up Your Google Analytics And Search Console
The next thing here is obvious for us, is make sure that you have your Google analytics and Google search console set up. That’s extremely important. Without that, you will not know how well your site is performing, what keywords people are typing in to get to your site, therefore, how to optimize and move forward. Otherwise, you’re flying blind without it.
9. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Many new sites when they first go live overlook important details. They leave important aspects to the last moment and they don’t really think about this first and that’s you’re mobile, right? A lot of times I’ll develop for desktop and then I go back and try to make it mobile responsive. We should try to figure out how is this going to look on mobile and then we’ll worry about desktop after.
Why Is That?
The majority of traffic comes from mobile. We know that Google is crawling mobile-first, right, so we should implement that into our strategy and into our decision making in the very beginning. When we’re talking about user interface and user experience, we should think mobile-first.
We should start doing that because I tend to fall into the same things, right, because we’re working on the computer. It’s easier to design these pages on the desktop, but you got to be thinking mobile-first for these pages.
That is our basic SEO checklist for new websites. Later on, we’ll most likely be doing an advanced SEO checklist, so stay tuned and we’ll talk to you guys next week.
Starting a website from scratch?
Make sure you start off on the right foot!