You’ve finally launched your new website and all is set for customers to see just what you have to offer.
However, it’s one thing to create and launch a website, but a different matter altogether to attract customers.
If you can’t attract these customers to your website, how can your business grow?
Thankfully, this is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes into its own, as it comprises a series of activities that help drive traffic to websites.
However, the bad news is that SEO isn’t made up of just simple tasks, nor is it a one-time thing only.
In fact, SEO is a dynamic process that’s never ending, meaning it has to be an ongoing part of your overall marketing system.
All of this may seem overwhelming to many people, which is why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you get started with SEO for your new website.
Getting Setup for SEO
SEO is fundamental for driving traffic to your website, but the first steps before getting your hands ‘dirty’ is to find out where exactly your website is in terms of visibility.
There are a number of handy tools that can help you determine this, with many being free to use.
These tools will help you gain helpful insight into what’s happening on your website and how you can improve performance. Some of the more popular include:
One of the most important SEO steps you will take is to install analytic software on your website.
Google Analytics (by search giants Google) is possibly the most popular of all and provides helpful insights into the number of visitors to your website; what they do when they visit; and the areas of your website where they spend the most time.
The information gleaned from this data will help you create stronger content that appeals to your visitors.
Google Analytics also tells you more about your website visitors, where they come from and how they managed to locate your website.
Using Google Analytics requires a certain level of technical expertise, but there are several resources online to help you get started.
Google Search Console
Google has a wide range of tools that help webmasters source better information about their website – one of which is Google Search Console.
This is a useful tool that helps with monitoring and optimising your website’s performance in search engines. What’s more, it’s free too.
With Google Search Console, you can identify the metrics that drive traffic to your website, monitor issues relating to the health of your website and see who’s linking back to content on it.
Starting out with Google Search Console is easy enough thanks to helpful resources on the internet.
Bing Webmaster Tools
While Google is the dominant search platform across many regions, there are still places where millions of people use Microsoft search platform, Bing, on a daily basis.
Just like Google, Microsoft has an effective mechanism that helps website owners with SEO information: Bing Webmaster Tools.
Bing Webmaster Tools provides insight into how visitors arrive at your website, the pages they visit and how long they spend there.
It also comes with in-depth reports and an SEO analyser, which provides actionable suggestions that you can implement to improve the reach of your website.
It’s also free and rather easy to use, once you’ve had help getting started.
Implementing SEO on your new website
After gathering your favourite tools, the next step is to begin the search optimisation process for your new website.
As pointed out earlier, SEO is a dynamic discipline that’s ever-changing and never-ending. It also involves a lot of moving parts.
In this article, we’ll break these moving parts into two categories: On-page SEO and Technical SEO.
1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO is the optimisation process where you have the most control.
This is a very important process, as it helps improve the relevance of your web-pages in search queries.
Executed effectively, on-page SEO will help your website gain better search page rankings and display your web-pages in results for relevant searches.
The following are some essential tips for on-page search engine optimization:
Keyword research is an important part of on-page SEO.
Keywords are visibility enhancers that help your content appear in search engine results for searches containing the keyword content you use, thereby driving traffic to your website.
To do this, look for keywords that visitors use to search for the type of content you produce.
It can be tempting to simply fill your content with diverse keywords, hoping that some of them will do the trick, but this can be counterproductive.
Search engines are increasingly frowning on keyword stuffing, which is a form of Black hat SEO that’s no longer approved.
Thankfully, there are tools that can help you identify viable keywords to use in your content, such as Google Keyword Planner.
Once you’ve got your preferred set of keywords (via the research tool of your choice), you can use them for your on-page SEO to improve the content of your site and help search engines and users find your webpage.
Optimise Title Tags
Title tags are used by search engines to determine what the pages of your site contain.
Once search engines can accurately interpret your title tags, they will present that page in relevant search results.
For this reason, it’s important that when creating your new website, the page title tag should contain keywords relevant to that page’s content.
This way, when someone searches for that particular term, your page will be displayed in the search results.
It’s also important to use catchy titles to define your pages.
Apart from keywords, titles can also attract search users to click on the link to your page.
Use Interesting Meta Descriptions
Just like meta-tags, meta-descriptions are important for search engines and users in order to understand the content of your website.
They are meant to be a smart summary of what the page contains and help significantly in improving click-through rates.
For this reason, it’s important to take time to review the meta-description of your web-pages, writing descriptions that are both catchy and compelling enough to attract clicks on your link.
Use Search Engine Friendly URLS
Your URLs are supposed to give an idea of the content of your page; this is what’s meant by ‘search friendly URLs’.
Search engines need a lot of help to interpret certain content, and the best way you can help is to ensure the URLs on your website aren’t confusing in any way.
Certain CMS (such as WordPress and Joomla) use auto-generated URLs in their structure; however, search crawlers aren’t able to understand these URLs, which can result in you losing out on potential visitors.
Therefore, be sure to change your URL structure to easy to read, search friendly URLs.
Images make for good content, but they’re also meant to help boost the visibility of your website.
As pointed out in the preceding point, search engines need help in interpreting certain content.
To this end, search spiders can read text content perfectly, but they need help to understand media content.
This is where image optimisation comes in.
To properly optimise your images, use a descriptive file name that search crawlers will easily understand.
Also, be sure to include an accurate description of the image, as well as including the relevant ‘alt tag’.
Create Quality Content
Quality content is a big deal with search engines.
When you post quality content on your website, you stand a better chance of ranking high on SERPs and getting more traffic to your pages.
So, pay a lot of attention to the content on your website and make sure you provide material that meets with the expectations of both search engines and site visitors.
2. Technical SEO
Technical SEO involves optimising the non-page aspects of your website.
This comprises any external efforts of yours that might not be evident in your site’s content.
Here are some technical SEO you should be aware of.
Check for Mobile Optimisation
The number of Smartphone users accessing internet content has outgrown that of desktop computers, and this number is expected to increase even more.
This emphasises the importance of having a website that’s optimised across all devices.
Google has said on several occasions that mobile responsiveness is important for website visibility, therefore ensuring your website is mobile responsive is extremely important.
You can check to see if your website is responsive by using Google’s mobile check tool.
Optimise for Speed
Speed is one of the most important factors for website visibility.
This makes it highly important where technical SEO is concerned.
These days, visitors are likely to leave your website if it takes more than three seconds to provide the results they need.
Of course, this is bad for business.
Check if your website meets the speed expectations of your website visitors by using Google’s PageSpeed Insight or Pingdom.
If it isn’t fast enough, there are possible many factors why this could be the case.
Fix Broken Links
It’s perfectly normal to have broken links on your website.
This could be caused by moving pages around or deleting old content.
However, the problem is that broken links can be very frustrating to your visitors and can result in less than optimal user experience.
It’s therefore vital you take time to fix any broken or dead links on your website.
This can be easy for small websites with very few pages, but if you have a fairly large website, searching for broken links can be a tedious process.
In this case, you can use a broken link checker tool to search for (and subsequently deal with) any broken or dead links.
Upload a Sitemap
Sitemaps are useful tools that help search engines crawl and index your website effectively.
This will make sure they are displayed appropriately in relevant searches.
Creating and uploading XML sitemap will tremendously help in your SEO efforts.
If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, creating an XML sitemap will be a breeze; you can then upload it to your search console and regularly update it.
For non CMS users, you can follow this easy guide to creating and uploading XML sitemaps.
If you’re just starting out, the tips covered in this post will hopefully show you a few ways in which to effectively optimise your website for search engines.
Remember though, SEO is never ending; you’ll therefore need to keep up with current trends in order to maintain and improve your standing in search results.