As with a lot of business, prior preparation is crucial to an effective SEO strategy; this is especially important when you’re launching a new website.
Although you can go back and make changes, these can cause issues, and it will certainly cause delays in your rankings. Mistakes will likely mean that you need to 301 redirect pages and this can lose you some of the ‘link juice’ that any of those pages already have.
This is why it’s so important to get it right the first time around. In this post, we’ll be looking at some of the most important things that should be in your SEO checklist before you launch your new website.
First, and most importantly, you need to know which keywords you’re trying to target. You could even argue that if you don’t know what keywords you’re going to target, there is no point in having your website indexed by Google.
This is because in the current competitive landscape you’re unlikely to rank for anything like a small business if you’re not proactive about targeting specific keywords.
Therefore, you need to perform a thorough keyword research phase so that you have a comprehensive list of keywords to target over the next year. Then, you should perform competitor research so that you know how competitive the keywords are.
Not only does this allow you to set your expectations and goals, but it also allows you to prioritize keywords so that you can bring in revenue from organic search traffic as quickly as possible.
With this list of keywords correctly prioritized you will be able to create pages that include the proper on-page SEO from the start, rather than having to change them later.
If you only have a small list of keywords, then it might be smartest to include your major keywords on your homepage, especially if they are low competition. This way, you’re more likely to rank for them because you build links to your homepage in most cases.
Although some SEOs will disagree, there’s some good evidence and also the logic that suggests the URL structure that your website uses can influence rankings.
In the past, it was common for websites to have complex URL structure that included the date, issue, category and even sub-category in the URL. This not only makes it extremely unfriendly for users, but it also pushes the keywords further away from the front of the URL.
Some tests have shown that this can have a negative effect on SEO and at the very least, it’s ugly and makes it less friendly for users to share.
In the large majority of cases we would opt for one of these formats:
Anything other than these is likely overkill for most websites. While some large magazines like GQ and Vogue can benefit from complex structures, small sides can be hindered.
We know that page speed has a drastic impact on your rankings, but more importantly than that, it can discourage users from even entering your website. After a few seconds a huge percentage of users will simply click back.
As internet speeds increase we are becoming more impatient, and with more users using mobile phones than ever, it’s crucial that your pages load quickly.
In fact, anything more than 2-seconds is unacceptable. To lower this load time you should choose a better hosting service and include smaller file sized photos and videos.
When you launch your website, you’re probably excited and hungry for some powerful do-follow links. Good for you!
Some of the best links that a new website can earn are what we call “foundational links”. These allow you to increase your crawl rate, build a little authority and set a precedent for you being a ‘real’ business.
These links include; blog comments, forum profile links, directory links, social media profiles, DMOZ submissions, light press releases, logo galleries, CSS galleries and website review sites.
Website Accessibility and UX
One of the biggest mistakes that business owners often make when they design their websites is to destroy the accessibility or UX. This can prevent search engine spiders from crawling and will slow down your index rate drastically.
One of the easiest ways to test this is to monitor the UX. Have your friends or family use the website and see how quickly they can navigate to individual pages from random points on the website.
Although it might not look beautiful, a menu at the top of the site is usually included because it helps users navigate and search engine spiders to index pages.
Schema and Rich Snippets
Finally, you should take full advantage of Google Schema and Rich Snippets, particularly since a local business. The schema will allow you to serve richer results in the results pages, encouraging users to visit your website.