It’s exciting creating a new website for your new business or project, but there’s a lot to consider. Including which website platform to use, how and where to host the site, and finding the perfect domain name. Above all you need to consider SEO when building a website. This guide will also be handy for SEO when redesigning a website.
These are all important things to consider, but above all, you NEED SEO. Search Engine Optimisation ensures your site is set up for Google and other major search engines. And ultimately is able to rank, and be found in search results.
We advise that every website should have some form of ongoing SEO. But, this is especially important when setting up a new website, and equally important for SEO when redesigning a website. You need to know that the site can be indexed for relevant search terms with the potential to climb those ranking positions over time. Otherwise, why bother having a website?
In this article we’ll take a look 8 Essential Steps for SEO when Building a Website.
SEO when Building a Website
We\’ve identified 8 steps when building your new website, that we consider to be essential for SEO. There are many, many factors that Google uses to rank websites (over 200), but we need the basics to be in place before launching a new website.
Step 1: Keyword Research
Before we dive in to creating the website, we need to consider the keyword(s) that the website will focus around.
This will be the centre point for your website and most of the future content, including blog posts. So, it needs researching thoroughly.
For example: If I was starting a business selling books online, I would look for perhaps a niche area to target when researching keywords. The search term \’books\’ draws over 100,000 monthly searches on Google in the UK. But, you will find intense competition and companies including Waterstones and Amazon leading the way on page 1.
A more realistic term would be \’Disney books\’ as one niche example, that draws around 1000 monthly searches, but has minimal competition.
Identifying the right keyword or keyphrase approach is essential before moving forward with further SEO when building a website.
Keyword Research Resources
- Google Keyword Planner – A free tool, developed for Google ads, but useful for showing monthly search volumes and competition.
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer – A tool with free features and a paid option too. Great in-depth analysis on keywords, monthly search volumes, current page one leaders and more.
Step 2: Domain Name
Your new website is going to need a domain name or web address. (www.example.com)
For the purpose of SEO when building a website, it doesn\’t matter too much. Keywords in a domain name do carry some slight ranking advantages, but they aren\’t as prominent as they used to be. Keep it as short as possible and memorable.
Using something like \’www.mybookshopsellsbooks.com\’ for example, won\’t add any extra real ranking benefit, and let\’s face it, looks awful!
It\’s worth considering a TLD (top level domain – .com, .co.uk,) that\’s reflects where your business is based and where to plan to do business.
Again, this doesn\’t carry a lot of weight with Google algorithmically, but can help identify the county you are based in and wish to do business in.
Our website uses .co.uk, because we are UK based and most of our customers are also UK based. So this makes perfect sense for us. If, however, you are for example based in the UK but intend to trade internationally from day one, a .com domain may be the right way to go.
Step 3: Site Structure
Developing a site structure that works for SEO purposes, but also creates a great user experience is essential. As well as perfecting this for a new website, it\’s also highly relevant to SEO when redesigning a website.
Google wants users on its search engine to have the best possible browsing experience, which can also be measured by how a user navigates your website and how long they spend on it.
Why send users to a website that is difficult to navigate or find information or a product to buy? Google will prefer a website that constantly demonstrates ease of navigation, keeping customers on the website.
Consider the core pages that your website will need to aid users in using your business:
- Contact Page
- About Page
- Services Page
- FAQ Page
- Terms & Conditions
Your site may need to include extra pages, depending on your business and industry. For example, if you run a chain of restaurants, you may decide to have a \’locations\’ page, listing each restaurant and contact details for each.
You can create your own, or use an existing site structure diagram to help put pages in the right places before creating the website.
Step 4: Content
Before launching your website, you need to consider website content.
Getting content right for SEO when building a website is vital, as search engines use this, among other things, so learn what your website is about.
The web and organic search is a highly competitive place today, so developing content that goes above and beyond the basics, is going to massively help your ranking potential.
Think about your main keywords that you\’ve previously researched, and use them within your content.
Google use E-A-T in establishing useful content for their users. What does E-A-T mean?
Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness
Does your website and each piece of content, whether a web page or blog post, demonstrate this? Use E-A-T as a set of core vales for each piece of content added.
If you can demonstrate these frequency across your website, for your specific industry, it will go a long way in assisting your ranking positions in organic search.
Step 5: Internal Links
Hopefully by now, you\’ve got a website to br proud of!
You\’ve got your main site and page structure in place and some high quality, keyword rich content.
Firstly, you need to make sure anything within your website that should be linked, is linked, checked and working. This is basic housekeeping when it comes to SEO when building a website.
Check every menu item, every footer item, any anchor text in content, to make sure each and every link is working.
Beyond the basics, it\’s good for SEO to link relevant pages within your website. This is know as internal linking and helps Google and other search engines easy navigate your site and find new pages.
Link relevant pages to each other. You might for example, link your services together if they are relevant to each other and fall under the same keyword category. This can be done via relevant anchor text ideally, or even a button or link at the bottom of the text content.
Ensure no pages are left unlinked. If you have a live page within your website, it needs to be linked to from your homepage or another web page. Without this it will be isolated, and no website users will be able to reach it. These are known as ’orphan pages’.
If you have pages that you don\’t wish to use, currently live, you can mark these as ’noindex’ to avoid search engines crawling and indexing them.
Step 6: Page Titles & Meta Descriptions
One of the most important ranking factors is Page Title Tags. They go hand in hand with Meta Descriptions.
These are the titles and descriptions that appear in search results when you make a search.
Crafting the perfect page title and meta description are one of the most challenging, yet rewarding (if done right) aspects of ranking.
Page titles play a massive role in helping Google determine what your site is about, and the relevance to the user\’s search.
Page titles should include the keyword or phrase for each individual page, and ideally be kept below 60 characters in length. Google will only display a certain length and cut off the rest.
Meta descriptions, while not a direct ranking factor, are there for you to entice the user to click on your link. Keep them short, to the point and include your keyword. 160 characters is a good length limit to keep in mind.
It\’s worth noting that Google won\’t always use your suppled meta description. Often the search engine will use a snippet of information from your page content, if it feels this is more appropriate or relevant.
Many site builders have tools to help you craft the perfect page title and meta description.
If you\’re a WordPress user, there\’s some really good plugins that can help you with your page titles and other SEO tasks. We use the following plugins regularly in SEO:
Both plugins are excellent tools for WordPress SEO. Free versions are available for each, which cover all the requirements for basic SEO when building a website.
Step 7: Allow Indexing
So, you\’re new website is ready to go, you\’ve followed the above steps for SEO when building a website.
Often when websites are being created, either using a website builder or a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, search engines are initially blocked from indexing the pages.
This is a good idea when creating your website. Assuming you aren\’t using a staging platform and your website is live under your domain name, the last thing you want is half built pages being indexed for search results.
But, when it\’s ready to go, you need to remember to allow search engine crawl bots to access and index your site pages.
This is usually within advanced website settings. In WordPress, you\’ll find the option under settings > general.
Step 8: Submit a Sitemap
A sitemap is as it sounds. A map of your website pages for search engines to read, and gain an understanding of how many pages, posts, categories, products etc. that your website has.
Any indexable page on your website should be found in your sitemap.
Many website builders generate sitemaps automatically, based on your live web pages. In WordPress, you\’ll usually have to create one. Sitemaps are usually submitted as a file in an .XML format.
If you\’re using Yoast SEO, or RankMath SEO plugins, they will generate an XML Sitemap automatically, based on your preferences in settings.
Here\’s what our sitemap URL looks like: https://studio36digital.co.uk/sitemap_index.xml
If you visit the above sitemap, you\’ll see it\’s broken down into categories of pages.
Now we just need to tell Google about the sitemap, and it will have a sift through! Once a sitemap is submitted, Google will recrawl it regularly, as often as necessary, looking for new or changed pages.
To submit your sitemap, head to Google Search Console. If your website is already added as a property and verified, great! If not, just follow the steps to add and verify your website with one of the displayed methods.
Once in your search console dashboard, you\’ll see \’sitemaps\’ on the left hand menu. Click the link and simply enter the last part of your sitemap URL ie. sitemap_index.xml for ours.
And that\’s it! Google will access your sitemap as and when required to help in updating the information the search engine has about your website.
We hope this guide to SEO when building a website has been useful. SEO can be very tricky to get right and will often require trial and error, and a lot of patience.
These 8 essential steps to SEO when building a website will help you prepare for launching your website, and help it successfully appear in organic search results. The same information is equally useful for SEO when redesigning a websites, as the same steps apply.