A SEO Agency's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip For a New Website – Part 1
March 26, 2018
March 26, 2018
In this guide, we'll be explaining some of the key concepts behind Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for people who are developing a brand new website. There's a huge amount of SEO information available online these days and if you end up following all the advice you'll find you are quickly competing yourself, usually because good advice quickly.
Hopefully this guide will be of some help. We're not going to go to in depth – this is in no way a complete guide for every single strategy and method used in the SEO world. Instead, we want to focus on some of the most simple and far reaching changes and knowledge you need to understand the basics of ethical SEO. As anyone in the SEO industry could tell you, any of the topics covered here could have multiple articles written just focusing on them alone and often there is more than one 'right' answer.
When we think of making our site optimized for search engines, it's important to establish a balance. SEO is a critical part of making your website stand out online and find targeted traffic, but it's not the only thing you need to consider when creating a website. Simply applying every single SEO tactic to every site you own will not be very effective and will be widely unnecessary. Looking too obviously 'optimized' will impact on your users, as well.
This is why the term ethical SEO is an important one. Ethical SEO is an SEO method that concerns on trying to help Google find your page because it is relevant to searches, not just because you want the traffic. It means not trying to trick Google (or any search engine) into giving you higher rankings. Using this method will keep you safe from being punished by Google's strict rules on SEO, and will also mean that what traffic you do get from your SEO work is actually useful and could lead to real sales.
Thinking about your Domain Name
How much does a domain name actually affect your SEO? It's a question that's open for debate in the SEO world. Some companies believe that using your domain name to display keywords is the best route, while others believe that keeping your domain name interesting and memorable works better.
In most cases, the litter tends to be true. A short and memorable domain name normally works best. It's also often more practical than a brand awareness point to have a catchy name and logo rather than calling yourself something like 'bestcheapholidaydealsandoffers' which is both generic and difficult for users to type and remember.
Top Level Domains (TLDs) are also important. These are the.com or.co.uk ends of your overall address. TLDs are incredibly cheap so there's no reason at all not to go for quality. Avoid TLDs such as.info as these appear cheap to many users and give the impression you're not that bothered about your site.
Local TLDs such as.co.uk can be useful if you are looking to target one market, as they give the impression of a service more in touch with consumers from that country. It can turn off users from other countries however, so try to avoid them if you're looking for international business and stick with a.com when possible.
Planning Your Content
Planning your pages in advance rather than jumping straight into creating content is a very good idea. You'll have a much better idea of the site as whole if you step back and look at exactly what pages your site will need to function. There's a fine balance between a site with not enough information or too much. You've been surprised how many times we've seen sites for restaurants that have every dish described in painstaking detail only to neglect to put opening times on the site.
Try to keep your pages relevant but split up your content as much as possible. For each of your services plan out a separate page that can explain them in greater detail. Individual pages with a healthy amount of content are much better for SEO than one incredibly long services page with a 1,000 word wall of text describing your entitlement business.
Be sure to plan for the usual 'standard' pages as well as those relevant to your business, such as a contact page and privacy statement page.
Decide and Plan Keywords
Keywords are by the far the most important element of SEO, because these are what underpin your whole effort. Keywords are what people search for in Google, so you want to start thinking about your own content and business and what you would search for if you were looking for your site. You should also think about which terms are likely to bring the most relevant traffic.
It's important to remember that despite the use of the word 'keywords', these are often used as multiple words. For example, if you run a holiday site you'll want to focus on terms like 'cheap holidays in Spain' rather than a single word like 'holiday' or 'vacation'.
You can also check what keywords your competitors are using by checking out their HTML source code and looking for their 'meta' tag, which should give a big list of what they think are good keywords. Using meta tags used to be a prime method of SEO but in recent years they have become far less important, though many sites (and some search engines) still use them.
It's likely that you'll also find some of their more important keywords in the actual title of the page which can be found at the very top of your browser, above the URL. Of course, if your competition is not using good SEO you might not find what you're looking for, but if you spend some time doing research into your market you should actually find some sites that have already decided on relevant keywords.
Once you've gathered a list of keywords that you might want to use from your own thoughts and from your competitors, head over to the Google AdWords Keyword tool. This is an amazingly useful tool for finding out which keywords are the most relevant and is a vital part of finding good keywords of your site. Write your keywords into the tool, making sure to keep to one keyword per line.
Make sure to set the 'match type' to 'exact' before searching so the results are not skewed by 'similar' terms. What you should end up with is the average search 'volume' of each term so you can see which terms are likely to bring the most users. This tool is free and may not be as accurate as some other tools such as Wordtracker, but using its results generally will give you a rough idea of search volume, at least for Google.
As a general idea, a new site should focus on keyterms that have less than one million standard results. From this list you should be able to find the right keywords for your site, but remember no matter the search volume remaining relevant is absolutely essential at this stage. Remember to save the keyword data as you may well need it in the future.
Look out for part 2 of this guide, where we will discuss working with keywords in more detail.