Having a search engine optimized site could be the difference between getting the traffic you want or remaining invisible. That means new websites need to build a strong SEO foundation from day one.
When starting a blog, or any website, SEO is one of the most important things you should focus on.
At Edgylabs, we take our SEO foundation very seriously. SEO traffic makes up 70% of our overall traffic, so we have to be. This rate of SEO traffic is the same for most blogs.
This means it’s important to prioritize creating an SEO foundation from day one.
“Just like having a strong foundation ensures a building survives a storm, a strong SEO foundation will set your site up for greater success.”
– Chris Parbey, EdgyLabs SEO and marketing expert –
Don’t worry if you don’t know your sitemaps from your metadata — or even anything about SEO at all. We are here to help you learn, and SEO is easier than you think. Once you learn the basics, it can be more effective than you can imagine.
Let’s dive straight in. Here’s how you can build a strong SEO foundation for your new website.
1. Narrow Your Niche
First of all, you need figure out who is going to view your content.
Most will have a vague idea of who will be interested in their website. However, the more you narrow down and define your niche, the easier it will be to cater to their needs and optimize your site.
Here are a few things to consider when defining your niche;
- Who exactly is your ideal customer? What do they do for a living? How do they spend their time? What gender and age are they? Where do they live? What are their interests?
- How does your ideal customer spend their money?
- What does their online activity look like? Are they always online or only at specific times?
- What’s their favorite way to receive information? Do they like memes, viral videos, or serious articles?
- How does your niche audience interact online? Are they engaged in the comments section or do they prefer personalized emails?
- What questions are they asking?
- What buzzwords are used often in your niche?
- What search terms are they typing into Google?
- What information are they looking for?
- Who else are they following?
When you’re a new online brand, you need to find something that will make you stand out.
Knowing your potential audience inside out will help you to get popular quickly. Aim to be the best at one thing rather than just okay at everything. Know your niche and own it.
2. Prioritize Mobile
After much speculation, Google has finally put their plan to change over to mobile-first indexing into action. As almost 60% of searches are carried out on mobile devices, mobile-first indexing makes sense.
What does mobile first-indexing mean for SEO? Basically, this major change means that the mobile versions of websites are being indexed before the desktop versions.
So mobile web pages are more important for ranking than ever.
For anyone new to SEO, you’re entering the game at a brilliant time. Thanks to mobile-first indexing, many SEO experts have had to reevaluate their SEO strategies. As a beginner, you can just learn the most up-to-date SEO tactics.
The article linked below will tell you everything you need to know about mobile-first indexing and SEO. From this SEO resource, you can learn how to optimize your site for mobile and how to implement Schema.org structured data. Follow the steps and even newbies will have no problem using mobile-first indexing to their website’s advantage.
Learn More: A Complete Guide to Mobile SEO in 2018
3. Make Sure Your Website is as Fast as Possible
To accompany mobile-first indexing, Google just announced the release of a new ranking algorithm specifically for mobile search. Known as the “speed update”, it means we need to give our mobile sites the same treatment as desktop sites when it comes to speed.
If you’re only in the early stages of developing your blog, you may not be aware of how important page speed is. If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of visitors will leave your website and 80% of those visitors won’t return.
Modern users aren’t going to wait around for slow pages to load. If this is the case, your bounce rates will go through the roof. Slow loading websites should also expect to receive zero user engagement.
On the other hand, having a nifty page speed also improves user experience and will help grow your traffic.
Here’s are three hacks to improve your mobile pages’ loading speed:
- Use a browser cache.
- Compress all images.
- Use a CDN. A CDN, or content delivery network, reduces latency and makes your website load up to three times faster.
You can find plenty more ways to improve your websites loading speed in this detailed guide:
Read More: 8 Ways to Increase Mobile Engagement
4. Have a Plan for Content
The time you put into your content schedule will always pay off in the long run. This will ensure that your content is always aligned with your business objectives.
Content plans also help you to avoid sticky situations where you’re plagued by writer’s block and devoid of content. If you have a long-term plan, you’ll always have content ideas to turn to.
Having a plan will also help you to stay organized and achieve your goals. Want to publish eight articles a week? If you have no plan and have not organized your time, you simply won’t.
Long-term content plans also help you to avoid putting out content that isn’t the highest quality you’re capable of. By having a plan in place, your team can work to the best of their abilities and your website can run smoothly.
If you want to create your own long-term content plan, check out our guide here:
5. Optimize On-Page SEO
The first step to starting a new website should be on page SEO.
The key to being successful online is building your brand. When you’re the new kid on the block you need to drive as much traffic as possible to every piece of content. In order to do this, you need to employ these on-page SEO strategies.
High-quality content that uses keywords that match your user’s intent is vital. Doing the keyword research and fitted your terms into your copy as seamlessly as possible is a good start. However, you should also be using keywords in other parts of your page to maximize SEO.
Your start title is the most import element of on-page SEO.
This is why you need to include your keyword in your start title. In addition, you should also include modifiers in your title. For example “guide”, “best”, “2018”, “How to”, “checklist” and so on. This will increase your chances of ranking for long-tail versions of your keyword.
Also, give your URLs the royal SEO treatment
You shouldn’t underestimate the SEO power of URLs. According to Google, the first 3 to 5 words in your URL are the most important. So this is where you need to place your target keyword.
Secondly, keep your URLs short and sweet as the shorter they are the better they rank.
Make your webpage as responsive as possible. Having a responsive design on both your mobile and desktop versions of your site is sure to help you rank.
You should use outbound links too.
Outbound links help search engines to recognize your page’s topic. It also shows your website to be a reliable source that gets information and backs up claims from authoritative resources.
Internal linking is equally important. Aim to use the link at least 2 to 3 times in each blog post. This helps Google to see your site as credible. It also helps to drive traffic from one post to another.
Image Optimization is a highly underrated part of SEO. Everyone knows that they need to make sure to use visual content to engage their readers. However, visual content presents amazing SEO opportunities too. Make sure that your image file names include your target keyword. Also, use your target keyword in your image ALT Text. Images are also great link building opportunities.
Read More: 6 Ways to use ALT Image Text to Improve SEO
6. Set-up Google Analytics
A core pillar of your SEO foundation structure is analytics. Right from day one you need to get in the habit of continually assessing your website’s performance using an analytics tool. Without incorporating this step into your SEO strategy, you’ll have no way of knowing how your blog is doing or where your traffic and links are coming from. Reviewing your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not is the only way to improve SEO.
As soon as your website is ready to go, you should set up Google Analytics. Installing Google Analytics before you launch your website will ensure that you are collecting data ASAP. Then, when your site goes live, you can use this to optimize it.
To set up your Google Analytics account, simply go to Google.com/Analytics and sign up. Then, you will receive a unique Analytics tracking code that you paste into your site once it has been configured.
Google Analytics is the best SEO tool to use to track who is viewing your page, how they found it, and the number of sessions.
In addition, Google Analytics provides you with much-needed insight into linking. It will tell you who is linking to your page and what content is being linked the most.
You can also access keyword information like CTR and total keyword impressions. With access to this data, your SEO foundation tactics will be far more efficient.
You can use the information provided by Google Analytics to correct mistakes and increase successful SEO foundation methods.
When your website starts to rank for keywords, you’ll be able to check back each week to find new SEO foundation opportunities.
Read More: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Google Analytics
7. Create a Sitemap
Sitemaps help to make your site more visible to search engines and provide users with more accurate search results. In other words, a well-structured sitemap will make your website rank higher in SERPs.
Sitemaps for SEO should be used right from the planning stages of your website’s development. Sitemaps help your site to get indexed and rank. Pages that rank well usually get the most organic traffic.
Sitemaps come in many shapes and forms. However, XML sitemaps are the most effective for SEO. XML sitemaps are beneficial because they make it easy for search engines to discover and navigate your content.
You can easily create an XML sitemap using auto-generation tools. If your site uses WordPress, Yoast SEO Plugin is a great tool to use. Other free tools that generate XML sitemaps are Screaming Frog and XML-sitemaps.com.
Once you have created your XML sitemap, don’t forget to submit it to Google Search Console.
If you want to find out more about the different types of sitemaps and how to use sitemaps for SEO, this article is well worth a read: What is a Sitemap?
Many new bloggers make the rookie mistake of building their SEO strategy as they go. However, it’s best to have an SEO strategy in place before you begin creating content. This will set your blog up for success and leave you free to focus all your energy on creating high-quality, authentic content that you know will rank.