SEO To-Do List for Launching a New Website
SEO (search engine optimisation) is one of those marketing strategies that most people get the importance of - making sure your website is optimised so it’s found on search engines - but don’t always get how to do. And while ongoing SEO is important for the long-term success of your website, it is equally as important to set your website up properly in the first instance to ensure you start from the best place possible.
So here is a quick 5-step checklist for you to work through before you launch a new website or a redesign of your current website.
#1. KEYWORD RESEARCH AND MAPPING
Before launching your website, you should do some keyword research for your industry and your business - what terms are your customer searching for online, and what pages would you like to find of your website when they do. Once you’ve done your keyword research, you can then map each of them to a relevant URL or page on your website, and use those keywords in your page titles and meta descriptions, as well as in your body copy, when you’re setting up each of those pages.
For example, Monty’s Hair Salon is a Brisbane-based hairdresser, and Monty wants to make sure that when his customers search for “Brisbane hairdressers” that his business is found in search engine results. So, his website URL is www.montyshair.com.au and he maps the search term “Brisbane hairdressers” to his home page, so he sets his Page Title as “Monty’s Hair | Brisbane Hairdresser and Salon”. For his meta description, he uses the following - “Monty’s Hair Salon is an award-winning hairdresser and hair salon in Brisbane. Book an appointment today for your new look.”
Monty has managed to include his main keyword in the Page Title, and similar search terms - like “hairdresser and hair salon in Brisbane” into the meta description, so he has covered off a different way customers might search for the same topic.
#2. ACCESSIBILITY, CRAWL AND USER EXPERIENCE (UX)
Next up, you want to make sure that your website and content are accessible to search engines, and can be seen properly on different browsers and on different devices. While you’re doing this, you should ask yourself a few questions:
Are the pages and content of my website accessible to search engines?
Google Search Console is a great free tool for this - it scans your website to ensure search engine crawlers can get to all of the pages on your site, to check you don’t have any duplicate content, page titles or meta descriptions, no broken links and more.
Some other (free and paid) tools you can look at using are Screaming Frog, MozPro or Ryte.
Is my website content accessible to all audiences on all devices and all browsers?
Yes, most people use Google Chrome these days, but if even one of your potential customers is using Firefox or Safari, then you want to make sure they can find - and see - your website. The same goes for making sure your website works properly for people looking at it on a mobile phone, a tablet or a desktop. You may want to even go as far as making sure blind people can use your website with a screen reader.
There are a number of tools you can use to check all of this, including browser checkers.
- Does my website load quickly, from everywhere?
There is nothing more frustrating than a website that takes forever to load, and you could lose viewers if yours does. Things like having really large images on your website can slow it down, so you want to make sure you’re optimised for speed too. And if your audience is international, or perhaps in remote locations, then you’ll want to make sure you’re optimised for those regions.
Google’s Speed Test is a good tool for this check.
Finally, ask if the design, visuals and overall experience of being on your website is enjoyable?
Does your website look good? Is it easy to use and find what you’re looking for? There are a few ways to answer these questions - you could do informal usability testing, just asking your friends and family to try use your site, or you can run formal testing online with tools like Usability Hub.
#3. SET UP SERVICES AND TRACKING
Before launching your website, there are a few things you should set up first. For example, set up your website tracking - maybe using Google Analytics, or another tool you may prefer to use. You can also add retargeting and remarketing pixels to your website - even if you don’t plan on doing any remarketing yet, when you do decide to add it to your marketing mix, you’ll already have an audience to work with.
You can also set up to receive brand alerts with tools like Google Alerts, Mention.net or Trackur. Set up Google Search Console and any other SEO tools you may want to use, and finally set up your social media profiles and make sure you can link to them from your website.
#4. SCHEMA, RICH SNIPPETS AND OPEN GRAPH
Once you have done all of your onpage optimisation, then you can start to look at broader optimisation. For example, Schema is a must if you want to help Google rank you semantically (where search engines rank websites based on user intent and relevancy based on your content), and to help search engines better understand the information on each page of your site, you can add rich snippets to your HTML.
This section does get quite technical, so you may need a bit of SEO expertise to guide you through it all.
#5. LINK ACQUISITION
For SEO success, you need to not only focus on how well your website is set up, but also on getting people to link back to your website from theirs. You want to work on establishing good quality digital and social relationships to help search engines see that your website is of good quality and relevancy and to grow your traffic.
For example, Monty may establish a relationship with a local wedding company - they could provide a link from their website or social pages to Monty’s Hair Salon website because every bride will need their hair done too. This relationship makes sense, and the link to Monty’s website from the wedding website tells Google that Monty’s Hair Salon is a good business to partner with. This will help boost Monty’s website ranking in the long run.
You can reach out to friends and family, local businesses, existing customers, journalists, bloggers and even the media, to try establish relationships and set up links. But remember, you need to be willing to reciprocate where it’s appropriate too.
Finally, you can amplify the spread of your website URL and content by including links in your own media - for example, adding your URL to your email signature and your personal social profiles, and updating your LinkedIn.
If you have already launched your website, and haven’t done all of these checks - not to worry, you can just go back and start working through them. SEO is an ongoing practice, and even if you have completed these before you launch your website, you’ll need to keep working on them each month to improve your search engine rankings and grow your organic traffic.
After reading this checklist, if you felt lost from #1, or maybe got overwhelmed by the technical nature of #4, then not to worry - that’s what we are here for.
SEO is not an easy task, but it is an essential one these days. And as your partner in marketing, we’re here to help you work through it. We can manage all of your onsite and offsite SEO for you on an ongoing basis, do a site health check and make some recommendations, or just work through this checklist before your website launch. Whatever SEO work you need done, we’re the team to help you.
Just contact us today and we can set up your first FREE initial consultation and get started on improving your search engine rankings.