The following post was written by Eugene Mekeda. Eugene is a marketer at Ahrefs. He used to work in advertising, tech support, and journalism, but really found himself in marketing and copywriting.
Even though putting a site online is as easy as a pie, creating an SEO optimized one has got a whole lot harder. All the niches are saturated, on-page factors lost most of their importance and it’s all about quality content and relevant links.
But on the other hand now is the best time to have a site if you provide value and really help your users.
Yet one little thing you forget to do while optimizing your site can mess up all your other SEO efforts. In this article, I’ll go over the things I noticed website owners get wrong most often.
1. Take care of content structure
Once your site starts getting more search traffic and links, chances are that your home page will have the highest UR (URL rating). So you want to transfer some of the SEO juice from it to all other important pages on your site.
Have that in mind when you put together your home page and menu. This way you can ensure that your main page also plays a role of a hub with links (within reasonб of course). Not only is it good from SEO viewpoint, it will also help your users find the things on your site easier.
So make sure the pages you want to be found are within 1-2 clicks from your homepage.
2. Consider using an SEO plugin
The only problem is that on-page factors have lost their bygone glory so I’d recommend concentrating on topical relevance, usability and overall quality of your pages over the keyword repetition in all the elements of your copy.
3. Fix your meta descriptions
If you made it to the first page of Google, it would be a real shame if you still weren’t getting any clicks cause your meta descriptions aren’t descriptive and to the point. So you want to make sure meta descriptions of your pages are in order and ~160 characters.
And just to give you an idea of how not to do it, look at this:
There might be awesome content on the page. But the user will never know because they wouldn’t click on a search result that is this unoptimized.
4. Set up Google Analytics
I’ve known too many people who forgot or messed up setting up their Google Analytics. So when they wanted to check how they did on the super important first days after launch – they couldn’t.
Good thing is that you can learn from others’ mistakes. In order to always track who and from where comes to your site and what they do there, install Google Analytics.
If you’re not sure about it or something doesn’t work out as per Google’s guide, check with your hosting provider on what is the perfect way to activate GA with them.
You can also use a plugin to make it easier. One of more popular ones is Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights.
5. Fix Broken Links
In the process of website creation, most pages’ URLs change several times. Plus, some pages you linked out to a month ago might already be moved or permanently down.
6. Perform careful keyword research
Keyword stuffing is long gone as an effective SEO strategy. Now your content needs to really cover a topic from A to Z and have plenty of LSI keywords in it in order for Google to consider it worthy.
In addition, pretty much any niche is really competitive online these days. So you need to make sure you target the keywords you have chances to rank high for.
If your site is new – these will be the lowest competition long tail keywords.
7. Analyze competitors’ content
The good thing about saturation online is that you can learn from your competitors’ mistakes. See what kind of content they create and what performs best for them in terms of links, organic traffic, and shares. Cover the same topic but in more details and try to outperform your rivals in search.
8. Analyze competitors’ link profile
And to outrank your competition you’ll need link juice. So once you publish your website, you’ll need to get relevant authoritative websites to link to it.
To spread out the workload you can collect potential leads beforehand. The top pages of your competitors are the best place to start, because they must be getting tons of relevant links.
You can find all of the sites that link to your competitor’s pages with backlink checking tools like Ahrefs or Moz.
9. Make sure your site loads fast
Nobody likes hanging on a site for half a minute until the content loads, that’s why Google takes site speed into consideration as one of the ranking factors.
You can check your site’s speed with Google PageSpeed Tool.
10. Setup Google Friendly Permalinks
Make sure you use clear and short permalinks rather than default jibber-jabber set up in CMSs. So instead of yoursite.com/?fsfs94l it’ll be yoursite.com/post-topic
11. Take care of the mobile side
At least a half of the users will visit your site from a mobile device. And Google cares about those users’ convenience very much. That is why you need to make sure your site is mobile friendly. You can check it here.
12. Open up to the world
For all your SEO effort to work you need to make sure there’s nothing telling the search engines to not crawl your site. Check your robots.txt file and your CMS for anything that might be telling Google to ignore you.
Starting a website is without any doubt a stressful activity and getting people to visit it organically can be even harder. Hope the tips in this guide will make the process a bit easier.
If you have any more SEO advice on what needs to be done before launching a site – share in the comments below.