Are you getting ready to launch a new site? Follow our quick list of pre-flight checks before you go live!
1. Keyword research comes first!
If you haven’t already, you need to figure out which main keyword you would like each page of your website to rank for. The ideal keyword should be relevant, have a fairly high search volume, and be realistically achievable.
2. Meta titles and descriptions
Once you have figured out your ideal keyword, it’s time to optimise your site. Start by adding your keyword or phrase to to your page’s title and meta description. These will both appear in Google searches, so make it useful, relevant and non-spammy!
Take a look at the example below from one of our clients. Their chosen keyword was “quality wooden garden furniture”.
The meta title needs to be coded into your header like this:
<title>Your title goes here</title>
Your meta description also goes in your header, like this:
<meta name="description" content="Your description goes in here">
There is a meta keywords tag, but this is rarely used anymore and is usually ignored by search engines.
3. Keywords in your page urls
Ideally, your chosen keyword or phrase should appear in your page’s url. So for example, if you run a barbershop in London and your chosen keword is “barbers in london”, then your url could look like this:
Note that search engines interpret hyphens in your urls as spaces. So “barbers-in-london” is better than “barbersinlondon”
4. Keywords in your content
Each page of your site should contain just one h1 heading, and that heading should contain your keyword.
If possible your keyword should also appear in a h2 heading, and a few times in your page content.
Do not get carried away! ‘Keyword stuffing’ can make your site seem spammy and unprofessional, and could land you with a Google penalty. Use some restraint and make sure your content doesn’t suffer.
5. Internal linking
Many SEO professionals put all their focus on acquiring external backlinks, but internal links can also be extremely useful, as you have full control over the anchor text. Add a few internal links around your site using your keywords – just remember to keep it natural-looking.
6. Analytics and Webmaster Tools
If you can’t measure your site’s performance, you can’t improve it! Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are two powerful, free reporting tools. Sign up for Analytics here and Webmaster Tools here.
If possible, put your Analytics code in your site’s footer where it won’t have a big effect on loading times.
7. Optimise for fast loading
Pages that load quickly are favoured by search engines. Once again, Google has an excellent tool for this – PageSpeed Insights.
Here’s a few pointers:
- Optimise images – don’t use large images that have to be re-sized by the browser, and use a tool like Photoshop to properly compress your images.
- Mininfy your CSS, and try to combine multiple stylesheets into one file.
- Combine all scripts into one file (if possible) and place them in your footer so that they load after the page content does
- Optimise your fonts – only load the fonts & weights you need.
8. Secure your site
Google have officially stated that they now favour sites that are SSL secured – indicated by the “s” in “https”. If you’re lucky, your hosting provider might provide and install SSL certificates for free. Alternatively you can try Let’s Encrypt – a free, automated, and open Certificate Authority.
9. Display the correct version of your site
If your site uses a www. subdomain, make sure that this is the version that is always displayed. You also need to make sure that non-secured pages are redirected to the correct secured version.
This can be done with a .htaccess file. There’s a useful .htaccess generator here.
When you do start building links, make sure they point to the correct version of your site.
If you want more SEO tips & resources, here are some of the best on the web:
- Google’s SEO Starter Guide – The first thing any new search engine optimser should read, with a focus on on-page SEO.
- Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Another essential read if you’re new to the SEO industry
- The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce SEO – An SEO guide tailored specifically to ecommerce sites
- Yoast – For those of you who run WordPress sites, Yoast is one of the best & most popular plugins out there!
Did we miss anything out? Feel free to tell us in the comments!