SEO (search engine optimization) is the set of practices for comprehensive site promotion that meet the current requirements of search engines. Its main purpose is to increase the position of websites in search results, taking into account specific user requests.
But why is it so important to be at the TOP of search results? Well, here is a deal.
At Sistrix, they analyzed more than 80 million key queries and discovered that about 28.5% of traffic comes from the top position in the search. The second spot accounts for 15.7%, and after that, the percentage is gradually declining. Only having reached the TOP of the search results, a site is guaranteed to receive more users and, consequently, increase sales.
If you want to get your new site up in search before you can say Jack Robinson, we recommend observing this list of SEO tasks.
1. Choose a suitable domain name and hosting provider
You should think hard about the right domain name for your website, as you’ll be unable to change it later. To make the best choice, we suggest you check the following SEO rules:
- the domain has to be related to the name of your brand, conveying the identity of your business;
- the domain should be memorable for your target customers and simple enough for them to enter it in the address bar;
- the domain must be unique; you can check its uniqueness on certain sites, for example, at www.whois.com.
The domain name you choose is a crucial ranking factor for search engine bots. So, if possible, you can add a concise key search query to your domain. For bots, it will greatly simplify the understanding of what your website is about.
When talking of a domain name, we should also mention hosting providers as they are interconnected. To help you better understand why it is so important, let’s start with the definition and main features.
Hosting is an online service that provides the infrastructure necessary for anyone to put a website on the Internet. In simple words, it’s a computer where your site is located. To be successful in the long run, the website owner ought to select the best hosting for their purposes.
There are numerous criteria when choosing the right hosting service. Some of them are measurable, like cost and guaranteed uptime, while other criteria (e.g., customer support) are more nuanced and subjective but equally important.
There are 3 types of website hosting:
- Virtual hosting service is the most common option for hosting multiple websites on the same server or hardware. Such servers are usually low-priced, which makes them a good choice for startups and small businesses with minimal traffic.
- A virtual private server allows you to host several sites on the same cloud server system, precisely like the previous one. Simply put, VPS is a cloud version of a server, but it can offer more features because of the scalability, flexibility, and redundancy of cloud computing. VPS is a good choice for businesses with computing and functional requirements that change over time.
- Dedicated hosting service is a web hosting type in which one server hosts one website. This configuration allows you to concentrate a server’s computing power on a single website it hosts. Naturally, a dedicated server is more expensive than a virtual one, but it is worth the cost for businesses where website performance is paramount to success.
It will be hard enough to choose the right hosting for your site without using special terminology. Therefore, we suggest you hire a specialist to help you select the most optimal host for your website.
2. Research the correct keywords
When a user looks for something on the Internet, search engines show results that match the query the most. But how does a search engine determine which site will better fit a user’s query?
A search engine analyzes each indexed page in the search query for similar words, doing the same with the text content on your page. Such words are called keywords. They can help you to develop a successful SEO strategy, create targeted advertising campaigns, and produce relevant content for your audience.
The most basic signal that information is relevant is when content contains the same keywords as your search query. For example, with webpages, if those keywords appear on the page or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information might be more relevant.
Using keywords is one of the best ways to attract the target audience. You’d better think about them ahead, even when only planning your future site. A well-chosen group of keywords is then used to build a semantic core that describes the site’s general theme and determines the structure and promotional strategy. To pick it correctly, you need to do comprehensive keyword research and find out which words your customers use when they search for your products or services.
To better understand this info, imagine yourself in New York: you’re washing dishes after a cozy dinner with friends, but suddenly you notice that the sink got clogged. What should you do? Of course, you need to google for a plumber near you.
We can see that Google has analyzed your request and suggested suitable websites. The sequence of sites may change depending on user behavior, e.g., if most users click on the fifth site, it will gradually rise to higher positions.
Before collecting keywords, it’s important to consider your target customers and how they might search for your site. Now, let’s picture the next scenario: you have a small and sweet flower delivery business, and you get the first google query from potential clients — “flower delivery.” To check this and other queries from your audience, we recommend using the following tools:
- Ahrefs. With this tool, you can see the queries that lead specifically to your or your competitors’ websites, as well as other popular related queries throughout the Internet. This service is not free, but it may be worth it because efficient SEO equals a happy audience, higher income, and a successful business.
- There is also a free tool called WordStream, which is designed specifically for finding key queries. It offers software (WordStream Advisor) and services for online marketers to improve their PPC and social campaigns, resulting in increased traffic, leads, and sales at lower costs.
- One more way to check queries and understand your customers better is through Google itself.
Now gather all the key queries together and delete the ones you don’t need. Once that’s done, key queries must be clustered, i.e., combined into target groups for convenient optimization. Then, you can group them by specific criteria, such as price, product type, and so on.
All search engine queries divide into 3 main types of frequency: low (up to 100 searches per month), mid (up to 1000), and high (more than 1000). Naturally, high-frequency queries can bring more traffic to your site because users are more interested in them. But we do not recommend removing low-frequency queries, as they also play a vital role in search engine optimization.
3. Study your SEO competitors
The search for SEO competitors is a crucial stage of promoting a new website. Generally, your competitors are those websites that operate under a similar business model and occupy the top positions in the search results for your keywords. After an in-depth competitors analysis, you’ll not only get a deeper understanding of their online marketing strategy but also realize what you need to do to stay ahead of them.
You can find out who exactly your competitors are by referring to the list of your key queries. Let’s turn to the same example with the flower delivery and suppose that you chose Google Search to reach your SEO goals. With it, you can search for the most popular queries and see your competitors in the search results.
The main disadvantage of this method is personalization. Google tries to personalize the results as much as possible so that you spend less time searching for the required information. Its algorithms consider interests, geolocation, and search history to give you exactly what you are looking for. For this reason, the Google Search method cannot be deemed entirely objective.
Besides Google Search, there are other services that can help you with SEO competitive research:
- SE Ranking.
Having selected the right service, pay attention to the following significant points when analyzing competitors:
- Site structure. Evaluate your competitors’ site structures and gain insight into their visibility to search engines.
- Key queries. Explore the high-ranking keywords and phrases utilized by your competitors and study their implementation.
- Content pages. Learn how competitors reach their audience through content (their URL structure, title tags, meta tags, blog article topics, and so on).
- Links on other resources. To find out more about competitors’ backlinking, check how many of these links they have, which sites they come from, what website pages have the largest number of backlinks, what anchor types your competitors use, and so on.
If you are interested in becoming a guru in website SEO, you can find even more useful info in our article on competitive analysis and research. But be sure to finish this one first, as these are essential SEO tips.
4. Determine the structure of your site
The structure of a new site outlines the arrangement logic and hierarchy of all the site’s landing pages. The correct structure will make it easier for users to navigate through the website and find the necessary information.
A properly designed site structure is the key to successful search promotion. You should pay particular attention to it, as having the right web structure will help you avoid many problems with the subsequent SEO efforts.
There are several types of site structures:
- the linear structure helps to familiarize end-users with all website pages in a certain sequence. This structure type is always placed in a logical chain from the main page. Usually, this scheme is used in portfolio sites and product presentations.
- the block structure indicates that there are several equivalent pages to which the rest link. The block website structure is also suitable for presenting your product, as you can place a description of certain characteristics on the pages.
- hierarchical, or tree-like site structure, is a universal option. With it, each product or service has a separate branch — a section or subsection. This structure is perfect even for websites that contain a large amount of data.
If you find this info absorbing, our team wrote a comprehensive article about website architecture to help Halo Lab readers understand the topic better.
5. Create the main content prior to the site launch and build a strategic content calendar
Once you have a semantic core, it’s time to create the main content for the site launch and build a strategic content calendar. You see, high-quality content is a fundamental criterion as it helps you to communicate with your audience. That’s why the text on your site must be optimized using key queries— search engines will analyze your website through it, deciding what queries they should focus on to rank your web pages.
It’s also important to remember that we primarily write the content for our audience and only then for bots. The text should be valuable and attractive enough to make users become your customers, so we don’t recommend sacrificing content’s usefulness for SEO purposes.
When creating content for a site, carefully consider the following criteria:
- Headlines ought to draw users’ attention — it’s one of the best ways to reach a new target audience.
- Key queries should be added naturally and without overloading the texts.
- Content should be relevant and added regularly. For this, you can create a blog where information will be constantly updated. Along with adding new articles, you may also update the old ones, so they become relevant for Google once again.
- Content quality is also a vital factor for search engines as it should satisfy the users in their search for unique and well-written information.
- Don’t forget about proper length. Your content should be comprehensive enough to answer essential questions about your product or service. But be careful with lengthy texts, as excessive information can be tedious and overwhelming for your readers.
6. Take care of the technical setup
Checking your website’s technical condition plays a great role in SEO optimization as well. A technical audit is a series of activities carried out to determine the effectiveness of a site or its individual parts from a technical point of view. During such a process, you can check whether:
- the code is error-free;
- the website structure is correct;
- pages load quickly;
- the server responses are good;
- any duplicate pages are present on the site;
- redirects are properly set up;
- the sitemap and robots.txt file work properly;
- there are broken links, etc.
But even if you have perfect content, optimizing a slow site riddled with errors makes little sense. Users will just return to the search again and find what they need on the sites of your competitors. In this case, you should focus on crucial indicators, such as site loading speed. To achieve the maximum value, find out what factors affect the loading speed of the site elements and fix them. We recommend you start with image optimization as it may improve at least several SEO-related issues.
The following tools will help you check your site for errors to ensure that it works as best it can:
- Google Search Console;
- Google Analytics;
- PageSpeed Insights;
- Netpeak Spider.
PageSpeed Insights, for example, provides a score that summarizes the website’s performance and gives you detailed recommendations for improving your site’s SEO strategy.
To sum it up, a technical audit is necessary both when the site is just being launched and when it’s already working. In both cases, we recommend you conduct this analysis at least twice a year or even more often. It will allow you to achieve the best results from SEO through the timely detection of technical errors and consideration of other important factors.
7. Set up analytics and diagnostic tools (GA and GSC)
For site research, we recommend you set up such tools as Google Analytics and Google Search Console. This will help you analyze your site’s performance: conversions, promotion and indexing success, technical issues, and so on.
Google Analytics is a free analytical service from Google that will start collecting statistics about website visitors once you plug it in. With Google Analytics, you can:
- find out why users visit your site;
- monitor the exact times of user visits;
- track the duration of user sessions on your website;
- analyze your target audience;
- record and trace crucial events for your business;
- conduct A/B testing;
- evaluate conversions.
This is just a brief overview of the capabilities offered by Google Analytics. In reality, there are numerous additional services available.
Google Search Console is also a free tool that monitors a site’s search performance. Search Console provides reports on queries, clickability, landing pages, region, and other parameters that affect a site’s promotion efforts in Google.
Thanks to Google Search Console, you will be able to:
- find and eliminate various issues, such as site and URLs errors, DNS failures, and so on;
- monitor traffic from Google Search;
- evaluate the quality and usability of your pages;
- track dynamics of the site’s search performance over any desired period;
- examine the site load caused by Google Search robots;
- check site availability and uptime.
Both tools will be useful if you want to analyze your site, create a better strategy for website optimization, and reach a new target audience through deep SEO research. You may get all these features for free, but remember that the proper work of any analytics tool directly depends on your ability to use it correctly.
If you successfully accomplish all the steps we described in this article, there will be no problem with the basic optimization of your website. But it’s important not to stop there and keep working on the SEO because Google’s algorithms are constantly changing, so your website should evolve too.
Another important point here is patience because Google needs to index all your edits to change your site position in search results. So don’t be scared if you can’t see the desired results immediately — just give it some time.
Also, remember that you are always welcome to text us if you have any problems with optimizing your new website. Just leave a request on the Halo Lab site, and our experts will help you enhance your SEO efforts to make your business more successful.