Getting a new website ready for launch is an exciting time. But before you click that launch button, you need to make sure your SEO strategy is in place and locked down. The minute your site goes live, you’re on the radar for search engines and audience traffic, so you want to be ready to welcome crawlers, users, and potential leads.
The earlier to get your SEO optimization sorted out, the more you’ll be able to avoid mistakes that could lower your search rankings. Use this SEO checklist when creating a new website and you’ll be able to rest assured you’ve done your due diligence.
Research Keywords Before You Create and Add Content
This should be one of the first steps you do even before you start building the website itself. Your keywords will be used in everything from your title tags and URLs to your pages and blog articles. Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Moz Keyword Explorer are all reliable, effective tools to help you search for relevant keywords. Keep this research handy when you start to create content for your pages, blogs, and other sections of your website so you can keep referring to it on a regular basis. Be sure to keep updating it as you go along.
Set up Your Plugin
Install an SEO plugin as soon as you start building your website. The plugin will integrate through all of your pages and help you fully optimize as you build out. If you’re using WordPress, Yoast SEO is the most popular and effective SEO plugin. For non-WordPress websites, there are plenty to choose from, and some sites have their own tools built in that you can activate.
Google places a lot of importance on security, so having your SSL certificate in place is an essential step in optimizing your SEO. Additionally, this helps promote your traffic as people don’t trust websites that they don’t feel are secure. If you’re running an e-commerce site, you’ll need to have HTTPS in order to do any online transactions.
Create Your Sitemap and Robots.txt File
If you planned out your website before you started building and designing it, you probably already have a sitemap. But this needs to be implemented on your site to help Google’s crawlers to index your pages properly, as it tells them which relevant content to rank you for. You can create this yourself in the code, or you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to create it for you. Once the sitemap is created, add it to the Robots.txt file and submit it to Google Search Console.
Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Validate your website through Google Search Console to check that it’s indexing properly and to examine for any broken links or performance issues that could impact your SEO rank. You also need to get your site set up with analytics tools so you can start tracking as soon as you go live. Google Analytics is one of the best tools out there that every website should be using to track and monitor metrics and site performance, but there are plenty of other services you can use depending on your budget and CMS system.
Consider Installing Bing Webmaster Tools
Sure, Bing isn’t as popular as Google when it comes to searching, but it’s worth your while to consider optimizing your site for Bing, too. Bing Webmaster Tools functions the same way that Google Search Console does, so it can help you get set up for Bing to increase your potential traffic to users who use this particular platform.
Review For Mobile
Make sure everything is mobile responsive by checking on a variety of devices. Google gives higher value to sites that are optimized for mobile, and with 80% of online users using mobile devices to search, this is an important factor for lead generation as well. You can also check to see if your site is mobile responsive by scanning your URLs through Google Search Console.
Optimize Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and H1 Headings
Every page of your site should be ready for Google with fully optimized titles, tags, meta descriptions, H1 headings, and lower-level headings with well-researched keywords. These tags are also useful for your potential audience, giving them more information to increase the likelihood of clicking on your content or reading further.
Add Alt Tags to All Images
Alt text on images is used for people who are browsing with text-only browsers, or for those who are visually impaired. However, properly optimizing your images helps improve your SEO rank as well, as it provides extra information for Google to determine how to index your content. Make sure every image on your site has alt text and title tags.
Double-Check For Crawl Errors and Broken Links
This is another area where Google Search Console comes in handy. Checking for crawl errors will help you make sure your website is being indexed properly and will notify you if there are any broken links within your site. Both of these factors can negatively impact your SEO rank, as well as your user experience. Set up redirects wherever you need to and continuously monitor your site to make sure none appear in the future.
Run an SEO Audit of The Whole Website
Once everything is ready to go or launched, run an SEO audit of your entire website. This provides reassurance that you’ve checked all your boxes and helps you stay on top of potential issues if they come up later on. A full SEO audit will check every aspect of your site and flag anything you need to fix. With so many factors involved in the SEO optimization process, it’s easy to miss something if you’re not thinking about it.
Add Your Facebook Pixel
You don’t need to worry about this immediately, but if you are planning on using Facebook advertising in the near future it’s a good idea to get your pixel implemented on your site as early as you can. The sooner it starts collecting website traffic data, the easier it’ll be to set up a successful social media marketing campaign.