When hopeful entrepreneurs launch a new business they typically find that they have a hundred and one things to do. There’s the staff to hire, the budgets to finalize, product testing to complete, licensing to sort out…the list seems to go on forever.
On top of all that, you know you need a website. Making that website an active part of your success is key.
Simply knocking together a basic website and getting it live on the internet is not good enough. Your website needs to be optimized so that it can draw in customers and begin to build your brand identity.
That’s where SEO comes in, and some basic optimization tips can help you design and launch a website that will be an asset, and not a headache down the line.
The Importance of SEO
Before we look at some basic optimization tips for your business, it’s important to understand why SEO is so vital when launching a new business (or for any existing business). Without optimization, a new website has little or no chance of being found in any given search result.
Employing proper SEO techniques in your initial website design will make it easier for those people searching for your name to find your site.
As your SEO strategy develops, it will become easier for people to find your website when they search for the products and services you offer. Because search engine optimization takes time to build momentum, and to produce the desired results, it is vital that you optimize your website at the outset so that it is primed for better online performance.
Your SEO Setup – The Nuts and Bolts
The first thing on an SEO checklist for start-ups is to find and install the tools you will need to optimize your website. This may seem daunting at first, but most of these tools are fairly intuitive and user friendly.
- Install Google Analytics – Google Analytics will help you to track your website’s traffic, learn what search terms people are using to find your site, and monitor where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your site. It will also help you find the most effective keywords to target in your advertising and your on-site content. Once setup, you will be provided a small piece that you add to your site’s code.
- Set up Google Webmaster Tools – GWT is an invaluable aid for any business with an active website. This free tool provides data on crawl rates for your site, page ranking, search queries, and URL errors. It also supplies important data on your website’s incoming and out going links. Click here to learn more about how to setup your site.
- Upload a robots.txt File – Create a robots.txt file, and upload it to your website’s root directory. This file directs the search engine bots to the parts of your website that you want them to crawl and index. If you’re using WordPress, this is automatically created for you.
- Create a sitemap.xml File – Create a sitemap.xml for your website, and upload it to the root directory. This is explained in the Webmaster Tools setup link above will make it easier for search engines to navigate your website and index its content. This is critical if you want your website to rank for anything other than your business name.
The proper use of keywords is one of the fundamentals of good SEO. These words and phrases should be strategically deployed in your page content, titles, and meta-tags. Finding the right keywords to target takes time, and you will have to commit to doing a little bit of research. First, consider the products and services you are offering. Think about the most likely search terms someone might use in an online query for those services, and then compile a list of all possible keywords. Next, using Google Keyword Planner, search for related keywords and phrases that might be applicable to your business. Finally, using the Google Keyword Planner, you can narrow down your list to the top keywords and phrases used in searches for your products and services.
Now it’s time to apply some SEO basics to the website itself. Again, these take time, but optimizing your site in the initial design stage will save you time and money down the line. You can also take a look at our SEO Auditor Tool for more tips, but here are the basics:
- Title Tags – Every page of your website should have a unique title tag that includes your business’ name and at least one of your targeted keywords. Title tags should be about 60-65 characters and not longer than 70.
- Meta Descriptions – Each web page should have a meta description, again using one or more of your targeted keywords. Meta descriptions should be no more than 150 characters.
- Web Page URLs – Each web page’s URL should include a targeted keyword, if possible.
- Anchor Text – Whenever you link from one page of your site to another, be sure to include an appropriate keyword as part of the anchor text. The anchor text is simply the linkable word.
- Alt Tags – Any images on your website should include ALT tags that allow the search engines to understand the content of the image so that it can be indexed for search results.
- Heading Tags – Proper use of H1, H2, and H3 tags on your site are also important. There should only be a single use of an H1 tag, then in order of importance for H2 and H3.
The nuts and bolts of SEO are one thing, but it is content that drives your optimization strategy. Include a blog on your website, and commit to publishing at least two articles a month, or better yet, two per week! These should be, at minimum, 400 words or more. The articles should be interesting and informative, and should relate to your business’s products and services. It is vital that the content you publish be unique and original. Do not copy and paste. Plagiarizing content will land you in hot water with Google and other search engines, and will undo all of the hard work you’ve put into optimizing your site.
SEO for new business’ ans websites isn’t difficult, but it does take a lot of time and patience. By incorporating some basic SEO principles in your website design up front, you can ensure that your site is primed for better online performance moving forward.
Does all this seem overwhelming? Do you have some thoughts or need help with your SEO? Feel free to reach out or start a discussion in the comments below.