SEO Checklist and Strategies for Completely New Sites

You may be wondering where to begin to apply SEO strategies after the launch of a new site. Well, starting anywhere basically is fine. Although SEO strategies are similar across all industries, some strategies work better in certain industries than the other.

That being said, you can actually begin the strategies by working on the On-page SEO, then to the Off-page SEO. The main thing is to use the strategies that suit your ultimate goals.

Before you continue reading, note that this article is for the sites that are completely new to the world of SEO. However, other sites can use this checklist to cross-check whether their strategy is missing one or two things.

The most crucial thing about SEO Strategies is to make sure that your pages adhere to the search engines ranking policy. Assuming other techniques are covered, relevancy and popularity are the two main factors for SEO success.

In this article, the SEO checklist is divided into three areas for better understanding. These areas are not exclusive, but they cover the essential parts of getting your pages to rank well on search engines.

  • 1. On-page SEO
  • 2. Off-page SEO
  • 3. Technical SEO

1. On-page SEO

This aspect of SEO deals with optimisation of individual page on your site depending on how important it is to what your site represents. In every site, there are pages that will not necessary need to be optimised. Examples of such pages are: about page, contact page, staff pages etc.

On the other hand, there are essential pages on every site that requires optimisation. Examples are: the service page, blog pages, tutorial pages, home page, etc. All these pages can be optimised for search engine ranking.

For on-page SEO, this article covers these aspects: Page title, Meta tags, Heading tags, Alt tag, URL structure and internal links.

i. Page title

This is an element specifying the title of web pages. Basically, It appears at the top of each search result when displayed on search results. The title typically corresponds to the subject or heading of each page content on your site.

Examples: Inside the HTML markup of your site, the page title is entered on the head section.

<head>
<title>Submitting A Sitemap to Google Search Console</title>
</head>

On Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), you get something like this.

ii. Meta tags

Meta tags are HTML elements used for specifying functions for browsers. Basically, it provides structured information about a particular web page. This information helps browsers and search engines to understand and render web pages properly.

There are various types of mata tags that can be used on your HTML markup. Examples of these tags are shown below:

<head>
<title>SEO Checklists and Strategies for Completely New Sites</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
<meta name="description" content="Learn how to submit sitemap to Goolge Search Console in few easy steps and get your pages ranked faster." />
<meta name="keywords" content="Google Search Console, Goolge Webmaster, Google Sitemap, Submitting a Sitemap" />
</head>

Some of the available meta tags are optional. Depending on what you want to do with your site, use the appropriate tags. For SEO ranking, it is essential to use the meta description, meta keywords, meta viewport and the tag for character set.

iii. Heading tags

This is used to organise the headings in the content of your page. As part of HTML markup, the heading tags range from <h1> - <h6>. How these tags are used also affect search engine rankings.

When using heading tag, make sure that <h1> tag appears only once in each web page. Other heading tags, however, can appear multiple times, but in relevant order.

Examples:

HTML markup should follow the right order as shown in this example.

<h1>Submitting A Sitemap to Google Search Console</h1>
<h2>Heading 2</h2>
<p>Paragraph text here</p>
<h3>Heading 3</h3>
<p>Paragraph text here</p>
<h2>Heading 2</h2>
<p>Paragraph text here</p>

Avoid skipping any of the heading tag before using the next, and always start with <h1> on every page.

iv. Alt tag

This is also known as the alternate tag (attribute). It is an attribute used for describing the type of images used on a web page. By describing an image in a text format, it gives the blind/impaired people the ability to read and understand the what the images represent.

Example:

<img src="images/example.png" alt="A young boy holding hands with his sister" />

In one hand, the alt tag is good for SEO. On the other hand, it helps others to understand the meaning of the images used on your site. All together, the alt tag is serving a good purpose.

v. URL structure

The way your site URLs are structured can also boost SEO ranking. URLs that are easy to read and understand by any broswer, renders quicker.

When saving your web pages, use short URL and apply the keywords of the page into it. If your site is new, my personal recommedation is to use longer URLs for the first few pages to avoid too many competition.

Example:

http://www.calistus.net/blog.php
http://www.calistus.net/blog-posts/seo-checklist-and-strategies.php
http://www.calistus.net/blog-posts/submitting-a-sitemap-to-google-search-console.php

If your keywords are common and you have no strong backlinks, your site may not get to the first few SERPs. In this case, longer and readable URL is recommended.

vi. Internal links

Internal links are systems of connecting a particular web page to other resources within the same site. These can be navigation links or links within the content of the web page.

One aspect of creating internal links is as mentioned above. The other aspect is to create links to another site as sources. Endeavour to use both ways of linking at least twice on your page.

By linking within your site, you create visibility for other contents. And by linking to another site, you give credibility to your content. Be cautious not to overuse this and stay very professional.

2. Off-page SEO

These are series of techniques used in creating popularity for a web page. By making a web page more popular, the higher its chances of visibility on search engines. The one unique technique for off-page SEO is called ‘Link building.’

Link building

This is the process of creating links (backlinks) directly to your web page through other sites / platforms.

There are various methods of creating links to a web page. This article will only cover the major ones.

  • Social media presence: Create social media account(s) and share your web page links there. Remember, do not follow the crowd just because everyone is on a particular social network. Follow what works for your site, content, services or industry.
  • Off site engagement: Engage in activities outside your own platform and support other sites in your industry through answering of questions and creating short content, especially on what your site represents. Then provide a link to your web page for more information on the topic.
  • Offline engagement: Utilise relationship outside the internet to get popularity for your site. Speak to people about your site and what it does; participate in seminars / conference as guest speaker; use offline media to support your content visibility.

All in all, build links for your web pages on platforms whose contents closely relate to yours.

3. Technical SEO

This aspect deals with working on the entirety of your site. Technical knowledge of SEO is needed to ensure proper installation and submission of various tools. With this, all tools used apply to the whole of your site.

For your site to perform well on search engines, these key technical SEO tools are needed: Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, Sitemap, Robots.txt, Gzip compression, Image optimisation and Mobile responsiveness.

i. Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps in tracking and creating report associated with site traffic. Also, it measures conversation rate and ROI for online marketing. In short, Google Analytics provides you with answers to where and how your customers find your site.

With the data provided by Google, it will help you make informed decision on how to run your online marketing campaign.

ii. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another Google tool used for indexing web pages for visibility on Google search engine. With Search Console, you can submit the list of web pages on your site so that Google bot can crawl them.

Similar to Google Analytics, Search Console provides web traffic reports for your site. To learn more about Google Search Console, read How to Add A Website to Google Search Console (Webmaster).

iii. Bing Webmaster Tools

Just like Google Search Console, this tool is used to index web pages for visibilty on Bing and Yahoo search engines. It also provides web traffic reports, SEO report and analyses your web page for better ranking.

Add Your Website to Bing / Yahoo Webmaster in 5 Easy Steps if you want to have your site appear on their search engines.

iv. Sitemap

Sitemap is a text editor file which has an extension of xml. It is basically used to provide web crawlers with information about the organisation of a site and how it should be crawled. The information contained in the sitemap are list of URLs on the site.

Check the sitemap of your site by typing sitemap.xml at the end of your domain name on the address bar.

Example:

http://www.calistus.net/sitemap.xml

For more information, learn how you can submit a sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

v. Robots.txt

This is a text file used in providing instructions for web crawlers on how a site can be crawled. Basically, it is used to disallow or allow the crawlers to display / not to display your web pages on the search engine platforms.

You can also check for robots.txt content of your site by entering it at the end of your domain name on the address bar.

Example:

http://www.calistus.net/robots.txt

Read this wonderful piece to learn more about how Robots.txt works. This will guide you on the right way to set instruction to web crawlers for your site.

vi. Gzip compression

Gzip is a file format that allows the compression of a web page files into smaller size. Compressing your site is an easy way to save bandwidth and increase its load speed on the web browsers. For sites with large files, gzip can be a very helpful tool.

There are several methods of activating the gzip compression. If you are using a shared hosting Apache server for your site, the easiest way is to update your site settings on the cpanel.

To activate this, login to your control panel (using cPanel as an example), and locate the SOFTWARE section. Then click on Optimize Website.

Within the following page, select Compress All Content, and click on Update Settings.

That is it. It is just as simple as that!

Alternatively, you can use .htaccess file. For more information on that, visit Varvy: Enable compression via .htaccess to learn more.

vii. Image optimisation

This is another form of compression. In this case, it is only for images, done within the HTML image tag. When images are properly optimised, it increases the loading speed of your site. To learn more about image optimisation, follow any of the recommended practice by Google.

viii. Mobile responsiveness

This is a web design approach that renders web pages perfectly well on different types of devices. In a much clearer term, it defines the way of keeping your audience engaged no matter what form of device they are using.

In this age and era, user experience and friendly interface are two of the methods of providing customer satisfaction. So, adopting a responsive web design for your site is crucial.

What next?

When it comes to SEO, by following through with this article, you have probably done the most relevant things that are needed to be done. After one or two weeks, check your traffic report to see how your web pages are doing. Use the report to strategise on your next steps.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on the SEO trends and make sure you are always up to date with the lastest tools and technologies.

If you need more information or questions regarding what I have discussed above, feel free to contact me or drop a comment below. You can also throw me any question you may have about SEO strategies.

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Online Marketing Specialist

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Calistus Mbachu

Calistus Mbachu

Online Marketing Specialist

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