Whether you’re building a new website or giving your current one a refresh, your SEO setup will determine whether it’ll be likely to be found in organic search.
Completing these crucial SEO steps will get your website noticed by search engines and help you land in front of your ideal audience. But forgetting (or ignoring) them will only hurt your performance.
Before you hit “Publish,” take the time to check that you haven’t missed any of these critical SEO steps.
Do Your Keyword Research
Your SEO journey starts with keyword research. Keywords are the words or phrases that potential leads type into search engines. The goal behind keyword research is to find the ones your ideal audience is most likely to use.
Keywords can be researched and identified using tools like SEMRush, Moz or Google Keyword Planner, which will list their search volume, difficulty and more important distinctions. Once you’ve rounded up the right keywords for you, you can build them into your website copy and meta descriptions. Implementing these words and phrases will improve your Google search rank, increase traffic to your site and help you better understand your customers’ journey.
But be careful – don’t smush too many keywords into your copy for the sake of having them there. Make sure you’re using unique keywords that directly relate to the page’s topic.
If you’re wondering how to kick off your keyword research, here are a few helpful questions to get started:
- Who is your target audience or buyer persona?
- What are their major pain points?
- What essential products or services can you offer your audience?
- If you were your target persona, how would you search for what you need?
- What locations are you trying to target?
*Researching keywords for the first time? Here’s our step-by-step guide.
Include Title Tags and Header Tags
These two features can often get mixed up. Title Tags are the names you see on your browser window and search engine results. Header tags are only seen on your website pages and are used to create distinctions between different content blocks on your page. There are six different header variations (H1 – H6) that serve different purposes.
When optimizing your title tags, it’s important to:
- Use a unique name for every page. Instead of all your product pages having “Products” as your title tag, make sure they’re individualized. For example, has different URLs and title tags for our Marketing Plan Development, Website Design and Development and SEO Services pages.
- Include your keywords. Here’s a great place to implement the words you’ve researched and chosen for your strategy. But remember, don’t overload your title tags and…
- Keep them clear, concise and inviting. A short, descriptive title tag is search-engine friendly, meaning they’ll be able to identify your website as relevant more easily. But since it’s what will pop up in your audience’s search results, you’ll want to give your page an eye-catching title that invites them to click.
For your headers, we suggest that you:
- Create a dynamic, descriptive H1 tag. Your H1 tag is the subject and main title of your page. Search engines will “crawl” your page for these tags to better understand its content, which will affect its search ranking. This tag should only be used once and include your primary keyword for the page.Add in additional context with your H2 tag. While not as crucial as your H1 tag, H2 tags assist in giving search engines more information about your page. You can include additional keywords and even longer phrases here.
- Don’t overuse header tags. While using a handful of H3-H6 tags is fine, you should review your content if you’re using more than 10 per page. More than that can raise red flags with search engines, making it much less likely that you’ll show up in search results.
On major website platforms like WordPress, Wix and HubSpot, you can typically edit title tags in your page’s SEO settings and designate header tags with your list of text tools when writing your page copy.
Create Unique Meta Descriptions
While you’re updating your title tags on your page’s SEO settings, take a moment to enter your page’s meta description.
It’s unfortunately very common to see multiple website pages using the same meta description, despite each page having a different subject. It’s vital to have individualized meta descriptions because they also appear with your title tag on search engine results.
Meta descriptions don’t directly affect your search result ranking, but they’ll be the second thing your audience reads after your title tag. That gives you one more chance to entice a potential lead to click on your link.
When writing your meta descriptions, make sure to:
- Write them individually for each page. Having the same meta description for every page means they won’t match up with your title tag. This can be confusing and a turnoff for your audience.
- Address your audience’s pain point. Get down to the root of your audience’s problem and why they’re most likely searching for your services or product. Then, you can add in how your business can help.
- Include a call-to-action. Are you looking for searchers to call you? Fill out a form? Download a piece of content? A clear call-to-action helps guide your audience on their appropriate customer journey.
Add in Alt Tags for Images
This step is especially important if your website or content piece is heavy on imagery. Alt tags are text included in your image’s HTML code. You might see these tags whenever an image can’t load for some reason (like if an internet connection is bad). Alt tags are necessary for search engines because they can’t decipher images. Without a descriptive alt tag, they’ll be unable to determine what the image is, and there’s less of a chance of it showing up in search results.
For your images, add in short, descriptive alt tags. This can often be done by clicking on an image to edit it. These tags should describe what’s happening in the photo and can include (relevant!) keywords that are used on your page.
Implementing redirects (also known as 301 redirects) is crucial for those who are transitioning from an old website to a new version.
Say you have a page about web design services on your old website, and the URL is www.marketingpro.com/webdesign. But now, your URL for your new web design services page is www.newmarketingpros.com/webdesign. Every person who finds your original URL will get an error message because that page no longer exists. This is a problem for two reasons:
- In terms of your site’s analytics, you won’t be able to track the traffic going to your old website pages. This means your analytics won’t be accurate.
- You’re potentially losing out on a new customer who won’t be able to find your new website easily.
On your page’s SEO and backend settings, add in a redirect for each old page to make sure your audience is sent to the new website’s version instead.
Check If You’re Indexed
According to HubSpot, “website indexing is a process search engines use to comprehend the function of your website and each page on that website.” By indexing your website, search engines like Google can process your website’s content to its index and add them to relevant groupings based on keywords.
You can use this tool to determine whether your website pages are currently being indexed. If the answer is no, SEMRush has a step-by-step guide on getting started.
Start with Google Analytics
Having a shiny new website is excellent, but it’s important to be able to track its performance.
Your website’s analytics will provide a variety of data points, including your site’s traffic and user numbers, where leads are coming from, what they’re most interested in and more. While many platforms include analytic capabilities, we suggest creating a Google Analytics account for your site.
Google Analytics provides comprehensive breakdowns of your website’s performance and can be customized to show and track the key points that are most important to you. We use it routinely to make data-driven recommendations for our clients to increase their ROI and grow their audience.
Once you create a Google Analytics account, you’ll be asked to add a small code snippet to your backend HTML. This will collect your site’s data and report it to your Analytics account. Then you can get to tracking!
Don’t Forget to Audit!
As you can see, there’s certainly a lot more to your website going live than pressing “Publish.” You’ll need to perform consistent website audits to ensure everything is running smoothly behind the scenes. Consistent website audits can help you spot-check for issues and troubleshoot them before they become a big problem.
Our free website grader can kickstart your audit and point out areas for SEO improvement. But if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by this process or don’t have time to perform a comprehensive SEO overhaul, our team can help. Contact us today to learn more about our SEO services.