SEO Strategy plan for a new website
December 10, 2021
At LWDA we work with many entrepreneurs looking to launch their new brand or company online with their first website. A big part of this process involves creating an SEO strategy and advising on best SEO practices.
With this in mind, we thought we would write an article that outlines our approach to creating an SEO strategy for a new website. Specifically for a brand or company that has not had any prior online presence.
This article is not only created to help explain why we take the approach that we do, but to give guidance to those wishing to implement their own SEO strategy.
So let’s get started…
Create your site map
A site map is usually provided as a ‘family tree’ style diagram, showing the hierarchical structure of the website.
Creating a site map helps visualise the structure of the site. Each key page and section is outlined, with notes regarding functionality and basic content types.
There are excellent tools available for creating website sitemaps. We love Gloomaps.
We regularly produce site maps for our clients as a part of our web design services. This task will usually take place directly after we have discussed the website in more detail.
The aim of the discussion is to discover which types of page templates are required for the website.
A page template is a specific layout of information. For example, your ‘Home’ page will look different to your ‘Contact’ page and so will need to be designed and built in a unique way.
Some examples of common page templates are as follows:
- About Us
- Product Category
- Product Listing
- News Archive – lists all the sites news posts in reverse chronological order
- News Post – The article itself
- Contact – may have a map and a form, etc
How does a site map help with your SEO strategy?
Creating a site map helps identify each of the key web pages that will need to be optimised.
For example, if you’re looking to create an eCommerce store for a new clothing brand, you’ll have landing pages for each type of product. You may also have landing pages for each sex, resulting in page titles such as:
- Men’s Jeans
- Women’s Jeans
- Men’s Jackets
- Women’s Jackets
Each landing page will require optimisation.
Detailing which pages are required at this early stage will help with your keyword research; The next step of the SEO strategy.
SEO keyword research
Once you have created your site map and have a list of pages that require optimisation, you can start to perform your keyword research.
Each page on your website will include a title and descriptive text that helps both users and search engines understand the content of that page.
It is primarily this information that search engines use to ascertain if your web page is relevant to a user when they perform a web search.
If you’re selling a service, you may wish to go into quite a lot of detail about that subject. This gives you the opportunity to include a range of keyword variants within the content of the page, thereby targeting a bigger audience who are using a wider range of terms to find the services that you offer.
How to do keyword research
There are many keyword research tools available on the market. Some are free and some are paid for.
We tend to use SEMrush for high-end paid-for SEO strategy work. SEMrush allows us to do high-level keyword research and competitor analysis.
But if you are on a tight budget, there are two ways in which you can perform keyword research for free. Both require some time on your part, but this may be acceptable if it helps keep within budget.
Google predictive search
Yup, that tool that most of us use every single day is a great way to perform free keyword research.
Just open a new browser tab, go to Google.com and start typing keywords. You’ll notice that Google will start to suggest possible search terms that may be of interest to you (its user).
These search terms are based upon other users search activity, so there’s a good chance that some of these terms will be relevant to your SEO strategy.
For example, if you were selling men’s jeans online, you may wish to include category pages for different styles and brands such as those shown in this screenshot.
Competitor keyword research
If you’re starting a new online business, it’s good to know who your main competitors are.
You may already know of a few local businesses that offer the same services or products, so visit their websites to see what content and keywords they feature on their site.
Make a list of any keywords that you feel may be of use. Our advice is to create a spreadsheet for this information organised by page title.
You can then use these keywords in Google to identify other local and national businesses that you may not be aware of.
Take special note of those on pages one and two of Google. Visit those websites and perform the same task as you did for your other local competitors.
The resulting list of keywords will give you a good foundation for creating the titles and text for the pages on your website.
Optimise on-page text for better SEO
Once you have your list of keywords, you’ll want to write the content for your website. You can do this yourself or perhaps employ a copywriter to help you.
Each page will contain unique text that targets a particular keyword or range of keywords and should be organised in a way that’s easily digestible by the reader.
Avoid long paragraphs of text. This is because it’s quite difficult to read large blocks of text onscreen. Stick to shorter sections of text that are easier for the eye to track through.
Make sure that you include subheadings throughout your text. This helps structure the page and gives you the opportunity to target more keywords.
There are plenty of great online tutorials for writing content that is structured well for SEO. We also use the Yoast plugin for WordPress to help guide clients when creating and editing their content.
Choose a good domain name
At some point, you’ll be thinking of registering a suitable domain name for your business. The chances are that the domain will include your company name (one of your main keywords), but there may be additional SEO opportunities available.
Your domain is another opportunity to target keywords other than your company name. Especially if your company name consists of common words that are likely already registered.
A good example of this is De Havilland Gin. The brand is known as De Havilland and inspired by the plane of the same name. The downside of this is that there will be many websites that include these words within the domain name. But combine the brand name with the main product name and the result is a unique search term that combines two keywords.
Choose a good web hosting solution
Let’s say you’ve registered your domain, created your content and have the design ready to be built. You’ll need to have some web hosting in place for your developers to put the new website when it’s completed.
Good quality web hosting is important on many levels such as security and minimal site downtime, but in terms of SEO, it’s all about site speed.
Websites that are fast to load will be looked upon favourably by search engines such as Google. So choosing a hosting solution that delivers your web pages quickly to visitors should be a top priority.
It’s not easy choosing a good web hosting company. In fact, we’ve spent many years testing hosting services in order to provide our clients with the best all-around hosting solution.
Our tip is to secure a hosting solution that’s based within the country of your target market, has excellent customer support and offers regular backups.
If you can’t find out where the servers are based, make sure you can use a CDN (content delivery network) with the setup to help with speedy file delivery.
Optimize Page URLs
So let’s fast forward a little to the point at which your website has been built and you’re ready to add content to the pages. The content itself is optimised, but what about the page URLs?
Optimising page URLs to include some of your top keywords is a great way to boost your SEO.
A good example of this is our long-standing client Mini-Engineers. Yvette invested her time researching keywords that would benefit the site and added some of those keywords into her Page URLs.
For example, the page that promotes Parties could have simply been structured as follows:
But because Yvette was targeting customers specifically within London, the final URL for the page looked like this:
The keywords in the URL are reflected within the H1 (main heading) on the page and throughout the copy.
It’s important to make these changes before launch. The reason for this is that Google and the other search engines will index your page URLs and use those for search results.
If the URLs change at any point in the future, it will take Google quite some time to update their records and other inbound links to your site will break.
If you must change a page URL after launch, you can set up a 301 redirect, but it’s best to avoid this if possible.
Optimise meta titles and descriptions
With your page URLs and page content optimised, you should now optimise meta titles and descriptions.
Meta titles and descriptions are the text items you see directly under the URL in a Google search result. The meta title is the blue text that acts as the link to your website and the description is the dark grey text below that.
Usually, this data is taken directly from your page title and the first line of text on the page. But depending upon how the website has been built, that text may not be best from a marketing perspective.
WordPress plugins such as Yoast allow you to tweak the text that appears in the SERPs in order to make it more attention-grabbing for the user.
Essentially the idea is to write titles and descriptions that make the viewer want to click your link and not someone else’s.
Make sure that the meta title and description feature the main keyword for that page and this will add to your SEO effectiveness.
Optimise your images
It’s not just the text that can be optimised on your website. You can optimise your images too. Both in terms of image size and metadata.
All types of image formats can be optimised, including JPEG, GIF, PNG and SVG.
Reduce image file sizes for fast page loading
As mentioned in the hosting section, page load speed is a very important factor when it comes to SEO. Your choice hosting package will go a long way to helping you serve web pages to your visitors quickly, but reducing image sizes will give you a huge boost.
There are online tools to help you reduce image file sizes. We love tinyjp.com.
Optimise your image metadata
Not only can you optimise the metadata for your web pages, but you can also add metadata to your images in the form of ‘alt text’.
Image Alt Text is a description of the image that you are adding to the page and helps improve accessibility for those with poor eyesight.
Search engines can read alt text, adding it to the overall ranking factor of your web pages. So make sure that you add keywords to your images alt text field within your CMS.
Be careful not to spam this field. Write a short well-written description that is honest and accurate.
Setup Google Analytics & Google Search Console
With your web pages fully optimised, make sure you set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console so that you can track the effectiveness of your efforts.
Google Analytics & Search Console allow you to see which keywords are bringing traffic to your website and your average ranking for those keywords.
You can also use Search Console to identify technical issues that may arise with the site over time.
Social Media Strategy
Finally, you will need to consider some off-site SEO, primarily in the shape of a Social Media Strategy.
Social Media can play a big part in the success of any brand. Particularly if you are a B2C company.
Each social media channel offers the ability to send traffic directly to your site using a range of methods such as:
- Sponsored Posts
- Manual posts made by you
- Content that other users have shared from your site
We suggest that you set up an account for all of the big social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Plus any others that you feel may be relevant to your audience.
Even if you decide not to use them, by registering your business on those platforms you are protecting your brand. Particularly if you can get a great account name across all platforms that is the same or similar to your web domain.
Use your keywords as hashtags within your posts to help reach your audience and grow awareness of your brand.
SEO Strategy plan summary
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a complex subject and can seem daunting at first. But if broken into smaller tasks, it’s possible for you to optimise your website without needing to pay someone else to perform the task.
However, if you don’t have time to invest in this part of the project, then help is at hand from your digital partners.
It’s possible to divide your SEO strategy into stages, with each one being executed either by yourself, your web developer or a specialist SEO agency.
Here’s a summary of tasks and who may be best suited for each:
- Create your site map – You or your web developer
- Keyword Research – You or an SEO specialist
- Optimising on-page text – You or a copywriter
- Choosing a good domain name – You or your developer
- Choose a good web hosting company – Your web developer
- Optimise page URLs – You, your developer or an SEO specialist
- Optimise meta titles and descriptions – You, your developer or an SEO specialist
- Reduce image file sizes – You or your web developer
- Setup Google Analytics & Search Console – Your or your web developer
- Social Media Strategy – You or a specialist Social Media Agency
We’re used to helping clients with their SEO requirements, and will often take care of the essentials. We regularly create site maps, set up web hosting, optimise meta titles and descriptions during development review, optimise images and set up Google Analytics and Search Console.
We’re also on hand to assist with keyword research and can help with competitor analysis too.
If you’re looking to have a website designed and built for your new company or brand and need help creating an SEO strategy, feel free to drop us a line. We’ll be more than happy to discuss your project.
If you prefer to use a separate agency for your SEO services from your web design & development services, then we suggest taking a look at this article about outsourcing seo services.
SEO Strategy: Additional Reading
If you found this article helpful and would like to know more about SEO, feel free to check out these posts:
- One-page vs multi-page websites
- What is Local SEO and why is it important for your company?
- How to get backlinks for my website
LWDA are a London-based Web Design Agency that serves London and the UK. If you are a reader from another territory such as the US, you may wish to use directory services such as DesignRush to find Local SEO Agencies.