How does a new website start ranking? Does it just magically appear in Google after you’ve launched it? What things do you have to do to start ranking in Google and get traffic from the search engines? Here, I explain the first steps you’ll need to take right after the launch of your new website. Learn how to start working on the SEO for a new website!
First: you’ll need to have an external link
One of my closest friends launched a birthday party packages online store last week. It’s all in Dutch and it’s not WordPress (the wrong choice of course, but I love her all the same :-)). After my friend launched her website, she celebrated and asked her friends, including me, what they thought of her new site. I love her site, but couldn’t find her in Google, not even if I googled the exact domain name. My first question to my friend was: do you have another site linking to your site? And her answer was ‘no’. I linked to her site from my personal site and after half a day, her website popped up in the search results. The very first step when working on SEO for a new website: getting at least one external link.
Why do you need an external link?
Google is a search engine that follows links. For Google to know about your site, it has to find it by following a link from another site. Google found my friend’s site because I put a link to that site on my personal site. When Google came around to crawl my site after I put the link there, it discovered the existence of my friend’s site. And indexed it. After indexing the site, it started to show the site in the search results.
Read more: What does Google do? »
Next step: tweak your settings…
After that first link, your site probably will turn up in the search results. If it doesn’t turn up, it could be that the settings of your site are on
noindex or is still blocked by
robots.txt. If that’s the case, you’re telling Google not to index your site. Sometimes developers forget to turn either of these off after they finished working on your site.
Some pages are just not the best landing pages. You don’t want people landing on your check out page, for instance. And you don’t want this page to compete with other – useful – content or product pages to show up in the search results. Pages you don’t want to pop up in the search results ever (but there aren’t many of these) should have a
Yoast SEO can help you to set these pages to
noindex. That means Google will not save this page in the index and it’ll not turn up in the search results.
Keep reading: The ultimate guide to the robots meta tag »
Important third step: keyword research
My friend’s site now ranks on her domain name. That’s about it. She’s got some work to do to start ranking on other terms as well. When you want to improve the SEO for a new website you have carry out some proper keyword research. So go find out what your audience is searching for! What words do they use?
If you execute your keyword research properly, you’ll end up with a long list of search terms you want to be found for. Make sure to search for those terms in Google yourself. What results are there already? Who will be your online competitors for these search terms? What can you do to stand out from these results?
And then: write, write, write
Then you start writing. Write about all those topics that are important to your audience. Use the words you came up with in your keyword research. You need to have content about the topics you want to rank for to start ranking in the search results.
Keep on reading: How to write high-quality and seo-friendly blog posts »
But also: improve those snippets
Take a look at your results in the search engines once you start ranking (the so-called snippets). Are those meta descriptions and the titles of the search results inviting? Are they tempting enough for your audience to click on them? Or should you write better ones?
Yoast SEO helps you to write great titles and meta descriptions. Use our snippet preview to create awesome snippets. That’ll really help in attracting traffic to your site.
Think about site structure
Which pages and posts are most important? These should have other pages and posts linking to them. Make sure to link to the most important content. Google will follow your links, the post and pages that have the most internal links will be most likely to rank high in the search engines. Setting up such a structure is basically telling Google which articles are important and which aren’t. Our brand new text link counter can be a great help to see if you’re linking often enough to your most important content.
Keep reading: Internal linking for SEO: why and how »
Finally: do some link building
Google follows links. Links are important. So get the word out and start link building! Reach out to other site owners – preferably of topically related websites – and ask them to write about your new site. If Google follows multiple links to your website, it’ll crawl it more often. This is crucial when you do the SEO for a new website, and will eventually help in your rankings. Don’t go overboard in link building for SEO though, buying links is still a no-go:
Read on: Link building: what not to do? »