SEO for a new website The very first things to do

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 noindex.

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?

Read on: Keyword research: the ultimate guide »

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.

Read more: The snippet preview: what it means and how to use it? »

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? »

36 Responses to SEO for a new website: the very first things to do

  1. Hindi Shayari
    Hindi Shayari  • 4 years ago

    Thanks for this info because my new website has been launched on the internet.

  2. Hindi Shayari
    Hindi Shayari  • 4 years ago

    Thanks for this info because my new web has been launched.

  3. Interiored
    Interiored  • 4 years ago

    Link building and link exchange. I heard that link exchange is not good for SEO of a site, is that true?

  4. Shafinaz nachiar
    Shafinaz nachiar  • 4 years ago

    wow, i really dont know about SEO before, this tips very helpfully for me, but now its so hard to find a good backlink :(
    this my first web and i use the yoast SEO :

  5. James River Realty
    James River Realty  • 4 years ago

    Excellent tips! Thanks for sharing..

    AIDEN J. WATTS  • 4 years ago

    This is the really helpful article, thank you for the guidance. I’m new to making a website and I didn’t have much idea about things to do before making a wonderful website. But now I got my questions.

  7. Ron
    Ron  • 4 years ago

    Great article, when you say do not buy links. I run a directory site and charge for listing, is this considered purchasing a link? or do you mean from link farms?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Ron, perhaps links from directories like yours are not as bad as the ones from link farms, but they won’t add much value either. So while they might not harm your site, they’re not really working for you either.

  8. SA Hip Hop
    SA Hip Hop  • 4 years ago

    Nice article, Love this, really helpful

  9. Pranit Patil
    Pranit Patil  • 4 years ago

    Thanks for Sharing this information its really helpful for beginners to know what SEO is.Will look forward to reading more from you.

  10. Adrian
    Adrian  • 4 years ago

    Some insightful tips in this article especially when you’re thinking about indexing your website in Google. I am about to launch a website and will definitely keep these in mind. Thank you for the great post!

  11. Pattipie
    Pattipie  • 4 years ago

    Absolutely right! Thank you for the great pieces of information and resources!

  12. Jackie
    Jackie  • 4 years ago

    Nice info! another Great article by Yoast. I am a huge fan of Yoast and I have recently followed this blog and this guide will help me even more now!


  13. Alex
    Alex  • 4 years ago

    SEO for a new website the very first things to do is great article and good tips. Really helps for beginners!

  14. Matt
    Matt  • 4 years ago

    Thanks for some great information.!

  15. Ashley
    Ashley  • 4 years ago

    Hi Marieke

    Does someone sharing your blog post page count as a back link?

    I have a blog post that has got some shares now and was wondering if these count or do you still have to get direct back links?

    Great article by the way. I am a premium user of Yoast SEO and it is a great tool for my site.


    • Marieke
      Marieke  • 4 years ago

      Hi Ashley, they do count as backlinks, but might not be the most powerful, compared to an authoritative website, for instance. They’ll help you getting exposure nevertheless!

      • Ashley
        Ashley  • 4 years ago

        Hi Marieke

        Another question if I may. I see the is debate about creating profiles on various sites and platforms with a link in the profile to your site. Is this a valid way to generate back links or is it frowned upon?


  16. Rana Jayant
    Rana Jayant  • 4 years ago

    Wooo, Thants interesting. I have seen few of my sites has been indexed just in 24 hrs after connecting with Google analytics without giving any links to site or webmaster submission (The site wasn’t indexed in last 8 days.) Seems Google follows analytics data as well to discover new sites.)

    • Mike Willis
      Mike Willis  • 4 years ago

      Hi Rana
      Perhaps I can help.
      In your post you say “been indexed”. Have they also appeared in organic search, within a browser holding no cache, no history etc?

      Our experience has been like this:
      Once you upload the google verification file, the robot jumps in and validates it (when you press “validate”) and also moves through the site.
      Turning up in search results- is another thing. As Marieke says- get some external link(s).
      If your inbound links come from active, authority domains- ranking debuts will come quite soon- sometimes that same day.
      Sites which are stagnant, and very ordinary in what they offer in terms of UX don’t pass the same link equity or ‘dynamic’ as a great site would.
      It’s a bit like getting a reference from a co-worker from within an organization where you both did basic level jobs. It’s likely that the CEO’s reference- if you got one from them- would carry more influence.
      Bring on “Domain Authority”.
      Kind regards
      Mike Willis

    • Marieke
      Marieke  • 4 years ago

      Hi Rana, that’s possible indeed! Thanks for the addition.

  17. Natalie Alaimo
    Natalie Alaimo  • 4 years ago

    How does creating an external link compare to submitting your site to Google via Search Console?

    • Ari Roth
      Ari Roth  • 4 years ago

      I was going to comment on this too. You don’t need a link to get indexed. Submitting the URL via Search Console does that just fine. You don’t even need to register the site in Search Console – just go to

      • Joost de Valk
        Joost de Valk  • 4 years ago

        That causes it to be indexed but doesn’t make it rank, you need links for that.

  18. Saurabh K
    Saurabh K  • 4 years ago

    Awesome tips for beginners. I am planning to launch a new website in couple of days. Will definitely implement your suggestions.

    • Marieke
      Marieke  • 4 years ago

      Hi Saurabh, that’s awesome. Good luck!

  19. Gil
    Gil  • 4 years ago

    Typo in the article:

    That means Google will not save this page in the index and it’ll not turn op in the search results.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Thanks Gil! Fixed it :-)

  20. Adriaan Boot
    Adriaan Boot  • 4 years ago

    You might want to advice your friend to add a favicon to Unbelievable how many website developers / webmaster / business owners forget this.

    • Marieke
      Marieke  • 4 years ago

      Hi Adriaan, will do! Thanks

  21. Joseph Azubuike
    Joseph Azubuike  • 4 years ago

    I will like to learn how to link my site to Google so that search engines will locate it and from there index it.
    Joseph Azubuike.

    • Marieke
      Marieke  • 4 years ago

      Hi Joseph, If you know someone who has a website that has been indexed, just ask that person to link to your site. That way Google will find and crawl your site soon. You can also add your site to Google Search Console. Good luck!

  22. Mikhail
    Mikhail  • 4 years ago

    The article, the Yoast is great. Thak you, guys.

  23. Erik
    Erik  • 4 years ago

    I think a good start with external links will be to create some social media accounts and put your link there. I recently launched a new website without doing any effort for SEO yet. while I was reading this I checked the SEO and it appeared to be crawled via the social media links. I added Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram.

    • Marieke
      Marieke  • 4 years ago

      Hi Erik, Thanks for the addition!

  24. Basit Ansari
    Basit Ansari  • 4 years ago

    Amazing article to improve our brand new website rank.