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SEO Steps For a New Website

In this article, we cover everything from domain names, through to carrying out the research needed to prepare for On Page SEO.  

Step 1 - Domain Names:

There is a lot of debate on this is the SEO world. Should you choose a domain name that is relevant and memorable, or one that has lots of keywords in it?

Whilst it is widely believed that having key terms in your domain name is a good idea in terms of SEO, it is not essential. In most instances, an easy to remember and short domain is best. It would probably pay for both SEO and also brand recognition for you to have a name that sounds relevant to your website, and is easy to remember.

Regarding what TLD (Top Level Domain) is best, many say .com extension sites will rank easier than, say, .info domains. What I would say here is that if you value your site, go for a decent TLD. Cheaper domains may give the impression to your visitors that you don’t really value your site, as you are not prepared to spend $10 (or £) per year on your name!

One thing worth considering is that there is evidence that geo targeted TLDs work well, so if you are targeting solely the UK for example, a .co.uk domain may well be a good idea. - That said, do try to be ‘future proof’ and consider buying the .com and .net versions of your domain. If nothing else it helps to stop other people buying other TLD versions of your domain when you are successful, with the aim of relieving you of $$$ in exchange for the domain!

Step 2 - Plan Your Content Pages:
The next step would be to plan out your pages, and what you want on them. No need to actually make the pages or write the content at this stage… just plan the topic of the pages.

Be sure to plan for a contact us page, a privacy statement page, and ideally a sitemap page. (HTML Sitemap, not to be confused with an xml sitemap which is meant to be submitted to Google).

Try to focus your pages subject matter as much as possible, to help them be relevant. So, for example, if you run a Garage that services cars, motorbike and trucks, and also sells spare parts for vehicles, and does race tuning, plan a page for each of these services.

Step 3 - Plan Your Keywords:

Next, take a look at the pages you have planned, have a brainstorm and scribble down on a bit of paper they key terms you feel to be relevant to your site… Don’t think single words here, think key terms. Try to scribble down about 5 TERMS for each of your pages (inc. homepage) - For Example “motorbike race tuning” is one term, despite being 3 words.

Next, check out your competition. What words do they use in their Meta keywords? The Meta keyword tag is thought by many to be unimportant these days, especially for Google optimization, but it is a good place to look to check your competitions key terms. It is said that Yahoo still uses the Meta keyword tag.

Whilst on your competitions page(s), look at the browser title (you know, the very top bar of the browser, usually blue) - See what words they use here as, if they know what they are doing, they will have at least some of their main key terms in here). If you are struggling to understand where to find the title, view the source code again, and look for - this is the title tag, and we are looking to see what is between those 2 tags.

Write down your competitions key terms for pages that are similar in topic to your pages. Write this next to the words you thought of yourself.

Next, go to the Google Adwords keyword tool. Paste or type in the key terms you wrote down in the previous stages, using the keywords for one page at a time (so, for example, motorbike race tuning, and all it’s associated/scribbled down key terms). Make sure you have 1 key term per line.

One note here, many people may forget or not even realize this, but the tool I am showing your here needs to be configured to be focused on your countries results… so, look for “Results are tailored to …” and set it to your target audience. (UK or USA etc)

Next, enter the captcha code, and click “Get keyword ideas”… but Wait… we are not there yet… you should look for the words “Match Type:“, at the top right hand corner of the table, and set it to “Exact”. This will help ensure we don’t get disappointed by expecting too high a search volume for a given key term.

The resulting table will give you the average search volume. Now, this is a free tool made for Google Adwords users… so it is meant only as a guide. For true accuracy, a premium service such as word tracker should be used, but this data IS helpful, and the vast majorities of people tend to be happy with the results, so long as you ensure all the variables for country and ‘match type’ and correctly configured.

If you click on the term: “Approx Avg Search Volume Help“, you will be able to sort the terms by this field/result.

Try to find key terms with over 1000 average searches per month. Make a list of the terms with a higher search volume than this and type them into Google. Check the number of results for the term (Look for the words: Results 1 - 10 of about: below the search box on the results pages, on the right of it)

If your website is relatively new, try to focus on terms that have less than 1 million results.
Once you have made a chart with all this data (did I say that bit right? - make sure you write all these results down!) Choose your key terms for each page. When trying to decide which key terms to use, the overriding factor should be relevancy.

Step 4 - Plan the On Page SEO:
Remember, we are NOT trying to trick Google here, just help it to figure out what our pages are about. To that end…

4 - A) Title tags and h1 tag.
Perhaps the two most important factors it is believed Google looks at when trying to figure out a page’s topic/relevancy are the title tag and the h1 tag.
Make these two factors relevant (spotting a trend here… relevant relevant RELEVANT) And where possible, include the most important key term that you are targeting for your page. The title and h1 tag should be relevant to your pages topic.

4 - B) Page Names
It is advisable to have your actual page names as something related too, but don’t go too far with this… avoid stupidly long titles! Concise and relevant is good.

4 - C) Page Content
Next, you need some great content for your page. Good content is crucial really, both for Google to find, and for your readers to read. Decent content can actually generate back links for you!
If it is possible, and you have enough content, use sub headings where you can. h2 and h3 tags etc, can be used here. Again, make the headings descriptive and relevant to your page and key terms.

If/when you use images, be sure to set the alt tag for the images to something relevant to the page, and descriptive of the image. as well as the alt tag, use a title tag .

4 - D) Internal Linking Structure
When making the menu structure for your site, as well as with other URLs, consider using text instead of images. Using text links, where the text is relevant to the topic of the page being linked to, can, and will help your rankings.

As with most of these sections, one could write a whole article and just cover this topic!
It is a good idea (usually) to have a html sitemap, and if you have this one click away from your homepage, it will/should help with PR distribution and internal page rankings, especially if on the sitemap you also use anchor text relevant to the pages being linked to.

Ensure you don’t have any ‘Orphan pages’ - as in, no pages without a ‘Parent’ page that links to it.

I am going to leave it here for the internal link structure, or we run the risk of a 600 word article just for this section, but if you wish to learn more then comment at the end of this article, and perhaps I will write a piece just on that.

We could, for example, have a whole piece just about the use of the nofollow tag on internal links and ‘Pagerank sculpting’… But that’s another article, for another day!

5) Check Your Site.
There are various tools online that will enable you to check for broken links (Google Broken Link Tool). Use a couple of these tools, and check for broken links.

After this, go to http://validator.w3.org/ - and check your site for compliance. Print out the page if it shows errors, and work your way through them.

Step 6 - The next stage would be to plan your Off Page Promotion.
This is definitely a whole topic on it’s own! - Make sure whatever you do that you DO NOT try to rush things when off page promotion/link building is concerned. Avoid SPAM like the plague, as it can destroy both your rankings, and your online reputation.

Now, when we say avoid SPAM, that includes SPAMMING Google. (Spamdexing)
A good and relatively ethical way to kick off your Off Page Link building would be to pay for a decent Press Release to be made about your new site launch/redesign, using a professional press release distribution service.

Source: http://www.sitepronews.com/2009/02/13/seo-steps-for-a-new-website-–-part-1/
              http://www.sitepronews.com/2009/02/13/seo-steps-for-a-new-website-–-part-2/

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