Launching a new website is always an exciting time. You’ve spent weeks creating an amazing design and probably even longer perfecting your messaging and copy.
But what some business founders don’t realise is that simply launching your website into the world isn’t enough to start driving traffic and sales.
In those early weeks and months, without getting noticed by search engines, you’ll end up frustrated at the lack of hits your site – which you spent so long working on – is getting.
Now, for business owners with deep pockets, you can circumvent this issue by paying for traffic from the likes of Google AdWords or Facebook ads.
But if you’re relying on generating ‘free’ interest from search engines, otherwise known as organic traffic, then you’ve got some work to do.
As noted above, if you don’t have thousands of pounds to throw at marketing your new website, then ranking your new website in search engines like Google and Bing as soon as possible is key.
This is for a number of reasons. First, if your website isn’t ranking for branded searches, then any world-of-mouth or PR traffic won’t be able to find you. Worse still, they might find competitors instead!
Ranking for branded searches is key for beginning to build trust signals – online factors that signify to potential customers that your brand is a trustworthy one versus more established market players.
Ranking a new website for ‘selling’ keywords – those that your potential customers are looking for – is just as important for driving those very first sales too.
You can’t begin to rank a website without understanding what it is you want it to rank for.
Apart from brand-related terms which will more often than not rank on your homepage, you need to get into the mindset of your potential customer.
Using tools like AdWords keyword planner, you can create lists of potential search terms that are relevant to your new website. To begin with, focus on 5-10 important terms that you can target. Don’t forget to take a look at your competitors using tools like SEMrush to analyse what search terms are driving them the most traffic too!
With your target keywords ready you can start to optimise your website.
Start by creating a desired sitemap of your website, and overlay which pages you want to optimise for each target term.
The trick here is to only be targeting a couple of related terms on each page, otherwise you’ll struggle to rank for any of them.
When optimising a page itself, you need to write around 500+ words of unique and compelling copy, and make sure your target keywords are included in:
- The title tag
- Meta description
- Opening sentence
- On page title and subtitle
- Around 4-5 times per 500 words of copy
- Image alt tags and file names
Once you’ve optimised and launched your new SEO-ready pages, head over to Google Search Console and submit them for indexing. This will help to speed up the ranking process!
A well optimised website is the most important step when it comes to ranking a new website. BUT, this alone won’t get your pages onto page one (in most cases) and driving clicks.
The final step is to start developing your backlink portfolio.
Backlinks to Google are what word-of-mouth is in the real world. If you ask five friends to recommend a car mechanic and three of them recommend A, whilst two friends each recommend B and C, then you’re more likely to book a service at A.
Links work in a similar way. If you and nine competitors are trying to rank for the same keyword, then search engines will analyse how many (and the quality of) links to each site. Websites with the most, high-quality backlinks can be seen as the most reputable page and as such is likely to rank highest.
The simplest way to start developing your new website’s backlink portfolio is to generate directory submissions, starting with your local area (Google ‘+business location website directories) as well as directories related to your niche.
From there, look to run a digital PR campaign and gain links and brand mentions from relevant industry websites.
And third, use SEMrush again to analyse your competitors’ strong backlinks and look to replicate them!
Go it alone or work with a specialist?
The biggest issue most website owners face when it comes to SEO, even if they know they need to focus on it, is lack of time or knowledge.
Search engine optimisation is a specialist skill set and is why most businesses will look to outsource to a specialist SEO consultancy to manage the strategy and execution for them
If you plan to do it yourself, then you need to be systematic. Post on your blog regularly, develop your backlink portfolio evenly (aim for 5-10 links a month), and don’t get discouraged if the needle doesn’t start moving for the first few months.