You’re building a new website. And you want it to rank high in Google search results.
But how do you make sure your site is SEO-friendly from the start?
That’s what this guide is all about.
We’ll walk you through the exact steps you need to take to improve SEO for a new website.
Tip: Create a free Semrush account to follow along with the steps in this guide.
How to Do SEO for a New Website
Check out our top nine SEO tips for your new website:
1. Choose a Concise and Effective Domain Name
The first thing your new website needs is a domain name.
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It’s what people type in their browsers to find your site.
For example, “semrush.com” is Semrush’s domain name.
And having a concise and effective domain name is really important. It can help you attract more traffic and build your brand.
Here are a few tips for choosing a good domain name:
- Use words that describe your niche or topic, such as “seotips.com” or “seohacks.com”
- Keep it short and simple, no longer than 15 characters and easy to pronounce
- Avoid numbers, hyphens, and other symbols that can confuse your visitors and look spammy
- Be unique and memorable like “backlinko.com,” which winks to one of the main SEO topics: backlinks
Choosing a concise and effective domain name can take serious time and thought. But it’s worth the effort.
2. Outline Your Site Structure and Architecture
Site structure is how you organize and link your webpages. It’s important for user experience. And a way to boost SEO for your new site.
Here are the main benefits of having a solid site structure:
- It helps Google find and index the pages on your site
- It helps visitors find what they’re looking for
- It helps you avoid duplicate content issues and keyword cannibalization
So, where do you start?
First, sketch out a “skeleton” of the pages your site needs.
For example, you could start with a homepage, an about page, a services page, a contact page, and a blog.
Then, each of those could have subpages.
When your site is up and running, run a quick audit to make sure there aren’t any crawlability issues.
To get started, sign up for a free Semrush account.
Click the blue “+ Create project” button in the “My Projects” section.
Then, add your domain, and click “Create project.”
You’ll see a project dashboard. Find Site Audit and click “Set up.”
Then, select the number of pages you want to crawl and “Website” as the crawl source.
And click “Start Site Audit.”
Now, head to the “Issues” tab and select “Crawlability” from the “Category” drop-down menu.
You’ll see a list of your site’s crawlability errors, warnings, and notices.
Conduct an audit like this at least monthly. And fix any issues that come up.
3. Set Up Google Search Console and Semrush Tools
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free Google tool that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your new site’s SEO performance—specifically in Google search.
To set it up, open Search Console and click “Start now.”
On the first screen, choose “Domain.” Then, enter your domain, and click “Continue.”
You’ll be prompted to verify your domain. Follow Google’s step-by-step instructions to do this.
Once you’ve finished verification, you’ll be able to use GSC and review your analytics.
(It’s normal not to see any data at first. Especially if your site is brand new).
GSC helps you understand how Google sees your site. And how your site appears in Google results. But it doesn’t provide all the data you need.
For example, it offers limited information about the keywords you rank for and the sites that link to you.
To see the full picture, you need to set up an SEO platform. Like Semrush.
You’ll be able to set up other projects, including:
- Backlink Analytics to analyze your and your competitors’ backlink profiles and compare multiple domains side by side
- Position Tracking to track your website’s daily rankings for target keywords, locations, and devices
- Organic Traffic Insights to combine Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Semrush data and get an accurate overview of your organic search performance
And lots more.
4. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
Google rewards sites that are appropriately structured and formatted for mobile devices. And most web traffic today comes from mobile as opposed to desktop.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on traffic, leads, and revenue.
To test your site’s mobile-friendliness, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Enter the URL of the page you want to test and click “Test URL.”
Then, you’ll see your test results.
Here are a few recommended guidelines for ensuring mobile-friendliness:
- Make sure your website theme uses responsive design
- Optimize title tags (which appear as blue, clickable text in search results) and meta descriptions (the copy that can appear below your title tags) for mobile search character limits
- Avoid intrusive pop-ups
5. Study Your SEO Competitors
SEO competitor research is the process of analyzing your competitors’ SEO strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.
And then using those insights to improve your SEO.
A competitor analysis allows you to:
- Understand how competitive your niche is
- Discover new content ideas
- Understand how much effort your competitors are putting into SEO
- Benchmark your SEO performance
To start, open Organic Research, enter your domain, and click “Search.”
Then, go to the “Competitors” tab and scroll down to see the “Organic Competitors” table.
This is a list of your top organic competitors.
Now, you need to conduct a keyword gap analysis to compare yourself to these competitors.
A keyword gap analysis is the process of finding keywords your competitors rank for, but you don’t.
And each “gap” is a chance for you to bring in more traffic.
First, open the Keyword Gap tool.
Then, enter your domain and up to four competitor domains. And click “Compare.”
Scroll down to the table and select “Missing.”
Now, the table only shows the keywords all four competitors rank for, but not you.
These keywords represent opportunities for you to create content and fill in those gaps.
6. Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of identifying, analyzing, and choosing keywords to optimize your content for SEO.
And doing keyword research right helps you:
- Understand what your target audience is searching for
- Tailor your content to your audience
- Drive more traffic to your site
Doing a keyword gap analysis is a good starting point. But using a keyword research tool will uncover even more ideas.
Head to the Keyword Magic Tool, enter a seed keyword, and click “Start.”
(A seed keyword is a broad term from your niche.)
You’ll get a list of tons of ideas based on your seed keyword.
This first step will help you see what people are searching for. And group keywords into topics and subtopics.
For example, take a look at the column on the left.
You can immediately see different groups—like “shop,” “menu,” “recipe,” “review,” etc.
Click on relevant groups to find related keywords. And do this with other seed keywords from your niche.
You’ll get tons of ideas of pages you can build, services you can offer, and content you can create.
7. Create Content Optimized for SEO
When you start a new website, you have a lot of content to create from scratch. And optimizing for SEO is critical.
Nail Search Intent
Search intent is the reason or motivation behind someone’s search query.
There are four main types of search intent:
- Informational: When a searcher wants to learn more about something (e.g., “what is specialty coffee”)
- Commercial: When a searcher wants to do research before buying (e.g., “best home coffee machine”)
- Navigational: When a searcher is searching for a specific website or page (e.g., “starbucks login”)
- Transactional: When a searcher wants to buy or complete an action (e.g., “buy specialty coffee”)
And satisfying intent is one of Google’s top priorities.
If you want to rank high on Google, you need to understand intent. And create content that matches it.
For example, you should create a page that makes it easy for the user to buy if you’re targeting a keyword with transactional search intent. Don’t create a blog post.
Similarly, create a helpful and comprehensive blog post if you’re targeting a keyword with informational intent. Not a product page.
To quickly find any keyword’s intent, run it through Keyword Overview.
You’ll find its intent in the widget box labeled “Intent.”
Optimize for On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing specific elements of a webpage so it can rank higher and bring in more traffic.
And it’s important because search engines consider on-page SEO signals when ranking pages.
Some on-page SEO best practices include:
- Writing unique, high-quality content that matches search intent
- Crafting brief, descriptive title tags that include your target keyword
- Writing engaging meta descriptions
- Optimizing your images with descriptive alt text
To quickly optimize your website’s on-page SEO, run it through On Page SEO Checker.
Select or enter your domain and click “Get ideas.”
You’ll then see a dashboard with tons of optimization ideas conveniently grouped by category.
Click on the “Optimization Ideas” tab. And you’ll see a table with the ideas sorted by priority.
This priority is based on the number of optimization ideas, the page’s potential traffic, and how easy it would be to implement those ideas.
Start with the highest priority pages first. These will likely yield the best results.
To do this, click on the blue “# ideas” button. And you’ll see a report with all of the ideas for that specific page.
Hover over “Why should I do this?” to learn more about the reasoning behind the idea.
Work on implementing the ideas the tool suggests. And you’ll boost the chances of your most important pages ranking higher.
8. Promote Your Website
Now that you’ve created your website and optimized it, it’s time to let people know. Folks won’t magically come on their own.
To start promoting your website you can:
- Contact family and friends
- Join online groups and communities
- Share your content on social media
- Get started with email marketing
This is also the perfect time to start link building—getting other websites to link to pages on your site.
These types of links are called backlinks. And the more backlinks a page has from authoritative sources, the better for SEO (in general).
If you want your pages to rank high on Google, you’ll likely need to acquire some valuable backlinks.
To find prospects you can reach out to and ask for a backlink, use Semrush’s Link Building Tool.
First, click “Set up” next to your project.
Now, add your keywords.
These are keywords you’d like to rank higher for. And related to the page you want to build links to.
Then, click on “Competitors” at the bottom of the screen.
And add the URLs of the competitors you want to outrank. You can add up to 10.
When you’re done, click “Start Link Building.”
Once the tool collects and processes the data, you’ll see a display message.
Like this one:
Click “View prospects,” and you’ll see a list of websites you can reach out to for backlinks.
Do this for the pages you’d like to build links to.
For example, marketers typically do link building for ebooks, blog posts, in-depth guides, infographics, original research, etc.
9. Find and Fix Website Issues
Regularly auditing your site’s performance is crucial. Especially for new websites.
It’s the best way to see what’s working and what’s not. And adjust accordingly.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to audit your site with Site Audit. The tool will scan your site for 140+ issues. And show you how to fix them.
If you haven’t yet set up this tool, follow the Site Audit configuration instructions.
And make sure to select the “Schedule” tab on the left-hand side. And select your preferred day of the week for the tool to automatically run an audit.
(This will help you quickly identify and fix any issues that pop up before they become bigger problems).
Once you’re done, click “Start Site Audit.”
Head to the “Issues” tab.
You’ll see all of your site’s issues sorted by priority. Fix “Errors” first, then “Warnings,” and then “Notices.”
To learn more about the issue, click “Why and how to fix it.”
A window will pop up with two columns: “About this issue” and “How to fix it.”
Keep a close eye on your audits. Finding and fixing these issues will improve your site’s performance over time.
Launch Your Website Today
SEO is always changing. Which means it’s almost impossible to include every aspect of SEO for your new website in this guide.
But if you follow the steps above, you’ll be on your way to more visibility. And higher rankings.
If you’re interested in executing on these steps, sign up for a free Semrush account.
Just by signing up, you can:
- Do keyword research
- Track your keyword rankings
- Analyze your competitors
- Get content optimization recommendations
- Audit your site
And lots more.