SEO for a New Website: 9 Essential Steps

Erika Varangouli

Oct 18, 202311 min read
SEO Tips for a New Website
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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:

Semrush infographic listing 9 SEO tips for a 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. 

“semrush.com” page

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. 

Like this:

Semrush infographic outlining a site structure

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.

“+ Create project” button highlighted under “My Projects” section

Then, add your domain, and click “Create project.”

Like so:

"Create project" popup window

You’ll see a project dashboard. Find Site Audit and click “Set up.”

"Site Audit" box highlighted under Semrush project dashboard

Then, select the number of pages you want to crawl and “Website” as the crawl source. 

And click “Start Site Audit.” 

Like this:

"Site Audit Settings" popup window

Now, head to the “Issues” tab and select “Crawlability” from the “Category” drop-down menu. 

“Crawlability” selected from the “Category” drop-down menu under "Issues" tab

You’ll see a list of your site’s crawlability errors, warnings, and notices. 

"Errors" section under "Issues" tab in Site Audit

Conduct an audit like this at least monthly. And fix any issues that come up. 

Further reading:

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. 

Performance overview graph in Google Search Console

To set it up, open Search Console and click “Start now.”

Google Search Console landing page

On the first screen, choose “Domain.” Then, enter your domain, and click “Continue.”

"Welcome to Google Search Console" popup with "Domain" option selected

You’ll be prompted to verify your domain. Follow Google’s step-by-step instructions to do this. 

"Verify domain ownership via DNS record" screen

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). 

Performance on search results graph in Google Search Console

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. 

Further reading:

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.

Which means:

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.”

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test search bar

Then, you’ll see your test results. 

Like this:

"Page is usable on mobile" message in Mobile-Friendly 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

Further reading:

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.” 

Organic Research search bar with "Search" button highlighted

Then, go to the “Competitors” tab and scroll down to see the “Organic Competitors” table. 

“Organic Competitors” table highlighted under “Competitors” tab

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.”

Keyword Gap tool search bar with "Compare" button highlighted

Scroll down to the table and select “Missing.”

“Missing” tab selected in Keyword Gap tool

Now, the table only shows the keywords all four competitors rank for, but not you. 

"Missing" table shows the keywords your competitors rank for, but not you

These keywords represent opportunities for you to create content and fill in those gaps. 

Further reading:

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.)

"specialty coffee" entered into Keyword Magic Tool search bar

You’ll get a list of tons of ideas based on your seed keyword. 

Like this:

Keyword Magic Tool results for "specialty coffee"

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. 

Different keyword groups highlighted in the column on the left of Keyword Magic Tool results

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. 

Further reading:

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.

Here’s how:

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. 

Which means:

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.”

"Intent" widget box highlighted under Keyword Overview dashboard

Further reading:

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.”

On Page SEO Checker search bar

You’ll then see a dashboard with tons of optimization ideas conveniently grouped by category. 

On Page SEO Checker overview dashboard

Click on the “Optimization Ideas” tab. And you’ll see a table with the ideas sorted by priority. 

Like this:

“Optimization Ideas” tab in On Page SEO Checker

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. 

“7 ideas” button selected under "Optimization Ideas" result

Hover over “Why should I do this?” to learn more about the reasoning behind the idea. 

An example of “Why should I do this?” section

Work on implementing the ideas the tool suggests. And you’ll boost the chances of your most important pages ranking higher. 

Further reading:

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).

Which means:

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. 

“Set up” button highlighted next to a 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. 

"Add your keywords" popup window in Link Building Tool

Then, click on “Competitors” at the bottom of the screen. 

"Add your keywords" window in Link Building Tool, with keywords added and "Competitors" button highlighted

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.”

"Add your competitors" popup window in Link Building Tool

Once the tool collects and processes the data, you’ll see a display message. 

Like this one:

"Collecting and analyzing data is compete" message

Click “View prospects,” and you’ll see a list of websites you can reach out to for backlinks. 

"Domain Prospects" tab in Link Building Tool

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. 

Further reading:

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.” 

"Site Audit Settings - Schedule" screen

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.” 

“Errors” section under "Issues" tab in Site Audit

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.”

“Why and how to fix it” popup window 

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. 

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I am responsible for building meaningful connections between Semrush and the SEO community. To achieve this I create content that is helpful, brings new insights and adds value to the community. I am also a public speaker, regular webinar host and awards judge. Mainly fueled by caffeine and music.
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