You’re working on a new website? How exciting! I bet you want everyone in the world to visit it when you’re done.
. . . But what if no one can find it?
A lot of small business owners assume that building or hiring someone to build a “new” website will automatically improve their rankings on Google. Unfortunately, I’ve seen time and time again in doing SEO projects that that’s not the case.
Your new website will only rank better on search engines if you plan the site and the content carefully with searchers in mind. Here are a few steps to make sure you follow as you work on any new website.
1. Think about your keywords in advance
Before you even start planning your site’s content or pages, stop to brainstorm a list of keywords. Open up a document or spreadsheet and list every keyword you can think of that someone might search for to find your product or service.
Here are a few places to find keywords:
- Look through anything you’ve already written about your business: your social media bio, old website copy, a brochure, etc. If you say you’re a “stationery shop” offering “watercolor wedding invitations” and “custom birthday party invitations”, those are all good keywords.
- Look through websites for similar businesses. What have they named their pages, their services, and their products? You may see some phrases there that you hadn’t thought of.
- What do your customers ask you for? Pay attention to your customers’ own language to really understand the keywords they’d search for. For example, you may call your business a “bridal salon” but notice that customers usually say “wedding dress shop” instead.
2. Decide on your most important keywords
Once you have a good list of keywords, highlight the most important ones. Which seem to be most relevant to what you do?
For extra credit, you can also use a free tool like SearchVolume.io to test which keywords are searched the most.
First, circle your most important keyword. Then highlight an additional 3-5 of the most relevant keywords for your products or services.
For example, a photographer’s final list might look like this:
- Greenville wedding photographer (*most important)
- Engagement photography
- Wedding photography
- Family photography
3. Structure your website pages around those keywords
As your last SEO planning step for your new site, plan your site structure around your most important keywords.
Assign each keyword to a certain page—don’t just sprinkle the same keywords all over your site. The “sprinkling” technique doesn’t help Google understand which page to show in the search results for that keyword.
You will likely want to optimize your home page for your most important keyword. That means using that keyword phrase in your site’s content, meta title and description, and possibly a section heading on the page.
If you offer multiple services or products, I recommend creating a separate page for each of them that targets a keyword for that service. In my photographer example, that would mean a page about “Engagement photography”, a page about “Wedding photography”, and a page about “Family photography”.
SEO makes the biggest impact when optimization is started at the very beginning of a website project, not after it’s done. So brainstorm your keywords, choose the most important ones, and then structure your site around those keywords for SEO success. I’m cheering you on!