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Swift Six: SEO before launching a new website

By Nick Leech - June 8, 2015

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital to the success of any website so it’s important you get things right from the very beginning. Today I’m going to take you through the SEO elements you should be thinking about before you build a new website. If you’ve got any questions leave them as a comment below. Oh, and one other thing – after we recorded this video, Google changed the name of Webmaster Tools to Search Console, but it’s the same thing.

Hello and welcome to another 123-reg Swift 6. Today I’m going to be talking about the SEO that you can do before you even buy your domain or launch your website. SEO is something that you need to give consideration to well in advance of certainly making your site live but also thinking about what kind of business that you’re going to have and the area that you’re going to specialise in.The first consideration is to consider what site name you’re going to be. It used to be the case that Google would rank more highly what was called exact match domains. These are domains that described exactly what went on in that website. For example, for a search for kitchen chair you might expect a website with a domain name kitchenchair.co.uk to rank really highly for that search.

These days it’s not quite that case. Google doesn’t tend to favour those domains in the same way as it did before. Our general advice is to avoid using exact match domains. Think rather about your business and your brand, and what’s important that makes a good and strong and memorable brand. So when it comes to your domain name, you should be looking for something that is as short as possible, that is as memorable as possible and of course that matches the actual brand or the name of your business. Something that’s really easily identifiable.

The second part of this Swift 6 is to conduct competitor research. You need to consider if you have a really stick chance of ranking for the keywords that you want to rank for. If you go into something incredibly competitive and you are launching a new website then you’re going to need probably a big budget, whether that comes into paid promotion, or a big budget in terms of the amount that you’re going to be willing to invest in your site in order to make it to rank highly on Google. So, consider how competitive a service area is before you decide to launch.

The best way that you can determine how competitive something is with the Google Keyword Planner. Go into your AdWords account, click on Tools and then click on Google Keyword Planner. Then type in the sorts of keywords that you think people will use to search for this product or service that you are selling and Google will tell you how competitive that keyword is. If it’s highly competitive then you need to consider that you must have a significant budget in terms of time or money in order to give yourself the best chance of ranking.

That doesn’t mean that you need to write off those ideas, but you might need to modify them and perhaps go for something a little bit more niche or a little bit more long-tail rather than going for a really competitive, short term keyword area.
The third thing to think about is how easy is it going to be to make changes to your website once it’s actually live? Will your website have a CMS or will it be hand-coded? If it’s got a CMS you yourself, as editor of the website, are going to be able to make changes. If the site is hand-coded by a web designer the chances are that you’re not going to be able to make changes yourself to that site so everything is going to take a little bit longer and every time you want to make a change it’s going to cost you a little bit of money.

The other thing to think about is with the CMS is very easy to change the visible part of the website, but how easy is it going to be to change the code as well? That’s another consideration to take on board. Of course, as I’ve just mentioned before, are these changes that you yourself are going to be able to make or are you going to be continually beholden to your web designer. Something to think about and depending on how much budget you have.

The fourth thing to consider is will your website be coded in a search engine friendly manner? The challenge here is that Google has a real problem crawling some types of websites so if you have a site that has lots of video or if you have a site that has lots of images and you aren’t making clear to Google what those images are, and certainly if you have a website that includes Flash or potentially some games, Google is going to have a harder time to really understand what niche that you’re operating in. If you are going to operate in an area where you’re using these types of media, you need to think about what other signals you can give to Google to help Google understand what it is that your website is all about.

The fifth thing to think about is making sure that you get your Google Analytics and your Google Webmaster Tools set up from the very start. With Google Analytics what it’s going to take is you’re going to need some Javascript from the Google Analytics site pasted into the code of your site. That’s something that you should be able to give to your web designer. For Google Webmaster Tools, again you’re going to need to prove that you own your site by adding a small piece of code to the site. It’s really essential when you’re launching a new site to make sure that you’ve opened accounts with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools and that you’re verified and using those from the very start.

The sixth consideration before even launching your site is think about how you’re going to get links to your site. Links used to be really the be all and end all of your chance of ranking well on Google. These days that’s not quite the case but it’s still incredibly important to get links from the right places. It helps new people discover your site and it does still help you rank well on Google for certain keywords.

So identify places that you might be able to get links from. They might be low websites that are local to you, they might be websites that operate within your niche. Try to build a list of potential sites that are relevant to you that you might be able to get a link from.

The next thing to understand is why people might want to give a link to your website. Normally people will only give a link to your site if they think that it offers something genuinely valuable to their website visitors. They will link to you if they think that they are helping their website visitors out by sending them somewhere that’s really useful or that really adds value to their experience. Think in terms of what content are you going to make that would add value and make your site somewhere that someone else is going to want to link to. A third consideration there is to find out who has control of these websites where you’re going to try and get links from, who the decision makers are. Try to work out who they are and then think about creating and fostering a relationship with them.

That was the 123-reg Swift 6 SEO to think about before even buying a domain or launching your website. I’ll see you next time.

Further reading

If you want to learn more about SEO for a new website check out 7 simple yet vital SEO first steps for a new website