Everyone knows that the process of Search Engine Optimisation is a slow one.
You don’t get to the top of a Google (and stay there) without some serious time, effort and hard work.
Older, established sites are likely to be more trusted by search engines thanks to years of data and user engagement. You will have a tough uphill battle to climb when you’re virtually starting from scratch.
So how does a brand new site begin to compete with engrained giants? And just how does a website get to the top of Google search anyway?
Well, it’s definitely not hopeless: in the ever-changing world of Google algorithms, there are a few key things you can do to boost your visibility and help you to rank higher…
Content is king
It’s not any less true just because it’s been said before…
Search engines such as Google value and rank good content above all else. After all, they are in the business of providing valuable data for their users.
It may sound simple, but the one fundamental rule of SEO is to to invest in quality writing that really serves your users…and update it as often as possible so that it stays relevant and useful.
The better your content, the more likely other people are to share it, link back to it, and comment on it — which all contribute to better rankings.
You should never launch a new site with thin content or just a few pages if you want to get serious about ranking. Make sure that leading up to the site launch you have plenty of great pages and blog posts ready to go. And keep adding to your site content in the first few weeks and months to help build trust and authority.
Sort out your keywords + go niche
But, before you even begin to create content for your new site, you need to establish what you need to write about. Make a list of keywords and search terms you want to target and design content around this.
Remember, users often turn to Google to ask questions, so make it your mission to answer them. Utilize H1s and H2s and pepper your keywords throughout your content, ensuring that the usage is constant, yet natural.
However, don’t rush your keyword research and don’t be tempted just to target the obvious search terms. If you’re up against some massive competitors, they (and a thousand others) will probably have a strong grip on these keywords, and it can be difficult to muscle your way in.
To combat this you need to be thinking more niche. Visit the Google Keyword Planner Tool and look for low-competition keywords with high search rankings and make a note of any gaps that you could take advantage of. Focus your content around these specialized terms and watch your organic traffic grow.
Especially if you manage to tap into a topic no one else is covering (but that has decent search volume) you could make it straight to the top, ahead of the other sites in your niche.
Remember: ranking is all about semantics
Don’t be fooled into thinking that simply repeating keywords and phrases throughout your content is good SEO practice either.
As Google’s algorithms have grown and become more sophisticated, it knows how to spot spammy content employing obvious ranking techniques and dismisses it. Your new website needs to employ your keywords naturally and mix them with similar phrases and words throughout.
Think about plurals, synonyms and related words. An easy way to get lots of new phrases is to look at the bottom of Google search results for additional suggestions.
Especially for a new site, unnatural language or over-optimization can be a dangerous path to go down. You don’t want to earn yourself a spammy reputation from day one.
Do a health check
Search engines hate it when sites are filled with bugs, slow-loading pages and have links to lots of obscure websites. Start with a well-optimized website with good basic groundwork and a decent page-load speed and you’re sure to pick up some brownie points straight away.
Back in 2016, web searches via mobile overtook desktop for the very first time, and if you think about how much you use your own mobile phone on-the-go it’s easy to imagine how this number might have grown. In fact a 2016 study by Google showed 40% of people search only using their smartphone in an average day. Therefore it is vital that your web display is optimised for mobile-users and is easy to read on a phone – otherwise you run the risk of losing over half your visitors almost straight away!
Technical SEO checks before go-live are absolutely ESSENTIAL. Here are just some of the core issues you need to cover:
- Mobile optimization & speed
- On-page metadata
- Internal linking structure
Search engines are getting better at fixing on-site technical failings, but don’t make it harder for them to rank your site properly. Start from a great technical baseline.
Show your love by linking
Another way search engines rank websites is by looking at links, both inbound and outbound, so it is essential for you to build up your internal linking strategy. For external links, link to quality websites with excellent content in a natural way, and start building out some backlinks to your own site as well.
As already discussed, it is critical to have a link-worthy site and it is vital that you build link sharing into your marketing strategy – without conversation and recognition it is very difficult to compete with older websites that have had years to form strong relationships and accumulate those all important links.
New websites should be cautious about link building, especially with anything that’s going to make you look over-optimized or targeted when it comes to your anchor texts. Try to resist the temptation to do too much ‘anchor text sculpting’ in the first instance and just build up some natural and branded links to get you going.
It’s time to get social
And, it’s not just relative sites that can help you build links – social is equally important too. Start sharing your content on Facebook and Twitter (and share your website URL on your social sites too) and build these into your site to instantly gain traffic and traction.
The more shares and interest your content builds on social, the better your SEO, so make those social buttons nice and prominent on your site.
For new sites, ensure that the Open Graph API is working properly, as this can lead to some annoying sharing issues at first.
You can debug yours on Facebook using its Developer Tools:
And also, validate your Twitter cards:
Source guest bloggers
Constructing a decent blog filled with lots of interesting opinions and content is a great way to build up your online reputation fast.
Encourage even more social shares and bring new users to your site by inviting some experts to guest-blog for you. Do your research and make sure experts have a decent following and come up with a few juicy topics for them to discuss.
Once the blog is published ask them to link back on their own site and on social – and return the favor!
Be media rich
As well as links, search engines are also crawling for different types of media on your site. Use images (make sure these are labelled correctly though), videos, infographics, GIFs and anything else you can think of (if appropriate) to make your content more visually interesting and useful for your readers and even more searchable.
How-to lists, informative posts, and videos will increase your chances of getting into the coveted answer box, so focus on creating some tentpole content to increase site visibility fast.
Above all, one of the key things to remember about SEO is that it is never a completed task. The way search engines operate is constantly evolving and new competition springs up all the time, so you need to be on top of your page rankings and keep an eye on any changes constantly.
If you have bought a business or taken over an existing site that’s got its own history and content, make the most of what’s there and don’t throw everything out with your new content strategy. As soon as you spot any shifts, update your content with new information and continually work to enhance your website. In fact, according to a test by Backlinko updating and republishing old blog posts with new and improved content and images can increase your organic traffic by as much as 111%. So keep all the content on your site as fresh and new as possible.
In an age where Google handles at least 2 trillion searches per year (and counting) it is vital for new businesses to be visible. If you want to get your new website ranking quickly you need to be aware of what your audience is looking for and ensure you answer all their search queries.
Above all you need killer content that makes full use of all your keywords and goes deeper than any of the competition. Make it part of your strategy to stay informed about search engine changes and continually adapt and update your content to make it as fresh and SEO-friendly as possible.
Victoria Greene is a digital content and marketing consultant. She regularly shares tips on her blog Victoria Ecommerce, shedding light on the various ways that companies can promote their brands online.