SEO Checklist For Startup Websites
Hi, Tony here and welcome to today’s Pickaweb Business School podcast. And we’re going to be answering the question, what is the basic SEO that you need for a new website? Now, some people are gonna tell you there’s loads of technical stuff that you need to do, you’re gonna need to do things like Schemer, then snippet. They’ll talk about UX, XML, crawlability, robots, all this sort of things you’re gonna need to get a slide draw and calculator out. And that can really be off-putting if you’re just starting out.
And I’ll admit, there are lots of technical details especially for bigger, more busy sites or e-commerce sites if you’re targeting more competitive markets, these are all very important. But if you’re new to all these and if you have a small business website, maybe a local business, I want to make sure that you focus on stuff that’s realistic, achievable and that’s going to make a difference, that’s gonna move the dial. So that’s what we’re gonna be talking about today.
Importance of Keywords in SEO
So first off, keywords. You’re gonna need some keywords. You need to think about what people are actually sitting down at home searching for, what they’re looking for in Google. And for most businesses, this is just gonna be common sense. There are loads of tools out there that you can use, things like Wordtracker, loads and loads of tools. Loads of free ones as well, freemium options. So you can use tools to help you.
But a lot of it is down to common sense. And what I would say is make sure that you choose keywords that have your industry and location in them. And by that, I mean something like for example, if you’re a commercial cleaning company and you’re based up in Wolverhampton, you need to make sure that you’re choosing keywords like “commercial cleaning Wolverhampton,” “office cleaning Wolverhampton,” the types of things that people are gonna be searching on, and the areas around there that you actually cover.
Now, we did a study recently and it showed that high-ranking websites were ones that were using keywords, that had the industry and location in them. So it is really, really important. So make a list of them, first and list all of the services that you offer and all of the locations that you cover. Now, you need to make sure that you use your keywords in every single page of your website and you need to use them in specific places.
The Importance of Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
The most important of these are gonna be in your meta tags. Now, this is the page title and the page description. And you’re probably sitting there scratching your head saying, “I don’t know what they are, Tony.” Well, you do. In fact, if you check the Google search results, you’re gonna see there are basically four lines which appear whenever you do a search on Google. The first line is the page title. The next line you’ll see, that’ll be the URL or the actual web address of the website. Then lines three and four, these are the description.
So you need to use your keywords in here. And these are in the code of your website. Now, if you’re using a tool to build your own website, then you’ll normally have a section where you can upload these, the page title and the meta description or the page description. A couple of rules when you do use them, for the title, that’s the most important of the meta tags, that’s what Google really picks up on. Make sure that it’s between 60 to 70 characters long, no more than that.
And make sure that you’re using your keyword, and as I said, your industry and your location if you’re a local business and you’re interested in getting local traffic. The description, you’ve got a bit more space, you’ve got up to 180 characters here. Make it natural English. You’ve got a bit of a chance to sell here. Make it a bit more salesy and again, include your industry and location.
Why Headings are Important for SEO
Then, you’ve also got things like headings in each of the pages. And this is a bit like when you create a document in something like Word or in GDrive Documents, a heading is what helps to give the page structure. And the most important one is called the H1 heading, that’s the most important. And it should only be used once per page. And again, use the keyword if possible.
The Importance of Content Length
Next thing, think about page length. Most websites that I see, this is a big issue that I see with a lot of websites, is the page length is just too short. There’s a lot of research done that shows that Google just prefers longer pages. Now, this could be to do with the fact that people tend to spend more time on longer pages reading all of the information. They just find that there’s more useful information there and Google interprets this as a good signal.
So I would encourage you to have longer pages. How long? Minimum 500 words, you can even go up to 1,000, maybe even 2,000 words. And if you’re sitting there saying, “But, you know, Tony, I just hate writing. I can’t do this,” then use Frequently Asked Questions. I love FAQs. And just come up with a list of maybe 10 questions per page, just answer those questions. Also, make sure that you’re linking between each of your pages. And also where appropriate, use the keywords in the URLs, the web address of each of the pages.
That example I gave before, if you’ve got a page on commercial cleaning and you’re based in Wolverhampton, you’ll go, www.whateveryourbusinessis.co.uk, .com or whatever, /commercial-cleaning-Wolverhampton. Don’t just have page one or service page or something like that. Make sure that you’re doing this. Google picks up on all of this stuff. It’s very important signals.
Also, create more pages. We did some research recently and we found a clear link between the top ranking websites, they had much more content, more pages than the lower ranking websites. As I said previously, Google loves content, and it also wants authority content. It wants to see that it’s sending people to authority websites, people who know what they’re talking about.
One big mistake that I often see is when businesses just have a single services page. What I would encourage you to do is to create specific individual service pages, a page for every service that you offer. For example, let’s say you’re an accountant, you could just have one single services page that just lists all of the services, yep, we offer X, Y, Z services.
Better to have a page for annual accounts, accounting for businesses, VAT-Return services, payroll services, company formation services, then you could have pages for personal taxation, tax reclaims, that type of thing. So create service-specific pages.
Having a Blog Is Essential To Good SEO Results
Also, create a blog. A blog is a brilliant way of adding content on a continuous basis. Google will love you for it. It’ll see your website getting bigger and bigger and that will help you to make sure that you’re casting your net much wider and getting people into your website, not just through your money pages, through your service pages, and your homepage, but also through your blog as well, because that’s the type of content that people are searching on. And we’ll do a podcast on blogging so I can give you much more clear instructions on that. But I would definitely create a blog ASAP.
Then we need to think about…we’ve covered the main points on your website. This is on-page SEO, Search Engine Optimization.
The Importance of Backlinks
Now, we need to look at what’s known as off-page SEO, and in particular, we’re talking about backlinks. And backlinks, they’re a bit like votes. Google is constantly scouring the web and when it picks up another person’s website, another business website that’s linking back to yours, that’s like a sort of vote of confidence in you.
And there are loads of places that you can get them from and there are some nice, quick wins that you can get. Starting with, for example, social media profiles. If you set up Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever, you can link back to your websites, they give you the opportunity to do that. So pick those ones up nice and easy.
Then there are what are known as NAP citations, and NAP stands for name, address, and phone. And it sounds complex but it’s really easy. Basically, there are loads of local business listing websites, things like 118 or Yell, and you just need to get listed there. There are absolutely hundreds of them. You don’t need to use the paid-for listings, all you’re interested in is really getting listed there, getting a mention of your business, and ideally getting a link back to your website.
You could also make sure that you sign up for things like Google My Business and Being Local, these are free services. I would definitely encourage you to do that. And also, I would encourage you to get reviews from your customers on these listings because the higher ranking websites do have more reviews.
And finally, there are things like setting up Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you need to add a sitemap and Robots.txt file. Now, these are a little bit more technical and you may need some help if you’re not confident with these. But that’s pretty much what I would do.
So there you go, in a nutshell, just make sure that you identify those keywords, you set up your keywords, you use them in the meta tags of the website on each of the pages, every page that is. Make sure that you use them in the headings, make sure your pages are longer, use FAQs if you can, link between your pages and create individual service pages. And finally, get some good quick backlinks set up.
I hope you found that useful. Keep listening for more hints and tips to help you to grow your business online. Thank you very much for your time and I will speak soon. Bye-bye then.