Today I would like to talk about something we Israelis don't have great expertise in: organized planning.
In the vast majority of SEO projects that I have encountered, a substantial proportion of the resources invested in the promotion efforts are directed, essentially, at correcting bad decisions made by the website owner over time.
These can be general fixes for various meta tags in the site, creating a renewed hierarchy, placing keywords in strategic locations in the site, planning the user experience, building a link profile or link buying, and of course the hundreds of other actions that form a significant part of any SEO project.
However, what would happen, heaven forbid, if we would plan the SEO process, hold on tight, before we even had in our possession a website or digital asset that we want to promote? How would the SEO process look then? Well, it's fair to assume that we could avoid a fair number of mistakes and expedite the SEO process.
I would like to like to present some of the steps that I think it is important for business owner to take when he wants to promote his website using SEO, in order to speed up the process. However, I must first note: not a one of the steps that I will present here is a deal-breaker when it comes to Google: It's not like if you have bought an especially non-catchy domain name that your SEO process is destined for total eternal failure. Not at all.
With Google, when we can't win by knockout, we win on points.
And that is what we are going to do now.
So, without further ado, here are a few of the steps that I think it is important to complete even before your website goes live.
Step 1: Choose the right domain name
Choosing a domain name that will represent your business is one of the first decisions you will need to make in any project that involves building a new website.
A domain name can be brand new, straight out of the box, or it can actually be a veteran domain name that has a history in the niche within which you operate.
Every option has pros and cons, but one of the main advantages in purchasing an abandoned domain name, is shortening your project timetable.
Nonetheless, purchasing an old domain name carries with it no small number of risks, which I have elaborated upon in the post: "10 checks you must do before purchasing an abandoned domain name".
I will only briefly note here that when you are choosing an abandoned domain name, you should take into account at least the following 10 factors:
- Has the domain been used in the past for distributing spam?
- Do spam links direct to the domain?
- Is the primary consideration for purchasing the old domain name branding considerations?
- Has the Google Partners Program blocked the domain from conducting advertising?
- Does Facebook allow for advertising the domain?
- What are the domain's metrics, using a link checker tool such as Ahrefs and Majestic?
- Has the domain received a manual penalty from Google?
- Are pages connected to the domain indexed in Google in a sound way?
- Does the domain name that you are interested in contain a trademark, such that you may be exposed to copyright claims?
- In general, how many hands has the domain passed through before coming your way?
Step 2: Conduct in-depth keyword research
Why is it important to conduct keyword research even before building the website? What is the logic behind it?
In-depth keyword research, that takes into account not only the popularity of the various search terms, but also the search intent behind them, will give the business a better picture of which keywords it would like to be ranked for, and as such will have a crucial influence on the building of the site hierarchy, something that is much easier to do before the site is live.
Therefore, before you build the actual website, sit and conduct in-depth keyword research, which will help you in the SEO process afterwards.
Step 3: Conduct comprehensive competitor analysis
I've written in the past about conducting comprehensive competitor analysis, in which the business needs to take into account:
- The kinds of services the competitors provide.
- Their added value.
- Their business model.
- Their target audience.
- Their content strategy.
- The quality of their link profile.
- The terms for which they are ranked.
- Their social media activity.
- Their funded advertising campaigns.
- The quality of their landing pages.
- Their management of their distribution lists.
- The ways they provide to contact them.
- Visitors' reviews of their websites.
- The user experience they provide.
This is all well and good, but it is important to understand that your competitor analysis is supposed to directly influence the way that you will build and promote your website: All aspects of the site, such as the customer journey planning, the investment in the content strategy, allocating a budget for building a link profile – all these need to be taken into account after conducting the competitor analysis.
Step 4: Find quality content-writers for your niche
At the end of the day, in order to promote your website, generally speaking, you will need to produce quality, in-depth content, and lots of it.
In order to create this content without hindering the continuous operation of your business, you will most likely need to contract with content writers.
I have written in the past about 10 tips for working with content writers.
Indeed, a wrong choice of a content writer on your part can not only waste you precious time and resources, but lead to deep frustration on both sides: the content writer won't understand what on earth you want from him and why the content he provides isn't good enough, and you won't understand why you need to pay for content that requires more editing time than it would have taken to write the content yourself in the first place.
Therefore, in order to prevent the site promotion process being damaged the moment it starts, it is a good idea for you to find the content writer even before the site is built (we also provide especially high-quality content writing).
In addition, regardless of the SEO, content can help you understand how you want to design the site.
Once you are able to choose a template or a personal design and make use of actual content, you can get an idea in real time of what the experience will be like for the visitor, and that is worth a lot in and of itself.
Step 5: Find the right website management platform
There are more than a few ways to manage a website these days, and many platforms will be happy to provide you with a base infrastructure for the ongoing management of the content and design of your site.
Almost any platform will be compatible with your needs at the end of the day, but there will be those that will be more compatible.
Those who will not want to deal with choosing storage for the website at all and want some measure of control of the site design without depending on a programmer or designer, will probably find Wix to be a decent option. Is it possible to promote Wix websites? I've written about it here.
However, for a site that is expected to be very large, contain many pages, in a highly competitive environment, it is a very good idea to have it built on an open-source platform such as WordPress, which is much more flexible and changeable, and allows the site manager to choose a storage service, get security additions, more easily embed any kind of schema and structured data, and more.
Step 6: Choose a cloud storage service for the website
I mentioned this topic in the previous step, but I feel it is important to elaborate more: A site's storage service is a crucial element in terms of SEO for Google.
Why? Because one of the parameters that has a big effect on site promotion is the level of availability of the site: A site that experiences technical difficulties and is found to be unavailable on a regular basis while the Google crawlers are attempting to index it, will have a high probability of experiencing objective difficulties with its page rank in search results.
In contrast, a fast and secure website, that enjoys excellent response from the storage service when it comes to technical issues or various maintenance actions that need to be taken in the storage infrastructure – is a website that it will be easier to promote going forward.
Therefore, it is my opinion that the comparison between the different services provided by the storage companies needs to be conducted by the site owner in advance, before the site goes live, in order to spare him unnecessary frustration going forward.
Step 7: Plan the customer journey and user experience
It is no secret that in the past few years Google is putting more and more emphasis on the user experience provided for visitors of different sites.
User experience is a function of a very wide variety of parameters:
- The input and output methods.
- The design.
- The ways of contacting the people behind the site.
- Site navigation.
- The hierarchy of menus on the site.
- Loading speed.
- The quality of the on-site search engine.
- And more.
In order to create a good user experience on the site, you must first plan:
- What journey will the visitor go through?
- How many pages do I want the visitor to be exposed to before I lead him to make a purchase on the site?
- How would I like the visitor to be able to contact me?
- Will I be completely and readily available through the means of contact with which I have supplied the visitor?
Often, after a site has already been planned and built and goes live, it is difficult to make changes having to do with improving the user experience without taking the site down, at least temporarily. Therefore, I think that careful planning of the user experience before setting up the site is an essential step for any promotion process.
Step 8: Allocate a budget for website promotion
Look, it wouldn't be very smart to set up a website, decide that the central channel through which you want to generate user traffic to the site is SEO, and then find out that, within the competitive environment, you don't have the budget necessary to execute site optimization, create content, and build a link profile.
For this reason, careful planning of the budget in advance can do wonders during the promotion process. Thus, instead of wading through all of the many pages on the site and optimizing them for search engines, you can simply create the pages with an excellent level of optimization in the first place.
This means that planning things like good integration of keywords, correct use of tags, and creating title tags and meta descriptions for every page, can spare you from having to do many things later in the promotion process and will actually save a lot of the budget, which can then be directed to other promotion needs, such as building a quality external link profile.
So, before you decide to create a website, stop and think: what is the promotion budget you would be able to allocate in order to accomplish the things necessary for improving the visibility of the site's pages vis-à-vis the various search engines?