Hovering your finger over the big red "launch" button for your new website? Hold off for just a second (or 660 of them, rather). There may be SEO considerations you haven't accounted for yet, from a keyword-to-URL content map to sweeping for crawl errors to setting up proper tracking. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers five big boxes you need to check off before finally setting that site live.
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Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're going to talk about launching a new website and the SEO process that you've got to go through. Now, it's not actually that long and cumbersome. But there are a few things that I put into broad categories, where if you do these as you're launching a new site or before you launch that new site, your chances of having success with SEO long term and especially in those first few months is going to go way up.
So let's get started with number one here. What I'm suggesting that you do is, as you look across the site that you've built, go and do some keyword research. There are a lot of Whiteboard Fridays and blog posts that we've written here at Moz about great ways to do keyword research. But do that keyword research and create a list that essentially maps all of the keywords you are initially targeting to all of the URLs, the pages that you have on your new website.
So it should look something like this. It's got the URL, so RandsAnimals.com, targeting the keyword "amazing animals," and here's the page title and here's the meta description. Then, I've got RandsAnimals.com/lemurs, which is my page about lemurs, and that's targeting "lemurs" and "lemur habits." There's the title.
You want to go through these and make sure that if you have an important keyword that you have not yet targeted, you do so, and likewise, that if you've got a URL, a page on your website that you have not yet intentionally targeted a keyword with, you make sure to do that as well. This can be a great way to go through a small site in the early stages and make sure that you've got some terms and phrases that you're actually targeting. This will be also helpful when you do your rank tracking and your on-page optimization later on.
So what I want you to do here is to ask yourself:
There are some great ways to check these. You can use something like Screaming Frog or Google Search Console. You could use Moz Pro, or OnPage.org, to basically run a scan of your site and make sure that crawlers can get to all the pages, that you don't have duplicate content, that you don't have thin content or pages that are perceived to have no content at all, you don't have broken links, you don't have broken pages, all that kind of good stuff.
Next, we're going to ask not about search engines and their crawlers, but about the audience, the human beings and whether your content is accessible to all the audiences, devices, and browsers that it could be. So this could mean things like screen readers for blind users, mobile devices, desktop devices, laptops, browsers of all different kinds. You're going to want to use a tool like a browser checker to make sure that Chrome, Firefox, and… What's Internet Explorer called now? Oh, man. They changed it. Microsoft Edge. Make sure that it works in all of them.
I like that I think that there's a peanut gallery who's going to yell it out. Like you're watching this at lunch and you're thinking, "Rand, if I yell it to you now, it won't be recorded." I know. I know.
So I could use a tool like Google Speed Test. I can also do some proxy checking to make sure that from all sorts of regions, especially if I'm doing international targeting or if I know that I'm going to be targeting rural regions that my pages load fast from everywhere.
You can do that with some in-house usability testing. You could do it informally with friends and family and existing customers if you have them. Or you could use something like Five Second Test or UsabilityHub to run some more formal testing online. Sometimes this can reveal things in your navigation or your content that's just stopping people from having the experience that you want — that's very easy to fix.
So there's a bunch of stuff that you just need to set up around a website. Those include:
Optimization in general, more broadly. So this is where I'm essentially going through these URLs and I'm making sure, "Hey, okay. I know I've targeted these keywords and I already did sort of my page title meta description. But let me check if there are other opportunities."
Are there content opportunities or image search opportunities? Do I have rich snippet opportunities? Like maybe, this is probably not the case, but I could have user review stars for my Rand's Animals website. I don't know if people particularly love this lemur GIF versus that lemur GIF. But those can be set up on your site, and you can see the description of how to do that on Google and Bing. They both have resources for that. The same is true for Twitter and Facebook, who offer cards so that you show up correctly in there. If you're using OpenGraph, I believe that also will correctly work on LinkedIn and other services like that. So those are great options.
So one of the things that we know about SEO is that you need links and engagement and those types of signals in order to rank well. You're going to want to have a successful launch day and launch week and even a launch month. That means, asking the question in advance:
If you can identify, "These people, I know they personally want to help out," or, "They are friends and family. I have business relationships with them. They're customers of mine. They're journalists who promised to cover this. They are bloggers who care a lot about this subject and need stuff to write about." Whatever it is, if you can identify those people, create a list, and start doing that direct outreach, that is certainly something that you should do. I would plan in advance for that, and I would warn folks of when you were going to do that launch. That way, when launch day rolls around, you have some big, exciting news to announce. Two weeks after you launch to say, "Hey, I launched a new website a couple weeks ago," you're no longer news. You're no longer quite as special, and therefore your chances of coverage go down pretty precipitously after the first few days.
I would also ask what existing relationships and websites and profiles do you already have that you can and should update to create buzz and actually to create accuracy. So this would be things like everything from your email signature to all your social profiles that we've talked about, both the ones you've claimed and the ones that you personally have. You should go and update your LinkedIn. You should go and update your Twitter page. You should go and update Facebook. All of those kinds of things, you may want to go and update. About.me if you have a profile there, or if you're a designer, maybe your Dribbble profile, whatever you've got.
*Then, you should also be thinking about, "Do I have content that I've contributed across the web over the years, on all sorts of other websites, where if I went and said, 'Hey, I've got a new site. Could you point to that new site, instead of my old one, or to my new site that I've just launched, instead of my old employer who I've left?'" you can do that as well, and it's certainly a good idea.
The last thing I would ask about are people who are maybe more distant from you, but press coverage, social coverage, or influencer outreach, similar to the, "Who will help you amplify and why?" You should be able to make a list of those folks, those outlets, find some email addresses, send a pitch if you've got one, and start to build those relationships.
Launch day is a great reason to do outreach. When you're launching something new is the right time to do that, and that can help you get some amplification as well.
All right. Hopefully, when you launch your new site, you're going to follow this checklist, you're going to dig into these details, and you're going to come away with a much more successful SEO experience.
If you've launched a website and you see things that are missing from this list, you see other recommendations that you've got, please, by all means, leave them in the comments. We'd love to chat about them.
We'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.