Launching With Impact: The Importance Of Prioritizing SEO From The Get-Go
Developing a new website for your business can be a complex journey, especially if you’re new to it. There are SO many decisions you have to make – How many pages will it be? How will they be organized? What features and functionalities are essential? Do you have enough photos and videos? Who will write the content? And that’s just to name a few!
When web project demands clash with your daily tasks, it’s tempting to prioritize speed over substance and launch a minimally viable version of your new site. Even if you justify the shortcut by promising you’ll continue to add to the site over time, there’s one critical component that should never be sacrificed in the rush to launch: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Neglecting SEO during a website launch is a common mistake that can hinder your website’s long-term success. This blog will discuss the consequences of this oversight and guide you on what to do instead before hitting the launch button.
Why SEO Matters For New Websites
The infancy of the Internet was a bit like the Wild West, characterized by a lack of established norms and a free-for-all atmosphere. But as the digital landscape started to mature, so has the creation of rules and systems to organize the massive amount of information on the Internet. Today, SEO is the star chart that guides your new website through the vast online frontier.
If your potential customers can’t find you, it won’t matter how fantastic your products or services are. SEO is the art and science of making your online presence both visible and prominent in the eyes of search engines. When someone types a query related to your business, you want your website waving from the top of the search results, not lost in the digital desert.
When your SEO game is strong from the beginning, search engines take notice and start ranking you higher. This isn’t just about pride; it’s about practicality. Higher rankings mean more eyeballs on your content, more clicks, and ultimately, more conversions.
The Benefits Of Prioritizing SEO From The Start
Benefit #1: Improved Website Visibility And Search Rankings
Attention spans are shorter than ever. If your website isn’t visible on that first page of search results, you’re losing potential customers to competitors who are.
Depending on the competitiveness of your industry, there could be hundreds or even thousands of pages competing for placement at the top of the search results. Considering that less than one percent of Google searchers click past the first page of results, you can’t afford not to do all you can to give your new website its best chance to be seen.
Benefit #2: Enhanced User Experience And Site Structure
Imagine landing on a website that feels like a maze, with no clear signs pointing you in the right direction. Frustrating, right? Well, that frustration translates into high bounce rates and lost opportunities.
User-friendly design and intuitive navigation are more than buzzwords – they’re the building blocks of a successful online presence. Optimizing your site structure pleases search engine algorithms while also creating a seamless, enjoyable journey for your visitors – a two-for-one deal!
Benefit #3: Establishing A Strong Online Presence And Brand Authority
When your website consistently appears at the top of search results, users subconsciously associate it with authority and credibility. It’s like being the go-to expert in a crowded room – people trust what you have to say.
SEO is more than keywords and meta tags; it’s about crafting a narrative that search engines understand and users appreciate. From the language you use to the images you showcase, every element contributes to building your brand’s online persona.
Benefit #4: Long-term Cost Savings And Increased ROI
Developing a website is an investment, and like any investment, you want returns. Implementing solid SEO practices early yields dividends in the long run, reducing the need to rely on paid ads to attract the right audience.
Notice that I said “reducing” your need for paid ads, not eliminating it. It’s important to understand that SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time to produce results, even when best practices are in place. In the meantime, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is the fastest way to bridge the gap between your target audience and your new website.
The most comprehensive marketing strategy is one that utilizes both SEO and PPC. Both methods have their pros and cons and, when used simultaneously, can maximize your advertising budget and help you achieve both short and long-term business goals.
Potential Consequences Of Neglecting SEO Until After Launch
Consequence #1: Delayed Visibility And Impact On Organic Traffic
What’s the point of your shiny new website if no one gets to see it? As I stated above, search engines take time to index and rank new content even in the best-case scenario. By delaying initial SEO implementation, you postpone your website’s presence on search engine result pages (SERPs). This delay means your website will remain invisible to your potential customers for longer than necessary.
Consequence #2: Difficulty In Competing With Established Websites
Established websites have already mastered the art of SEO, making it challenging for newcomers to catch up. Competing effectively requires a combination of effort and a strategic approach to stand out, and delaying the integration of SEO puts you at a distinct disadvantage.
Establishing a strong online presence demands proactive SEO efforts from the outset. Prioritizing SEO strategies early on aids in catching up with established players and positions your website for long-term visibility and success
Consequence #3: The Cost And Effort Of Fixing SEO Issues Later
Imagine trying to renovate a house while hosting a party – not the ideal situation. Neither is trying to resolve a myriad of poor SEO practices while expecting the website to work for you at the same time.
Skipping SEO in the early stages may overlook detrimental elements like poor keywords, weak content, or an inefficient site structure. Addressing these issues retroactively often isn’t as simple as just tweaking the content within the existing framework. Depending on the situation, we could be talking about a complete overhaul of the site.
Devoting double time and resources to the same project certainly isn’t going to help you achieve that ROI I mentioned earlier. Do yourself a favor – do it right the first time.
Consequence #4: Keyword Ranking Loss
Let’s jump back to the house party analogy once more. Nobody will know about your event if you forget to send the invitations. As the host of the party, it’s your job to ensure that everyone is having a good time. If you don’t tend to the ongoing needs of your guests, they may get bored and leave early.
Much like your party guests, establishing and maintaining your SEO rankings attracts and serves your website visitors. When preparing your website for launch, start with the most optimized content possible to attract guests to your site. From there, the key is consistent efforts to continue to build and sustain visibility. The more often your page appears in the user search results, the more your audience will trust you. This level of trust is vital for regular, steady traffic to your site.
Regular maintenance on your website also allows you to keep up with the ever-changing demands of search engine algorithms and potential alterations of backlinks on your site – nobody enjoys clicking on a dead link. If items like these wane in accuracy or drop in quality, so too can your overall rankings. If visibility to your page drops, then that traffic is more likely to diminish and prevent you from capitalizing on your online presence. In that case, your party may have less staying power and lose guests to other events.
The Basics Of Implementing SEO For A New Website
Conducting Keyword Research
A well-composed keyword strategy sets the tone for your website’s content and provides you with a focal point to build around. As part of developing your strategy, keyword research is the process of identifying and analyzing words and phrases that your target audience is searching for online.
To get you started, Answer the Public is an excellent tool to discover specifically what people are searching for around a topic, brand, or product. Ahrefs and Moz Keyword Explorer offer similar resources. Another tip is to identify successful competitors in your industry and analyze the keywords they are ranking for. Conducting a thorough search gap analysis can provide insights into your industry’s language and help you identify keyword opportunities your competitors might have missed.
Unfortunately, knowing what your audience is looking for isn’t enough to get your new site ranked in the SERPs. Thankfully, these tools and others can also help you with the second phase of keyword research – evaluating which keywords will be most effective for your SEO strategy.
Some of the most important factors to consider when narrowing your keyword list include:
- Intent – Everyone who conducts an online search is looking to find something, and providing that “something” is Google’s #1 objective. Is the user looking for information, a product to buy, or something else? Now more than ever, web pages that satisfy a user’s specific search intent are prioritized in the SERPs.
- Volume – This refers to how many searches are made for each keyword within a specific timeframe. You might rank #1 in the SERPs for a keyword, but that’s meaningless if no one ever searches for it.
- Difficulty – While there’s currently no standard formula for measuring keyword difficulty, it will typically be more challenging to rank for a keyword with a large number of competitors, especially if those competitors have high website authority (think Wikipedia, Apple, or whoever the big wig in your particular industry is).
- Cost-Per-Click – This one pertains to PPC, not SEO efforts. Still, your overall marketing strategy will likely include a combination of both, so it’s worth keeping in mind what keywords are more expensive than others when crafting your website content.
On-Page Optimization Techniques
On-page optimizations are guiding text for search engines – they offer a clear understanding of your content. By making sure your on-page elements are well-optimized, you improve your likelihood of catching the attention of search algorithms.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Title Tags: Think of these as the headline of your webpage. They should be concise, descriptive, and contain your primary keyword.
- Meta Descriptions: Meta descriptions are your webpage’s elevator pitch. This is a short snippet that accompanies your title tag in search results and summarizes the content of your page. Make it engaging and informative, and, if possible, include a call to action.
- Header Tags (H1, H2, etc.): Search engines use header tags to understand the structure and hierarchy of your content. The H1 tag is the main theme and is usually reserved for the title of your page or post. H2 and subsequent tags are sub-themes, organizing your content hierarchically.
While not an exhaustive list, these on-page optimizations should be included when developing an SEO strategy for your business.
Utilizing Local SEO For Businesses Targeting Specific Regions
For businesses aiming to take the spotlight in their local community, optimizing for local search terms involves more than just name-dropping your city. Here’s how to help your business stand out in local searches:
- Google Business Profile (GBP): Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile listing. Ensure your business address, phone number, and operating hours are accurate. Encourage customers to leave reviews, as positive reviews can enhance your local credibility. It’s also helpful to upload high-quality images of your business, including the interior, exterior, team members, and any products or services you offer.
- Local Citations: A citation refers to a website other than your own that lists your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). GBP is considered a local citation, but there are many others – Facebook, Yelp, Apple Maps, your local chamber of commerce, etc. There are also industry-specific citations, such as Trip Advisor for hotels or OpenTable for restaurants. It makes your business seem more legitimate in Google’s eyes if your NAP information is listed completely and consistently on a variety of local citations. It’s a good idea to claim and optimize as many of them as relevant for your business.
- Local Keywords: Naturally incorporate your city or region into your website copy. For example, if you’re a bakery in Portland, consider phrases like “best Portland bakery” or “Portland artisan pastries.” This helps search engines understand your geographic relevance and boosts your chances of appearing in local searches. However, the keyword in this paragraph is “Naturally” – overusing keywords could qualify as keyword stuffing, an outdated and counterproductive SEO tactic.
- Local Backlinks: Build relationships with local organizations and aim for local backlinks. When reputable local websites link to your content, it signals to search engines that you are a valued player in the local scene. Some examples might be popular news outlets, schools, government websites, or fellow small businesses in the community.
- Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T): While not a direct ranking factor, E-E-A-T is used to help Google gauge the quality of search results and evaluate the effectiveness of its algorithm. I won’t go deep into this here, but in essence, implementing E-E-A-T principles into your local SEO strategy can help position your website as a credible source of information.
- Your Money or Your Life (YMYL): The acronym “YMYL” comes from Google’s guidelines for quality evaluators and refers to topics that “could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society”. YMYL topics have an increased chance of causing harm if the content is inaccurate or unreliable. Some examples include news, legal affairs, government, and health and safety. If your website falls into the YMYL category, it’s extra important that you prioritize E-E-A-T principles in your content strategy.
Prepare For Launch With Intuitive Digital
At Intuitive Digital, we don’t believe in cutting corners. As a B Corp-certified digital marketing agency, we have over a decade of experience crafting beautifully designed websites and tailored SEO strategies.
If you’re ready to elevate your online presence, schedule a consultation with Intuitive Digital today.