SEO happens to be one of those marketing channels where usually, no one is always right or wrong. Depending on who you talk to, you might get different answers for what a structured SEO plan should be.
In fact, a lot of SEOs might even tell you that the first step to a structured SEO plan is keyword research. They’re certainly not wrong, but my answer takes a step back, saying that the SEO setup is the first step.
What the SEO Setup Involves?
This would completely differ from websites to websites, but assuming you’re a new website (in fact, this post is for people who are just up and coming with their site), the SEO setup, in my mind, falls into the following five primary categories.
Category 1: Crawlability and Indexability
Here my advice would be to ensure that your site is crawlable, indexable, and you potentially will not run into any issues.
This also involves having the ability to update the robots.txt file at will, and same for all your XML sitemaps. Often, verifying if your site is doing both may involve 2-3 weeks after launch to get all the data in Google Search console or similar tools. And speaking of Google Search Console, let’s discuss category 2.
Category 2: Analytics & SEO Tools
Sort of tied to step 1 above, but this category involves ensuring the following:
- Proper Google Analytics tracking or similar tools is setup.
- If using Google Tag Manager to achieve this result, you’re doing the same.
- Also, don’t stop at setting it up. You have to confirm everything is working the way it’s supposed to. I also have a post on verifying your GTM installation, so if you aren’t too sure about QA-ing this, the article will help!
- Outside of GA, make sure all your other scripts, partner scripts, etc. are working correctly, as well.
Category 3: Site Speed
With the ever-increasing demand for all types of content, site speed will be crucial to your SEO success. If you also happen to use WordPress, I’d urge you to check out my post on hitting a 90+ score on Google’s PageSpeed insights. High-level, make certain that you’re all squared away on the following 5 elements that have a major impact on site speed:
- Unnecessary chain requests
Category 4: Schema Markups
The first and foremost goal of search engines is to answer user queries as accurately and as contextually as possible. Everything pretty much revolves around that primary goal.
To that end, to further assist website owners in helping search engines help them, schema markups were invented. These markups provide extra meaning to all the datasets on a web-page, such as, ratings, reviews, breadcrumbs, etc., thereby providing additional context about what the page is about.
I have repeatedly mentioned how this and site speed will grow in importance. And while schema markups do not fall directly into the SEO setup category, I feel it’s important enough to mention it — in the sense that you as a website owner, have the ability to implement any kind of schema markup. And to get started, there are items you can execute on right away, for instance, organizational schema markups, logo markups, sitelinks searchbox, breadcrumbs, etc., to get a head start on using these and familiarizing yourself for the future use.
You May Also Want to Check Out:
- 4 Chrome Extensions You Might Want to Consider for Your SEO Needs
- Understanding the Core Fundamental Relationships Between Links and SEO
- HTTP/2 and SEO: What It Is, and How to Check if Your Website Is Using It
- 3 Basic URL Structure Best Practices for Avoiding Negative SEO Performance
- How to Setup FileZilla (FTP) for Your WordPress Site
Category 5: All Other Technical Items
The items that can fall here are other core technical items such as:
- Ensuring you have control over URL structures.
- Ensuring you can dictate all the meta tags, title tags, etc. at will.
- On the same note, make sure you have control over canonical logics.
- Similarly, securing a confirmation that you can easily make changes to XML sitemaps, robots.txt (as discussed above) — while verifying you have root access to your site.
- Everything is sorted out according to your desires with your hosting provider/domain registrar. It would be in your best interest to do proper research into whom you want to go with. The limitations you can have here can prevent you from growing. Worse case, you’ll have to migrate, which comes with its own headaches.
- Ensure your website is mobile friendly, and follows your best practices.
- Anything else.
Keyword research and other ongoing optimizations come into picture when the basic necessary foundation of your website is strong & reliable. If you’re going to be suffering from crawling, indexing, speed, and other technical items while setting your website — or brand new, you need to figure those out first!
Plus, what is a structured SEO plan anyway? Ask around, and you’ll get different interpretations. Therefore, this post took a stab at providing those answers for new websites — because the SEO setup is meant to be a foundation to your ongoing SEO success.
In conclusion, it would be my advice to not to worry about traffic, rankings, etc. for at least the first 3 months if you’re a new website. As a matter of fact, realistically speaking, don’t expect much for the first 2-3 years. I know this is not something one likes to hear, but it’s the truth.
However, without digressing too much into the traffic aspect, as a first step (when it comes to a structured SEO plan), you HAVE TO VALIDATE and constantly check if your site will be able to perform at the level you want it to. And for that, the foundation, as described in this post, is absolutely critical!