Webmasters venture into the world of website building without even a plan, let alone having a SEO plan. Creating a website on-the-fly makes it so much harder and the same applies for your search engine optimization techniques.
It is extremely important to track and measure everything you do if you are planning to build a successful website. With all the recent Penguin and Panda updates from Google, search engine optimization hasn’t changed; it has just become more truthful. The old days of undeserved search engine rankings are gone. If your site is ranking on the first page of Google or anywhere near number one, that means you have earned your position.
New Webmasters can definitely rank on the first page of Google even when starting a website today; they just need to know how. Creating a SEO plan is a fantastic way to succeed with search engine optimization.
If you really have no clue what SEO is then I suggest you read my beginners guide to SEO and then pop back to this post later.
Choosing your niche
Of course the first step in your search engine optimization plan is to choose a niche or topic for your website that people are interested in. There is absolutely no point creating a website that no one wants to visit.
Choosing the wrong niche can be website suicide as you will never see any success. I like to have a quick search using the Google keyword tool, to actually see if anyone is searching for keywords that are related to my topic.
Choosing a niche also involves choosing a domain name that your website will be stuck with forever. One of the recent Google updates lowers the value of an exact match domain name, so my suggestion is to make your domain name memorable. It is still not recommended to have some hogwash name that people cannot understand.
Here are some tips for choosing a niche:
- Choose a topic you are passionate about because you will be stuck with it!
- Your main keyword should have at least 1000 exact monthly searches.
- When searching in Google, make sure people are advertising in this niche. This might suggest that people are making money or have money to spend in this niche.
- Your topic and domain name should not be a dead end. For example Best laptops 2011. What happens when 2012 comes along?
- Avoid using other people’s brand names. Some companies are fine with it, like Windows, but others are not!
I have given a detailed example of how to choose a niche in my Free PDF report about how to build a WordPress Website. This has been revamped so grab it again as it is full of more information.
Define your user
Before you go any further, you must figure out who you are building this website for? When you figure this out, you also need to know what these people want to see on your website. Websites are built to please the website visitors, and if you can do this, Google will love your website too.
SEO is made up of the balance of many factors, but one of the main ones is user experience. If the people that are visiting your website are not happy, then your website will not be successful.
The main keyword
Your website will not just be about one main keyword however this will be the branch where all of your topics will stem from.
Your main keyword should be mentioned on your homepage, your SCO description, and in a few other areas like your categories and tags. Please note that every article you post on your website does not need to contain this main keyword. Every article you publish should however be related to this topic and highly relevant.
Related keywords are very important when it comes to search engine optimization.
Related keywords are:
- Keywords that are highly relevant to your niche.
- They are not keywords that always contain your main keyword. They are individuals.
When using the Google keyword tool to find your related keywords, it will be up to you to make the final decision on whether these keywords are in fact related or not. Just remember that you are building a website for humans and all you have to do is stop and think, “Is this keyword related to my topic?” In other words, commonsense should prevail.
In the Google keyword tool, you can see below that I have used the keyword “best student laptop” and searched using the [exact match] option. Now my related keywords are listed below and are also showing the exact match option for the monthly search results. This way the search volume is not overestimated.
Create your website categories
Your website categories should be again, highly relevant to your niche and hopefully using some of your related keywords. Creating categories on-the-fly is not a good idea and is not fit in to a SEO plan.
Navigation and Design
I mentioned user experience earlier on, and having a nice website design and easy at navigation system is all part of this. You definitely want your website visitors to find the information that they are looking for and the navigation system is one of the most important ways to do that.
Website design is also important and should not be taken for granted. I find that simple elegant design, with easy navigation, always proves to have a great user experience.
WordPress premium themes can make your website look professional and improve your user experience. They are very cheap to buy and usually have some inbuilt SEO features that can also save you a huge amount of time.
Planned article titles
Now that you have your website categories in place and your plan is coming together, this will trigger ideas on what articles to write for your website. Knowing what part of your content creation will take definitely makes building your website an easy job.
As you publish your posts and track your user experience, you will notice which articles are more popular and can adjust your content plan according to this. Absolutely none of your plans should be set in stone, as you need to change with the times.
Also now that you know what your categories are, planning your blog post title is easy because if they do not fit into your categories then the post does not fit into your website.
You should get to know your competition straight away. See what articles they provide and what response they get from them. You can also form relationships with your competitors and work together. This is the Internet website building way. We build relationships and work together.
If there is no possible way to build a relationship with a certain website, then this would be an open door to become a real competitor. You should investigate why this website is popular and try and replicate something similar. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. Original ideas are great as well but you really need to learn from other people’s experience first.
Possible back linking sites
While researching your competition, these sites can be handy for building back links to your own site. You might do this through blog commenting, guest posting, or maybe some other ingenious way. Nevertheless, related and competition websites will be very useful to you in the future. They are there to learn from and also gain SEO value.
Planning to build links to your website should not include automated processes. Hand build your back links and you could not go wrong.
Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz.org mentions some good and bad linking methods for new websites in the video below.
Internal Linking Plan
When you have created your list of articles that you want to create that fit neatly into your categories, you can then decide which articles should link to each other. This is a very handy step because this means that your website will be like a spider web. People will be reading your articles and travel through to the next one that should intentionally provide additional related information.
For example you should know which keywords are being targeted in which posts and therefore should be able to draw a mind map of which posts can be linked together that are related. The sooner you start internal linking the better as it really does make a big difference to your search engine optimization efforts.
I was using Scribe to find possible internal link partner pages in my blog. It was a great program but I found that I could never get around to using it. In fact it really went too deep for me and took too much time. I thought it would save time.
Lucky last on my SEO Plan is…
Create a SEO Maintenance Checklist
This is the most important part of your SEO Plan as search engine optimization is a continuous process. If you stop doing search engine optimization you actually lose the benefits of your previous work. SEO is all about momentum and you must keep it going.
Considering the momentum needed, this also brings the need for SEO maintenance.
Here are some SEO maintenance jobs:
- Checking for broken links or any errors
- Checking your rankings
- Keeping an eye on your competitors
- Checking stats in Google Anlaytics
- Evaluating results of your last SEO campaign
- Investigate rankings that are dropping
- Internal linking upkeep
- A list of jobs to keep up your rankings..
- Visiting Google webmaster tools to see errors. For example, Sitemap errors.
It does not really matter if you are a new Webmaster or an experienced Webmaster, we all need to perform this maintenance. Simple broken back links can see your website drop out of the search engines altogether, so never take this kind of stuff for granted.