If you’re starting a brand new site, you have to be very careful when it comes to SEO. In a Post-Penguin era, being too aggressive with your online marketing right from the start can actually do more harm than good.
Think about this for a second: when you’re starting a new site on a brand new domain, you are essentially starting with NO trust, NO reputation and NO authority, which means that the 1st thing you need to PROVE to Google that you have genuine intentions. If Google detects anything fishy, even if’s something that other bigger sites in your industry have done, you risk getting red-flagged right from the get go. Google is known to have a short fuse with new websites!
If you’re starting a new website, here are 6 things you should focus on as part of your overall SEO and Online Marketing efforts:
Do Your Keyword Research Diligently
This step hasn’t changed. Before or after Penguin, we have been constantly stressing the importance of doing a thorough keyword research before doing anything else.
For a brand new website, your best bet is to focus on highly commercial long-tail keywords as they offer high conversion potential and very good ranking opportunity. Once you rank for those, you can move on to more competitive short-tail keywords.
Also, it is a great idea to later test the effectiveness of these keywords using Google Adwords. If they convert, they’re definitely worth ranking organically for. If they don’t, consider targeting new ones.
Create Awesome Content for Your Main Pages
Now that you have identified which keywords you want to rank for, the next step (which is also the most important one!) will be to create awesome content that covers those keywords. Awesome content should:
Spark Human Interest: don’t write for robots, write for humans! Provide all the information that a potential customer would be looking for. (e.g. the value in your services/products, positive testimonials, promotions, etc…)
Facilitate Conversions: awesome content should make it easy for a visitor to become a lead. Whether you want the visitor to fill out a form or place an order, make sure your content naturally leads to the desired action. If you want maximum conversion rates, don’t give the visitor too many options on the landing page!
Be Well Formatted: readers hate big chunks of non-formatted text, even if it’s of “Shakespearean quality”. Make your content light and easy to read by incorporating sub-headings, images and/or videos. Make sure your font type, size and color work well with the general design of your site and make your content stand out and easy to read.
Subtly integrate your keywords: Penguin has penalized millions of sites for over-optimization. Matt Cutts even warned that the next iterations of Penguin will be even more aggressive. This is why you want to be careful about how you integrate your keywords within your content. Be smart about it and use synonyms whenever possible. Use H1, H2 and H3 header tags in a logical manner.
Get a Strong Social Presence
Once your main content pages have been written, you want to set up your main social media accounts. You definitely want to be on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Depending on your niche, you might also want to consider LinkedIn (if you’re into B2B) and YouTube (if you produce videos). Make sure you fill out your Facebook and Google+ pages with as many details as you can and add links back to your site.
Choose your brand name as your username (do NOT use any of your main keywords here). On Facebook, consider creating a nice custom tab that would drive more fans in. (A Giveaway, freebie or a contest of some sort can help here)
We also recommend securing your brand name in the social sphere by using a service like Knowem. This will give your brand more authority and a healthy amount of “whitehat” links.
Static sites are so… 1998. If you want visitors to come back and Google to give you more respect (and higher rankings!), you have to create new, relevant and useful content on a regular basis. Blogging is one of the best ways to achieve this. Blogging frequency is up to you, but check how often your biggest competitors are blogging and try to be on the same playing field. Check out this article we published a while back on the top blogging mistakes to avoid.
Don’t forget to share your posts on all your social pages. If you want your blogging to have more impact, try to provide tips or answers to people’s questions within your niche. These kind of blog posts will get you a lot of Likes/Tweets and Shares in the social realm. Also, you will get bonus long-tail traffic from search engines.
Your blogging efforts should also enhance your internal linking structure. On each blog post try to link to other relevant inner pages. If you are blogging about an issue that one of your products solves, make sure you include a link to your product page at the end of the article.
Start a Mailing List
Using a service like AWeber, you can jump into the wonderful world of email marketing in minutes. Put an opt-in box where visitors can see it. To make it even better, offer come kind of incentive to opt-in, such as a free e-book or a chance to win one of your products.
Various studies have shown that Email Marketing is still more efficient than any other form of online marketing. The main reason for that is the “personal” nature of an email. People are much more likely to read an email sent directly to them, rather than a status update or a tweet sent out to a large number of people.
Go Slowly on Link Building
For the first couple of weeks, it’s better to avoid link building altogether, unless it’s absolutely TOP quality (e.g. a guest post on a highly relevant and authority blog).
If you do get a quality link, always use your brand name as the anchor text and never any of your main keywords.