The First Step of SEO for a New Website: Technical SEO

SEO starts with taking care of the technical part

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the technical elements that we take care of when doing SEO for a new website and that you can absolutely do yourself.

YOUR SITE MUST BE MOBILE-FRIENDLY

Your new website is mobile-friendly, right?  If it is not, you are probably working with a site that will not best serve about 50%-75% of the people searching for businesses like yours on smartphones.  Even if you do manage to rank the website well, it will be for nothing if it doesn’t get you any new customers. You can remedy this very easily by installing a responsive WordPress theme on your site.  “Responsive” means that the site will readjust the placement of the images and text according to the size of the screen that it is displaying on.  This means that it will be mobile and tablet-friendly and it will be able to use more of the real estate on a larger computer monitor.

YOUR SITE MUST BE FAST

There are a lot of options for checking the speed of your site, but I’m going to recommend Google PageSpeed Insights.  Type the URL of your website into the tool and Google will tell you what you need to do in order to improve the speed of your site.  There are common issues that can be addressed with any number of free plugins, the most common being:
Images that haven’t been optimized
The dimensions of the images on your site are much larger than they need to be.  Compress them and your site will look the same, yet have to download much less information
No browser caching
Allows a browser to store a local version of some of the info that the site delivers, allowing it to load more quickly
Minify CSS and/or Javascript
Basically, compresses some of the script that tells the browser how to display your website
Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
This means that the JavaScript and CSS in your theme have to be loaded before the html loads for the content that you first see when you land on the website.  This article goes into more detail about it. Another way to speed up your site for mobile will be by implementing AMP (accelerated mobile pages).  Amp stores an html version of your blog posts that will allow them to load on smartphones almost instantaneously.  There is a plugin for WordPress that will get you up and running in AMP.  Mind you, it does not support the pages of your site, only blog posts.

YOU MUST HAVE A METHOD FOR ADJUSTING TITLE TAGS AND META DESCRIPTIONS

title tags and meta descriptions

You are going to need a method of adjusting the text in the image above.  This can be done with a plugin like Yoast SEO or by doing it manually, but it needs to be done and you’ll have to figure out how you intend to handle this critical part of your SEO strategy.

YOU HAVE PLACED MICRODATA ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS ON YOUR WEBSITE

This is particularly useful for a local business.  There are ways to share information about your business, products, or services in a way that Google will be able to share it right on the search engine results page. rich snippets example To start, this result jumps out from the rest since it is the only result for “italian restaurant in philadelphia” that has a price range displaying as well as 789 reviews.  If you are trying to get in front of a person that is looking to spend $30+ a person and wants to know that there are reviews that he or she can see, then this microdata could help to push your business ahead of the rest on the search engine results page. There are WordPress plugins that can handle the entering of microdata and Google allows you to do it right in the Search Console with its data highlighter tool. data highlighter tool

YOU HAVE A SITEMAP AND YOU SUBMITTED IT TO BING AND GOOGLE

Sitemaps make it much easier for the search engines to know what to crawl and index your site.  Think of them like a map of downtown Manhattan—sure, you can just wander around and you’re likely to stumble upon a bunch of cool stuff, but a map would guarantee that you saw everything that you wanted to see.  A sitemap will do exactly that.  You can manually create a sitemap or generate one using a plugin such as the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.  Once you have a sitemap, submit it in Search Console. submit your sitemap through search console Now that we’ve gotten the basics of the technical SEO started, let’s move onto the second step: local citations and listings.

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