Have you launched a new website and now looking to drive some search engine users your way? Well, here are 5 things that you can simply do on your own to kick-start your SEO campaign. And you won’t need any web development (technical) knowledge whatsoever.
Setup Search Console (Webmaster Tools)
For those of new who are new to this term, the search console formerly known as Webmaster tools is a free service provided by Google that allows website owners or webmasters to control their search engine presence using various tools built within this dashboard.
In order to setup the Search Console, you will need to access a unique tracking code by adding your website property on the search console. The easiest way to do this is by using the URL-prefix method as this gives you multiple methods of verification as compared to the other available method i.e. domain verification.
Once you get the unique tracking code, this will need to be added on your website. Based on the content management system (CMS) you are using, you can check out the help & support section of your CMS provider or theme provider to see how this unique tracking code can be added on your website.
If you are using WordPress, Joomla!, Magento or Drupal as your CMS then it is simply a matter of copying and pasting this code in a pre-defined text box.
Once you have setup this service, you will be able to submit your website to Google for indexing, check your website’s performance on search engines, check backlinks, receive updates from Google, Disavow links and much more.
Setup Google My Business
Google My Business is another great tool that allows you to list your business for free which then can be found by prospective clients on the search engines, specifically on map listings which are commonly known as 3 pack listings as well.
Map listings are perfect for businesses that provide their goods or services within a limited geographical limit.
To setup your business profile, go to Google My Business and sign in using a Gmail account. Follow the steps and you should be able to get your business listed in no time. Keep in mind that Google requires phone or mail verification in order to publish the listing.
In this listing you can showcase your business contact details, images, services, menu if you are a restaurant and publish posts about your business, get reviews from customers even setup a website using its website creator.
If the listing is optimised then you can maximise the chances of appearing the 3 pack map listing for searches relevant to keywords related to your business. If you are interested in knowing more about ranking your profile on the 3 pack listing, search for “Local SEO Guide” or “Local SEO Tips”.
Add a Sitemap
Once you have access to the Google Search Console, you will need to submit a sitemap in order to allow search engines to crawl and index your website.
Assuming that you have now setup your Google Search Console, you will see a link named Sitemaps under Index on the left hand menu of your dashboard.
Clicking on this you will take you to a page that will ask you to enter the URL or file path where your website’s sitemap can be found.
Assuming that your web development team has setup a sitemap, you can simply copy and paste the URL path of the sitemap. If you are using a popular open-source CMS such as WordPress, Joomla! or Magento, there are plenty of plugins available within their repositories that can allow you to create a sitemap for your site with a click of few buttons.
Add a Robots.txt File
A robots.txt file is used to inform the search engine robots on which pages it cannot crawl. Here is an example of how a robot.txt file looks like,
User-agent: [user-agent name] Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]
The first step is to check is if you have this file available on your root folder. To do so, please type in the following URL on your browser
If this URL returns a page which looks like the following then you are good to go otherwise you will get a 404 error, this means that you will need to add a robots.txt for your website.
If you will be using an SEO plugin with content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla! or Magento, chances are that a robots.txt file will get added when you install these plugins. However you can also add this file manually.
One of the most common pages that you would not want a search engine to crawl will be the admin URL for your website i.e. the URL that you use to access the backend of your website.
In that case, the your robots.txt file should look like,
User-agent: [*] Disallow:/admin
In the above example we have used * as the user agent, which refers to all crawlers. We are assuming that the admin panel for your site is found at the above address therefore we have added this address next to the disallow command.
All you need to do is copy the above line, edit the admin panel link and then add it on a notepad. Save this file as robots.txt and place it in the root folder or public_html folder.
Once done correctly you should be able to see this file on your browser if you type in the following address: www.yourwebsite.com/robots.txt
This is the most basic step for SEO.
Keyword research refers to the process of finding out the most relevant keywords that you can target for your SEO campaign. It is very important you get this right before you embark on the journey of ranking high within the organic section of search results.
Google provides a tool called the keyword planner within the Google Adwords software.
Assuming that you have logged into the Google Adwords software, you will need to click on Tools and Settings which is on the top right corner with a spanner icon above it.
On the dropdown click on Planning and an expanded menu will appear. Now click on Keyword Planner and on the following screen choose Get New Keyword Ideas.
Follow the prompts from here on and Google will provide the most likely keywords that people will use to find your product or service along with their search volume, competitiveness and cost per click.
As a rule of thumb, the more competitive the keyword, the harder it will be to come up on page 1 of search results.
Shortlist your keywords based on relevance, monthly searches and competitiveness.
These keywords can then be used to create an on-page structure, meta titles, descriptions and on-page content to effectively target these from your website.
Again if you are using a popular CMS then you can easily take care of your on-page SEO using a plugin or an extension from its repository.