If you want to rank your website and get lots of organic traffic there are certain steps you should follow to reach your goal. When you make mistakes along the way there is a big change you won't be able to make the first page. Remember you are competing with millions of others and there is no room for errors.
That's why I have written this post to give you some guidelines on how you can also achieve these top rankings by avoiding some common mistakes many of us make along the way. SEO is a patience game so all the steps outlined below will take a few months before you will see significant results all depending on how much time you are willing to spend and how aggressive your approach will be.
I will not be talking about niche or keyword research as I assume you already decided on the topic of your website, the goals you want to achieve and the content you want to create.
So let's get started
Ones you have found a domain you want to use it's important to get some decent shared hosting first. There are many hosting companies out there but I use and recommend Inmotionhosting. It has great support, fast servers and has never experienced any unannounced downtime in any way. Another one I heard many good things about is called Siteground but have not used it myself.
Make sure to get a private whois so your personal info is not available and you won't get spammed.
You should also install SSL on your new website as this became a small ranking factor lately. At Inmotionhosting you can get one for free.
Make sure to connect your website to the GSC so you can watch your new links coming in, any crawl errors you might have and many other onpage issues and data that can be useful to rank your website.
Also create a robots txt file so Google knows pages it should crawl so you don't waste your crawl budget on useless pages.
This is still the best way to follow your website metrics. Watch your daily visitors, bounce rate and time on site so you know which pages need work to increase your website traffic. So make sure to also connect your website to GA. Ones you signed up you can connect Google Search Console to GA so your stats on search queries and visited landing pages can be monitored here.
Ones your hosting is setup you need to decide on the content management system you want to use. I always use WordPress because it works great for your onpage SEO and has lots of themes, plugins and support available because more than 50% of all websites use this CMS platform. The learning curve I find pretty easy which is important since I am not the most tech savvy guy.
After you have installed WP it's time to choose your theme, there are literally thousands of these available free & paid. I always use the themes from Thrivethemes because they are fast and mobile responsive. Another one I can recommend is the theme by Genesis but it all depends on what type of website you want to build and which features you need.
Don't spend too much time on this; you can always change this later on if needed.
There are many opinions on this but I think you should focus on a few things only what user experience is concerned. Keep it simple, don't clutter your homepage with too many options. If it doesn't help you in your goal then remove it. Always have your goal in mind and steer your visitors in the right direction in the shortest way possible when you create your funnel.
I will never install any banners for example that lead people away from my site. The conversion on these is very bad anyway and it hurts the look of your site and is again bad for your page speed and bounce rate. Always try and keep something in screen at all times that can create a conversion, this could be a button, link or a signup form for instance. Don't make them search as this again will hurt your conversion.
I already mentioned you have to make sure your website is fully mobile responsive because Google has recently switched over from desktop to the mobile algorithm and if your website is not optimized this will hurt your rankings, conversion and bounce rate as people are not very patient these days. For a good conversion on mobile I suggest you use a few buttons within your content with your links as these are easier to tab then a contextual link. This works very well on affiliate marketing sites.
Another metric which is very important is your page speed. If your website is to slow this will again hurt your rankings together with your conversion and bounce rate.
As long as it loads under 3 seconds you will be fine. Google doesn't reward you for being fast but it will punish you if you don't deliver a good user experience. You can check your page speed here at Gtmetrix and see what needs work.
I also recommend installing the W3Cache plugin and a DNS such as Cloudflare which is free and will significantly increase your page speed. I will mention a few more things you can do to reduce the loading time of your site further on in this post.
Good content has become the second most important ranking factor so keyword stuffing is out of the question. Don't focus on a single keyword but write about a topic and use many related keywords. The Google algorithm has become smart enough to figure out what it's all about. This way your post will rank for hundreds of keywords, some not even mentioned in your post.
Create valuable long form content, the average word count on page 1 is minimum 1800 words to give you an idea. I only publish posts on my website between 2000 all the way up to 5000 words. If you want to try and rank 500 word articles these day I can tell you upfront this will be very hard if not impossible.
There are a few basic pages every website should have such as a content form, about us page and a page with your terms & disclaimer section. On your about us page try and be personal and talk about your experience but in a way so it shows how you can help your visitors. You see in the end it's not about you but what you can do for them so always focus on your customer goals.
For a local company always show your NAP (name, address, phone) in your sub footer together with your Google Map on every page and if you run an Amazon affiliate website always make sure to put the Amazon disclaimer in your footer so it shows on every page of your website.
I advise you to always use website/postname settings in WP as your permalink URL structure which works best for SEO purposes. The shorter the path, the better.
A few pointers here for the layout of your content. A table of content works well because this way it's easy for Google to understand the structure of your article. You might also get a lot of extra site links this way in the SERPs if used together with schema markup which we will talk about later on.
Try and use short paragraphs, 4 sentences max and bullet points as people tend to skim articles from left to right these days. Bold,italic or underline text has no use anymore for onpage SEO in 2018.
Only use one H1 tag but in WP this is a standard setting, your post title will always be set as H1. In your post make sure to use subheadings(h2 & h3) to structure your article.
Make sure to have one dofollow link to an authority website in your post, just make sure it's not competing for the same keywords and it is related to your content. Don't use Wikipedia for all your authority links because it will become obvious you are doing this for SEO purposes only.
Affiliate links should always be set to nofollow and don't place these in the first few paragraphs of your post to avoid a penalty. Internal linking we will talk about later on.
This one is very important for SEO & page speed. First, start by always using a matching keyword for the image filename. Second reduce the image size, no need to have a 2000 pixel image if you are only displaying it at 600 pixels on your website. I always use Picresize do this fast, if possible I prefer to save as jpg because the file size is way smaller then PNG.
Ones you resized your image you should do some compression to make the image size as small as possible I do this twice, first I will use Tinypng and ones uploaded to my site I will compress again with the WPSmush plugin to squeeze out the last few kb. That's why my sites load under 2 seconds which is pretty fast.
Don't forget to add the alt tag on every image, this should be the same as the one you used for the image filename. If you have more than one image with the same keyword as image filename just add the image size to make the file unique like this: keyword-500x500.jpg .
I wouldn't geo-tag images on my website where you add the location to the image file because this has not much use for onpage SEO and it will make the image file way to big and slow down your site. Use this only for upload to GMB and Google Maps for your local citations.
Make sure to add schema markup to all your posts & pages. It's not a ranking Google says but it might become one in the future and it makes Google understand your content better. I always use it because this way you might be able to steal the featured snippet ( position 0 on Google)or get a few extra sitelinks in the search results.
I don't do it manually but I use a very good and easy free plugin for this called WP SEO Structured Data Schema .
This one is pretty simple. If I only have one category I just link to other articles wherever it seems appropriate. If I have several categories I only link to other articles within that same category because it will be easier for Google to understand the topical relevancy.
The more articles you have within a category the more topical relevant your website will become on that specific topic, but if you start linking to articles within other categories Google will get confused as to what this is exactly about.
Internal links makes it easier for Google to crawl your website, you will spread your link juice from one post to the next and it can increase your visitor time on site jumping from one post to the next.
Before you start creating the backlinks with the most linkjuice you will need to build a foundation. What this means is your link profile should be as diversified as possible so no type of link stands out and it all looks natural to the search engines.
It would look very unnatural if a 2 week old site with 3 posts receives 20 contextual backlinks.
The first thing you need to do when your website is ready is create your social profiles. There are many available and you don't need them all but at least make sure you have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Linkedin and maybe even Instagram and Youtube. These are what I call the mandatory ones.
These should all be linked to your homepage with your brand name as anchor.
Each time you publish a new post you should share it on these social profiles. You can use IFTTT to automate this process if you don't want to do it manually for each post.
Ones your social profiles are setup it's time to create some what we call pillow links. These are links coming from the following:
You should at least have a few of these for each type, this way you will already have over a hundred referring domains to your website and build some authority to your website. The first 5 are best linked to your homepage with brand name as anchor or plain URL.
In a press release to announce your new website you can use 3 links. One to the homepage and 2 links to your best posts.
Contextual backlinks on web 2.0 blogs are best used to link to your posts with a mix of partial match & generic anchors. A contextual link is the clickable text (usually the keywords) found within the written content of your webpage.
These are the type of links you only need to create for a local website. They will help you rank for local terms, just make sure you use the exact NAP (name, pone & address) as on your Google My Business page. A few examples of these are Yelp, Foursquare and Yellow pages.
These Google Map citations will help you rank in the local 3 pack for local search results by placing them on a Google map in and around where you are located.
Another way to help you rank in the local 3 pack is to embed your Google My Business map onto web 2.0 blogs. The web 2.0 embed strategy can also be used to rank a YouTube video.
Ones you have done a lot of pillow link building and you have quite a few posts published on your website it's time to move on to the type of links that will give you the most linkjuice and rank your posts. There are 2 types of links you can use for this.
You can do guest posting by doing outreach and asking other sites to link to yours. This takes a lot of time & work but it is the safest method, your rankings will go up but you will need to be very patient.
The other way is less safe but much easier and you will see results much faster. This is done by using PBN networks which you build for your sites to rank or you can just by links from other networks which is much easier and cheaper because you don't have to build and maintain the network.
If you only have 1 or 2 websites you are better off buying the links from other networks but if you have 5-10 websites you will get a good ROI from building your own network.
I prefer getting a good mix from guest posts which essentially means getting links from websites with real traffic and PBN links.
Make sure to send some social signals to your posts once in while because it looks more natural to Google when a website gets many links it is also shared a lot on social media.
That's all I have for you, make sure to follow the steps in this post and you will be ranking in no time. Make sure to bookmark this post so you can use it as a future reference if you get stuck along the way.