When setting up a new website there are several key elements you need to get right from the start.
1. Setup Google Webmaster
As soon as your website is live, you should really set it up to linked up to Google Webmaster, this will allow you to:
- Track what search terms on Google your website shows up against and how well you are doing over time,
- Find out if Google has any problems crawling your website
- Find out what terms or phrases on your website Google thinks is significant.
2. Make sure you have an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a file used by search engines to allow them to easily find out what is new on your website. This guarantees nothing gets missed on your website when it gets indexed. For WordPress we recommend using the ‘Google XML Sitemaps’ plugin – as by default the settings work and if you wish to fine tune you can do so.
3. Make sure you have a favicon set up
A favicon is that little icon that appears in the browser tab for your site. If it is not set you will get a blank document symbol, which is of no use to anyone. Setting it makes it easy for people to find your website in tabs and bookmarks. Plus if you don’t set it web browsers will keep pestering your server for the none existent icon.
4. Set up Google Analytics
This is another free service from Google and it allows you to track in fine detail exactly how people interact with your website and how they move around it. In particular it will tell you where they got fed up and left!
5. Do some basic SEO
You need to aware of the target audience for your website and what they would search for inorder to visit your website. This means writing content on your website that contains those search phrases – as without them Google won’t index those words! Also make sure each page has a proper heading and contains at least 600 words of content – anything less than that and it’s just not significant to Google.
6. Operate a Blog
Search engines and people just love blogs – they are a great way of engaging people and sending them right to the freshest content on your website. As before aim to write reasonably long blog posts (somewhere in the range of 800 to 2000 words is ideal). Also make use of multiple headings to break up the blog post and make it easy to read. Also put in some appropriate images to break up the sea of text.
We also suggest you make appropriate use of Tags and Categories to make it easier for people (and search engines) to find and understand what the focus is of the blog post. Don’t go mad, just the key points need this emphasis.
7. Go Social
Nothing wrong with making it easy for people to Like or Share your content, on WordPress we are fan of the Really Simple Share plugin for this task. The layout is easy on the eye and not too fussy.
You can also get plugins that show your FaceBook and Twitter activity streams – but for a start this can be a bit much and is just something else to support.
8. Content, content, content
Really, you cannot have too much content. As long as it is of a good quality and actually worth reading. During the first month or so of setting up your website you should add content at least once every 2 days. That way the Search Engines see that the website is under development and will keep coming back for more..
9. Check your Website Quality
You also need to make sure that your website is actually set up properly and is doing its best for you. We recommend using the Website Checker Tool to do this for you. This will check a variety of factors on your website and give you actionable recommendations and advice.