If you’re about to launch a new website, and you’re looking for a checklist that covers everything you need, you’re in the right spot. In this post, we’ll go through the exact step-by-step process of setting up a brand new website in the most SEO-friendly way possible.
To figure out the most important details of your website launch, and make sure everything is good to go, use our free new website checklist.
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the starting point for search engine optimization. It is the act of searching, organizing, and analyzing user queries (searches) to create an SEO content strategy.
We base almost all our decisions on keyword research because that’s how we understand what our customers are looking for.
Keyword research is helpful at any stage of your business. By performing keyword research, you can:
- Discover “new” opportunities that you might have missed otherwise
- Gain a deeper understanding of your target market
- Assess market demand for your product or service
Here’s our keyword research template to create a comprehensive keyword strategy that you’ll be able to use in the months to come. You’ll learn strategies on how to find high-volume keywords that are easy to target and suit your website’s niche as well as knowing how your audience search content online.
2. Keyword Mapping
After you’ve done your keyword research, you will have to group them according to search intent.
You will also want to categorize your keywords into primary, secondary, and accessory keywords.
You might find that some keywords don’t fit into any category.
Pull these in an “Outlier” bucket. You can use it for blog topic ideas, or you can continue your keyword research by re-entering each of them into the KWFinder and starting the same process all over again.
For more information, check out our SEO Strategy Guide to learn how to categorize your keywords to make business decisions.
3. Picking A Domain Name
There are some things to think about choosing a domain name. They are less actual SEO related than you may think. Back in the day, you would choose a domain where it had a focus keyword on it. It worked for a while and then it suddenly stopped working.
Most people argue that there is some help in having your primary keyword in your domain. E.g. how to box.com
It might be helpful for one primary keyword, but a way more important idea is building a brand. Having a domain that’s easy to say. In general, put kind of a marketing branding hat on. There are tons of tools out there to choose your domain, but I like Lean Domain Search.
It does a lot of work for you.
Let’s type boxing:
It takes your primary keyword and then uses a dictionary of popular words and only shows the available domains.
All of these domain names are available. If you click on the domain, it also tells you whether or not the Twitter handle is available.
You can just use this tool to get ideas. You can also sort by popularity, length, and also start/end with search terms.
Couple of things to think about with your domain name: No hyphens, no misspellings, as short as possible, clear and concise, and if it can explain the context in one word if possible.
In general, you want to make your domain name as transferable as possible from the mouth of word perspective. Another thing to consider is whether or not you’ll expand in the future.
For example, the original domain for Clickminded was San Francisco SEO Training. net
If I were to pivot to SAAS or if I were to expand, I decided to choose Clickminded.
Don’t let your domain name pigeonhole you into just one thing. If you can, give yourself enough wiggle room to expand.
In general, use .com. If you are targeting a very specific country, you can use that country code top-level only if you have no plans of expanding to other countries.
4. Registration & Hosting
You have to do two registrations - one is the domain registration and the other one is hosting.
There are a bunch of different sites out there you can use for very inexpensive hosting. It doesn't matter in general what you select. If you're comfortable with one host already, that's fine.
For this example, I will be using DreamHost. What I like about them is it’s cheap and simple and their support is really good.
First things first, I would move over to monthly, because if it's a new idea, maybe we'll shut it down next month. We don't know.
So we want to keep it as cheap as possible to start any sort of additional features. We're just going to be a very small site with little to no traffic to get started.
They now allow you to pre-install WordPress. This is great. You can go ahead and do that. We don't need the extra protection for now.
And you don't want to use their email service. I like using Google's G suite instead. So I would go ahead, fill this out, submit my order and get set up on hosting.
You can check out Dreamhost’s Academy to learn how to set up your hosting in more detail.
5. Installing WordPress
After you add your hosting and refresh your web page, we're going to install WordPress. This is going to be different for everyone based on your Web hosts. But we will now install WordPress with Dream Host.
One of the great features of Dreamhost is its WordPress one-click install.
On the left-hand side, on a WordPress, one-click install, and I'll go ahead and click WordPress down here.
I'll find my domain name. So a click, a WordPress, I get to the one-click installer, I'll select my domain here.
Here are some resources by Dreamhost on how you can install your site in various ways.
If you have a bigger site, then you’ll have to choose WPEngine instead.
6. Setting Up WordPress Website
Three main things when setting up our WordPress site.
- Changing Your Permalinks
- Changing Your Theme
- Installing Yoast SEO
Come down to settings and go to permalinks left-hand side. The way WordPress defaults to date and name format. This isn’t ideal if you don’t have a blog site.
Move down to a post name or if you want to be specific, you can do custom structure. This changes our structure a little bit.
If you’re not a web developer, changing your theme is just one click. I can come in here and swap it out. You can do live previews to get an idea of how your website design will look. And now I will get my new theme. Sometimes, you might have to remove your browser cache to have your new page.
The favorite part of WordPress is there are tons of themes and plugins in this ecosystem. You have a lot of people working on problems that everyone has over and over again. You can move very fast. This is very helpful if you don’t want to build from scratch and just build from other people.
Bunch of marketplaces where you can buy premium themes. Theme Forest, Thrive Themes, Elementor, Divi Themes are some examples you can check out. If you download from the marketplace, you can download the zip and upload it there. For more information, check our WP Beginner’s guide on setting up a website site from scratch.
7. Yoast SEO Setup
Getting you started from an internet marketing perspective. One last plugin that is critical is Yoast SEO Plugin. We want to install it right away.
Once you’ve activated the plugin, you can see it in the left-hand corner. The best way to see how this works is to create a new post. What’s interesting about Yoast is it makes the core SEO element right and does so many things for you.
We can change our slug, page titles, title tags, meta description, alt text, etc.
Yoast will give us other features such as readability. Use it as a guiding light, don’t worry about optimizing it fully.
You can also write custom titles for social media sites like Facebook & Twitter. You can write a unique description and a picture and it will show when it is published on Facebook & Twitter.
There are other advanced options, very helpful if you have to optimize individual pages. Yoast also comes up with a lot of features that you can enable or disable whatever your preference is.
You can also verify all of your webmasters’ tools here.
This is not important at this stage, but you can play around with different features to improve your website's functionality and usability. You can leave it as default and it should be fine.
Want to take it even further?
We covered a lot today. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the different things to start with.
The key takeaway is to go step-by-step before moving on to the next step. To figure out the most important details of your new website launch and make sure everything is good to go, use our successful website launch checklist template.
The checklist has all the website elements ready before going live. Make sure you download it.
Now, go ahead and launch your new website.
You’ve got this!