In this article, we’re gonna take a look at how to build a website for SEO in 2022.
The main aim of this article is to help you figure out how you can build. And basically set up a new site so that it’ll perform well when it comes to SEO.
Now, a lot of people that are new to SEO, just think you can throw up any old site, and then get great SEO results.
I mean if it were only that easy right?
But, sadly… If you wanna get amazing results with SEO, you need to make sure you build your site the right way
…And that basically means you need to focus on ticking off a few key boxes when it comes to building your site.
Some of these things are kinda obvious. But a few of them, such as the tips in section #3, might only make sense once you have a little bit of experience when it comes to SEO.
Anyway, you can’t really drop the ball on anything we’re gonna mention in this article, as most of the things here are of equal importance.
I mean if you ignore one of these things, you’re gonna be limiting your ability to succeed with SEO…
And in a world where you already have to deal with tough SEO competition. Why make things harder on yourself, right?
Section #1 — Picking a Domain
The first thing we’re gonna touch on here is actually picking a domain.
Now, there are a lot of different opinions in the SEO community when it comes to picking a domain. And to be honest, you don’t really want to overcomplicate things here.
A lot of people think that if you pick an exact match domain, you will achieve better rankings.
If you don’t know what that is, an exact match domain is basically a domain that resembles a really valuable target keyword.
So, if you’re selling fishing supplies, an exact match domain might be something like “buyfishingsupplies.com.”
The thinking here is that this domain signals relevance. And this then helps you get better rankings on Google.
To be fair, there’s some evidence this worked well in the early days of SEO. But when it comes to modern times. Well…It doesn’t really look like this approach works anymore.
Now, if you’re an experienced SEO person with a different take here, you might want to challenge me on that.
But, generally, many people in the SEO community feel that a better approach nowadays is to go for a branded domain.
So, this is basically a domain that represents your brand. And it doesn’t really need to have any relevance to the stuff that’s on a website.
For example, if we take the fishing supplies example from earlier. A branded domain here could be something completely random like “redplasticbottle.com”
That’s a bit of a random example, but hopefully, it illustrates the point I’m trying to make.
I should mention here, that one of the reasons branded domains work, is because Google is really trying to identify and then push websites associated with brands.
This is one of the ways they can tell spammy sites apart from genuine websites that represent real businesses/credible sources of information.
If you focus on picking a branded domain, over an exact match domain that looks as though it’s trying to game the system, you’ll find that it’s easier to get good rankings.
Now, at this point, you might be wondering if it’s a good idea to go with a .com domain or a domain that represents a certain country.
Generally, it’s a better idea to go with a .com domain.
This is mostly because you have a lot more freedom with a .com domain.
If you pick a domain associated with a certain country, you can still achieve rankings in other countries. But it can be a bit more difficult.
After all, Google wants to provide people with relevant results.
If your website is associated with a country that is different from the country of the person performing the search, you could argue it’s not that relevant.
In fact, it’s not just me saying this — this is actually what Google is saying themselves –
With a .com domain, you don’t really have this issue.
Plus, as mentioned in the graphic shown earlier. If you pick a .com domain, you can actually go into the Google Search Console. And tell Google that you want to target a certain region.
This can then help you narrow down your audience if you’re trying to focus on a particular country.
Of course, if you change your mind later on, you can just tell Google you no longer want to focus on a specific country. And this will then help you reach a much broader audience.
Section #2 — Picking a Hosting Provider
Once you’ve picked a domain, you then need to think about picking a hosting provider.
There are many different hosting providers to choose from. And again, this isn’t really something you wanna overcomplicate — especially if you’re just starting with a small project.
That said, if your website is going to focus on a specific region, you might want to go with a hosting provider that lets you pick where your hosting servers are going to be located.
There’s some evidence that this can help your audience experience faster website speeds. And it might also help signal to Google that your website is associated with a particular region.
This could then help you rank better. Especially if your domain is a plain “.com” domain that isn’t associated with a certain region.
Section #3 — Make Sure Your Domain Has SSL
Once you’ve picked a domain and a hosting provider, you also wanna make sure your domain makes use of SSL.
We won’t go into this massively here. But SSL essentially means that your website provides users with an HTTPS secure connection.
So, to simplify, if you want a secure HTTPs connection, you’re gonna need an SSL certificate.
Google really values this, and they tend to penalize websites that don’t make sure of this.
In fact, here’s an official blog post from 2014, where they talk about HTTPs being a ranking signal.
Luckily, setting up SSL is kinda easy, as you just need to buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider.
SSL certificates aren’t that expensive. But if you’re on a budget, keep in mind that some hosting providers offer SSL certificates for free.
You might wanna keep this in mind if you’re on a budget. Because, to be honest, an SSL certificate is kinda non-negotiable at this point.
Section #4 — Picking a Content Management System
Once you’ve done the above, you then need to basically build out your site.
Now, when it comes to SEO, I think the best approach here is to pick a content management system like WordPress.
This is basically because WordPress makes things a lot easier when it comes to optimizing your site for SEO.
Plus, WordPress is really easy to use and customize. And this is really helpful if you lack technical skills when it comes to coding and things like that.
If you don’t know how to install WordPress, just contact your hosting provider. And they should be able to help you with this in under 24 hours.
Section #5 — Picking a Theme
Once you’ve installed WordPress, you then need to focus on picking a good theme.
So what counts as a good theme?
- It needs to look good
- Should be easy to use — aka it needs to provide a good user experience
- And it must load quickly
- It needs to be mobile-friendly
If you’re on a budget, you might just wanna go with a free theme. That is relatively simple and easy on the eye.
Or, if you’re happy to spend a little bit of money on a theme. But not a lot, you might wanna check out “themeforest.”
If you check it out, you should end up finding something that looks good, performs well, and is actually within your budget.
Section #6 — Installing Plugins
Once you’ve installed WordPress, and you’ve picked a theme. You then wanna install some plugins so that you can optimize the SEO side of your site.
Of course, there are tons of SEO plugins to choose from. And you’re free to check them all out if you want to.
That said, there are some that you’ll really wanna pay attention to.
Okay, so one really important plugin you might wanna use is called YoastSEO.
This is a SEO plugin that helps you optimize your content, web pages, and just your overall site so that you can achieve better rankings.
It’s really easy to use, and there’s lots of documentation on this plugin which makes it easy to troubleshoot issues.
You might also wanna install the “Sitekit” plugin from Google.
If you wanna track your SEO results, you’ll need to use some tools from Google. Such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console (which is actually something we’re gonna touch on later).
Anyway, if you wanna use these tools, you’ll need to install some code on your site.
If you install this plugin, it becomes really easy to install this code.
Because of this, this plugin is definitely a must-have.
Another plugin you might wanna pay attention to is the “smush” plugin.
This is a plugin that’ll compress the images on your site.
This is really helpful because it’ll help you speed up the loading times on your site — which is really important if you wanna achieve good rankings.
There are a ton of other plugins you can experiment with here, and honestly, each SEO person tends to have their favorite collection.
If you’ve got some favorite plugins, let me know in the comments, I’d love to learn about your favorites.
Either way, you should be able to get some good mileage from the ones I’ve mentioned here, so I wouldn’t worry about adding lots more.
Plus, if you add too many, it can sometimes slow down your site, and this is bad on the user experience side of things.
Section #7 — Setup Tools
Right, so the next thing you wanna do is actually set up some important tools outside of your website.
This step is really important if you wanna gather helpful data that’ll help you optimize your approach to SEO.
Now, for the most part, you really just wanna focus on Google Analytics and Google Search console here.
Google Analytics will help you track the visitors to your site. As well as how people are generally interacting and using your site.
For example, you can see the pages that are attracting the most traffic, and you can also see bounce rates.
This tool also helps you see where your traffic is coming from, in terms of actual geographical locations, but also in terms of online traffic sources.
So, it’ll tell you if your visitors are coming from Facebook, or an email newsletter and basically just stuff like that.
Google Search Console will provide you with data in terms of how people are interacting with your site in the Google search listings.
For example, if you use this tool, it’ll tell you about the kinds of keywords that lead to your website appearing in the listings.
So yeah, one’s kinda focused on just general website traffic, and the other is focused more on the SEO side of things.
If you wanna use these tools, you’ll need to actually verify that you own the site you’re looking to track with these tools.
Luckily, if you installed the sitekit plugin we mentioned earlier, this isn’t that hard to do.
Section # 8 — Submit Sitemaps
At this point, you wanna submit your sitemaps to Google.
Sitemaps basically give Google a good overview of your website, and they can help Google figure out what your website is about, all of which can help you rank better.
There are basically two steps you need to focus on here.
First, you need to create a sitemap.
If you’re using the YoastSEO plugin, you should be able to create a sitemap pretty easily. That’s because there’s actually a section in Yoast dedicated to this.
If you create a sitemap using Yoast, it’ll then provide you with a URL for the sitemap.
Once you’ve created your sitemap, you then actually need to submit it.
If you wanna do this, you then need to go into the sitemap section of Google Search console and provide the URL associated with your sitemap.
Once you’ve done this, you should then see a message telling you if the submission was a success.
Section #9 — Optimize URLs and Page Structure
The next step here is to just make sure your pages and URLs are optimized.
It’s important to optimize your URLs, because Google can often work out what a certain page is by looking at the content of a URL.
If you stick with the default WordPress settings, your URLs are gonna just look like random collections of words and numbers.
Of course, this can hurt your rankings, because Google can’t really do much with this.
Because of this, you wanna change things so that your URLs actually represent the content of a webpage.
Luckily, you can adjust the URL structure of your site by going into the “Permalink Settings” section.
You can find this section in the left hand sidebar in WordPress.
Anyway, if you go to this section, you can see that WordPress basically offers you a number of different options when it comes to URLs.
In most cases, the ‘Post name’ option is the best one to go with.
If you’re feeling brave, you can use the “Custom Structure” option, but you need to make sure you know what you’re doing here.
Note that, you don’t want to ‘over-optimize your URLs, and basically make things worse than the default setting.
Another thing I just wanna touch on here is that you wanna make sure you take a lot of care when it comes to page structure.
So, you wanna make sure you’re using the right H1 and H2 tags when creating your pages.
Again, this will help Google figure out what certain web pages are about, and this can also give Google a sense of what your website is just generally about as well.
All of which is gonna help you rank better for keywords that are related to your niche.
Section #10 — Testing Your Site + In-Person Feedback
Lastly, you might just wanna get people to use your site so that you can get some feedback.
This is really helpful, as other people might pick up on certain user experiences or design issues that you might’ve missed.
Now, there are websites that offer this as a service, but most of the time you can just get the opinion of a friend — if you just buy them drinks next time you go out, I’m sure they won’t mind helping you out with this!
By the way, if you’re worried you might’ve dropped the ball on something here, you might wanna book a free consultation call with me at juliangoldie.com.
While I tend to specialize in link-building, I often have to review client websites to make sure they cover some of the basic things mentioned in this article.
After all, if they didn’t, any of the links I build might not actually work that well.
So, if you’d like a second opinion, consider booking a free consultation call with me — and if you do this, we could even discuss how you can build links to your site as well.
Hopefully, you now have a decent sense of how you should set up and build your site for SEO.
Aside from the domain, it’s important to remember that you can pretty much adjust everything we’ve mentioned here, at any point in time.
So, basically, that means you don’t have to do everything we’ve covered, all in the space of one day.
Of course, you definitely still need to make sure you do the stuff we’ve mentioned, but if you wanna do things gradually over the course of a month or two, that’s perfectly fine.