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How to Prep Your SEO Strategy for a New Website

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How to Prep Your SEO Strategy for a New Website

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

From web development to branding and design, there are plenty of moving parts when launching a new website, but your SEO strategy shouldn’t be an afterthought.

In fact, your SEO strategy should be one of the primary considerations before you even start your website. To take things a step further, the best case scenario would be that your website structure is fully built based on the SEO strategy you already have in place. Doing this from the get-go saves lots of headaches for things like web development, content formatting and design, URL structures, and more.

So instead of fighting to make your website SEO-ready later on (which, trust me, is always an uphill battle), start with this holistic SEO checklist for new websites and save yourself valuable time and resources, and experience the beauty of good SEO (i.e. revenue) in a fraction of the time.

Why is SEO valuable for new websites?

New websites are like infants. They can’t comprehend language yet (no indexed pages), they don’t have many friends (no backlinks), and thus also have no authority (aka they can’t do much for society, yet).

As time presses on, Google starts to sniff out and apply changes as your website matures (assuming the SEO strategy is done right), and you’ll soon see that there are some big kids on the playground to contend with.

But don’t be afraid, all you need is a clever SEO strategy.

A baby website can start by focusing on longtail, low-competition keywords until it works its way up to toddler, then teenager, then full-fledged adult. Over time, with some tender SEO love and care, your new website can grow to compete and even overtake the strongest of competition.

So, if you’re ready to fast forward your baby website to an adult and beat the competition, just follow this SEO checklist for new websites!

1. Pick the right domain name (you can’t change it after!)

The right domain name is associated with SEO equity, so aligning your company and brand name with your domain name is critical. When you have a new domain, you’re essentially starting your SEO from scratch.

So, how do you find a domain name?

Here are some popular options to check if the domain you’d like to purchase is available:

Bonus points if your brand has a keyword similar to what you do as a business. It’s helpful, although not a must. If in doubt, choose a smooth brand name over a keyword.

2. Choose a high-speed website hosting provider

I personally recommend Siteground for its 100% uptime reliability, quick page time loads, and support (specifically for WordPress users). The host’s quality has a gigantic impact on your site’s performance, especially when it comes to a dedicated IP, SSD, HDD or other forms of storing, processor, and operational systems.

And, let’s be honest, the average Joe won’t wait longer than three seconds for a website to load, so ensuring an excellent host is the first step of your SEO strategy.

3. Set up Google Search Console

Google Search Console is like your SEO fairy godmother. It’ll provide you with tons of that that you need to achieve SEO success. With Google Search Console, you can check things like:

…and much more!

Google Search Console

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, make sure to verify your website in Google Search Console, so that it starts to collect data. You’ve got a few options to do this, which are outlined here.

Once you buy your domain name, Google Search Console is up and running, and you’ve got a speedy host, you’ve built the bare minimum for a website, and it’s now time to focus on developing your SEO strategy.

Quick note: at this stage, you may want to also consider adding Google Analytics to your website, as that is often the starter database for all of your marketing data. However, with recent updates regarding data privacy changes in the EU, I suggest not to rely too heavily on it and check for an analytics platform that matches your country’s customer data privacy laws.

4. Study your SEO competition

Once you’ve completed the essentials for your website, it’s time to study the competition. When analyzing and making a list of your competitors consider these questions:

  • How is their company similar to yours? How is it different? Check out their unique selling points.

  • What topics do they write about?

  • What keywords are they already ranking for?

One super important thing to consider here is your true “SEO competitors”. Every business has product and service competitors (people who sell similar stuff), but that doesn’t mean they have an SEO strategy that’s worth trying to outperform. The key here is to identify who sells similar stuff, writes similar content, and is piling up top keyword rankings. Those are your “SEO competitors”, and they’re who you want to beat.

Once you’ve identified your SEO competitors, it’s time to perform a keyword gap analysis. A keyword gap analysis uncovers the keywords you need to rank for in comparison to competitors, in order to close the gap. And with a bit of intentional filtering, you can indeed use this information to soon outrank them.

Here’s a snackable checklist to perform a keyword gap analysis:

  1. Add your root domain versus your chosen competitor root domains into an SEO tool like Moz.

  2. Review the competitor overlap and shared keywords.

  3. Export that into a spreadsheet and filter for the keywords that are relevant for your website (this is where the manual work comes into play, but it’s time that’s extremely well spent, especially because it helps you build your keyword map).

Keyword Gap

For more information on how to perform a keyword gap analysis with Moz, check out this guide and free template.

5. Research keywords and create your keyword map

Keywords are at the center of your SEO strategy, because they’re what connects search queries to your content listed in the SERPs.

Google’s goal is to use the keywords used in search queries to identify and present the most valuable information to searchers, otherwise known as “search intent”.

For example, let’s say you live in Los Angeles and you want to order delivery pizza, so you Google “pizza delivery Los Angeles”. Something similar to the image below pops up (though it can vary based on your search history and IP address):

Search Intent

As the searcher, Google has understood that your “search intent” was to order delivery pizza from businesses in Los Angeles, so the SERPs directly show businesses that match that criteria. Google uses that concept to match keywords with content all day, every day, no matter whether someone wants to buy pizza, compare CRM software, or find socks for their boyfriend.

A keyword is only as powerful as the search intent it matches.

Say you want to make some vegetarian dishes, but you don’t have all the time in the world to do it so you type “quick vegetarian dishes” into Google.

You tap the first one and find it takes two hours to make.

“Ugh! That’s not the one” you think to yourself.

You’re onto the next one and then the next.

Finally the third link down only takes 15 minutes to make.

“Okay, now we’re talking!”

If there are enough people intending to find a quick vegetarian meal and discover that the third option delivers on that “quick” part, then chances are that page will rank higher for intent and keyword matches and eventually overtake the first option.

Let’s now put this into context for your SEO strategy.

Search intent and the buyer journey

If you can uncover longtail, low competition keywords that exactly match what you’re selling, that’s your direct path to ensuring SEO has a major impact on your revenue and long-term profitability.

Understanding search intent plays a major role with buyer journey stages, so ensuring that you’re crafting content that’s appropriate for buyers in the awareness, consideration, and decision stage is crucial to carrying out the most effective SEO plan.

Buyers Journey

I often create SEO strategies for the B2B world, so understanding where the reader is in their decision-making process is crucial. If someone searches “what is marketing automation”, you wouldn’t want to give them a full-blown software landing page, because they’re probably not even ready to buy it yet. They just want to understand what marketing automation is. That’s where SEO comes into play and provides that informational content in order to build up brand credibility — emphasis on the “informational” part there. When done correctly, that same reader will come back to you when they’re ready to buy.

As with all things in marketing, being helpful is always more successful than aggressively trying to sell something to someone who isn’t ready.

So when choosing keywords, you’ll need to consider both search intent and the buyer journey by asking questions like:

  • Does the keyword truly match my product or service?

  • Does the keyword match questions that customers have asked (or might ask) throughout their buying journey?

  • What is the keyword’s difficulty? (level of competition to rank for that keyword)

  • What is the search volume of the keyword?

  • What page types appear in the SERPs for this keyword? (blog vs landing page vs home page)

The number one SEO strategy essential: your keyword map

At AS Marketing, we make this keyword selection process simple by using an SEO playbook to create a keyword map, which ultimately becomes the content strategy for new websites:

Step 1: We review where the website is now in terms of what’s ranking, what the top pages are, and create benchmarks for key SEO and website engagement stats. With a brand new baby website, this probably zero, but that’s ok, because this playbook also turns SEO zeros to heroes!

Step 2: We do a keyword gap analysis based on top SEO competitors, expand on the keyword list with our own keyword research, and then create a website structure that can achieve the desired business goals. If we know where the website is versus where it wants to be, we can strategize to make that happen. We also consider how users will find content coming from Google organic search as well when searching around on the website, so we always strive to find a balance.

Step 3: We then build a thorough keyword list that spans across the entire buyer journey, including all relevant product or service keywords and organize that into the main content verticals (content that scales and compounds organic search volume over time). Content verticals are often website sections such as industry pages, the blog, use case pages, product pages, and more.

Step 4: Now it’s time for the keyword map – the most important part of your SEO strategy. When creating this map, we cluster keywords (put related keywords into groups), so we know exactly what pages to create in terms of landing pages, blog articles, services pages, or collections and products. Importantly, we’re also getting aligned on the most efficient keyword for a website to try and rank for. Once we know this, we write out the URLs, headings, meta data, and more.

To give you a better idea, here’s an example of a keyword map in a spreadsheet:

Keyword Map

Now comes the fun part, building out your content calendar and breathing life into your website.

6. Build a strategic content calendar (and keep posting)

When done consistently and with intention, a strategic content calendar naturally attracts customers and helps you rank for keywords.

Here’s how to build such a content plan:

  1. Prioritize sections of your keyword map: You might well end up with a keyword map that spans 100+ pages. This is actually a good thing, as it means you have a lot of space to accumulate organic traffic (remember, even multi-million monthly traffic websites like HubSpot began with zero!). To start, you’ll want to prioritize pages that your website needs right away, such as product or service pages, as those have the highest likelihood to result in conversions and generate revenue for your business.

  2. Optimize your content: Writing content that ranks does take some best practice flex. Don’t forget to use keywords in the H1, URL, and metadata. If you’ve truly matched keywords with search intent, this comes naturally through writing anyways – keyword stuffing be gone!

  3. Track your keyword rankings: Once you publish content, keep an eye on how it’s performing. Even if you start out way down at the bottom, content can absolutely move up over time as Google perceives your content to be trustworthy, you provide a good user experience, and your Domain Authority increases. Patience is a virtue here!

  4. Post consistently: In order to improve those last three points, you need a consistent publishing schedule. There’s no one exact number, but I often recommend at least 4 new website pages per month. Remember that SEO has a compounding effect, so the more individual pages rank, the more likely it is that content across your entire domain ranks.

7. Ensure an optimized URL structure

I mentioned putting keywords in your URL briefly above in the content calendar section, but I’ll mention it again, because it is super important for ensuring that your content is being set up properly.

Here’s how this works with a fictional website:

  1. www.catsinabag.com is your official domain

  2. www.catsinabag.com/blog/ is the URL for your blog, in which /blog is the parent page

  3. www.catsinabag.com/blog/cat-food-for-cats is the URL for a blog article focused on ranking for the keyword “cat food for cats”

In the words of Rand Fishkin, “if there’s other keywords you haven’t used, or URLs you haven’t targeted with certain keywords, you do so during this process. This way you’re covering your tracks, making certain there are words and phrases that are covered early on.”

Also remember that URLs are permanent, so changing one is like starting any SEO attached to that URL from scratch. It’s always best to choose a URL-friendly system and stick with it to avoid any sudden drop in organic traffic or rankings. And if you have to update them, be sure to redirect the old URL to the new one, so any backlinks attached to it don’t disappear.

8. Review Core Web Vitals and page experience

Just like you go to check your core vitals at the doctor, you should do the same for your website to steer clear of any unnecessary issues.

Why does this matter?

Here’s my two cents as a seasoned SEO plus a bit of information from Google on their related algorithm update:

SEO has been around for a while. There’s tons and tons of content out there and more is being published every day. This means that Google is having an increasingly tough time differentiating who to give the top spots, so CWV and page experience are a way to differentiate the SEO winners and losers. SEO is no longer just about putting keywords in the right places, it now also involves content format, design, page load speed, as well as user behavior — like time on page and bounce rates.

In a nutshell, sustainable SEO success no longer ends with the click, you have to wholeheartedly satisfy your readers while they’re on the page in order to consistently rank.

The simplest way to review your website’s Core Web Vitals and site speed chops is to pop your domain into PageSpeed Insights.

While this is an extremely technical part of SEO, PageSpeed Insights quickly identifies errors and suggests how to fix them in plain English.

Here’s an example of what the results might look like:

Core Web Vitals Assessment

If you have a score that comes up as yellow or red, you’ll see suggestions you can show to your developer in order to improve.

9. Observe accessibility

Accessibility simply means how easy it is for users (and search engines) to access the information on your website. This element is taken into consideration as a ranking factor. You want an accessible site for everyone, right? Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your content is being indexed and crawled correctly, but you can also take these steps to ensure that happens:

  • Optimize alt text in images (for screen readers)

  • Use enough contrast (make sure your colors are easy on the eye)

  • Correctly label elements like buttons

  • Make your font size big enough to read

10. Promote, promote, promote

Whether for SEO or not, your website content shouldn’t just be published and sit there. The phrase “build it and they will come” is completely untrue when it comes to SEO.

You have put in the effort to create your content, so it deserves to be shown to your audience. Think about where you already have a strong presence and harness that. Maybe it’s on social media, YouTube, or your email list. Whatever the case may be, think about how you can use other channels to drive even more traffic to your website. This in turn improves your SEO, because the more people who spend time on your website, the more Google identifies that you have trustworthy content.

And if you aren’t getting the traction you hoped for when all your SEO efforts are said and done, you may even think about paid traffic for the first few months (after all, Google loves their money, and rewards those who pay). Doing this will help you to test your website design and content with pay per click visitors, so you can use this data to quickly adjust your SEO accordingly!

Now you’re set for SEO success

Ultimately, SEO is a marathon, and not a sprint. Your overall focus point should be laying down a strong website structure from the get-go, so you can scale easily and accumulate monthly organic traffic.

As you move along with your SEO strategy, continue to monitor and update so you can optimize for the best results. With ever-changing competitor strategies and trends, your SEO strategy should never be put in autopilot. Consistent hard work brings in consistent results.

Bam! There you have it – a bulletproof SEO checklist for new websites!


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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.



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