SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. When starting with a new website, the process of optimizing it for search engines can seem daunting, but it can be broken down into strategic steps. Initially, establish a strong foundation with keyword research, content creation, on-page SEO, technical SEO, and building backlinks.

Understanding SEO Basics

Before diving into the details of SEO, it’s crucial to have a broad understanding of its main components. SEO is often divided into three main categories:

On-page SEO: It involves optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic. This includes optimizing content, title tags, headers, meta descriptions, and images.

Technical SEO: This focuses on non-content elements of your website. It includes strategies to improve a site’s backend structure and foundation, like site speed, mobile-friendliness, indexing, crawlability, site architecture, structured data, and security.

Off-page SEO: This refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs). This primarily relates to building backlinks, be it through natural link acquisition, manually reaching out to bloggers, or the practice of backlinking.

Keyword Research: The Foundation of SEO

Before you begin optimizing your website, you need to know what you’re optimizing for. Keywords are the foundation of SEO; they are the search terms that users enter into search engines.

Choosing the Right Keywords

Start by brainstorming the topics relevant to your new website. Think about the kinds of questions your potential customers might be asking and the search terms they might use. Once you have a list, use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to validate and analyze your keywords’ search volume, competition, and search intent.

Long-Tail Keywords vs. Short-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords, which are longer and more specific phrases, tend to be less competitive and more targeted than shorter, more generic terms (short-tail keywords). While they attract less traffic, the traffic is usually better quality because it’s more specific.

On-Page SEO Tactics

Once you have a list of keywords, the next step is incorporating them into your website in a way that can help improve your website’s visibility in the SERPs.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Title tags are the clickable headlines that appear in search results and are extremely important for usability, SEO, and social sharing. They should include your primary keyword and be no longer than 60 characters. Meta descriptions are brief descriptions that appear under the title tags in search results. They should provide clear and compelling reasons for why someone should click on your result.

Content Optimization

Content is king in SEO. Every page on your website should have content that’s valuable and relevant to your target audience. Use keywords naturally in your copy to ensure readability and avoid keyword stuffing.

URL Structure

A clean and simple URL structure helps both users and search engines understand what the page is about. Use hyphens to separate words and include relevant keywords in your URLs for an added SEO boost.

Optimizing Images

Optimizing your images is vital for speeding up your site and making it easier for Google to identify the images on your web pages. Make sure all your website images are compressed, have descriptive filenames, and include alt text.

Technical SEO: Optimizing Your Site’s Structure

Technical SEO is critical because it can determine whether or not your content gets seen.


Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing, which means it predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. You must ensure your site is mobile-friendly.

Site Speed

Website loading speed is a ranking factor. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights for recommendations on how to improve your website’s loading time.

SSL Certificate

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security technology that ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remains private. Installing an SSL certificate is essential for the security of your site and a trust signal to search engines.

Sitemaps and Robots.txt

A sitemap helps search engines find and index all the pages on your site, while the robots.txt file tells search engines which pages not to index. Make sure to have both properly set up from the start.

Crawl Errors

Utilize Google Search Console to check for crawl errors. This tool can alert you to any issues that Google encounters while trying to read your site.

Link Building and Off-Page SEO

Backlinks are a major ranking factor for most search engines, especially Google.

Natural Link Building

This involves creating high-quality content that’s valuable enough that other websites want to link to it naturally.


Actively seeking backlinks by reaching out to other website owners, bloggers, and influencers in your niche can be effective.

Guest Blogging

Writing articles for other relevant websites can help you build relationships and secure backlinks.

Local SEO: Targeting Your Local Audience

If you’re running a local business, it’s important to optimize your site for local search.

Google My Business

Create and optimize your Google My Business listing to show up in local search results and Google Maps.

Local Citations

Ensure your business is listed consistently across directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and industry-specific sites.

Tracking Your Progress

To understand how your SEO efforts are fairing, regular monitoring and analytics are key.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful tool to track how users are interacting with your website.

Google Search Console

This tool allows you to see which keywords are bringing in traffic, how your site is performing in the search results, and how many pages have been indexed.

Finishing Thoughts

SEOing a website from scratch involves a multi-faceted approach incorporating keyword research, technical SEO, content optimization, and off-page strategies. Remember to keep the user experience at the forefront of your SEO efforts; after all, what’s good for the user is often good for search engines. Patience and persistence are key. SEO isn’t an overnight success; it’s a long-term strategy that needs constant tweaking and updating. Keep learning, adjusting, and staying up to date with the latest SEO trends and you will see your efforts pay off in improved search engine rankings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the first steps to SEO a website from scratch?

The first steps to SEO a website from scratch include market research, identifying target keywords, and understanding your competition. Then, ensure your website has a user-friendly design and is mobile-responsive. After that, create high-quality, relevant content that includes your target keywords. Set up a logical site structure, optimize your meta tags (such as title tags and meta descriptions), and ensure your URLs are clean and descriptive. Finally, ensure your website has a fast loading speed and secure with HTTPS.

How do I perform keyword research for a new website?

Keyword research for a new website can be performed using tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz Keyword Explorer. Start by brainstorming topics relevant to your business. Then, use these tools to find keyword ideas, analyze the search volume and competition for these keywords, and pick the ones that are most relevant and have a good balance of traffic potential and competitiveness.

What is meant by ‘on-page SEO,’ and why is it important?

‘On-page SEO’ refers to optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. It involves both the content and HTML source code of a page (including title tags, headers, content, and internal links). On-page SEO is important because it helps search engines understand your website and its content, as well as identify whether it is relevant to a searcher’s query.

What are some best practices for creating SEO-friendly content?

Best practices for creating SEO-friendly content include understanding and matching user intent, using target keywords effectively throughout your text, and incorporating related terms and phrases. The content should be high-quality, original, and provide value to your audience. Also, structure your content with headers (H1, H2, etc.) for readability and SEO benefit, and include internal and external links to relevant, authoritative resources.

How does website structure affect SEO?

Website structure affects SEO as it helps search engines crawl and index your site more efficiently and provides a better user experience. A good structure makes it easier for search engines to understand the hierarchy and relationship between pages. It can also lead to sitelinks in search engine results, which can improve click-through rates. For users, a logical structure helps with navigation and finding information quickly, reducing bounce rates and potentially increasing conversions.

Why is mobile optimization important for SEO?

Mobile optimization is crucial for SEO because more people are using mobile devices to browse the internet than ever before. Search engines like Google use mobile-first indexing, which means they predominantly use the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking. A mobile-optimized site provides a good user experience, which is a factor in search engine rankings, and helps prevent common issues like unreadable content and incorrect element placement that can arise on non-optimized sites.

How can I improve my website’s loading speed for better SEO?

To improve your website’s loading speed, consider optimizing images, leveraging browser caching, enabling compression, reducing redirects, using content distribution networks (CDNs), and minimizing HTTP requests. Additionally, evaluate and streamline your code by removing unnecessary characters, comments, and spaces. You can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to analyze your site and get specific recommendations for improvement.

Why is link building important for SEO, and how can I do it effectively?

Link building is important for SEO because links are one of the main ways search engines determine the authority and relevance of your website. Effective link-building strategies include creating high-quality, link-worthy content, guest blogging for reputable sites, building relationships with influencers and industry leaders, and engaging in digital PR. Always aim for high-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites as these have the most significant impact on SEO.

How do I ensure my website is indexed by search engines?

To ensure your website is indexed by search engines, create a sitemap and submit it through Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. Also, make sure there’s no robots.txt file blocking search engine crawlers. Use the ‘Fetch as Google’ feature (in Google Search Console) to check how Google sees your content and request indexing directly. Finally, build a few quality backlinks to your site as search engines will often find and index your site by following links from other websites.

What are some common misconceptions about SEO?

Common misconceptions about SEO include the idea that SEO is a one-time task rather than an ongoing process, that keywords need to be an exact match without taking into account context or semantic search, and that SEO results are instant. Another misconception is that backlink quantity matters more than quality, and finally, that SEO is all about ranking for the number one spot, ignoring other important metrics like click-through rate and on-page engagement.

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Joe Fares

Founder of UltraSEOSolutions and a Digital Marketing Consultant, a great advocate of educating beginners on the competency of SEO, and helping small businesses dominate their niche. Joe is known for public speaking on SEO and online entrepreneurship, and has been awarded by Payoneer in 2017/2018, for being the most successful entrepreneur in the MENA region.