Setting up Your Site for SEO – The First Steps

Setting up Your Site for SEO – The First Steps

Setting up Your Site for SEO – The First Steps

I’ve been writing a lot of articles regarding CSS recently so I thought I would mix it up by talking briefly about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There’s a wealth of information out there giving away tips and strategies on how to rank well on search engines, but most jump straight into the “optimizing” portion of the formula.

What I would like to focus on today is the initial setup and technical aspects before even starting to optimize your site. What are the first steps? Let’s go over a few fundamentals of setting up your site.

Getting a Good Domain Name

Getting a good domain is getting harder and harder these days with millions of domains out there taken. One thing you have to consider is trying to figure out what direction you’re trying to take your site/company.

If you are striving for a brand image, then obviously your company name should be the domain name. But on the other hand, if you are trying to start up a site whether it’s an ecommerce site or a community site that you don’t necessarily need to associate with a brand, then you should be choosing a domain name with the keyword you are after. Domain Name Generators and Tools

Setting up a 301 Redirect to Avoid Canonicalization

One of the many things search engines don’t like is duplicate content. Having www vs. non-www. (known as Canonicalization by Google) can at times confuse search engines and it may penalize your site for duplicate content. You can avoid this issue by creating a .htaccess file to redirect the one you choose not to use. Include the following code into your .htaccess file. * Note that the .htaccess file should be located in the site’s main directory.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301]

To learn more about this, check out Matt Cutt’s article.

Setting up Your Site Map

In its simplest terms, a Sitemap is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that search engines know about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by the robot’s normal crawling process. You can use this nifty tool to generate a sitemap for you within seconds. »Download Site Map Generator

Setting up Robots.txt

Web Robots (also known as Web Wanderers, Crawlers, or Spiders), are programs that traverse the Web automatically. Search engines such as Google use them to index the web content. Web site owners use the /robots.txt file to give instructions about their site to web robots; this is called The Robots Exclusion Protocol. Although this may not really help your ranking, it’s a good practice to get familiar with. Learn more about robots.txt

Setting up Analytics to Monitor Your Keywords and Traffic

One of the best free online tools out there is Google Analytics. It not only allows you to monitor your traffic, but you are also able to see which keywords people searched to get to your site. Once your site starts picking up in search, this will be a handy tool to analyze your keywords to see which one is working best for you.

Setting up Google Webmasters Tools

The Google Webmasters Tool improve your site’s visibility in Google search results. It provides you with an easy way to make your site more Google-friendly. They can show you Google’s view of your site, help you diagnose problems, and let you share info with Google to help improve your site’s visibility in their search results. It’s very simple to set up!


These are the basics that you should probably implement in each of your sites. Optimizing for search engines can be a frustrating at times, but with enough patience and the right strategies, there is no body stopping you from ranking high in your keywords. For more tips on SEO, check out my previous article regarding SEO for Local Search. If you have some things you would like to add on to this list, please do!


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