The thing about SEO is that it takes time to get it right — then it takes even more time for that work to pay off. Using both on-page and off-page techniques will bear fruit in the long run, leading Google to recognize and rank your site properly, but it’s undeniably frustrating to endure that wait. When you launch a new site, you want that site to succeed quickly.
Due to this, it’s reasonable to wonder if you need to wait. Can’t you speed the process along? Isn’t there a way to jump the queue? Well, there’s good news here, but there’s also bad news. The good news is that you can get things going faster than you might have assumed. The bad news is that you’ll still have to wait.
So can a new website rank well on Google? It’s very unlikely, even if you’re targeting a niche with relatively-little competition, but there are things you can do to improve your fortunes. In this post, we’ll look at some factors you should focus on.
Let’s get started.
What are the most important ranking factors?
For those who aren’t already familiar, ranking factors are the criteria employed by Google and other search engines to select the most relevant results for search queries. When your site is live and viable for indexing, search engine crawlers will explore it and attempt to gauge the quality and relevancy of the content for central keywords.
To get ranking quickly, then, you should prioritise the most important factors. Here’s a short list of those worth concentrating on right away:
With each passing year, site speed becomes more important: average loading times go down, user expectations increase, and search engines get more justified in penalising sites that lag behind the times. It’s also something over which you have absolute control. If your site loads sluggishly, you’re entirely to blame.
So what must you do? Here are the keys:
- Commit to minimalism. If you’re not sure if a particular piece of media is worth including, don’t include it. If you can’t fully justify the use of a given plugin, leave it uninstalled. A desire to stand out can push you to make your website complicated but resist that impulse (draw inspiration from the Awwwards). The more elaborate you make your site, the slower it’ll load, and the accoutrements likely won’t add enough to the UX to warrant that. Keeping it simple and easy to use is the way to go.
- Invest in scalable hosting. New websites typically mean low budgets, and the desire to save money can lead you to settle for mediocre hosting. A smart middle-ground solution is to opt for a service that can easily scale: that way, you can simply pay for additional performance when traffic starts to rise. Cloud providers geared towards eCommerce hosting (Cloudways, for example) are ideal for this.
- Measure against SERP rivals. How fast does your site need to be? There’s no such thing as a perfect score, so you need to know when you can stop treating site speed as a priority. The best way to figure this out is to take a close look at how other sites ranking for your target keywords are performing. If your site is performing on par with them (or outperforming them), you can confidently proceed.
Yes, picking the right keywords to target is one of the keys. You can have a fantastic website with exceptional content and backlinks, but if you’ve picked the wrong keywords then you won’t be able to rank well. You need to think about relevancy and competition. Is your content truly worthy of ranking for the keywords you’ve used? And is it more worthy than the other sites already ranking for those keywords?
To some extent, you need to proceed with a willingness to discover keywords, as paying attention to your results in Google Analytics and Search Console will give you invaluable insight into the terms you’ve started to rank for. Your objective should be to identify a sensible selection of short and long-tail keywords and then optimise your content for it.
The best way to make fast progress is to build your website around some keywords that barely have any competition. It’s tough to find such a niche, and the resulting traffic won’t be worth that much, but you can win first-page rankings if you take this route. Just make sure before you begin that it’s a feat worth accomplishing.
All tips and tricks aside, you won’t be able to rank (whether in the short term or in the long term) if your website doesn’t offer relevant high-quality content. The better you can make your content when your website launches, the more likely Google will be to reward it with decent placements. So what does great website content look like?
Consider the following:
- Though imagery can slow a website down, it’s no less essential as an indicator that your content is in-depth, well-researched, and high-value. Take the time to pick out some decent shots (even if they’re only stock images from Pixabay) and add alt text to help search engines understand what they’re supposed to convey.
- Page structure. Headings are vitally important for sending signals to search engines about what your content means. Each page should have an appropriate title with an array of headings clearly making the roles of the sections. H1s, H2s, H3s… And when you word the headings, be sure to work in relevant keywords.
- Keyword density. Some people go way too far with keyword optimization, stuffing their posts with keywords until they’re almost incomprehensible. This is horrible for readers, of course, but it’s also bad for search engines that are increasingly likely to penalise such tactics. Conversely, you can be too fixated on sounding natural that you end up leaving out important keywords. Your aim should be to find a nice area between those two extremes: using keywords when they’re entirely relevant.
Google doesn’t just consider the quality of your website as determined through its crawlers. It also looks at how other websites link to it. In fact, backlinks are hugely important for ranking: if you can get some links from high-authority domains, you can see a massive improvement in your ranking potential. It’s all about the perceived endorsement. If a trusted website known to have quality content links to your site, it’s a sign that yours is good too.
So how do you pick up backlinks? Well, you should acquire them over time through general promotional efforts, but getting them early on is significantly trickier. What can you do to promote the launch of your website? You could write a press release, but it’s hard to make such a thing engaging — so why not create an eye-catching infographic and let people post it on their websites in exchange for links to yours? Do what you can.
How long does it take a new website to rank?
As noted in the intro, you need to be realistic: a brand-new website isn’t going to rank superbly right away. But if you focus on the ranking factors mentioned above and follow the suggestions we’ve made, you should be able to get results faster than the average site, picking up significant organic traffic within months. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get results — so get moving!