Anyone can create a website. You can literally have a page up in ten minutes. But it takes much finesse and planning to lay the foundations for success.
You want to get found. You want to be understood. You want a following.
What should you do first?
1.) Market Research
- Find your niche – Mass marketing is dead. In most cases, it’s far more worth it to really find that specific group of customers that matter.
- Determine your site objectives -Is it purely for exposure? Is it an e-commerce site?
- Determine the tone and editorial style – What’s your brand? Whatever it is, consistency is key.
- Do keyword research – this is the best way to see what keywords marketers are bidding on and is probably worth targeting.
- Find or buy the appropriate domain/domains
2.) Build a site map
- Create a site map. Consider siloing. – You can build this on anything -Excel, by hand – whatever works.
- Create page titles. – Preferably after you’ve mostly visualized the silo and done keyword research.
- Find hosting to match your projected needs.
- If you haven’t bought a domain yet now is the time.
- Decide on your content management system. – We recommend WordPress for general-purpose sites.
- Create content according to your planned styles and silo maps!
- Build a real-world presence – even if it’s just business cards or flyers in the right place.
- Build links with caution.
Wait, so that’s it?
That’s the bare minimum you should be doing. We’re painting all in broad strokes. There are many different ways to do each of those items.
What makes a good site? (from most to least important)
3.) Loads Fast
4.) Reinforces your brand
- WordPress – There are other options, sure. But compared to other choices, WordPress is infinitely simpler to customize through both plugins and CSS, thanks to an active and ever-growing community of developers.
- Google Analytics – Again, there are other options, but Google is still king and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future.
- Google keyword planner – If you’re looking for topics to target, this is the place.
- Google Trends – Discover…trends.
- Google / Bing Webmaster Tools – check these places often for essential developments. You don’t want to be surprised with penalties for something that was totally above board a month ago but now isn’t for some reason.
- gtmetrix.com – Load speed is one of the few areas you actually have some control over. Check these guys out for a free speed test.
Recommended WordPress Plugins:
- Yoast SEO – has most of what you need to run things.
- JetPack – loads and loads of great features, from auto-sharing to analytics. Arguably the only plugin you need.
- W3 Total Cache – a simple way to optimize load speed, a factor you could control.
This is all to help you get started. This will not contain all the answers, but if you were confused, this should take you in the right direction.
What other tools or advice can you recommend? Comment below!