If you want to create a website yourself, please read this summary first. It can save you from making structural mistakes it will be time-consuming and expensive to recover from. Of course, we’d be happy to create a website for you!
1) Get Clear On Your Target Audience
Before you produce a single word of content, it’s wise to think about who you are creating a website for. Beyond their basic demographics (gender, location, age, etc), give some thought to their psychographics:
- external influences
- emotional associations
- purchase preferences
- sources of gratification
- preferred interaction tone (formal, casual, quirky…)
2) Identify What Problem(s) You Can Solve For Them
Your prospective website visitor will leave unless you entertain, inform, intrigue, inspire or assist them.
When you create a website for your business, this is heavily weighted towards assisting. They’ve arrived to get a problem solved, so give some thought to which problems you can solve, and make your initial communication with them about that. Above the fold (without scrolling), your Home Page has to address the problems you solve and draw your visitor in. This has to happen in only a few seconds, or they’ll bounce (leave), and try another site.
3) Do Keyword Research
Identify at least three words or phrases you think your prospective visitors will be searching for on Google. You want traffic on your site from search, so you need to design from the very beginning to get it. Go to Google’s Free Keyword Tool and research your keyword ideas. See how much traffic in your area there is. See whether the competition for that traffic is high.
4) Get a Domain Name
It’s a good idea to include an important keyword phrase in your domain name, if you can. That’s why we did keyword research in the previous step. It should be an exact match. Your chances of getting search traffic are much higher if you choose an exact match domain name when you create a website.
For example, let’s say you want to create a website for Wildrose Medical. Wildrose medical is a walk-in medical clinic. You find out that both “wildrosemedical.com” and “wildrosemedicalclinic.com” are available. Even if the exact business name is “Wildrose Medical”, you are much better off with the domain name that includes the exact keyword phrase “medical clinic”.
In fact, it’s fine to leave out the business name and focus on the high-traffic keyword phrase, in many cases. Your business name does not have to be part of your domain name when you build a website.
5) Get Website Hosting
Before you can choose a hosting service and set up a hosting account, you need to decide on the best technology for your website. Today, there is an easy choice if you run a small business. For many reasons, your best choice is what is called self-hosted WordPress. Do not confuse this with wordpress.com, which is not appropriate for a business. I recommend that you purchase Linux hosting. This is a bit confusing, if you’re on Windows, since many people think if they run Windows on their machine they should purchase Windows hosting… Not so. For WordPress hosting, Linux is a better and more secure choice.
Self-hosted WordPress means that you get the free WordPress software from wordpress.org and install it on your own hosting service. In choosing a hosting service, you’re looking for several factors:
- A reliable host with good uptime (availability) statistics
- 24/7 telephone support
- WordPress support and easy WordPress installation
- Reasonable fees
- Sufficient online storage
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Email accounts included
I install all of my sites on hosting through Website-Growth, which offers all of these features.
6) Install WordPress
If you’ve chosen the right hosting service, installing the basic WordPress software is pretty straightforward. Our hosting, above, has an automated WordPress installation that walks you through the process when you want to create a website. Be sure to write down all access information, including user names and passwords, even if you’re not clear on what it means.
7) Get a Quality Theme
WordPress comes with a couple of free Themes, and many more are available on the web. Themes are similar to “templates”, but much more flexible. Themes help control the look, feel, website layout and operation of your site, but most are quite customizable. Be cautious about “free Themes” unless you get them from a reputable source such as wordpress.org, as they can contain malware.
Premium (paid) Themes generally offer more features and flexibility than free themes. For example, there are premium themes that will allow you to build a site that is optimized for mobile phones and tablets as well as for regular computer access – all in one. For a business, the small cost of a Premium Theme is a very good investment when you’re creating websites. Choose poorly, and you’ll have to do it over again. We offer professional advice in choosing themes appropriate to your business.
Be sure that your chosen Theme supports any specific features you need, such as video in a slider, a sortable portfolio, or even color customization. It’s very frustrating to create a website and then realize an essential feature isn’t available.
8) Create a Content Plan
It’s a very good idea to map out your major pages and plan your content before you create a website. Mindmapping software is excellent for this. There is free mind-mapping software available on our Resources page. See below for a simple example.
A professional website plan is more complex, and focuses heavily on pages named with researched keywords, to optimize your website architecture for search traffic.
9) Build Content Pages
“Content is King“, they say, and certainly Google loves good, original content. Never copy content or articles from other sites onto your site. Never use article builder software that automates article creation… you will end up with a website that may be penalized by Google and will show up poorly in search. If you’re not a writer, consider creating video or audio files… but if you do, get them transcribed so that text also appears on your site. Google indexes text for search, so you need it to get traffic. You can also hire excellent copywriters to produce articles for your site, or do a rough draft and then get it edited.
One way or the other, today your site needs good content to get good traffic. It also needs content that is regularly updated, which is why having a blog on a business site makes sense. WordPress provides the ability to add a blog automatically when you create a website.
Finally, planning content that there is good search traffic for, particularly if the search traffic is related to your main keyword phrase(s), is a powerful strategy when you create a website:
10) Add an AutoResponder
The number-one thing most businesses wish they’d done sooner on their website is to build a mailing list. An Autoresponder is a service that helps you build and maintain a mailing list while complying with anti-spam laws. It gives you the ability to automatically send email in response to an action, such as someone subscribing to your website. I use AWeber, which is widely recommended because of their deliverability statistics… emails sent by them get through, instead of getting caught in spam filters.
Tip: A Subscriber Bonus Helps When You Create A Website
It’s a good idea to offer a benefit for subscribing, above and beyond “get our newsletter”. Check ours out – if you subscribe, our Autoresponder will immediately send you our “Small Business Marketing Self-Assessment”, and you’ll get other goodies as well.
11) Set up Site Analytics
Google Analytics offers free visitor tracking for your website, with a detailed breakdown of many useful metrics about how visitors found your site, how long they stayed, how many pages they viewed, and what content they found most interesting. It’s a “must-have” when it comes to improving your site and site traffic, and if you set it up immediately when you create a website, you can track your site traffic growth from the very beginning. There are also paid Analytics systems out there.
12) Set up Plugins
Plugins are extensions to WordPress’ base functionality. Many are free, and perform essential tasks such as backing up your site automatically. Premium (paid) Plugins are used to create membership websites, or sophisticated shopping carts. Usually Premium Plugins fulfill complex tasks for which support may be needed.
13) Set Up Widgets
Widgets allow you to control the content and appearance of your sidebars and footer. Each WordPress Theme comes with a basic collection of Widgets. Some (usually Premium Themes) offer additional ones. Widgets can be used to display Categories, Recent Posts, Archives, and perhaps things like a Twitter Feed or Signup Form. When you create a website with WordPress, be sure to play with the Appearance, Widgets setting until you like the appearance of your website sidebar(s).
14) Create Internal Website Links
Part of on-site SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is creating links from one part of your website to another. This includes the navigation system, the sidebar and footer links, and links on specific pages and posts. These links should be Anchor Text links. This means that if I want to send you to my Testimonials Page, I create a link on the text, as I just did, rather than giving you the raw page address as http://outcomemarketing.com/testimonials.
15) Add On-Site SEO for each Page and Post
Every Page and Post on your site needs a unique Title and Description. Unless it’s part of your Theme, you’ll need a Plugin like All-In-One-SEO to be able to do this. Adding Keywords to each Page and Post is also wise, since even though Google doesn’t read the Keywords tag, other search engines do.
Taking the time to add these (or hiring us to do it for you), will definitely improve your search engine traffic. If you purchase a website creation package from us, we train you in doing this yourself.
16) Promote Your Site
You’ve built it, but it’s not enough just to create a website. You now have to come up with a process for promoting your new website. This means adding it to business cards, to all printed materials, and making sure your website is mentioned every time you advertise your business. It’s very important to get your SEO done right, as we’ve mentioned, since search engines are a major source of traffic which may become customers. Social Media offers excellent opportunities to promote your website and your business. It’s also important to register your site with business directories and set up a Google+ page for your business, with a link to your website.
As you can see, there’s a lot to creating websites… but they are indispensable to marketing in today’s world. If you want some help learning how to build traffic to your site, we’ll teach you… or do the work for you if you’re too busy.
17) Maintain Your Site
Site maintenance includes ensuring backups are done regularly, updating WordPress versions, updating Plugins, and handling incoming visitor comments (if you allow them). Periodically post revisions and comment spam should be removed from your WordPress database, and your database optimized. All of this is something you can easily do yourself – or outsource to us if you prefer.
Finally, keep improving your website! A website today is not a “set and forget” marketing tool. Your visitors expect to see updated content, and Google will reward you for it with better search results.
Remember, if you decide you don’t want to create a website yourself, we create excellent business websites for a very reasonable fee, and include training in how to update them yourself.