Wondering how to get started with growing a website? For most people, it's not the actual creation that causes problems, but where to go from there. It's easy enough to cobble together a basic website, but now what? Google rankings aren't going to come overnight, so what do you do next?
I've created so many new sites now that I've got it down to a formula. I've also seen countless others start new sites, which gives me a unique insight into what works and what doesn't. Over this post, I'll share those insights with you.
Back up a second. Let's make sure we're on the same page. Before you can move forwards with your website's first weeks of existence, you'll need to make sure it meets some basic criteria. There are some “backbone” pages that every site needs, and you'll want to get them done first:
Basic Website Requirements
These are the first pages I create on any site I make. Every Human Proof Designs site comes with these pages ready for you to fill in the blanks.
Google looks for these pages on most sites, and while they aren't a huge factor, having them will help you give the right first impression.
Basic Page Requirements
- “About” Page – It's up to you what you write on it, there are no rules. Write what your site is about!
- “Contact” Page – It's amazing how difficult it is the find the ‘contact' section for some websites. Don't miss out on this. You can set up a simple contact form in WordPress and have entries emailed to you. We use contact form 7.
Those pages, in addition to a home page (whether it's a static page or blogroll) are the basic requirements and the first thing I set up on every site. There's no rule on how long the content should be, write what you need to.
Basic Website Navigation
Make sure your site makes sense and is easy to use. Stick a menu up in the top bar. You can use drop-down menus to help organize things (try to keep it to one line), and if you have a blog, you can drag categories into the menu too. Look at how the menu is organized here at HumanProofDesigns to get a good idea, or check out some of the menus on our sites.
You can also add a “pages” menu to your sidebar if you wish, and add things to a footer menu. Typically I put legal stuff in the footer menu, and my core pages in the main menu with catchy labels. Keep labels short and enticing. “How to XYZ” is probably a bit long.
To learn more about creating menus, check out this video.
Homepage: Blog Posts Vs Static Page
It's really up to you whether you have a “static” non-moving page or a list of your latest posts. We set up our affiliate marketing niche sites with a blogroll because we want to keep the homepage fresh, alive, and engaging. For some business websites offering a service, a static page might work.
That's It! Once you've got those basic pages and navigation set-up, you're done and ready to grow your site over the next few weeks.
Step One – What Should I Do Now?
So you're set up and ready to go. What now?
Now you've got to start adding interesting content to your site. The best way to do this is with a blog post. Let's say your site is about dating after divorce or some other niche topic. What sort of things can you write about? Make a list:
- How to recover from divorce with dating
- How to date around kids
- Meeting other single-parents
- Dating tips for older couples
..I could write this list forever, and whatever your site topic is about, this is where you want to start.
After you've got a list of topics (try to get 10-20 first), do some keyword research. Based on the keywords you find, try to construct your first few articles. Maybe you find a good set of keywords around how parents can go on dates, while also managing being dating. Things like “Tell your kids you're dating” and so on.
These ‘keywords' are search terms a lot of people are looking for information on. Put together a few related terms that people are searching for, and construct the outline of your first article.
How are you going to answer these questions? What information do you need to give? What is the general theme of the article?
More importantly? What topic is my article TITLE going to be?
It used to be true that you just need to choose a keyword for your title and then write the article naturally. Now, you don't necessarily need to use the keyword as your title. As long as your article handles the topic of a few related keywords well, and really provides useful information for those searching for it, you'll be fine.
I've spent a bit too much time talking about keywords so I'll move on now. If you still have any questions, write them down below. No question is too silly here, keywords are an important topic.
Learn more about choosing keywords here.
Step Two – How Many Articles Should I Create? How Often Should I Post?
You want to go for consistency right from the start, so try to figure out what sort of frequency is going to be good for you. I recommend two to three times a week for the first three months. That's around 24-36 articles in total. Don't worry, it gets a lot easier. Some of them will be shorter than others by necessity, write the main long ones first and then stick to smaller topics.
What you really want to make sure is that you are consistent and spaced out. Why?
1.) You don't want to burn out.
2.) It takes time for Google to index you and re-visit your site looking for new content. There's no point throwing up 10 pages in a week then doing nothing after that. Google will think you've given up already.
3.) There are so many other things to learn, you'll want to use your extra time for studying. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated.
4.) You get to keep a close eye on how your site structure is coming along and what things you've missed out on, then take action accordingly. Once you've started writing, it's all too easy to lose track of things.
Step Three – Don't Do Anything Stupid
Like with humans, the early stages of a website's life are the most vulnerable. If your website appears terrible and spammy when you first present it to Google, you're going to regret it.
Don't be in too much of a rush to make money and plaster adverts and affiliate links all over your site. Equally, don't just throw up spun or rehashed content. Offer something new and write some good guides as your first articles.
Make a case for your existence online, add content gradually, share it with social websites, and blog naturally.
Step Four – Present Yourself To Google
After your website is a few days old and has some basic content on it, it's time to add it to Google Webmaster Tools, Analytics, and Authorship.
There are plenty of guides on how to do this at the respective websites. Don't neglect to do this, as it's what will help Google find you and make your site more official.
Step Five – Always Look To Improve
I'd say at least 75% of what I do online is learning how I can improve. Whether that's my content writing skills, my audience analysis skills, or general web mastery skills, I'm always trying to find ways to get better, and so should you.
There's so much for you to learn at the beginning, it's no wonder many people choose to get started with one of our ready-made sites. Shameless plug aside, you're going to need some help, and there are countless places you do this.
Here are my top three places for you to get training and improve:
1. Wealthy Affiliate – Everything from simple blog creation to more advanced selling techniques. Can get started for free.
2. Copyblogger – Excellent copy/content writing website with some outstanding free e-books available.
4. First Site Guide – Useful resources on this page.