Create A Website: The Ultimate Guide (2021 Update)
By Rob Whaley – Last updated January 24th 2021
Everybody knows that to be a successful business person, entrepreneur or service provider that you must have a cutting edge website.
But what does ‘having a cutting edge website’ actually mean? How do you actually create a website and make it successful?
In this guide, I am going to show you exactly what you need to do step by step, to create an amazing website in 2021 without the need to know any coding, HTML or CSS jargon.
So if you are looking to up your website game this year, you will love this guide.
Let’s jump right in!
Chapter 1: Website Building Fundamentals: Who, What, Where, When & Why?
In order to have an effective web design there are many factors that must be considered.
Not only does your website need to be visually appealing, but also needs to function and be easy to use.
Websites with poor design and functionality have sub-optimal results, high bounce rates, poor time on-site aka dwell time and minimal conversations. Whether you are wondering how to create your website free of cost or how to make your own website for free, It is important that you begin in the correct way.
So Where Do You Start?
With a little planning, you can establish exactly what you are trying to achieve, who you are doing this for and what it will take to make your project a success.
I have listed below some key questions and starting points to help get you started.
What Are You Doing?
- It is important have to absolute clarity over your reason for wanting to build a new website before you begin.
- Are you creating a website for your business?
- Or is it to promote an idea, attract new clients or sell something?
- Are you wanting to build an online community around a certain way of thinking or living?
- Are you applying for a business loan and need a website to increase the perceived value of your business?
- Are you wanting to build a website for education purposes?
- Whatever your reason for having a website may be, it is critical to understand what your end goal and outcome actually is.
- So that you can remain on point and focused on the task at hand and giving your website the best chance of success.
Who Are You Doing This For?
Have you heard the saying “market to everyone, reach no one?
Well, this still holds true when it comes to website design.
Instead of making generic content that appeals to the masses.
it is much better to identify who the people are that are most likely to engage in your products or services that you have on offer.
And then craft your website content, sales copy and website strategy around this.
This process can also be known as defining your ideal “avatar.”
Answers to the questions below will really help you to identify who is and who is not your ideal customer avatar.
DEFINE YOUR IDEAL AVATAR:
Write down your ideal client/customer’s:
- Income level
- Education level
- Marital status
- Family size
2. Psychographic traits
How does your ideal customer/avatar think? What attitudes, values, interests and beliefs drive or motivate them?
For example, wanting to earn more income, wanting to live a sustainable living or healthy lifestyle, spending time with family and or donating to their local church.
While these traits can be a little trickier to get your head around, they will really help you to gain a deeper insight into who your ideal avatar is and what drives or motivates them.
3. Create a name for your avatar
By creating a name for your avatar it helps you to normalise the profile and create a human feel.
4. Give your avatar a face
What does your avatar look like? browse royalty free images and assign a face for your avatar.
5. Create a bio
Create a one-page document that tells the story of your avatar. Things to include would be their name, profile picture, bio and story.
6. Make a story
Put yourself in the shoes of your avatar and imagine you are the one that is purchasing your product or service.
What thoughts or feelings would they have experienced prior to discovering your brand and business?
What has led them to feel and think this way? What are they hoping to achieve or what problem are they looking to solve?
How would they have heard about you? After they have been involved with your products and services how are they likely to feel afterwards?
What language are they likely to use? Professional, casual/laid back or both?
Once you have identified who your ideal avatar is, you will have a much clearer idea as to what your marketing material, website and brand message should actually say.
This will give you the best chances of converting prospects into paying customers & clients.
Create a persona or avatar of specifically who you do and don’t want to market to or attract to your business. Do your research. Don’t just use your own personal opinion or viewpoint on who you think your ideal avatar is. Click here to learn more about creating your Avatar.
Why Are You Doing This?
Every company and individuals personal & business goals can be represented by three tiers:
1. What we do
2. How we do it
3. Why we do it
Most people know what to do: The job or role they get up for, the products & services they sell and what they have on offer.
Most even know how they do it: How they walk a prospect through the sales process and create a customer that pays, stays and refers others. And what their point of difference is.
But not many can clearly define why they do what they do.
The obvious choice here is to use money as your why or reason for doing what you do.
But you must understand that the accumulation of money is only a result.
If you focus on creating as much value and satisfaction for your customer’s or clients then it is only natural that they will be happy to reward you with their money but also naturally refer you to others.
The attainment of money is also only part of the puzzle.
What actually drives you to make money can be found by asking yourself questions such as:
What will having more more money mean to me?
will it create more time freedom?
Will it allow me to live a more luxurious lifestyle?
Will I be able to spend more time with my family & kids?
Will I be able donate money to others?
They key take away here is that the attainment of money is not actually the driving factor behind what it is that we are doing.
Finding your WHY is getting a deeper understanding of what not only motivates you but also what get’s you up out of bed each morning and drives you towards website & business success.
Once you find your “why” this will help you with understanding why you are wanting to build a website and also help to keep you motivated to complete your project. Even if that means getting up early or staying up late to complete project milestones. Download this guide by Simon Sinek to help you discover your why.
Chapter 2: Define Your Overall Website/ Marketing Strategy
Where will your website fit in to your marketing strategy?
How will your new website fit into the marketplace? How will you be competitive?
How will you ensure success?
Before you begin designing your website it is key to understand how your product or services benefit others and what your unique selling proposition is.
What makes you unique and sets you apart from your competition?
Your marketing strategy should be flexible & fluid.
And be able to change on demand to account for shifts in market conditions, demand for service and overall to be nimble and able change as required in order to make sales.
Once you have completed your market research you should then proceed to develop your marketing strategy.
To help develop a successful marketing strategy it is key you understand and incorporate the five P’s of marketing.
- Product: What product or service are you selling? How is it unique? How is it different than what is currently out there? What problems does it solve to make your customers lives better?
- Price: How much is it to own your product or be involved with your service? is your price competitive in the marketplace? Are your margins enough to ensure success?
- Place: Where will customers actually purchase your products and or services? Will they physically to have a consultation with you? Or will you design an online sales funnel with a designated online checkout facility to facilitate transactions?
What is the cost of order fulfilment? Will you have a refund policy?
- Promotion: How will you get eyeballs to your website and offers?Will you use offline marketing such as flyers & postcards to drive traffic online?Or will you solely rely on online marketing such as Google Adwords, SEO, social media advertising & PPC? Or a combination of everything?Which marketing strategies will you implement and what results to you expect from each one?
- People: Who are the people you need to ensure business success?What positions are they? (These can be receptionists, virtual assistants, sales people)What are their roles? (eg. lead generation, email outreach, generating revenue)What level of expertise or experience should each person have?
Having explored and asking yourself these questions will put you ahead of the game when it comes to successful website design.
It is key to understand exactly what you want your website to say and what result you want to achieve before your website has began the coding stage.
CHAPTER 3: HOW WILL PEOPLE FIND YOU?
What good is investing a great deal of time and money into a beautiful looking website, launching it and getting nothing but the sound of crickets?
There is nothing worse than anticipating a huge launch of your new website and only having your mum and dad visit.
Unfortunately the quote “if you build it they will come,” from Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner doesn’t apply when it comes to web design.
You must have a marketing plan in place before you launch your website so you are ready to begin your assault on the market from day 1.
Here are the top 10 ways people market their new website:
2. Using Google Adwords advertising to advertise for keywords that are relevant to your product or business. Check out Neil Patel’s guide on creating PPC campaigns for the first time.
|Ask yourself the below questions to really help to increase your sales and conversions.|
What do you want people to do once they get there?
What actions do you want your visitors to take?
Do you want them opt in to an online form with their email address and contact information?
Subscribe to your mailing list or newsletter?
Call a phone number or make contact? Or make a purchase through an online shopping cart?
You must also be mindful of how your customers are engaging with your site. How did they find you?
Was it through an ad on Google or social media? Or was it from a Google search?
Was it from a flyer and a particular advertising campaign you are running? Is your web visitor looking for something in particular?
As Elegant Themes explains, your website is competing for the attention of web browsers.
- For example if you are running an ad on social media for the best dog flea treatments in your local city, you want to make sure that your advert is sending people to a landing page.
- A landing page with the same images and branding as your advert about the best flea treatments for your dog in your local city.
- Not just your homepage which can be about a wide variety of products and services.
- The same can be said about about offline marketing.
- There is no point running a flyer campaign for the latest dog collar and sending prospects to a standard webpage.
- You must have a landing page that has the same images, branding, logo, copy and message that your offline advertising has.
- This will ensure your conversion ratio is at its highest and money is well spent.
CHAPTER 4: BUDGETING: HOW MUCH SHOULD A WEBSITE COST?
- Who you choose to host your website, email and domain name.
- Which CMS platform you decide to use and their associated costs.
- Whether you need to purchase royalty free images.
- The cost of hiring a designer and developer to build your new site.
- If you need custom imagery or a logo to be designed by a graphic designer.
- The cost of hiring a content writer to write copy and content for your new site.
- If you require additional software such as email marketing or the implementation of particular technology.
On average a website can cost anywhere from $95 all the way upto $30,000 depending on which features and options you choose and if or who you decide to hire. The saying “you get what you pay for” is a perfect fit.
The more flexibility and customisation you require the higher the costs will be, however if you are happy with a basic design with limited features and little to no customisation then you could be looking more to the less expensive end.
WHAT COSTS SHOULD YOU EXPECT?
1. Domain Name, Hosting & Email costs
- Domain name
Hosting costs can again vary depending on whether you are a using VPS hosting, a dedicated server, managed WordPress hosting or an affordable web hosting company such as Hostgator. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to hosting. You want to ensure that you choose a reliable hosting company, that has limited down time, is safe & secure and is extremely fast.
Hostgator’s pricing options:
- VPS Hosting starting from $19.95/month
- Dedicated Server starting from $119.00/month
- Cloud hosting starting from $4.95/month
- Web hosting starting from $2.75/month
- Managed WordPress hosting ranges from $35 – $290/month
- Email Hosting
But if you were looking for a stand alone email hosting plan such as Godaddy you can expect to pay between $4.99 – $24.99/month depending on what storage and options you require.
2. CMS Platform Costs
3. Royalty Free Images – Do I Need Them?
4. Web Designer and Developer Costs
5. Logos and Graphic Design Costs
- Logo Costs
- Graphic Design
- Graphic Design Costs
Prefer to do things yourself? Or perhaps you are on a budget?
Visme specialize in creating stunning presentations and infographics plus much more.
They are U.S. based and offer a free plan. Their paid plans are packed full of value and very well priced starting at just US $14/month.
6. Email Marketing costs & CRM costs
Aweber’s service starts at $19 per month (for up to 500 subscribers) to $149 per month (for up to 25,000 subscribers). If you have more than 25,000 subscribers, you would need to contact them for a quote.
All services are available for all plans — only the number of subscribers affect the price.
The webinar feature is not available on the basic email package that starts at $15 per month for a list of 1,000 subscribers.
If you have a lot more subscribers and want all the features, you can get the Enterprise plan for $1,199 per month (if you have 100,000 subscribers or more).
- Constant Contact
This email marketing program has been around for a while and is a great place for beginners.
It has a drag-and-drop functionality which many people new to the business would like. But once you’ve stepped up to the intermediate level, you might want to choose a different email marketing provider.
Although Constant Contact will provide your basic email marketing needs, it cannot match what Aweber, GetResponse and Mailchimp offers for the same price.
Unlike other popular email marketing programs that improved and diversified their features by adding some CRM functionality, landing pages and more, Constant Contact just stayed within the email marketing field.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, Mailchimp is a great choice.
They offer a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. That’s like sending 6 emails per person per month, which is actually a good average.
If you need to go over the 12,000 monthly sends limit, then you’ll have to sign up for the monthly plan that starts with $10 for up to 500 subscribers with no monthly send limit.
The price increases by $5 for every 500 subscribers.
- Infusionsoft (Keap)
Infusionsoft by Keap is a premium tool that offers everything from: Crm, payments, marketing automation, analytics, sales pipelines, integrations and online sales.
Many market leaders trust Infusionsoft for all their online marketing needs.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly and beginner-friendly email marketing software that is as powerful as others, Drip is one of the best choices.
It’s actually one of the newest ones in the industry, which means it has looked over the shoulder of other email automation programs and created one that can be easily understood and executed even by beginners.
Some of the things that Drip made easier are creating an email sequence, resending un-opened emails (with a different subject) and creating conditional logic (using Liquid).
Drip also has a visual editor which makes it easier for you to see how your email automation works.
But Drip goes over and above that and gives you a code so you can track a potential customer’s actions in your website.
So for instance your customer reads a couple of your blog posts about healthy dog treats, you know that they are interested in such products and related ones.
You can then send them a targeted email about such products you offer, increasing the chances of not only purchase but also providing value to your customer.
Drip’s basic plan starts at $49 per month for up to 2,500 subscribers at unlimited sends. The price increases by $50 for every 2,500 subscribers.
You can try it out for free for 100 subscribers.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software options & costs
CRM and Email Marketing tools are interconnected.
To be able to send the right message to the right customer at the right time, you need a combination of automation from your CRM to your Email Marketing tool.
This is why integration between programs are common (and why some email marketing tools and CRM programs are creeping into each other’s service offerings).
For instance, customers who abandoned a shopping cart are automatically sent an email asking them to complete their purchase.
Or someone who has already purchased one product or service will be sent an email about a different yet related item or service.
The customer continues to receive such emails or notifications based on their actions such as click, page view or purchase.
A CRM also allows you to separate and group your customers according to their needs, potential to purchase, transaction histories and more.
The cost of their services range from $25 to $300 per month. If you’re non-profit, you might even get it for free for life! All plans have a 30-day free trial.
- Infusionsoft (Keap)
Their basic plan pricing starts at $99 per month for only 500 contacts with limited functionality. The price increases as your number of customers increase.
They also have a $299 training fee, which was actually reduced from $1,999.
Project Management Software
Here are the most popular project management tools and their costs.
Like Trello, Asana has a drag-and-drop Kanban board capability.
But they took it a step further by providing project task maps and dependencies, so you can identify which tasks have been marked completed and which project (or person) is causing a bottleneck.
7. CONTENT CREATION COSTS
Your website would be pretty much useless if it does not have any content.
Remember that your customer will have to look through your site to see if what you are offering (your product or service) can solve a specific problem that they have.
Content creation can therefore make or break your business.
As such, you would need to find someone who’ll write the content for you – not just regular content, but GREAT content.
Just like when hiring a graphic designer, you can look for a freelancer in Upwork or Fiverr.
You can gauge a writer’s capability by offering a test project. They’ll get paid for their efforts and you won’t have to spend a lot to find out if their work’s acceptable.
For further reading on hiring writers, read this article by Hubstaff.
CHAPTER 5: DEFINE YOUR BUILD STRATEGY
Now that you know what tools you can use (and probably have chosen those that best suit your needs), and have mastered your domain, it’s time to define your build strategy.
Like when going out to war, you need to approach website building with the right tactics. Or else, how will you win? To succeed in your website and business goals, the following are the phases you need to strategize on:
PHASE 1: CONTENT STRATEGY
he most basic questions when creating a website are these:
- What do you want it to contain?
- What do you offer?
- Who are you targeting?
- What problems do they have that your service, product or information can help solve?
If you’re putting up a website for your B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), then it would make sense for your website to contain all the basic information about your products or services.
You need to list all your products/services, and map out how they relate to each other. This way, you can create pages and link them to each other based on their relationship.
This is where a mindmap can come in handy. It can also be helpful when sharing your brainstormed ideas with members of the team, so they can easily see the connection between ideas and topics.
1. What do you want your website to contain?
Do you want it to just show information about your business, or do you want it to be a platform for not just info but to also generate leads and business interest?
Sure, having a company website can help boost your brand, but pushing it further to become your venue for reaching and earning from your customers is even better.
In short, what is your website’s mission? If you know this, it’s easy to plan the next steps.
If you want your business to profit from using your website, you must have specific calls to action (CTA) for your consumer.
Here are some ideas for goals and CTAs:
- Do you want them to purchase? You need to have a Buy Now or Add to Cart button.
- Do you want them to contact you? Aside from a contact form, you must also tell them to contact you in every single page you have.
- Do you want to get their email address so you can contact them for offers? Create a subscription pop-up to get them to sign-up for a newsletter. Better yet, create a free offer that they can’t refuse so they’ll be practically begging you to have them sign up.
So just remember two things:
(1) know what your website’s purpose is, and
(2) tell your customers what to do.
Mapping Your Content
When talking about content, you need to have something similar to a Table of Contents in a book.
This is where a Menu comes in. It is the next best thing to a search button to help your audience find their way around.
The skeleton of your website is your Menu.
Once you know what your website’s purpose is and what actions you want your audience to take, chances are you are already running through a list of topics in your mind. However, you can’t put everything in the Menu, right?
Categorize your topics first, and under each topic, create subcategories as well.
For example, if you have a home improvement website, you can categorize your topics under Kitchen, Living Room, Bedroom and Garden/Outdoors. Under Kitchen, you can have something like Dining, Cooking and Storage.
Again, mindmaps are a huge help in this stage; though you can also use Excel or Spreadsheet if you have hundreds of topics in mind per category.
What do you offer?
To help your audience understand your service or product better, you need to tell them what it’s about.
Take note that aside from text, you can also use images and video presentations. Videos work great because many people are just plain bored of reading thousands of words of text.
There are two ways to inform your customers about your offer: an overview and an in depth guide. You would need both.
The first one, the overview, helps filter out your audience. If a person reads through the overview of your offer and finds that it’s something he need, then he will proceed to reading more about it. This is where the in depth guide comes in.
Who are you targeting?
If you know who your target market is, you can write better content.
Are you targeting business people who are into investments? Then your content must not only mention about investment opportunities, but must also have the right tone. Business people like second or third person writing style, and appreciate graphs and data.
This is in contrast to having a target market of homemakers and DIYers. They like reading articles in the first-person, and appreciate images and videos more than graphs and numbers.
The better you know your audience, the easier it is for you to find out and create a content style that resonates well with them. If you have different types of audience, you need to create a content plan specific for each of them.
Some websites even write the same topic multiple times in different ways, just to make sure every audience is catered to (and trust me, they reap the benefits of doing so)!
What problems do they have that your service, product or information can help solve?
It’s easy to say that you have this offer that has those features, but how exactly can you entice your audience to purchase your product or subscribe to your services?
The answer is by finding your audience’s pain points.
What is it that your product can solve?
Whatever industry you may be in, you are bound to have competition. When planning your strategy and creating your content, think about what sets you apart from them. What is your unique proposition? How can your approach or offer be different from the rest?
For instance, think about the tool Trello. You can say that it has an easy-to-use interface, has task cards that you can drag and drop, and allows you to upload files and images. These are the features.
What can using the tool solve?
Pain: You have a remote team that works different hours, how can you be sure the project is getting done?
Solution: Open Trello and get updated of the status of the tasks of your team members.
Pain: You need to get updated right now about a project because your client is asking for an update.
Solution: Open your mobile and see what your staff has completed.
Pain: You need to provide additional instructions right away.
Solution: Post a comment and it shows up to everyone in real time.
It is how your offer can make your customer’s problems go away (or at least be reduced) that you need to think about.
Once you have completed your Content Strategy, you can move on with the next phase.
PHASE 2: SEO STRATEGY
Even if you would like to rely on advertising to drive customers into your website, you must not underestimate the power of Search Engine Optimization.
With a great SEO strategy, you will be able to profit even without spending money. That’s a great Return on Investment if you ask me!
Granted, the results of your SEO efforts will not be evident within the first few months, maybe even the first year or so! SEO is a long process. But once you start reaping the benefits, there’s no turning back.
There are two types of SEO, and these are On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.
This simply means optimizing your SEO within your own website. These are things you can easily manipulate with your content and website.
- Keyword – you need to first identify the keyword or keyword phrase that you will use. We will talk more about finding the right keyword in the next chapter.
- Title Tag – your title is the most obvious signal that tells search engines what your content is about. Your keyword must be within the title. If you can do it, place the keyword at the beginning (or closer to the beginning) of the title tag.
- Post or Page URL – the URL also tells your audience (and search engines) what your article is about. If your URL contains dates and random symbols instead of actual words, your post will not fare well in rankings. Another best practice with URLS is to shorten them and make sure they contain your keywords. [show image of editing URL in WordPress]
- Subheadings – your title tag is equivalent to the H1 tag. Make sure you create additional subheadings within your article (H2, H3, H4 and so on). It would be best if they contain the keywords too.
- Keyword density – this is the percentage of times you repeated your keyword in relation to the total number of words within your article. Keyword density was all the rage in the past – no longer. People thought that having high keyword density was the trick to ranking first in Google, so they stuffed their articles with keywords. As usual, Google quickly got wind of it and penalized such websites.
So how dense with keywords should your article be? An ideal percentage would be 1% to 3%, as long as all the keywords are placed naturally.
Add your keyword in your first paragraph, and just use it as needed, never adding more than you should.
- LSI Keywords – latent semantic indexing, or LSI, is actually the next best thing to replace high keyword density. In simple terms, these are the related keywords or phrases that tell search engines the topic you are actually discussing in your post. The ideal number of LSI keywords depends on the length of your article. For 1,000 words of post, you should have at least two LSI keywords naturally inserted. Here’s a simple way to find LSI keywords.
- Outbound links to Authority Sites – don’t just place outbound links – place links to recognizable and authoritative sites. Google takes note of your outbound links closely. If you are an affiliate marketer and would like to place links within your posts, make sure they contain the “nofollow” tag to prevent Google from counting these links against you.
- Inbound links – while you’re at it, place links to related posts within your website. Not only will it reduce bounce rate, it will also increase your “good points” with Google. Make sure to use recognizable anchor keywords though, as this will also count towards the article you are linking to. If you are always using “click here” or “read this”, you are not giving your own articles recognizable inbound keywords. It’s ok to use these from time to time, but not always. It would be best to use the keyword you are trying to rank that article for.
- Image, Image Name and Alt tags – you must have at least one image in your post. This featured image’s name (and all other images in your page) must contain your keyword. Instead of the usual DCIM0001 numbering from your camera, change it to your keyword’s name before you even upload it. Once uploaded, make sure you add your title or even just your keyword in the Alt tag. Not only do these serve as identifiers for your topic, they can also provide additional traffic for when people search for images using a specific keyword in Google.
- Page Speed – although this has nothing to do with what’s written on your website, it is a very important factor for search engines. Think of it like this: how long do you actually wait for a website to load before clicking on the back button? I’m guessing not very long. According to Medium.com, 50% of your audience will leave if your page fails to load within 5 seconds. If it loads 10 seconds or more, expect only 10% to 15% of your audience to stay.
Google (and other search engines) would like to provide the best user experience, so they rank pages that load quickly higher in the search results.
Furthermore, if your audience leaves without even seeing you page load, that’s already a Bounce.
Bounce rate is also one of Google’s key indicators, so if you have a high bounce rate, say goodbye to your dreams of ranking higher.
It would make sense to use a good hosting provider and hire a reputable web developer for this reason alone.
Keep in mind that SEO is a combination of all these factors. It may seem overwhelming at first (there are several other minor on-page SEO items to add to this list), but once you get the hang of it, it will get easier.
To make things stress-free for you, you can utilize WordPress plugins that help you optimize your website’s SEO. The two most popular are:
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin in WordPress. And why not? Their content analysis tool is so easy to use that even newbies can become experts in on-page SEO in a day.
Yoast plugin gives you signals if your On-Page SEO for the specific post good enough. First, it asks for your keyword, then it tells you what part of the page you are missing them (remember what we talked about placing keywords in the title, subheading, image, etc?).
Second, it tells you if your work is readable enough. It identifies if you have written in the passive voice more than what is recommended, or if you have run-on sentences. You’ll have a chance to edit your article to make it satisfactory.
Third, it provides you the space to indicate your post description, social media images and description, plus more in one place.
All in all, Yoast tells you if your work is acceptable enough based on search engine standards. And though you are not required to follow all their suggestions, making sure that you get the “green” approval signal will make you feel happy enough to publish.
Yoast also includes other SEO-necessary stuff such as XML sitemaps, robots.txt and more.
This is the main competitor of Yoast SEO, with millions of active users and devout followers. This tool is a set-it-up-and-forget-about-it type.
Its set-up interface can seem intimidating for beginners, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle, especially with their detailed set-up guide.
Like Yoast, it has a meta box that allows you to input your meta title and description. It does not, however, have the blow by blow account of how you can improve your content unlike Yoast.
Some people like this simple quality of the All-in-One SEO Pack, but others prefer Yoast’s “commenting” on their content.
It does provide other necessary on-page SEO items such as XML sitemaps, robots.txt and the rest.
There are several other tools, but these are the most reputable and easy to use ones.
While On-Page SEO are techniques you can employ on your website, Off-Page or Off-Site SEO are things you can do to improve your website’s ranking by improving its perceived value and authority.
This can be done by having authoritative companies and people refer to your website by placing links in their content pointing to your site or creating backlinks to your website.
There are four kinds of backlinks that you can use for your website. These are:
- Natural links – these are links that you didn’t ask for. In order to get this, you need to build your website’s reputation first, or at least have viral content.2.
- Manually-created links – these are links that are produced by your link-building efforts. This can include:
- contacting previous clients to link back to you or create a post about you;
- creating and submitting company and business information to regulated and authoritative directories;
- contributing posts in other websites (guest-posting) related to your website.
- Self-created links – these are by creating links in directory listings, forums, blog comments and more. However, you need to be careful when creating links this way as too much of this can make Google think you are artificially inflating your backlinks and may even penalize you. This is why we don’t recommend backlinking services.
- Social media links – although these are actually no-follow links (which means search engines don’t count them), these help drive more traffic to your website. The more traffic you get from social media, the more search engines will think your website is trustworthy.
Off-page SEO can be tougher to work on as compared to On-Page SEO. Here are some tips in creating backlinks that will help increase your ranking and prevent you from getting banned by Google:
- Quantity vs Quality – Don’t believe that the more links you have, the better. Quality is more important. For instance, one link from a high-ranking website is better than 20 links from low ranking ones since Google takes into consideration the rankings of the source sites.
- Choose where to link – Don’t make the mistake of linking to just your homepage (although of course you can do so from time to time). Make sure to link to relevant pages in your website. The more relevant and useful content you have, the easier it is to build links.
- Choosing anchor text – use the keyword you used for the post as anchor text. You can also mix it up with “click here” or “for further reading”.
- Request links from websites with related topic – don’t make the mistake of just looking for a high ranking site and asking them to link to your page. Instead, look for high ranking sites within the topic of your post. If you are discussing how to cook the perfect mac and cheese for example, search for food bloggers and recipe websites. Don’t ask for links from a travel website! Work within your post’s niche.
PHASE 3: DESIGN STRATEGY
Your design strategy is as important as your content and SEO strategy for two main reasons:
- You need to make sure that your website is user-friendly enough for your audience to easily navigate their way and find what they need;
- You need to make sure that your website is lightweight enough for it to load fast.
How can you do this while making sure your design helps you achieve you overall goal, such as generating revenue?
First, as always, you must understand what your website’s goal is.
This means you shouldn’t just hire a web designer and let him loose creating a website that utilizes the latest web designs. You have to guide him or her to the right direction.
For instance, are you promoting an online game? Then your website should have great graphics, awesome button features, and must use font styles that mimic that of your game.
But if you have a website that focuses on real estate, then it must look professional. It must have simple buttons, basic fonts, white background, image grids that feature homes for sale and slideshows that display other aspects of the home. It’s all about what you need to achieve.
Second, you must discuss with your web designer if your “style” is workable and does not prevent your website from slowing down.
So you know how your website should look like; that’s great. But make sure to talk to your designer and developer first because extreme design can cause your website to have too much on the page, making it load really slowly.
Also, you need to discuss if your idea can work. You would need to find the middle ground between having aesthetically gripping design, fast load speeds and ease of use. It’s a website; not a piece of art.
Third, think about your audience. If your audience is comprised of Millenials, it’s easy to create a design-oriented website.
Millenials like exploring and looking around, so searching for the right buttons amid graphics, for instance, is easy for them.
Plus they’re tech-savvy so making the website reveal its fullest potential is a piece of cake for them.
However, if your audience is comprised of Baby Boomers, then you need to make sure your CTAs are clear and its menu options are easy to find. Not saying that Baby Boomers are not tech-savvy; it’s just that they value routine, so conventional designs work best for them.
Finally, don’t make your design strategy the bottleneck of your website operations. If you’re finding it hard to choose between having a red button and a blue one, just choose one first and test it.
If people are clicking on it, it means it’s working. If people are not clicking, then go back and change the color.
Compare the results and see if one works better than the other. If there’s no improvement, find a new color.
You can improve the design of your website little by little and based on the results you achieve. Don’t wait too long before launching your website just because the design is not to your liking.
PHASE 4: SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
In the past, a website’s social media strategy comes as an afterthought. Nowadays, if you don’t have a social media strategy, you’re not utilizing the internet to its fullest potential.
You may already have personal accounts in several social media platforms, so you know how powerful they can be when used properly. However, not all social media platforms are relevant to helping you boost your website’s presence.
This means you don’t need to create an account for your website or business in all platforms. You just need a few that you can really handle and that which can reap you the most benefit for your efforts.
The following are what we recommend you use depending on your business type:
With 2.27 billion monthly users (based on Statista.com), it’s easily the most powerful social media platform. It’s so influential that it’s now being compared to Google as a source of viable traffic. It would be a mistake to miss out on this.
Whatever your business type or industry may be, you will be able to find your audience in Facebook as long as you look in the right direction. Facebook works for both B2C and B2B businesses.
Creating a Facebook page is easy; there is no need for you to create a separate account. You can login to your personal account and create a page.
If you need to add people to be page admins, you can simply invite them to the page using their personal accounts as well.
They won’t have to login to your personal account to access your page, so you need not worry. Here’s how to create a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/set-up-facebook-page
Recently though, Facebook has reduced the organic reach of its pages. So if you are looking to receive traffic, you can either pay for Facebook ads or turn to LinkedIn and Twitter.
Not as popular as Facebook, but LinkedIn is like Facebook for professionals. If you’re in the B2B industry, it would make sense to create a company and personal profile here.
Sharing and interacting is similar to Facebook except that they focus on the business aspect. Finding and identifying your target audience is easier as well as their careers and industry are displayed publicly in their profiles.
According to Statista.com again, Twitter has 336 million active monthly users. Not as gigantic as Facebook, but as effective (maybe even more effective in some industries).
The best thing about Twitter is that you can post links to your website several times a day (whereas with Facebook, if they notice you posting the same thing over and over again the entire day, they might ban your link and consider it spam).
With Twitter, the more often you tweet, the more engagements and followers you obtain.
Building your audience takes time and effort in Twitter, though. You need to find the right hashtags for your business in order to promote your content.
You need to actively respond and retweet. This is why some businesses hire social media managers – so they have someone to focus on these time-intensive tasks.
Twitter works well for information and news websites, but is not as good with ecommerce. You can however create articles about your products and share them in Twitter. Directing them to your product page won’t convert as much though.
If you have a rockstar Twitter manager, you can even make some of your posts go viral (which means great traffic for your website).
If you’re in the e-commerce business, Instagram is one of the best places to promote. You can simply create videos and images of your product to gain attention.
Much like Twitter, it utilizes hashtags too, so find the right hashtag to get your product featured in other people’s feed.
Influencer advertising is the norm in Instagram if you want to gain traffic to your homepage or to a link deep in your website.
However, unlike Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, your link will only be available on the profiles of influencers for a limited time (based on your agreement with the influencer).
Also, Instagram does not allow live links in their captions.
You can only place one live link in your profile, which can be very limiting especially if you have tons of products and services.
If you are already using Facebook ads, you can also look into advertising in Instagram as they use the same platform.
Social Media Metrics
When defining your social media tactics, it helps to know what metrics are available, so that you know what you can look at to evaluate the success of your strategy.
Here are the top social media metrics you should know more about:
1. Reach – this simply means the number of people who have seen your post. How far did your post go? The higher the reach, the higher the chance of people engaging with your post. This is also a base metric to calculate your post’s performance.
2. Impressions – if Reach is the number of people who have seen your post, Impression is the number of times your post was shown. It means one person (one reach) can have multiple impressions of your post.
3. Engagement – this is the number of people that interacted with your post. With Facebook, it can be the number of comments, likes, shares and post clicks (to see more or to click a link). With Twitter, it can be the number of replies or retweets.
4. Engagement Rate – this is the number of engagements divided by the reach. If you had a hundred engagements, and your reach is a hundred thousand, then your engagement rate is only 0.1%. It doesn’t matter how many engagements you get; if your rate is low, it means your post is performing poorly and might not receive further natural views. Conversely, if you engagement rate is higher, the platform will show your post to more people, giving it the potential to go viral.
5. Conversion – this is the number of times your audience performed a specific action on your post. This always depends on the goal of your post. Do you intend to have your audience click on your link? That’s a conversion. Do you want your viewer to complete a form in your website (after they have clicked the link)? That’s also a conversion.
6. Conversion Rate – this is the rate at which you receive a specific action from your post. It is computed as the number of conversions versus the number of impressions.
7. Growth Rate – this is the number of followers or page likes you get after a specific period. It’s good to have a lot of followers, but it’s even better if you have a high growth rate. If you have a slow growth rate, it’s time to rethink your strategies.
Should my social media strategy include ads?
If you already know your audience, it’s easy to use ads to drive more traffic that has a high chance of converting.
If you are still feeling around, then don’t use paid ads yet. You might end up spending a lot of money with no return.
Social media ads are a whole different beast. It would be best to hire an expert advertiser for this task if you really want to try it.
UpWork has a lot of Social Media ads experts that work by the hour.
What’s great about running ads though is that you can accurately measure the data, especially when using Facebook ads.
You can find the exact demographics that are converting into leads and sales for you, making it easy to optimize. Getting conversions is tricky though, so again, hiring an expert is best.
If you don’t have enough budget to hire an expert, join Facebook Ads expert groups.Some of them offer their services for free for the first month or until you see results.
Afterwhich, they will charge you based on the percentage of ad spend or number of leads.
What’s important though is that you get results first before you are asked to pay. You will have to pay for the ad spend, though.
Once you have completed these four phases, you can clap yourself in the back.
You have built the skeleton that your website will use to be able to stand upright!
Now the next step is filling it up with muscle – adding the content.
CHAPTER 6: MASTER YOUR DOMAIN: DOMAIN NAME, HOSTING, WORDPRESS
In this chapter you will learn exactly what you need to do to step by step to register a domain name, find & set up your website host, how to install WordPress, how to install a theme, how to add content, how to configure your email and make your new website go live.
Step 1: Register Your Domain Name.
If you are unsure of exactly what a domain is this video by Godaddy will put you on the right track.
You will be prompted to create an account with Godaddy or login to an existing one.
If your customers are in one particular country it can be a good idea to have a domain specific to that country. For example if your customers are in Australia it would make sense to have a .com.au domain.
Congratulations! You have just registered your domain name now lets move onto step 2…
STEP 2: Setup your Webhost
- Goto www.hostgator.com
- click on WordPress Hosting which will take you to the managed wordpress hosting options.
- Choose your hosting plan to suit your needs and budget.
- Starter plan
- Standard plan
- Business plan
4. After you have selected your plan you will be asked to either register a new domain or enter in the domain you have previously registered with Godaddy.
5. Choose your billing cycle and enter in your billing info and then click ‘Checkout Now!”
Congratulations you have successfully registered your webhost. Now it’s time to get it set up and make you new website live.
STEP 3: – Configuring your new website
This video will walk you through the step by step process.
The next step is to install WordPress on your newly created hosting account.
Or alternatively you can go here:
After clicking either of those links you will be brought to a screen where you will need to specify which domain you want to install WordPress on.
On the next screen it will ask you to specify your blog title, admin user name, first & last name and email address. Don’t worry this can all be changed later also if needed. Click install you are all set.
Once you have clicked Install, WordPress will begin installing.
Congratulations you have just successfully installed wordpress on your host and domain. Now let’s get it set up the way you like it.
STEP 4: Design your Website
Now that you have WordPress installed the next step is choose a theme. The you choose will reflect how your website looks across multiple devices.
There are hundreds themes to choose from right off the bat. Or you can purchase or download free themes from a site like themeforrest.net.
How to install a theme:
This video will show exactly how to install a theme step by step.
1. First you will need to log into your WordPress dashboard (www.yourwebsite.com/wp-login.php) with your login details you were provided with when you installed WordPress.
2. Once you are logged in you will want to click on the “appearance” tab and then click on “themes.”
On the next screen you can either upload a them that you have purchased from a site such as themeforrest.net or browse the hundreds of free themes that are available to you.
3. Install your new theme.
Once you have selected a theme, you just have to install it by clicking “install” and then clicking “activate.”
4. How to add content to your new website
In order to create a new page on your website you will need to click “pages” on your dashboard and “add new.”
If you want your page to visible on the navigation menu, you will need to click on the “appearance” tab and click “add to menu.”
5. How to add a new post to your blog
In order to add a new post to your blog you will need to click on “posts” in your WordPress dashboard and then “add new.”
Then you will need to add a title for your new post and add any content.
Once you have finished adding your content. All you simply need to is click the “publish” button and your blog post will be live to the world.
6. Optimize your new website by installing plugins
What is a plugin?
There are thousands of plugins available to choose from.
A plugin is something that someone has created already so that you don’t have to do all the coding and design work yourself. Using plugins literally allows you to “plug & play.”
Plugins can be anything from: Seo tools, Contact forms, website analytics, page builders, website security, e-commerce and various image tools.
CHAPTER 7: 3,2,1…LAUNCH!
You can start promoting your new website a month or two before you officially launch it.
This can really help to build “hype” and “anticipation” of when your new site launches.
To do this you will need to set up a pre-launch page with a countdown timer such as this one:
You could also offer something that the visitor can download such as a free guide or subscribe to so they will get notified when your new website officially launches.
- Expert Roundups: interview leading experts about their thoughts and opinions on your topic
- How to solve a problem your reader is wanting to solve
- “How to” posts
- Common questions in your field
Tell as many people as you possibly can about it.
Network with influential people in your niche.
How to get an influencer to notice you even if you’re a newbie?
You wouldn’t ask someone to sleep with you on the very first date, so why would you treat the online world any different?
Sure you might get lucky on a first date, but for a long term, lasting relationship it is highly doubtful. The same goes when it comes to internet marketing.
You need to warm your prospects up a little before asking for anything. In your case what you are wanting is a ‘share’ or even a ‘backlink.’
Start slow and share valuable content they have published with your audience, even if it is just you in your underwear.
Don’t ask for a share or link, if they love your content they will do that anyway.
And that is it. If your content is good enough and you have laid the foundations of building a relationship correctly they should “share” or “link” to your website or content.
CHAPTER 8: HOW WILL YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
You have finally finished setting up your website, your email marketing automation and your CRM.
You have great staff working for you that you manage via a project management tool. Everything’s working smoothly.
But how do you know your efforts are paying off? How do you know if you are actually succeeding? There are two ways: by measuring your website success and measuring your business success.
MEASURING YOUR WEBSITE SUCCESS
Different websites have different success metrics, especially since every business or website has a different goal.
But one thing is the same – you need to drive traffic to your website and have your audience perform a specific action (such as purchasing a product, subscribing to your newsletter or contacting your company for more information).
The most popular free tool for analyzing website success is Google Analytics.
If you haven’t installed Google Analytics in your website yet, it’s about time you do.
It’s a free tool by Google that gives you almost all information you need to track your website performance. It can even help you track your sales if you have an e-commerce site.
This video by Ranking Academy is very useful if you are unsure how to get it set up.
Installing the Google Analytics tag can be done in three easy steps:
- Create a Google Analytics account;
- Get the html code;
- Paste to the tag of your website.
And the site’s traffic will start getting recorded. If you want to be able to track custom conversions, such as sales, you would need to setup custom tracking.
These GA metrics are what you can track to measure your site performance:
- Page Views
Page views are of course how many people have been to your website.
With this metric, you’ll be able to determine which of your pages or posts are driving the most people to your website.
You can also determine what days of the week or time of day you get the most visitors.
If you know which of your posts are performing better than the rest, then you can create more of similar topics or you can expand on your existing content.
Then you can publish your new work based on the time of day and day of the week you get the most viewers.
Another way to evaluate page views is by determining where the clicks to your site come from. Are they organic, social or referral from other websites?
You can also better quantify which of these sources perform better in terms of:
(1) time in page,
(2) bounce rate, or
(3) producing results?
There are several possible sources for traffic, and they can be narrowed down to the following:
- Direct – traffic coming from people who type your web address in the URL field.
- Organic – traffic coming clicks on results in search engines such as Google and Yahoo
- Social Media – traffic coming from social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
- Referral – traffic coming from other websites that contain your link
- Email Marketing – traffic coming from clicks on links within emails
- Paid Traffic – traffic coming from advertisements such as Google Adwords
You can trace a map of where audiences from these sources go, and which among them convert into leads or sales.
Organic traffic can be explored further to show you keywords and phrases that your audience used to pull up search results and eventually land on your website.
Keywords are important signals that tell you what your audience is actually searching for, and which among your pages Google or Yahoo chose to show in front of them.
A converting keyword is one that turns organic traffic into a sale or lead.
If you can find which among your keywords turn into a converting keyword, then you can invest on paid ads targeting your converting keywords because you know this is what translates to profit for you.
- Pages per Visit
This is rather self-explanatory. The more pages your audience visits, the better his or her experience.
It shows you how captivating your content is that your audience wants to consume more.
It also tells you how easy it is for your visitor to jump from one page to the next with minimal issues.
More pages per visit also mean higher chances of conversion, either to a lead or a sale.
- Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is the rate at which your viewers leave your website immediately after coming in. The following are considered “bounces”:
- A person pressing the Back button immediately after visiting your page;
- A viewer clicking on an External Link located in your page;
- A person closes the browser tab;
- A viewer types a different URL in the URL field;
Search engines like Google use this metric to determine if they should place your webpage on the top of the search results or not.
If they see that your site has a high bounce rate, they can interpret it as poor website performance.
hey can assume that your potential audience could not find what they need in your website so they would therefore give you a lower ranking.
To determine what viewers do on your website, where they click and which part they read, you can install heat maps.
A heat map allows you to see what part of the page your viewers “touch”, with the help of color representation.
The “hotter” the area, the more visitor interaction on that part of the page.
Related reading: https://www.adpushup.com/blog/top-10-best-heatmap-tools-reviewed/
You already know your target market, but how can you make sure that your target is really the one bringing your conversions?
Simple: by looking at your traffic and conversion demographics.
You would need to check what part of the market is turning into conversions and bringing you the money.
This way, you can target your ads more appropriately to get higher Return on Investment.
What is your converting market’s age, sex, location and interests? You can learn their interests by looking into this specific demographics page views in your website.
What topics do they read on? What kind of content do they absorb more? Is it article content, video content or image-intensive content?
- Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is the rate at which you achieve your goals from incoming views.
For instance, how many of your viewers translate into a lead or a purchase?
After all, if you have a lot of viewers but only a few of them are doing the action that you intend them to do, then there must be something missing (or they might be too much) in your page.
With the help of heat maps, you will also be able to determine if your viewers are clicking your Call-to-Action. If they are not, then you might need to make adjustments with making your CTA stand out.
Again, even you have a million viewers but only a handful of them are converting, it’s no use. You would have to refocus your efforts on pages or actions that convert.
There is a ton of other ways to utilize Google Analytics if you just take the time to master it. Here’s a guide on mastering GA: https://www.lovesdata.com/blog/master-google-analytics
Jetpack Site Stats
If you are using WordPress but don’t have Google Analytics (or don’t want to use GA for whatever reason), then you can always use Jetpack.
Aside from helping you with the page speed, design and security of your website, the free version can also track basic site statistics.
Jetpack can track organic keywords, number of visits, site referrals, clicks to external links and a few more metrics.
However, it’s nowhere near as comprehensive as Google Analytics. But if you just want an additional analytics to check against Google Analytics’ accuracy, then Jetpack can come in handy.
Measure Your Business Success
If you’re in e-commerce, it’s easy to assume that if you have a lot of sales, you are experiencing success. But that is not always the case.
What if you earned a lot but also spent a lot, so instead of gaining profit, it turns out you are actually losing money?
You need to look into other data. For instance, how much did you spend on advertising? How much is your product cost? How much is your Return on Investment?
If you have a different type of business, such as a B2B, tracking your business performance gets even more complicated.
First, let’s get a little bit technical. The metrics that you need to look into in order to assess your business better are Critical Success Factors (CSF) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Critical Success Factors help you easily see if you are achieving your business goals.
Each aspect of your business must have CSF. And every CSF must have several Key Performance Indicators.
KPIs are actual time bound with actual values to help you assess your success. Increasing 3% sales in one month is an example of a KPI.
Here are the top aspects of a business you need to assess:
What is your business finance standing, and what do you hope to achieve? When it comes to finance, your CSF could be:
- Better Cashflow – such as more investors or better credit line to have access to funds as needed. It can also include better use of current funds. Examples of ways to achieve these are:
- Getting better credit rating within 12 months;
- Reducing expenses, such as a KPI of 1% decrease in product cost without sacrificing quality.
- Profit Growth – to achieve profit growth, you must have:
- More sales per month, such as a KPI of 2% increase in sales per month;
- Higher net income such as $XXX dollars this month as compared to last month.
2. Customer Satisfaction
Making sure your clients are satisfied with your product and/or service is one of the most important aspects (maybe even the most important aspect).
Your Critical Success Factors could be:
- Return Customers – if your client returns for more of what you offer, you know they are satisfied. Examples of KPIs associated with this are:
- 10% of the customers this month are repeat customers;
- 5% of the current customers extended their contract.
- Customer Feedback – actual client feedback are the strongest indicators of success in this aspect. You would typically get one review for every 500 or more customers if you are in ecommerce. If you are in the B2B space, you’ll get one for every 100 to 200 customers. Actively asking for reviews can help improve this turnout. Specific KPIs for this could be:
- 10 new positive customer reviews per product per month;
- Better ratings such as from 4.0 stars to 4.5 stars for the current month.
3. Internal Processes
You are already spending money on project management tools and your team’s salary; you need to make sure everything is working properly like a well-oiled machine.
Here are some CSFs for this aspect:
- Increasing Productivity – if you are in the manufacturing industry, for example, reducing waste and increasing production are important. A sample KPI for this would be 3% increase in productivity in one month.
- Reduction in Bottleneck – increasing efficiency if you are in the service industry is important, not only to reduce costs but to increase customer satisfaction. An example of a KPI is reducing lead time from 8 days to 7 days.
Now how exactly do you evaluate the above items? By using measurable statistics of course! Your KPIs are the actual goals you need to achieve.
When it comes to online-based businesses, you also need online tools to keep track of everything.
These are some of the metrics you need to look into:
- Number of visitors
- Number of leads (newsletter sign-ups)
- Rate of conversion from visitor to lead
- Cost of customer acquisition
- Number of sales
- Rate of conversion from lead to sale, or from visitor to sale
- Average purchase value per sale
- Return on Ad Spend
- Return on Investment (this includes ad spend, payments for tools you are using, payment on website maintenance, and more. In short – all business costs.)
- Sales growth
- Net profit & net profit margin
And these are just a few of them.
To prevent you from getting crazy monitoring these, the following are some of the tools you can use:
Kissmetrics is one of the best business intelligence software in the industry.
It analyzes your customer from the “first touch” or from their first encounter with your business and website.
Kissmetrics can analyze what part of the purchasing process your customers are and segment them accordingly.
The program will then help you engage with your audience based on their segments.
You can even identify what type of marketing efforts work best based on the segment.
Do you need Facebook ads or display ads? Does your advertisement work with this type of audience or not?
So aside from the metrics that you need to look out for, Kissmetrics can help you improve your marketing efforts to get the best profits and achieve your KPIs.
You can also integrate this tool with other programs such as Trello, Shopify, Woocommerce and more.
We’ve already mentioned that Salesforce is a great Customer Relationship Management tool.
But it’s so much more than that.
Aside from allowing you to automate your emails and customer-related activities, it can also track your marketing efforts and which among them translates to profit.
It can tell you which of your campaigns converted into a sale or a sign-up, so you can better realign your advertisements.
This program utilizes Salesforce Einstein – their artificial intelligence that provides sales insights and marketing recommendations. All this you can even do on your phone!
Measuring your business success can be a bit too much in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be on your way to making your business boom!