I was planning to possibly write an ebook on building a successful website, but I thought I will start this off with a post here where I put the most essential things into easy to read form.
If you read this, a certain level of experience may be helpful, for example you should know how to set-up WordPress or you should know some basics about finding a good niche.
I also do not want to repeat or rehash similar posts which already exist on the web. The reason is simple: A huge amount of “tips” especially when it comes to SEO and webdesign is either entirely outdated, simply just plain wrong or is written by people who consider themselves “SEOs” but in reality have no clue whatsoever. I am saying this with confidence since the amount of nonsense I find daily on webmaster forums is becoming more and more unbearable. There is a reason I visit such forums only rarely these days but this may be a topic for an entirely new post.
The following tips are based on my own experience building successful websites
* Use WordPress
Whether you want to to build a niche authority site or a rather simple sales-site, for me there is no reason not to use wordpress. There is nothing which comes closes in terms of potential rankings, expandability, freedom of design and easiness. If you do not know how to set up and work with WordPress I recommend you DO spend the time to learn it. This will be time well spent, better than spending your hours reading about and hunting for bogus “systems” that promise to make you money. It will be an incredible asset once you figure out how to set-up a WordPress site in little time. Even for simple one-or-two-pagers I’d rather use WordPress since the installation only requires a few clicks anyway. A WordPress site doesn’t have to “look like a blog”, it can be configured for virtually any type of website.
* “Sniper Sites” Are Dead
“Sniper Sites” is just another word for “thin sites”, websites of low quality. A sniper site is usually built around very specific keywords, often a specific product name, such as, say “Product Name Review And Bonus”. A typical sniper site often features a pseudo “review” on the front page, 4 or 5 low quality articles and an (often bogus) “About Me” profile for the purpose to make it look more genuine. There is A LOT wrong with those types of sites in regards to SEO (over-optimization), content etc.. so I won’t go more into detail there. Sniper sites, if at all, worked maybe two years ago. Even back then they were only good for some temporary results and were easily out-ranked by more thought-out and better web-sites. It doesn’t take that much more effort to make a better site as compared to a typical sniper site.
* Build an Authority Site
Obviously, opinions differ what makes an “authority site” or how a website may at some point become an authority site. I can give you my personal opinion here: An authority site is a website that covers a niche or subject in such a way as to include the most relevant sub-topics. For me, this is merely a matter of planning about what topics and categories your site will contain. Site structure plays a huge role there. Aside from the “frightening” term “authority site” which might suggest a lot of work, building an authority site is really easy. To illustrate what I mean I give you an example:
You want to make a site where you target a rather “difficult” niche, let’s say you want to make a site about Acne. You sit down and write down relevant categories what your site should contain. (When I say “categories” I do indeed mean categories which will later also be used on your site to organize your articles.)
An Acne authority site, for example, can cover categories such as General Information about Acne, Prevention, Treatments, Product Reviews etc. A Weight-loss site may have categories such as Exercises, Reviews of Weight-Loss Products, Weight-Loss Tips, Supplements, Crash Dieting, Weight Loss Calculator and so forth.
A good starting point for planning what categories your site should have is to simply enter a search term into Google and look at the bottom where it says “Searches Related To…”. This can give you a first idea of what categories to use, categories that Google sees as relevant and related to your topic.
Choose your categories so that you can, in a meaningful and helpful way for your visitors organize and structure content.
* Don’t Over-Think your On-Site SEO
On-Site SEO has dramatically lost importance in the last couple of years. Stop thinking in terms of keywords and phrases, do NOT write your content around keywords. Look at your site from a visitor’s perspective first. Once basic SEO factors are cheking out clear, like simple and basic things such as that your post titles etc. should appear in H1 tags, the rest is relatively unimportant. Worse, by using on-site “optimization” advice from a year ago or older you will only over-optimize your content.
* Don’t Use Over-Simplified and Over-General Content For Your Site
You can go on ezinearticles.com and read any of the thousands of articles about weight-loss, reverse phones or what else. Most of those articles are over-simplified and don’t really offer any value. They are often only written around keywords with the sole purpose being a “carrier medium” for a back-link. You have read one “article”, you have read them all. If you plan a site and have someone write, say, 5 or 10 $5 “articles” in such a style, your success will be NIL. No one wants to read the 100th re-hash of what already exists on the web. No one is interested in that “reverse phone lookups are now so much easier because they can be done from the comfort of your own home“, just to name an example. If someone is really looking for information on this subject be assured they already came across 100 articles using the same generic phrase. Provide value! Content is your most important asset for the success of your site!
* Make Your Site Responsive – Cater to Mobile Device Users
It’s my personal opinion that you should make your site responsive by using an appropriate responsive theme. (THIS site, by the way, is not; I haven’t had time to overhaul this site yet). “Responsive” means that the site will scale well with mobile devices where the browser screen is much smaller as compared to a desktop PC. Text, graphics etc. will scale and shrink so that the site will look good on all sorts of devices. I have some sites where 70% of users are coming from mobile. A site of fixed dimensions is simply very “2 years ago”. Since this is merely a matter of the appropriate theme with WordPress, your site’ responsiveness should not be a major issue.
* Make your Site Easily Readable and Avoid Clutter
Come to the point in your content, don’t clutter your sites with distracting banners and ads. I had people making websites where they used Amazon links and AdSense at the same time. Big mistake! The same applies for any other external link from your site. If you want to sell a product, say, as part of a review, any potential additional out-click can cost you the sale. Any single link or banner is one potential site visitor which may click and then leave your site.
* Be Genuine
People will spot right away if you attempt to sell desperately, rather than coming across as a genuine person. Being genuine means that you will build trust with your readers. They will come back for more. A sale from a review will be the result from people trusting your expertise as opposed to having one of the countless websites where it’s clear right away that the site only serves one purpose: To make YOU money, say with phoney reviews or useless garbage content. Many niches today like health, weight-loss and in particular the “make money” niche are so over-saturated with non-genuine sites, people are getting tired of it. They are looking for real genuine opinions and expertise. And this will be rewarded! Think for the long-term when you make a site. With a non-genuine site (think bogus reviews, bad content etc.) you cannot build let alone sustain success of a site for a long time to come.
* Make your Site “Shareable” for Social Networks.
Make it easy for your visitors to share your content on facebook, Google+, twitter etc. Use plugins on your site such as “Simple Social Buttons” or “WP Socializer”. Again, simple things…it’s only a matter of installing and activating the adequate plugin.
* Keep your Site Fresh
To have a hugely successful site it does not require hundreds or thousands of pages of articles. You can start your site gradually with maybe 5 or so quality articles and then submit each or every two weeks. The amount of articles on your site is pretty much irrelevant. Some niches simply may not yield more than, say, 10-15 articles. I had sites ranking #1 with a handful of articles. A website with 500 articles about, say, “Tea Tree Oil For Fighting Acne” is just not realistic. This obviously also depends on how broad your niche is. A weight loss site with several categories may well justify a lot more content as a site which is much more specific.
* Provide Solutions For Problems – Identify the Needs of Your Audience
People who are surfing the web, unless they hang out on facebook or youtube etc. are normally looking for a solution to a problem. They want to lose weight, get rid of acne, want to know how to make money, build a website, learn how to grow organic potatoes and so forth. Identify what “problems” your audience has and give them solutions, either in the form of articles, products or both. Again, stay away from over-simplified “articles” for your site which only describe something they already know. Give your visitors what they are looking for.
* You Do Not Have to Build Numerous Sites in a Certain Niche
Some people go through lengths. They obtain a large number of domains and then make individual sites where each single one may only cover a specific product or a very specific sub-niche. For instance if someone were to make separate sites, each for a specific weight loss product from clickbank.
Google does not rank sites – it ranks pages. An individual page or post on a site can rank as well and often better than an entire new site just made around a product. There is simply no reason to make a new site each time. When you make an authority site, say in the weight-loss niche, each and any individual post or page can and will rank. Better even, once your main site becomes mature and becomes somewhat an authority in your niche, the authority and ranking power of your site will benefit each and every single post you make. With a new site on a fresh domain you’re always starting from zero. Better even, your posts and domains do not necessarily always have to exactly match the overall theme of your site. I had incredible ranking success with this blog (which obviously is a SEO and marketing blog) with sub-pages about technology such as notebooks or mobile gadgets. Those entries were in no way related to SEO or marketing yet ranked amazingly. Let’s say you build an authority site in the weight-loss niche. Be assured, this niche is so broad and vast that your one site will be all you need to cover any related topic or product. It will benefit you much more to expand this one single site into a true authority site rather than for some reason wanting to build an “empire” of many different sites with different domains.
* Think in Terms of Individual Pages or Posts, NOT in Terms of Your Domain or it’s Front Page
Have you ever checked how some so- called “SEOs” and many webmasters build links? Have you taken a look at other websites? It seems that for many , all that seems to exist is their website’s front page. They write a sales letter or their main content piece on the front-page only and then put “additional” content on the site to supplement whatever is on the front page. Backlinks very often only point to their main domain, to their front page. Why? It defies any logic!
Those people have not a clue about the most basic things. As I already mentioned, Google is ranking pages or your individual posts. A single post on your site/domain has the same (if not better) potential ranking power than your front page. What’s on the front page could be entirely irrelevant. You can have a more general intro about your site or niche on the front page. Or you can set it up “blog-style” just displaying your recent posts and some excerpts on the front page. It doesn’t matter. You are not limited to create new posts on your site where each and every single post may at some point rank for the keyword/product this post is about.
Traffic to your site will not come in via your front-page only! Visitors will normally enter your site on your individual articles or posts, because this is what they found in the search engines when they googled a certain keyword.
This is also extremely important to consider when it comes to monetizing your website, say, with banners. The biggest mistake you can make is to monetize your site only on the front-page and see your other content as something which is just “necessary” to enrich your site. One extremely bad example here would be a site where you promote a product on the front and then add 5-10 articles on your site. If your visitors come in via your article posts/pages (which they will) they may not even see your front page, ever! What this means is that your monetizing must happen side-wide or on those individual posts.
Obviously, you should also not build backlinks to your main domain but rather target your individual post that contains this very same article. In the “real world”, people hardly link to a domain! They link to (or share) a specific article they found useful. Think about this!
Ok, this entry now grew massive so I will stop here. I may even make a part 2 at a later date. Just know that if you follow the above pointers you are bound to build a successful website. In the age of WordPress, most of this will not be a big deal whatsoever. The effort and work for making a really good site as compared to making a thin and poor website is pretty much negligible.