For the vast majority of websites out there, they would have been solely created by one person. One person who went through all of the necessary steps to successfully create a website. This tends to be so that the owner can minimize the costs and risk of starting a new website. If they hired a whole team at the start of a website’s life, and the website flops, it will a huge investment wasted.
Truth be told that when it comes to setting up a website, the main ‘chunks’, or elements of it, don’t actually take that much time to do. It’s the tweaking and optimizations that I have found is where the majority of my time is dedicated too.
For those that have never started a website, though, it can seem like quite a daunting task, starting something in a new area, from scratch. With this in mind, here are ten questions to ask yourself (and answer) when starting a website.
1. What is the Website about?
The first step to creating a website is to understand what type of website you want to create.
A eCommerce website?
An eCommerce website is a website that sells products or services on it.
If you want to create lots of content, and focus on search engine optimization, you will be wanting to create a blog.
A business website?
If you own a business and want a website to accompany the business, then you’ll want to create a website that showcases your business in all of its glory.
As long as you know what you want to do with your website, and have a clear goal and strategy.
2. What’s the Competition Like?
Analysing the competition is extremely important. There is not a single successful company/business/website out there that did not look at competition before starting, to understand the market they were heading into.
If the market is already completely saturated, then it is going to be very hard to compete and gain ground on your competitors:
- From an eCommerce website, getting your brand recognized as an alternative is going to require an extensive budget of marketing.
- For a business website, getting ranked for search terms you want your business to be associated with is going to be tough in a saturated market.
- For a blog, gaining good SEO, whilst other websites have had ‘head starts’ on you, will cause issues for traffic generation.
For this reason, it is vitally important that when you look to create a website, talking from experience, you see a niche or a ‘gap’ that you aim your website to fill. For example, with Poem Analysis, I saw and filled a gap in the market, as the only website dedicated to analysing every poem out there – there is not a single other website with this same goal. There are some competitors. However, they aim more generally at education, rather than analysing every poetry.
This is what makes a successful website. You need to provide something that nobody else does. Want to create a news website? It’s probably going to be too saturated for you. Want to create a place to sell used items? eBay and other websites exist with huge brand awareness.
You need to make sure you understand what gap you are trying to fill, and who are your closest competitors are to this gap.
3. What sets you apart from the Competition?
This is the ‘gap’ I was referring to in the second question to ask yourself. In order to be successful online, especially with search engines, you need to be differentiated. Offer something that your competitors don’t. When you do this, you will gain traffic and relevance online.
4. What objectives do you have short/long term? How will you achieve these?
It is extremely important to always set goals for your website/s to achieve. I tend to like to set goals around the New Year, almost like New Year resolutions, to achieve with each of my website.
If you don’t goal set or give yourself objectives, it is going to be difficult to understand how successful your start-up website is going. You could set yourself a traffic goal, or a ‘sell so many products’ goal and so on: as long as it goes with what your website is about.
With this, I describe the ways I can achieve each of the high level goals, with lower level goals, and so on. Below is an example goal, expanded on how to achieve it, for one of my websites:
Double the traffic/revenue from 2019
- Double traffic
- Concentrate on SEO using SEO tools, such as SEMRush
- Remove all error http pages using Screaming Frog
- Improve crawability by adding tags and improving the structure of linking articles from homepage
- Make top 10% content have a better user experience by adding videos, images, audio and colored sections
- Look to gain links from other related websites by reaching out to them
- Double revenue
- Concentrate on content for better user experience (better UX generally equates to improved advertising revenue)
- Make website quicker through many different techniques
- Continually optimize the website, such as homepage, 404 pages, categories, menus, theme and more
- Concentrate on Ezoic/sitespeed/general improvements
- Analyse data and concentrate on high earning locations
5. What’s your Domain name?
A domain name is key to a website, for many reasons:
- SEO efforts – if you can get important keywords into your domain name, the better. As well as this, the less characters in your domain name, the better too.
- Brand – if you have a brand name, it is a no-brainer to make sure it is in your domain name.
- Professionalism – having a short and clear domain (with just letters) illustrates you got the domain name of your choice.
- Ease of remembering – having a domain that is easy for web users to remember will help to promote direct traffic.
For this reason, you cannot cut corners with a domain name. Get the domain name you want and just buy it. It is an investment, and the benefits will, at some point, outweigh the cost of whatever you paid for it.
6. What will your Website look like?
Understanding how you want the website to look is important when first creating it. I can talk first hand that if you don’t invest in an expert in this, all you will be doing with your time is tweaking and changing the theme, which is not a good use of your time!
For WordPress websites, there are many themes you can use, all of which can be modified. Ones I like in-particular are the drag and drop themes, such as GP Premium or Elementor.
7. What will be the Structure of your Website?
With the structure, I am referring to your permalink structure. How is it going to be?
Again, talking from experience, you don’t want to change this half way through, as it can have detrimental effects to SEO if done wrong.
Typically websites go for %postname% for their structure.
However, if you want speed, it is best to go for %postid%/%postname%/, to help WordPress find the content quicker.
Sometimes, it is also a good idea to use %category%/%postname%, if you can always be sure the category will relate to the post and adds SEO (by adding contextual keywords).
8. What Social Media Marketing will you perform?
For the majority of websites, they will want an Instagram, Facebook and Twitter account (and possibly more). When this has been decided, go out to secure the usernames for each of the platforms you want to use. It is important you can do this, to help people find your social media sites easily.
9. What Hosting will you use?
This greatly depends on how much traffic and control you want to have, whilst taking cost into consideration.
- If you want to keep cost to a minimum, go for shared hosting
- If you want control, dedicated hosting is the way to go
- If you think you are going to have a website that continuously increases in traffic, dedicated hosting will deal with this better than shared hosting
If cost is not an issue, then there are also some shared hosting that are very good, such as SiteGround or Kinsta.
10. What Plugins will you use?
For WordPress websites, it is an open source platform for developers to create plugin and functionality for websites. This makes it really good for getting the functionality you want. But, at the same time, can cause issues as to what functionality you want, where you can find it and so on.
For this reason, have a read of the 20+ plugins used on a 1mil+/month website. This will give you an idea as to the type of plugins a high-end website with lots of traffic uses.