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Planning for a Website: A Comprehensive Guide for New Bloggers and Website Owners

Starting a website? Planning for a website is crucial. Whether you website is for business or just a blog let’s demystify the process and set you up for success.

Starting a new website or blog is exciting but don’t forget to plan in advance. There are a number of steps needed from picking a domain name, selecting a hosting provider and much more. We’ll guide you through the tasks making a few suggestions along the way.

Let’s dive into the topic of planning for a website.

Table of Contents

Introduction

small business owner planning for a website

There is plenty of work that goes into planning, building, testing and launching a website. To avoid making too many mistakes along the way this post will describe the tasks and provide a few opinions and suggestions to help you make decisions.

I am going to assume you are setting up a website or blog on your own. This will be the cheapest method and the one where you need the most guidance when deciding what to do.

I also assume your don’t have much, or any, technical knowledge. That’s fine, you don’t need any as tools and wizards will do the work for you.

Defining Your Website’s Purpose

What are you trying to achieve with your website? Why do you want a website? There could be many reasons, such as:

  • Small business owner wanting to acquire customers online
  • Selling products or services online
  • Personally blogging supported by ads or affiliate links
  • Non-profit using a site for outreach and education
  • Hobbyist, not looking to make money from your site

Regardless of your motivations, it’s important to define the purpose of your website in advance and keep it in mind throughout the website building process.

Choosing a Domain Name and Web Hosting Provider

A hosting provider is a company that offers hosting services, which means they own the physical web server machines where your website will operate. They provide all the necessary software tools for creating, maintaining, and running your website.

Choosing a good hosting provider is critical. Why? Because the security, speed and ease of use of maintaining your website are dependant on your hosting provider.

If you are unfamiliar with hosting providers I recommend SiteGround. It’s the service I use for this website and I’ve found their customer support to be excellent whenever issues arise. Their software tools simplify all essential website tasks, making them accessible even for non-technical users.

Every website needs a domain name, such as “nike.com“, which is the name following “www.” You must find and register a unique domain name.

Don’t worry about including niche keywords into your domain name, as Google has clarified that it doesn’t affect ranking.

Here are some tips for choosing a domain name:

  1. Make it memorable.
  2. Keep it short.
  3. Ensure it’s easy to spell.

Many hosting providers offer domain registration as part of the website setup process, which is the simplest approach, especially for beginners. I recommend this approach for ease of use.

siteground-choose-domain

You need to pay for your domain each year. It usually costs $5-10 per year for a “.com” domain. Other domains may be more expensive. I recommend using “.com” or a country specific domain if your site is only for one country, e.g. “.co.uk” for the UK.

Selecting a Content Management System (CMS)

For blogging, and to a lesser extent for other types of websites, using a Content Management System (CMS) is highly recommended.

This software is great for managing content, such as pages and blog posts. I recommend opting for WordPress software if you’re unsure which platform to choose. It’s the most widely used blogging system in the world, with nearly half of all websites on the internet using it. Unless you have special reasons not to, use WordPress for your website.

Hosting providers typically offer scripts and wizards to easily install this software for you. With just a few clicks, you can usually install WordPress within minutes, often with a default theme and plugins included.

Structure & Layout

planning for a website: structure and layout

What pages should you add to your website? In most cases you will want the following:

  • Home Page
  • About Us
  • Product/Services Page(s)
  • Contact Us
  • Blog Section

For a blogger, you don’t need as many pages just your blog and the “Contact Us” form page will be enough,

Designing Your Website

Depending on the software platform you choose you will have a number of layouts or “themes” you can install. WordPress, for example, has over 11,900+ themes available at the time of writing.

After installation, customizing a theme is straightforward. You can adjust everything from fonts, font sizes, colors, layout, widgets, and more to suit your preferences.

Ensure you select a theme that is mobile-friendly. Nowadays, approximately 50% of website traffic comes from smartphone users. Your website must look and function seamlessly for these visitors.

Do not select font sizes that are too small or a sizeable portion of your visitors may have difficulty reading your content.

When designing your website, consider the layout, including widgets, sidebar, and footer sections. These sections can provide quick access to other areas of your site, or in the case of the footer, display contact details, social media links, and/or address and phone details.

Creating Compelling Content

create compelling content

The number one ranking factor for Google is content quality. Mediocre content is unlikely to land on the first page of Google unless there’s no competition in your niche.

First, start brainstorming blog ideas. One approach is to use seed keywords, broad topics associated with your niche. For example, if you’re considering a yoga blog, you could explore “yoga poses” or “yoga positions”.

Seed keywords are often too competitive, so focus on related longer-tail keywords that are less competitive and easier to rank for. Check out this article on finding low competition keywords.

Once you have a blog idea and a researched rankable keyword, draft your blog. Divide your post into sections:

Starting a Blog Post

Outlining a Blog Post

Ending a Blog Post

After proofreading your blog post, publish it on your site. Google will automatically index the new content over time without any action required from you.

Optimizing for Search Engines (SEO)

SEO is a big subject, covered extensively on this website. Think of it as fine-tuning your content before publishing it. You want your content to be easy for search engines to crawl, process and index.

In practice, this means performing the following tasks:

  • Perform keyword research to find relevant, rankable keywords for each blog post
  • Include your keyword in the blog post title, header, subheaders and within the text of the post
  • Add a meta description to describe the page for each post
  • Create, or find, suitable images to add throughout the post
  • Check your text for spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Ensure your text is simple and readable (not everyone speaks English as their first language)

This is not an exhaustive list. Check this article for more SEO tips: 29 SEO Tips and Tricks

Invest in a keyword research tool. It’s almost impossible to rank for keywords without one. Why? Because, popular keywords are highly competitive and it’s difficult to find relevant, rankable keywords without using a tool.

If you don’t have the budget for a top-tier tool then consider a mid-tier tool like SE Ranking. In addition to keyword discovery it also performs competition research, on-page checks and a full SEO audit of your website.

Try the keyword research report out for free using the widget below. Just type a keyword phrase like “keto diet basics”, or preferable a relevant phrase for your blog or website:

Setting Up Analytics

planning for a website: setting up analytics

The reason you want to launch a website is to get visitors! So, how do you know when you have visitors on your site? You use a website analytics tool that will track and measure website visitors and provide you with a wealth of information about the visit, including:

  • Each page visited
  • Average session time (how long they spent on your website)
  • Source of traffic (search, other website, social media platform)
  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate

And much more. The heavyweight analytics software is Google Analytics. For those looking for something more lightweight and easy to use I recommend Clicky. For basic metrics it’s completely free to use and can be set up in minutes. Simply, add a script to each page or use the WordPress plugin for installation.

Once installed, use the Clicky website to see your website metrics. If you want more fancy graphs and charts you can upgrade to a paid plan.

Get Clicky

Important Metrics to Monitor For Your Website

Tracking User Engagement Metrics

Testing and Launching Your Website

Before launching your website officially, that is before telling anyone your website is live, you should test it thoroughly first.

Test on different platforms such as:

  • Different browsers
  • Smartphones (Apple and Android)
  • Different sized screens (not everyone has a 32″ display)

If you find any visual issues it’s worth fixing them before launching.

Pay attention to visual problems such as font sizes and colors. Why? Not everyone has 20/20 vision, older people especially may have problems reading your content if the font size used is too small. Some people, suffer from mild to severe forms of color blindness so pick high contrast colors if supported by your theme.

Ensure your website loads quickly. People, especially younger readers, are impatient, they have limited focus and patience. A slow loading website will make them “bounce” or exit your website quickly.

Submit your site to Google for indexing. SEO plugins, such as the All in One SEO plugin, will generate a sitemap for your automatically. Submit this site to Google using the Google Search Console to start the process of indexing your site.

planning for a website: All in One SEO, Sitemap support

Don’t expect instantaneous ranking and indexing though, it can take some time.

Maintain and Secure Your Website

Once your website is live you may start attracting the attention from malign actors such as:

  • Hackers
  • Spammers
  • Malware or viruses
  • Ransomware gangs

It’s essential to secure your against these attackers. Picking a reliable hosting provider will go along way to ensuring your website has some protection — but you will need to go further.

I’ve written previously about how to harden your website against hackers. A quick summary is:

Website security is a big subject so I recommend reading more about the subject. The last thing you want to happen is your website gets hacked.

How to Get Rid of a Hacker on Your WordPress Website

Is Your WordPress Website Not Secure? Bulletproof Your Security Today!

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading this article, I hope you found it informative and useful. Here is a quick recap:

  • Decide the purpose of the website
  • Pick a domain name
  • Choose a software platform
  • Choose a hosting provider and plan
  • Choose a theme and a few essential plugins (SEO, Security, Optimization)
  • Create amazing content
  • Do keyword research for each blog post, perform SEO tasks before publishing
  • Maintain your website by keeping all software up to date and taking backups

Good luck with your website journey! Automate as many tasks as possible and invest in tools that save you time so you can focus on tasks that move the needle – crafting amazing content that goes to the top of Google’s rankings.

SE Ranking Banner

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