How To Get Your First Website or Major Site Upgrade Right
Everything happens for the first time. Even your own website. Whether it’s your company’s website, online store or blog, there are basic points to follow if you want to succeed. The algorithm of action, which I describe in this article, was worked out over several years in the field of marketing and SEO. Many of these steps are as important for a major site upgrade, as much will have changed since your previous you went live. So, let’s go.
Choosing a particular niche to focus
It is very important to choose a narrow niche and focus on it. Competing in a broad niche is too time-consuming, expensive and inefficient.
The fact is that if you want to promote your website, for example, for the keyword “electronics,” then you will find yourself among dozens of powerful competitors that you will not be able to beat in many years. It is quite another matter if you focus on something less generalized. For example, on vacuum cleaners. Or even more narrowly – on vacuum cleaners by Phillips.
In addition to the fact that there will always be less competition in a narrow niche, the target audience is also significantly reduced. And it’s easier to determine the sex, age, field of interests and other things about your buyer persona. So it would be easier to build a certain promotion strategy.
By focusing on main advantages, you will achieve a higher conversion rate on your site. It is important to determine your focus at the beginning. PPC advertising helps a lot while looking for the niche. Don’t even think about SEO optimization until your direction is determined. You may make mistakes along the way, but sooner or later, you will find the niche that proves to be optimal. Remember the only people who have never made mistakes, are those who have tried little or nothing.
Analyze your niche
Whatever narrow niche you finally choose, it’s a near certainty that somebody is already in that space. Be sure it’s necessary to study your potential competitors and their activity before starting your own.
To my mind, to conduct a full competitor analysis, you need just 3 tools.
SimilarWeb is a very convenient tool for finding the approximate number of visitors to any website, and seeing its traffic dynamics, source and distribution.
I use their extension for Chrome, which makes this process very simple and quick.
Serpstat is an all-in-one SEO platform (alternative to Moz, Semrush, Ahrefs). To begin with, Serpstat will help you find your direct competitors in organic search and paid ads. The algorithm is simple and efficient – the program calculates coincidences in keywords — the more of them, the more crossover you have with a competitor.
Once your rivals have been identified, programs such as Serpstat are needed to thoroughly analyze their promotion strategies. You can find out which keywords your competitors are ranking for in organic search, the ranking dynamics for specific keywords, which other sites are referring to a competitor (backlinks – I’ll talk about this a bit later), which ads your competitors use to promote, and more. I won’t overload this article with details, but you can read this tutorial for greater depth.
Fanpage Karma is a wonderful tool to study the website’s activity in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+. Every serious business uses social networks for promotion, so this kind of analysis is also crucial.
Using tools like Fanpage Karma, you find out the most and the least successful posts, and create an overview of the most effective KPIs on rival’s social networks. Analyze the received data (find out what kind of posts are the most successful, what time is the best for publishing etc.) to build your own successful social media promotion strategy.
Creating the semantic core
Organic search is the most efficient way to attract traffic. Of course, to use its benefits, you should first make your website visible to the audience. This issue is solved with the help of semantic core.
A semantic core is a set of words and phrases that reflect the theme and structure of a site. When you compose the semantic core, you answer the global question: what information can be found on the site? You need to determine what search queries people use to find information that will be published on the site.
Previously, it was customary to look for popular keywords and build a site structure based on them. This option is imperfect because the informational value of the site is often reduced. Now the situation has changed. More often – and more effectively – the structure of the site is created first, then the keywords are distributed among this structure.
In fact, you need to do keyword research. And the explanation of this process demands a separate article. So I better suggest you learning about the keyword research from this chapter of Moz’s SEO guide. Remember, that no smartly-built websites are created without using a semantic core.
On-page SEO aims to improve website’s usability, user-friendliness and make the search engines ‘love’ it.
Technical site audit
A technical site audit is something you must do before any SEO activities. An audit includes checking a site’s:
- Meta tags and titles
- Pages status
- Broken links
- Measuring page load speed
If something is wrong with any of these points, you should first fix the errors before attracting users to the website. It may take some time, and it certainly requires specialized knowledge. But slow websites without accurate descriptions etc. will never work for either users and search engines.
With the help of special tools, you can conduct a site audit in approximately 10 minutes and get the dashboard of all the errors on your website and the links to them.
And don’t forget to check if the website is mobile-friendly! About 80% of people browse more often on their smartphones than on larger format screens. Google also loves mobile-optimized sites and put them higher in the search results, but that’s another story.
Clear and user-friendly design means the world for any kind of website. It shouldn’t look like the contents of your girlfriend’s handbag. 🙂
The golden rule says that any section of a website must be easily reached in 3 clicks. And I’m sure if you think of your favorite sites now, you’ll get that they follow this rule.
Maybe an exceptions can be made for online stores with a huge variety of goods. But if the structure is complicated, there always have to be bread crumbs. And don’t forget about the search bar! Your customers will be grateful for easing their shopping process, and you could find out what your visitors are searching for the most often.
Remember Your Content
Whatever you say, content is still a king. If it is relevant and useful, and it reflects your reader’s pain points, content will bring you traffic with a minimum of effort. But a plain text stuffed with keywords, even wrapped in the most beautiful shell, will not be shared a lot. Use Google Trends to catch and cover the most relevant topics.
Another point is the length of the text. Long texts often rank higher in the SERP. Maybe that’s because Google thinks that such texts cover the topic more in a more detailed manner.
And please pay great attention to grammar. First, text with obvious errors is annoying. Secondly, errors may stop your content from being ranked according to the queries you have targeted. My favorite text-checking tool is Grammarly.
As you probably guessed, off-page SEO relates to activities you can perform outside the boundaries of your website. Basically, it means link building and social media activities. Both of these require the separate articles, but I’ll try to explain briefly.
Link building is the process of gaining backlinks – that is, links from other websites to your site. Before 2012, backlinks were the most important aspect of page rankings. The more websites linked to the website, the more likely they’d have appeared in the top of a SERP. Unscrupulous webmasters purchased hundreds of backlinks, and basically cheated their way to the top of the first page.
But now the situation is totally different. Backlinks must be of the high quality to positively influence the rankings. High-quality backlinks come from sites with relevant themes and a high level of Google’s trust.
To get high-quality backlinks, you have to write guest posts or ask other bloggers to write about you. And of course, to produce a content awesome enough to be shared naturally by the people in their social networks.
To learn more about building backlinks, you could read one of my recent articles on Seosandwitch.
The bottom line
Everything flows, everything changes. And quickly! Search engine algorithms can change, and you should always monitor the latest trends in SEO and web design. And always keep a close eye on your competitors. In my next article for this wonderful blog, I’ll cover how to “spy” on your competitors to never lag behind them.
Over To You
Do you have any lessons you’d like to pass on to people building a first website or looking to incorporate current trends into an upgrade? Which tools do you use? Please share in the comments, below.
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