The Basics of Building Websites
Ok, let's assume you have joined WPX Hosting and Thrive Themes. You have your domain name (and niche) sorted. Now you need to learn how to build websites...
You have installed WordPress and a suitable theme. Now you are sitting there, staring at your screen wondering where to go next.
First things first, you need some structure. We're going to start off with planning and thinking about what your website will look like and what it is about.
Planning your website
Once you have read the following, shut down your computer, grab a notepad and pen and start brainstorming.
What I do when I am doing anything like this is think of the end product. Whether I am producing a wedding album for a client, shooting and editing a video, writing a book or decorating our living room, I always visualise the final outcome.
Think of your website like a book with:
- 2Sub headings
Start by thinking of and writing down all the main chapters of your website and put them in some sort of logical order. These will be your main menu items. For example, on a dog training website:
These will be the main heading and menu items along the top of your web pages. When one of these is clicked, you will be taken to the second tier pages.
Think of your website as a pyramid. The Homepage is at the top all alone. Below that are the headings outlined above, and below them are the second tier pages...the sub-headings.
So, when I click on dog breeds for example, I should be taken to a page with a list of different dog breeds with a clickable link (or image) that takes me to that specific dog. This is your third tier page.
Help! What is my site/business about?
Think you don't know anything about anything? You're wrong!
You know you want to do this but you can't think for the life of you what you can build your business around? Maybe you can...you're lucky. If you are like me, you have too many ideas!
If you are stuck, try this. Go and sit somewhere quiet and reflect on your life up to now. Here are some of mine that I could write about and make money from all day long. Some by themselves, some merged together.
Maybe these will inspire you to think of your own experiences and possible topics.
You see, once you think about it, there are so many subjects that will resonate with you and guess what? You don't need to be an expert in any of them!
Are you a "non-expert"?
If you love traveling, you can just travel and write about it as you go. In your own words with your own images and videos. You learn as you work.
My father taught business and finance at college and I once asked him:
"Why don't you become an accountant? You would make a lot more money".
"I don't want to. I love teaching and anyway, I'm not qualified".
It was then that I learned that the majority of teachers tend to learn the subject or specific module they are teaching that week, month, semester or year and then pass that knowledge on. There are probably only a handful of teachers out there that don't need to study themselves.
Look at politics. How many times do you see a "cabinet re-shuffle" where, for instance, the minister for transport suddenly becomes the minister for health. They learn as they go.
Once you open your eyes to the real world and see how it is run, hopefully you will become a lot more confident in your own abilities.
All you need to do is be able to study, live by or enjoy the topic you want to build your business around and then pass that knowledge on.
As long as you are solving a problem for someone or helping others to achieve their dreams or goals, you are winning...and so are they. Make sense?
That is the basic structure for a site like this but that will grow as the site grows. Other essential pages to add to the menu would be:
The about us page should be a personable page telling your story. It should be fairly personal (but professional) and include a photo of you as well as other images or videos that show what you do.
The contact page should be plain and simple with all the ways of contacting you clearly visible. Show your telephone number, email address and street address. Google love it when webmasters are transparent like that. Having your address shows that you are genuine, credible and trustworthy.
The sitemap page is there for people that are not so web savvy or are looking for a specific topic or item. As your site grows, you don't want to be adding every page so keep it to the main tier 2, 3 and perhaps 4 pages.
For this reason, it is also good to have a search bar visible on your website.
Lastly for this section, you need to install the Google XML Sitemap plugin. This is essential for allowing all the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc) to better index your website.
This is the part where most people stumble at first. It can be quite daunting as you sit there staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page not knowing what to write about. As the song goes, start at the very beginning...
Choose one page at a time and start writing. Break the page down into sub headings and get those written out first.
Important: Always think of the visitor/reader/viewer of that page. Make sure that when the visitor arrives on the page, he or she knows exactly what that page is about.
Whether it is a large heading or image with text on, it must relate to the content on that page.
It was always assumed that Google liked to see a good block of text (two or three paragraphs) above the "fold" of your pages. Try to stick to that whenever possible and include headings.
Note: The fold is everything you can see on a page before you need to scroll to see more.
Stay on track
It is also important that your content stays "on topic" for that page and doesn't deviate too much.
For example, if your page is about Golden Retrievers, don't go off at a tangent talking about all manner of other dogs. Of course, you can do this in context with dog comparisons for example. However, try not to split the page 50/50 between 2 different dogs when the page is predominantly about one particular dog.
The reason for this is:
- 1It lets the reader know your site has good structure throughout
- 2It helps enormously when getting a page ranked higher for certain keywords
As well as staying on topic for each page, it is also important to think about the main keyword you will use for that page. Let's use the example "Golden Retriever".
Now, even though that is a hard term to win first page ranking for, you need to think more "long tail" (boom boom). You really have two choices.
- 1You can opt for the keyword "golden retriever" and build additional keywords around it throughout the page
- 2Or you choose a "long tail" keyword for that term in the hope of gaining rankings for that.
Using the Google keyword planner (you will need an Adwords account), you can see that the term "Golden Retriever" gets a lot of traffic (100k-1m searches per month).
However, if you build a page around the next keyword "Golden Retriever Training", you get a lot less traffic (100-1000 per month but with much less competition.
Personally? I would build two pages. One for the popular keyword for which I would then build in all of the other keywords around it. The other for the training keyword which viewers would be taken to via a link on the main page if that makes sense.
The more pages and posts you build throughout your site, the more you become an "authority site". This then helps all pages to rank as you grow over time.
Links in and out
Links both in and out of your pages are very important but DO NOT SPAM. Never pay for links in to your site from a "link farm" and never accept payment for links out. If you do charge for links out of your site (from a 3rd party article for example), remember to nofollow it.
Google frown seriously on any dubious activities regarding links.
Make sure that each page or post you build has at least two links leaving that page. One to an internal section of your site that is relevant in some way. Another that takes the reader to another website altogether that is again, relevant. This is simply good practice and leads to a better experience for the visitor.
Sometimes it isn't possible but try to adhere to this when you can.
You can get links into your site in a natural way by creating great content. This will entice visitors to share that page's link on their own websites, blogs, social media accounts and so on. You can also write guest posts for other websites which will also link back to your page.
More on this in the traffic section later on.
We are a visual creature (humans). We have a limited attention span but we are always drawn to a good photo, especially if it is relevant to what we are searching for. For example, a dog lover with a Golden Retriever lands on your page devoted to this breed and the first thing they see is a photo that is either:
They are more likely to continue reading and hopefully share that page.
Always have your best photo at the top of the page but try to make sure you can still read some text too. All good for SEO (search engine optimisation).
If you can, and the page is long enough, scatter one or two additional photos about the page with one at the bottom. Also, make sure to add ALT tags to each photo.
Doing that will help them get found via image searches with the search engines. Another huge form of traffic acquisition.
In case you hadn't noticed, video is huge these days. When I started online, YouTube didn't exist. I had to use an expensive third party tool to enable me to host videos on my website.
Nowadays we are spoilt for choice.
Hosting videos (your own or other people's) on your website can really help in two main ways:
- 1It creates engagement and better overall experience for your visitors
- 2It keeps them on your site longer which is great for SEO and rankings
If you are new to video and don't know where to start, leverage the power of other people's clips from YouTube or Vimeo. Learn how to embed them (easy) on your site with the aim of one day replacing them with your own.
The benefits of having your own, homemade videos are:
- 1They are more personal and allow you to connect with your readers a lot more
- 2You don't run the risk of a visitor "going off at a tangent" as they research that person
- 3YouTube is another way of monetizing your website in a few ways
It is easy to create your own videos using a Smartphone these day and always record in the highest possible quality. Good for future proofing your clips so that you don't need to re-shoot one day.
If you prefer more control, two cameras I highly recommend for video (including vlogging) are:
Both fairly expensive but well worth it for too many reasons to go into here.
This is a huge subject so I will only touch on the basics for now.
The internet is a living beast. It is always changing and therefore the internet marketing techniques evolve with it for getting traffic. This is what keeps us on our toes.
I will say right from the start, get your traffic from legitimate sources.
There is nothing worse than being bombarded with spammy, click-bait links and emails only to find you are on some heavily sales driven site that has no bearing on what you thought it was.
There is no need for that if you produce a great product that people want to share.
Take this website for example. I've been doing this for over a decade and I genuinely enjoy teaching people. I have taught many, many people both online and off. I have even organised a few offline courses in some great locations in the UK including London, Dorset and the Lake District.
The free product I have created here will hopefully get people motivated to do something different with their lives and I earn a little during that process. I am also currently involved in a project with a team from Pinewood Studios that will hopefully do our bit to change the world with regards to human interference and the mess we are making.
Be honest, up front and do good.
The holy grail of traffic is organic traffic. This is where your site over time works its way up through the rankings and people find you via the search engines.
The only way this will happen is if you do everything we are teaching you here.
I want to touch on a couple of points above. When writing great content, you need to make sure it is easily readable for all of your visitors first and foremost. Google will eventually send a human to check out your site before moving it up the rankings.
Note: A great tool for making sure you do this correctly is Yoast SEO. I can't recommend it enough as Yoast will place a "traffic light" system on your site as you build it to ensure you are on the right track.
Before search engines send a human to your website, they will crawl it with a spider or bot (robot).
This little electronic critter will fly around your website checking whatever it checks and then report back to Google etc. If it continuously comes across dead ends where it cannot crawl freely, this can end up giving you a poor rating.
By creating links on every page and post, internal and external, the spider will navigate quickly and easily. It's report will then be more favourable to you.
My main website has had over 16 million unique visitors and all of that was organic.
Really pay attention to how you keyword everything about your website. Text, images and video. This is what will ultimately get you found so again, using Google's own keyword tool, you won't go wrong.
Just don't practice keyword stuffing where you fill the pages with irrelevant or overly used keywords. Keyword stuffing is one of the black hat techniques that are very much frowned upon.
Again, my tip is to go for the "low hanging fruit" with long tail, relevant keywords.
Blogging and Vlogging
Definitely try to create at least one new blog post each week to keep your site current. Keep each post on topic, up to date and relevant to your niche. Keep it clean, informative and use images where you can. Post a link to that blog entry on social media every time you create a new one.
Once you become more confident, I would recommend that you start creating videos too. They can be anything from a quick, interesting or funny vlog through to a full on video review. Either way, video is engaging and it keeps people on your website for longer.
Again, make sure to post a link to that video on all your social media accounts.
Non Organic Traffic
This seems like a good place to start with social media.
If you have various social media accounts set up already, be sure to create separate ones for your new online business. Don't spam your personal accounts with your business activities. You can always ask your fans, followers, family and friends to join your business social accounts.
Set up a business page at Facebook and link it to your new business Twitter account. Make the most of Pinterest and Instagram by setting up your business accounts there too. This is why images and video are important, they get shared the most online.
Look at other sites too such as LinkedIn etc. Whatever suits the way you work and your business.
Email lists and newsletters
Email marketing is still the most effective way to engage your audience and make money online. As they say, the money is in the list. I still sign up and hand over my email address all the time for things like:
If you do it right and respect your subscribers, you should do well. Don't treat them like a cash machine by hitting them with sales pitches all the time. Make sure you inform them of regular updates to your website and give away great, free advice or training when you can.
Make around 7 out of 8 emails something useful for them with number 8 being an offer or product review of some sort.
Try to have a system of more than one email capture methods that is relevant to that person visiting your website. For example, if you have a generic email list for all, it won't always work.
Take the dog training business for example.
It is great to have any list but think about your readers. Maybe I have a Red Setter dog and only want to receive emails about that. If I was on your generic list, I may also get irrelevant emails about other breeds.
For example, let's say you have multiple lists for:
This way, when you have info to share on a particular dog, you could send it just to that relevant list (Red Setters for example). If the post about Red Setters also includes great information or stories about dog nutrition in general, you could send it to two lists (e.g. Labradors and Nutrition).
You could have various, different sign up forms on each relevant section of your website. Does that make sense? There is a charge to join one of the email companies above but they are definitely worth it.
Paid advertising could be used in a number of ways (but it can become expensive very quickly):
If you go this route, you really need to study and learn about tracking and analytics. This is where you can record exactly where your traffic is coming from, where they leave your site and which links they click. Nothing underhand, it just allows you to tweak and perfect your processes.
You can advertise any of the above in a number of ways:
Before doing any paid advertising, make sure your website is 100% ready to go. Anyone arriving at an ugly, half-finished website will almost certainly leave right away and not come back.
Note: This effects and increases your "bounce rate" which isn't good.
I have done a few of these myself and I also accept them on my websites. I get quite a few emails from people within my industries asking if they can write a guest post for me.
This can be great when I don't have time to do much writing myself and that person can become a regular contributor. I get free content, they get a link to their website or blog.
It can work well but I always make sure that the content I am getting is 100% original and unique to my website. It won't be posted anywhere else. This prevents duplicate content being shown on the web which could harm my website's ranking etc.
Here is an example of a guest post on one of my photography websites. The funny thing is, as I went to that page to grab the URL, I checked and noticed that the link the author gave points to a 404 page (dead link).
I have now removed that link (to his "guide about professional DSLR cameras") as dead links can also harm your site. I left his Twitter link intact. In fact, that entire site is currently being completely re-written and renewed!
Commenting and forums
Shady area this. Not because it is illegal or "black hat", it's just that some people tend to overdo it. Becoming a forum spammer will do your reputation no good whatsoever and word will soon get about. Don't do it, it's not worth it.
Find and join forums in your niche that genuinely interest you. Participate regularly with the aim of helping others where you can. Don't add a link to every post you make. In fact, keep it to a minimum. Most forums allow you to add your website link to your profile so do that.
Forum participation is a way to get you and your branding out there as an "authority". People will learn to trust you and like what you are saying. They will do their own research and find you that way. Keep it simple but join in regularly if you can.
It is the same with commenting on reviews, posts, blogs, vlogs and YouTube videos. The latter, YouTube, does all the work for you as your profile links directly to your own channel.
I always try to comment, where applicable, on YouTube videos that I watch and my subscriber count and views are always growing.
Don't spam, annoy people, get into arguments or fights. A post or comment online is for life and not just Christmas you know! Even after you delete it...
Reviews (Amazon etc)
I admit it, I love Amazon. They provide an amazing service that is only getting better. I buy a lot of products through Amazon and one Saturday evening I ordered something at around 6pm.
The next day, which happened to be Easter Sunday, there it was lying on my doormat in the morning. Incredible.
I am also an affiliate for Amazon and have sold well over $2m worth of products for them.
If you buy anything of relevance to your niche from Amazon, be sure to leave an honest review. When you do, it gets accepted and then your profile will show alongside that review.
If people click on that, they are taken to your profile page where you can add your website link, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links.
You can do the same on any website that accepts product reviews. Just sign up, create a profile and add your review. You sometimes get the odd bonus too. I did an extensive review for a camera I had purchased and received an email a couple of months later saying I had won a really cool camera bag worth £160!
How to Build Websites - Summary
I really have only touched on these subjects today but I hope this page has inspired and motivated you into taking action? It is also designed to give you at least some knowledge before getting started.
With a bit of hard work and dedication, anyone can make this work!
Lastly, think about the absolute worst case scenario. You build a great website but for whatever reason let's say you then decide to stop doing this later down the line.
You can easily sell the website and more than cover all of your costs (and more) before the year is out. You can even teach other people how to build websites and get paid for it!
More on this in the last section "10 ways to make money online"...