Advertisements

Ten things to do first when creating a new website

Alright, so you’ve got your CMS (website software) installed and set up, and you’re looking at your new front page.

Now what?

Here’s my suggestions for the first ten things to do to get your website “off the ground” as it were. It’s recommended that they be done in some kind of order, as you will get the best results with one after having done the others before it.

1. Edit your front page

This should go without saying. Change the default content to something a little personal talking about you and your new site. State what it’s about, but don’t go overboard with the keywords or ads. A new site is a new site, but a new site rife with “keywords” and ads will scream “stay away!”

Don’t worry about themes at this point, unless you have something specific in mind. The search engines won’t care what kind of theme you use and they’ll re-index as things change. There will be plenty of time for theming later.

2. Get an XML Sitemap plugin

XML sitemaps are sitemaps specifically designed for search engines to use to crawl your site quickly and effectively. They contain a list of every page regardless of whether or not it’s linked from another page, and the page’s last update. Even better, most XML Sitemap plugins will automatically “ping” (or notify) the search engines when you create a new page or update a page. A must have for fast indexing.

3. Get your webmaster accounts

Google, Yahoo, and Bing offer webmaster tools for site owners to submit, verify, and specify XML sitemaps for their sites. Once you complete this step, search engines will usually begin crawling your site within a day.

Make sure to complete the verification steps at each site.

Here are the direct links: Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, Bing Webmaster Center

4. Get a good stats system

Server logs aren’t a good indicator of site traffic unless you’re getting less than a handful of hits each day. Even then, once you start getting some traffic, you’re going to want to see specifically what pages are popular and with what visitors. Even inbound searches will show you what you’re doing right so you can keep focusing on the important stuff.

I recommend Clicky. The stats are real-time and it’s free for one site.

5. Get some inbound links

Chances are you have at least one friend with a website. Ask them to put up a link to yours. This is good for two things, traffic and search engine ranking.

Visitors to the other site may see a link to yours and click on it, and search engines will see the link from the other site to yours and “follow” it to yours, helping your search ranking.

Of course, it helps if the sites are on the same topic as yours.

6. Make it your own

Start playing with the theme, layout, and color options. Make it your space and your style. Darker themes are more suitable for personal sites, lighter themes for more professional. Use colorful backgrounds that show off your skills if you are an artist (painted or drawn art, music, etc. If you create something, show some style).

7. Start adding real content

Nothing is going to turn away visitors faster than the words “Coming Soon” or “Under  Construction.” Post something up, if only a few paragraphs. Talk about yourself, the reason and aim for your site, and what you’re working on. Link to your user profile on some social networking sites, put up pictures. Above all, make sure it’s original content! Users know when you steal from other websites, and it will immediately discredit you.

8. Make yourself available

Add a contact form, your email address, a Skype or Google Voice button if you have them. If a viewer wants to get in touch with you, they should be able to. If you’re a business, your address and/or telephone number are also a must.

9. Add interaction

Add a comment box or guestbook. Let visitors comment (even if it’s negative). You may learn something. Respond to the comments to show you are involved and that you care.

10. Update often!

A web site is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. Look at your site regularly and add new content, update out-of-date content, and play around with the layout. Out-of-date content is a turn-off for most web visitors. No one wants to spend time reading a post that is obsolete or out-of-date. Keep it fresh and keep it coming.

Have experience launching a website or any advice to share? Did you try these tips? Did they work for you? Have something to add? Please share it in the comments!

Advertisements

, , , ,

  1. #1 by Nimmy on June 29, 2010 - 3:48 am

    When setting up the Google Webmasters Tools, it generates a code to be inserted into a sites "home page". In my case, thoughts.thedeificnmi.com is a sub-domain.
    would the file that the could would be entered into be the index.php?

    • #2 by Mike Beach on June 29, 2010 - 3:52 am

      There's 3 options:

      * A meta tag (which is added to whatever index file you have). It should output as shown in the webmaster verification section.

      * A simple text file, placed where the verification tool tells you to (in your sites root directory)

      * Or via a DNS record.
      My recent post Ten things to do first when creating a new website

    • #3 by Mike Beach on June 29, 2010 - 3:53 am

      From http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answ

      To verify that you own a site, you can either add a meta tag to your home page (proving that you have access to the source files), upload an HTML file with the name you specify to your server, or add a DNS TXT record (both of which prove that you have access to the server). Webmaster Tools will check to see that the file or tag is present. If it is, we consider you a site owner and will show you site details.

      Each verification method has its advantages. Verifying using a meta tag is ideal if you aren't able to upload a file to your server. If you have direct access to your server, you may find it easier and faster to upload an HTML file.
      My recent post Ten things to do first when creating a new website

  2. #4 by Nimmy on June 29, 2010 - 4:12 am

    Do you recommend any particular XML Sitemap plugin for WordPress?
    My recent post Items For Sale-

    • #5 by Mike Beach on June 29, 2010 - 4:16 am

      I use "Google XML Sitemaps" from http://bit.ly/J96R
      My recent post Ten things to do first when creating a new website

  3. #6 by Nimmy on June 29, 2010 - 4:14 am

    And I just did the upload a file to my server for the verification / tip #3.

    Thanks for the advice Mike
    My recent post Items For Sale-

  4. #7 by Nimmy on June 29, 2010 - 4:20 am

    I do agree with all of the above tips for the most part.
    However, I do think that a "web designer" or should have a decent idea of the layout beforehand.

    Another tip or two from me:

    *Proofread your content. If possible, type up in your favorite word processor application [Open Office, MS Office Word, Notepad, etc..] and spellcheck it! Nothing I hate more then seeing poor spelling, especially when that misspelling is on a technical site or site that lends itself as a "news site". Earlier, I noticed in an article from BBC.com that the word "initially" was misspelled. They dropped an "l". Along with this is grammar checking.

    * A Pet Peeve of mine – text alignment. I personally think that on a website, that left / right / center alignment looks ugly. I prefer seeing Justify Alignment.
    My recent post Items For Sale-

  5. #8 by MBA jaipur on July 4, 2010 - 1:52 am

    These are really good tips for someone who is newbie as well as for intermediate one..

    Prior to starting your website you should research huge for your keywrod and then adopt a domain which do have keyword in it… I recently found some webmasters using numbers in their domain. Suppose a domain with keyword is not available with any tld's so they are choosing 123keyword.tld as their domain!!

    Have anyone noticed this or used this strategy and how much advantage you have got from this? Would love to hear views on this from visitors as well as blog owner!!

    • #9 by Mike Beach on July 10, 2010 - 8:15 am

      Personally, I feel that a site with a number in it is just as you said — a play on the keyword. Typically I see most numbered sites on infomercials and the like and in my mind they are immediately discredited.

      Whenever I see a website that sells a product of service that has a number in the URL, I stay away.
      My recent post WP Super Cache breaks IntenseDebate…