How To Build An Awesome Search Engine Optimised Website From Scratch by SEO Expert Quentin Pain
Step 1 Choose a Domain
- Choose a name.
- Your name (eg. JaneJones.com)
- Locality + Industry (eg. PeterboroughAccountant.co.uk) - or vice versa
- Your name + Industry (eg. JonesAccountants.co.uk)
- Something random (eg. JazzyJazz.com)
- Choose a domain extension
- Always choose .com if your market is global (or if you want to punch above your weight)
- Choose local (eg. .co.uk) if you serve a local or national market
- Avoid any other extension unless the .com and .co.uk are not available
- Check if your domain is free
- Go to NameCheap.com (you only need to buy the domain at this point - no extras)
- If your domain is taken, go back to step 1
Step 2 Choose a Framework
There's no point in reinventing the wheel, so go for WordPress. Don't listen to anyone who tells you it's not secure, or it's only for bloggers, or it's rubbish, or any of a myriad of other reasons.
WordPress is the most widely used website framework on the planet - by a very long way (30% of the top 10 million websites use WordPress).
Some of the world's most respected brands run on WordPress including: BBC America, Sony Music, Bloomberg, Variety, Beyonce, Sweden (yes the country's official website runs on WordPress), Walt Disney, Microsoft News and on and on.
Do you think those brands would use it if it were insecure or 'just a blog'?
Step 3 Choose a Theme
WordPress has more plugins than there are stars in the universe (not quite true, but sometimes it feels like it). But if you choose the right theme, you can forget most of those plugins. The theme will have the most important ones built in.
Here at ProofMEDIA we've used them all. And now we stick to just one: ThriveThemes.
We use ThriveThemes because they have a strong track record and because they include just about every online tool imaginable, from quizzes, to testimonials, to lead generation, to split testing.
But best of all, they have a state of the art page designer packed with templates.
Step 4 Choose Where to Host your Site
You will need somewhere to host your site. The choice is massive. There are hosting companies everywhere. Hundreds of thousands of them. But most are simply affiliates and resellers.
The key thing about your hosting company is access to your files, email, DNS, server speed, server reliability, backups and support.
We've used most of the main ones and now stick to just one: Krystal.co.uk - they were established in 2002 and remain a private company (unlike many others who have been bought out by the huge dinosaur hosting companies).
They use solid state drives (vital for speed and reliability) and free SSL (security).
Step 5 Connect Everything Together
Now you have your domain name, framework, theme and hosting, it's time to link it all together (don't worry, we'll cover email a little later).
Login to your hosting account and get your DNS server names
Login to your domain name registrar and point your domain to the new DNS
Go back to your hosting account and use cPanel to install WordPress on your domain (choose the https:// option - eg. https://yourdomain.com)
Wait up to 72 hours for the DNS to update across the web (test by entering your domain name into a browser - if it comes up, you're ready to go)
Upload and install your theme into your WordPress installation
Step 6 Setup your Domain Email
Login to your hosting account, click on the Email option and add a new professional email address for your domain (eg. email@example.com)
Set up a Google Gmail account if you haven't got one. This is by far the easiest way to handle multiple email addresses from a single place.
Inside your hosting account, click on the Email Forwarding option and forward your new email addresses to your Gmail account (Gmail allows you to reply to any email address direct from your Gmail account using the same address the email was sent to - eg. if an email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, when you reply to it from Gmail, the reply will show it's from email@example.com)
Repeat the process until you have all the new email addresses you need
Step 7 Install Plugins
Turn on the GDPR settings in WordPress (if you're using StepByStepSites.com to build your site, we'll do it all for you)
Install, activate and setup an SEO plugin (there's a large choice and many opinions on which is best, WP Meta SEO is good as it's very lightweight and includes your XML Sitemap and Google Analytics integration (unlike all the other SEO plugins including the most popular - YoastSEO)
Install, activate and setup the Jetpack plugin (Jetepack is owned by the people who make WordPress and shows you your visitor info and other stats)
Install and activate the Headers and Footers plugin
Activate the Akismet plugin
Step 8 Content Architecture Part 1
Does the architecture of your site really matter? No, not really. Google and the rest of the search engines DO NOT show sites. They show PAGES. So creating specific pages that answer specific problems is the way to go. People share pages not websites (you can't share a website anyway - only a link to a page).
However, thinking about how your site links together WILL improve your visitors experience. And it will improve your position as an expert in the market if it's done well.
Step 9 Content Architecture Part 2
Here's how to think about and design your website architecture.
Break down your industry into its most important topics. Write a landing page summarising each topic. Then write a series of sub pages for each topic, breaking down each topic into as much detail as possible.
Link each of those sub pages to the topic summary page, and link each of those main topic pages to your main navigation menu. This lets anyone explore your site in detail starting at the home page.
It also breaks down your site very nicely for search engines, especially if you include an XML sitemap (which you absolutely should do).
Step 10 Content Architecture Part 3
You have a choice with your subpage linking. You can either include a menu on the topic page that links to every sub page, or you can link each subpage to the next page - and have a START HERE link on the main topic page.
There's advantages to both depending on your marketing strategy, but if in doubt, use a menu so the reader can choose what they want to do next.
And just to finish up, there's nothing wrong with adopting both approaches - use a menu AND a START HERE link.
Step 11 Create Standard Pages
As well as figuring out a good architecture, you're going to need a set of standard pages. These are the pages search engines AND your visitors will expect to see.
- Contact Us page - how to contact - include map if people can visit you
- About Us/Me page - who you are and why you do what you do
- Disclaimer - important protection for yourself if you sell things from your site including acting as an affiliate or distributor
- Terms and Conditions - similar to a disclaimer but just as important
Step 12 Create Your Home Page
There are two types of home page:
This is because search engines rank PAGES not SITES. And the best pages are almost always interior pages that solve specific problems.
Step 13a The Contents Home Page
Think of your home page as you would the Contents page of a book. It is the place people visit to get an overview of what you do together with links to go deeper into any area they are interested in. The vast majority of sites are built this way.
The key to making it work is to identify your different audience segments and include an easy way for each visitor to choose the area they're interested in.
Making the home page look like the menu of an app is how to do this. Paying a professional designer to make it look good will more than pay for itself. User experience determines success (great graphics, easy navigation and clear descriptions).
Step 13b The Hero Home Page
If you major on one single thing, then positioning what you do on your home page is the best way to go.
A hero home page SHOULD be optimised for search engines. Unlike the Content Home Page, it IS the way you want people to find you.
A hero home page tells a story that aligns perfectly with its ideal prospect. It's the first touch point on the site and the starting place to build long term trust.
Hero home pages lead people deeper into the journey using carefully placed links that ensure they arrive at the right destination for them.
Step 14 Use Images
Words start and end wars. They are the single most important element on any page. They are how we communicate.
A picture may tell a thousand words, but it won't make you money without a BUY button.
What images do best is evoke emotion. People buy using emotion. But search engines don't understand images, so we use the <img alt="some descriptive words here"...> so they do.
We also do this because some people can't see and need the 'alt' words there so they can have them spoken aloud to understand the image and page.
Step 15 Use Video
Video uses text. Either as captions or as audio narrative.
YouTube is growing faster than ever. We are built to watch moving things. They get our attention because back in the day, this ability was our only defense against attack by sabre tooth tigers.
Every article you write can be turned into a video and placed on your YouTube channel.
And that video can then be embedded back in your article giving Google and your readers a choice of how to find and consume your content.
Step 16 Page Word Count Matters
An article on rocket science will need to be the size of an encyclopedia if it wants to answer the question "what is rocket science" fully.
Search engines are discovering that serving up half baked attempts at articles do them (and their readers) no favours - even if there are 100,000 links pointing to a page.
If the top 10 results for rocket science show that the average page length is 5,000 words, then you'd better make sure that not only do you have more words, but that they're better words too.
Step 17 Research your Articles
When we're searching for answers on Google (and who isn't) we want the right result to our search.
We want a single point of reference that tells us precisely what we want to know, or where we can get further information.
Every search engine, and every searcher knows and wants this. And every search engine and searcher knows it can only happen if the search engine is clever enough to pick out wheat from the chaff.
Every article worthy of being found must be based on the best research there is. And right now the best source is Google (which includes YouTube).You can automate much of this using the SEO Roadmaps tool at SEORoadmaps.com
Step 18 Share your Work
What you're reading here has been repurposed as a video and a slideshare. This opens multiple access channels for its audience.
It has also been sliced into small consumable chunks and shared on other channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Everything you create for your site can be repurposed and shared this way.
Some people like to read. Others like to watch. Some like it in one dose, others like it broken down into small consumable chunks.
Slice and share everything you have on every possible channel there is.
Step 19 Getting Help
If you don't understand any aspects of the advice you've read so far, or you simply don't want to do the work, then get people who have those skills to do it for you.
When done properly, their fees will be paid for over and over again as your articles gain attention and popularity.
Write once. Share many times. Forever.