How to set up a website
If you are setting up a website, you will need to decide the platform you want to use. If you’re considering selling products or a service, you will need to use a shopping cart solution that is easy to navigate. You will normally have to pay a monthly fee for an out-of-the-box website like WIX, Squarespace, or Shopify. They’re easy to use and offer a lot of features.
You can also get a free content management system (CMS). You will have to pay a monthly or annual web hosting fee. Popular CMSs for eCommerce are WooCommerce, Drupal and Joomla. You can install plugins if you want to improve the functionality of your website.
For blogs, digital products, and affiliate marketing, your best option is WordPress.
You’ll need to choose a domain name. You may want this to be the same as your business name. Just remember that you won’t rank higher on Google, if you select a domain name that is a keyword for your target market.
You will need to think about a sitemap. This will be your menu and category pages, and will require you to give some thought to customer experience.
Once you’ve installed your website, or created your web account, you’ll have two priority tasks to complete: web content, including headers and titles, and web configuration. Web configuration includes setting up payment gateways, web security, adding Google Analytics tracking ID, and much more.
Setting up a website: your checklist
- Decide what you want to sell and to whom. You need to know your customer.
- Do your keyword research.
- Research your competition.
- Decide on your business branding.
- Draw up a business plan.
- Choose a domain name.
- Choose a hosting provider.
- Choose a content management system (CMS)/shopping cart application.
- Choose your web theme.
- Choose your logo.
- Add the website content and configurations settings.
- Set up your social media accounts and add them to your website.
Web configuration: general global settings
Default Page Title
Add a default page title (also known as a title tag) to your whole website. It will show up in the search engine page results. If your website name includes relevant keywords you can use this in your page title. You can also use a page title separator, such as a vertical line ( | ), or a dash (–) to add an additional keyword search term. Where possible use long-tail keywords, not single keywords. Your title tag should be no more than 70 characters long.
For example, you have a website called lovingdresses.com. Your page title could be:
Loving Dresses | Online Dress Boutique UK
A poor page title would look something like this:
Clothes | Dresses
Consumers only search for single keywords if it is a brand name, e.g. Coca Cola.
Default meta keywords
You do not need these. Bing is the only search engine to use meta keywords and that’s only to look for spam. If you do want to add them, for your own reference, do not duplicate the keywords in your default meta description. Use your top keywords in the meta description.
Default meta description
Your website meta description should be between 255 and 300 characters long. It should be unique. List a few popular selling products and/or brand names in your website description. It is important that your meta description is not simply a list of the products you have for sale. And whatever you do, do not use the same keywords repeatedly.
The purpose of a meta description is to increase the likelihood that a user will click on your site. The first 300 characters is what users see in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). If you do not add a meta description, search engines will display the first 300 characters of text on the page.
Before setting up a website, I suggest you do some keyword research to find the keywords that are relevant to your business. Try typing variations of your keyword into the Google search box and see which popular search terms Google displays as you start to type. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the other searches related to that keyword.
Writing an about us page
If there is a history behind your business, now is your chance to tell it. Your about us page gives you the opportunity to really sell your business. Make it compelling. What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Your About Us page can include the following details:
- Names of the company founders, including background and skills.
- The year in which the company was founded.
- Photographs of the company founders and other employees.
- Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), i.e. what your business has to offer that your competitors do not.
- Qualifications and achievements related to the business.
- How the idea for your business came about.
- The process involved in making your products (if relevant).
- Check out Moz, MailChimp and Apptopia. They have some of the best About Us pages on the web.
- Your contact information
- You should display − at the very least – your customer service email address. Add a sales email address for business related enquiries.
You can also add your business telephone number and the hours and days of the week that your phone line is open for business.
If you have a physical shop or exclusive business premises, you can add your business address. You will also want to display your hours of business and a Google map showing your business location under the heading “Where to Find Us” or “How to Get There”.
How to add a Google map to your website
How to optimize your web content
The search engine ranking of your website is largely based on the quality and unique content of your site, and the number of quality and relevant sites linking to your website and vice versa. It is therefore important that you create a quality website with good content if you want to rank high on Google’s search engine as they hold more than 91 per cent of the search engine market share.
Google loves brand names and high-authority websites. They love human-readable URLs. They adore images with alternative descriptions. They use a Google Panda to distinguish poor quality content from high-quality content. Poor-quality content depletes the user experience. Poor quality content is content with repetitive keywords, poor navigation, less than 300 words, and poor-quality graphics.
Tips for keeping your website up to date
- Add new products regularly and share them via your share buttons.
- Write regular blog posts.
- Send newsletters about any special offers or events to your email subscribers.
- Make full use of promotional banners for new products, special offers, and announcements.
- Remember to add unique content. Do not copy and paste material from other websites.
- Regularly check your website for broken links that can hurt your search engine rankings. If you have written a blog, for example, and included a link to the product on your page that you have since deleted, remove it. You can use Google Search Console to check for these.
- Regularly update the front page of your website. This is your shop window. Display your new products, services and on-sale items.
- Check your website and social media data to improve on what’s working and abandon, or modify, what isn’t.
Tools to help manage your web tasks
- Microsoft Sharepoint
- JIRA (for larger web projects)