A few months ago, I was part of a Women’s Start-Up Program. It was a good networking experience. But I noticed that most online businesses there were not as profitable as they could be. “What was stopping them in building websites that convert?” I wondered. Were they not aware on how to create a website? The most common reason I found was the lack of digital awareness and education among fellow women entrepreneurs.
If you are building a website for your business, remember it is more than just a set of codes. You are the person who knows your business inside out.So, show the same passion in the website creation process that you have for your business. Plan and be involved with every stage of the website creation and maintenance process.
The solution lies in self-learning!
Regardless of whether you’ve employed an agency or a freelancer for website development, there are certain facts that every website owner should be aware of. Hiring a developer for building your website is not a solution.
In this article, I’ll tell you how you can optimize your site for search engines (especially Google), at the time of website creation. This step is important because most of the mistakes that you commit at this stage of website creation, are irreversible and those which can be corrected prove to be costly in terms of SEO.
Little things that you are aware of at this stage will save a great deal of hassles later on. It’s definitely worth the effort, so do read on!
How to create a website? First ask yourself, what do you want in your website?
Don’t miss the most important question: what do you plan to offer your customers via your website?
Some of the important questions to consider are:
- What am I offering?
- How many pages will my website have?
- Is it a static or dynamic site?
- What all do I need in the admin panel?
- Where all will my Home Page link to?
- What should be the design of my home page?
- What is my budget?
Before approaching a developer, it’s good to get your homework done. Also, it is important at this stage to finalize the website structure. You can also do that in the second step after discussing it with your developer.
Think, re-think before giving a final nod, because structure once done, can’t be changed easily later on. Site-structure is something as a result of which, the pages and URLs of the website will be formed. It is also a crucial element in site navigation for the search engines and visitors. So, it definitely impacts your site’s SEO and user experience.
You may not be a tech person, and you may not have clarity as to what you want in your website. In such a scenario, it’s better to wait, educate yourself and do some research.
- Secondly, you can visit your competitor’s website to understand how things function. Now, I am not suggesting copying features from your competitor. This is something I would never recommend. But before starting on a venture, it’s a good idea to do some market research and understand your competition well.
- Educate yourself, read blogs, take some courses and wait till you have things clear in your mind.
Approaching a Developer
The second step in the how to create a website check-list involves approaching a developer. It is important that the developer has a good understanding of your vision, before he/she starts the coding process.
- Front End Developer is responsible for the code that interacts with the web browser and helps in what the visitors see when they come to the website. Generally, a front-end developer uses HTML, CSS and Java Script programming languages to create the design, look, feel and code for the front of the website. Alternatively, website themes can be purchased from the net.
- Back End Developer is responsible for writing a clean and efficient code that interacts with the server and tells the website how to function. Back End Developers use scripting languages like PHP, Python, Laravel, Java, C++, Microsoft.Net, WordPress, Magento to build websites. PHP is a widely used programming language across the globe; open source and very popular among the developers.
- Full Stack Developers know and do a bit of everything of what’s the job of Front End and Back End Developers.
Before making the site live for the real audience, it is uploaded on a development server. This is done to check its functionality and secondly, to populate the content. The process also helps to find out any potential bugs.
At this time, the site is not ready to be crawled by Search Engine Crawlers. So don’t forget to use the proper robots.txt file to disallow bots, especially Googlebot from crawling the pages. Some of the activities undertaken at this stage include populating content, images, adding source code for SEO, SMS and E-Mail Integration. You can discuss all this with your developer.
Uploading Content & Images
After the website development process is complete, it’s time to upload the content. The content should be original. It should be written for actual users as well as search engine crawlers. Well written, optimized content has the potential to rank to the top of search engine results. The images that you use in your website should be copyright free. You can either create them yourself or get it done by a graphic designer/photographer. You can also download it from websites that offer free images for commercial use.
Adding Source Code
Source Code is essentially what search engines like Google read, to find about what your site is all about and where to rank it on the search results. The most important elements in Source Code Optimization are Title tag, Meta Description and H1 Heading tag.
When you plan to purchase email hosting, it’s important to have a look at the options available:
- Shared Web and E-Mail Hosting: This option is often provided by hosting providers free of cost, included in the cost of server hosting.
- Third Party Email Hosting: You also have the option to purchase third party Email Hosting, where you have more choices for additional features.
Your website may require SMS Integration to facilitate delivery of transactional SMSs like generation of OTPs, when the user is interacting via mobile number.
Before moving the website to the live server, you should check the website for the following:
- The site needs to be responsive or you may have an entirely separate site for mobile devices. Whatever may be the case, check if your website is working fine on various browsers and devices. This is important to provide a good user experience to your website visitors, who are accessing the site through different devices and browsers.
- Check if the integrated mails and SMS service are working fine
- Check if the Sign Up, Login, Registrations are working well. Test to ensure that a user is able to make a transaction with the help of the payment gateway.
- If Apps are connected to the site, check their working.
- Check if your website is SEO ready.
After testing for feedback, corrections and if everything is working as per the expectations, it’s time to make the website live on the hosting server.
Some factors to consider while choosing a hosting provider include:
- Type of Hosting
Domain name is the address of the website that visitors type in their browsers to access your website. You can name is after your business or your own name if it’s a personal website.
Since your domain name is the web address of your brand, it should be chosen after a lot of thinking and consideration. A wrongly chosen domain can’t be changed later on. If you choose to do so, it will sweep away the search rankings in the process.
How to create a website that’s secure with SSL Certificate
SSL certificate is a must for security. It will encrypt your website and customer data and make sure no outside hacker can steal it. This is especially useful if you operate a website, where customers are required to enter sensitive data, such as email, credit card numbers and their home address.
I would recommend that you integrate an SSL certificate at this stage even if you plan to introduce payment gateway at a later stage. This is because integrating SSL certificate later will require redirections from http:// to https:// which will unnecessarily drain the link juice.
Here’s what an SSL certificate does:
- Encrypts any data that flows between your website and the visitors. This means hackers can’t see what information is being exchanged between your website and its visitors.
- Puts up a green padlock on the visitors’ browsers when they come to your site. This shows them that your website is secure and increases their trust of you being a legitimate business. In addition, your domain name will start with an https:// instead of the regular http://
- Your chances to rank higher on the search engines increase if your website has SSL certificate. This makes SSL beneficial from the SEO perspective as well.
Google Search Console
It is a free tool from Google which helps the site owners understand how their site is performing on Google. Google communicates with individual webmasters about their websites and gives important notifications via Google Search Console. You need to add and verify your site by adding the Meta Tag to your site’s Home Page.
This is also a free tool by Google which tracks the traffic coming to your site. For this, you need to install the tracking code onto your website.
Get your site audit done with numerous free and paid tools available on the internet. This will give you insights on crucial ranking factors like Page Speed, Duplicate Pages if existing, Missing Meta Title, Meta description, H1 etc.
The above steps are simple and ensure that the website is built and launched in adherence to the guidelines specified by the search engines, if followed properly. It may not be very evident but following the above, does uplift your chances of ranking in search engines.
So, follow the above guidelines and your website is Internet-Ready. You are all set to rock!
Image source: Unsplash
This content was originally published here.