1. Name – Every website needs a domain name that’s descriptive and relevant, but what type of name should you pick? There are two rules of thought here. One is to go the brand route and use a name that over time will become relevant. Second is to go the route of a keyword-rich name which will rank well and instantly let your readers, visitors, and the search engines know what you’re about. Which domain name route you opt for is entirely up to you, but deciding upfront which you’ll be taking is what you want to focus on.

2. Structure – You want a site that is search engine friendly and one of the best ways to optimize a site from the get go is to use a blog format, such as WordPress. With WordPress you get search engine friendly URL’s, as you get to choose the URL structure within the back-end area of WP.

The URL (or permalink) of your site should have keywords in it, so when search engines spider it – they know what its about.

3. Purpose – Every website should figure out what is it’s PRIMARY focus – is it to capture leads, direct sales, testimonials, or provide information? Determine this early on as it will help when it comes time to develop a content strategy.

The purpose of your site will also determine its layout and design.

4. Design – The look and feel of your website says alot about you. Do you want a standard generic template or a custom design which highlights your logo and unique brand?

With WordPress you have several choices -

A. Free Theme: A generic template found on the web.
B. Premium Theme (with customizations): A paid for theme you can customize.
C. Custom Theme: A theme created from scratch specific to you.

I recommend B or C. Either will serve the purpose of having a professionally designed blog website that stands out.

Some good premium WordPress themes include: Fresh News Theme, Thesis Theme, and Revolution Church Theme.

5. Layout – Depending on the purpose of your site (see above) you will want to lay out your site accordingly. If the purpose of your site is to gather leads then be sure to highlight your sign up form. If the purpose of your site is to sell directly, be sure to make it easy to place an order. If the purpose of your site is to be an information portal, set it up so that it highlights information right from the onset.

6. Content – Every website should have the following pages:

About Us Page – What are you about? What is your business about? How are you different? Etc.

Contact Us Page – Make it super duper easy for anyone to reach you. Add a contact form and let people know how and when to BEST reach you.

Services Page – What services do you offer? What are your skills? Any credentials? Highlight your unique offerings here.

WordPress makes it easy to add as many pages as you need. Think about your sites purpose and fill accordingly.

As for articles – keeping your blog website fresh with new content will keep the search engines coming back again and again. This is a good thing. Think about what your customers (and prospective customers) are interested in. What do they want to learn? What tips would they find useful? What keeps them entertained? Fill your blog with these useful, informative or entertaining articles. You can add as many articles as you like and style your site in blog format or style it in a more traditional format – but whichever style you choose – you want to make it known you have relevant articles available for your audience. Make sure this is apparent from the first glance.

7. Plan – Every website should have a marketing plan. How will you spread the word – online, offline, social media, advertising, family and friends?

Have a plan and work the plan. Incorporate your website URL in all your communications, from your business cards to customer newsletters, mentioning it in seminars, attaching to email signatures, etc.

Decide early on how you will promote your blog website. Have a plan in place.

These tips are meant for new blog websites, but can be applied to any site. If you run a small business and don’t yet have a website, but have been mulling over the idea – it’s never too late to create an online presence.

Follow the tips above and don’t just create a website, create an online presence that will explode your sales, leads, and income.

RSS Readers: What Tip Can You Add?

What tip do you have for small business owners looking to create their first website?

Find me on Google+