It’s 2022, and you don’t need me to tell you why having a website is important. Let’s skip that part, and get into the good stuff.
In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step guide helping you through the process of getting started with your first website, and how to start driving traffic to it.
The first big decision you have to make is this:
Will you build a website yourself, or will you pay someone to do it for you?
Each route has pros and cons. You’re effectively deciding whether you want to be investing your time, or your money. The cost of website development can vary, but it’s unlikely to go lower than $1k even for a templated website, and even basic site builds can easily run into the 5-figure range.
These days, a basic website is getting easier and easier to build yourself. There are lots of free website builder options with drag-and-drop functionality that don't require coding experience, including GetResponse, Wix, Squarespace, Wordpress and more. Whichever tool you choose, take a look at the templates available. If you’re a beginner, you’re going to be relying on a template to get you started quickly. For example, GetResponse offers templates for popular business models like restaurants or photography.
If you can afford the time, building a website yourself has lots of advantages. Once you understand how it’s built, you’ll find it easier to make small tweaks over time. Not relying on an external service will save a ton of money, but it’ll also speed up your execution time dramatically when you need to make changes.
In order to run a website, you’ll need to register a domain name, and buy a hosting package. Typically, these are both paid annually, and are relatively low-cost. Many providers even have introductory offers with reduced prices for your first year, and/or free trials. Here’s a list of web hosting providers that allow you to get started without entering a credit card – which is an attractive prospect if you’re unsure whether you’re ready to commit to a full year of hosting yet.
Many website builder tools actually include domains & hosting within their platform too. Either on a limited basis for free, or for a small add-on fee. Either way, it simplifies the process a lot, being able to manage everything in one place.
If you use a freelance website developer or an agency, there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to either include hosting services, or recommend a provider.
Next up, let’s plan what’s actually going to be on this site. Which pages will you need? This will vary a lot once again depending on the business model, but for example, a basic website for a local business might look something like this:
- About us
- Client testimonials
- Contact us
You can also break down the services into multiple different pages, or make any number of variations on that.
You might also wish to include a blog; a place to write useful content for your audience, produce SEO-friendly articles to bring traffic to your site, and post updates about your company & team.
Having a clear idea will help you to figure out how much time you’ll need to invest, what kind of templates you might need if you’re building yourself, whether or not you need to gather client reviews, get professional photos taken, and so on.
It’s worth noting that this is absolutely not a permanent thing. You can continue iterating, adding pages, editing them, removing them – whatever you want along the way. Just put a loose plan together to help you get started, and don’t worry about it being perfect.
Once you’ve got the bare bones of your site set up, the technical foundations laid, and a sitemap in mind, you’ll need to start filling in the content. ‘Content’ here can refer broadly to a lot of different things, but we’re primarily talking about the images, writing, (and maybe videos) that you might use on your site.
Once again, here you’ll need to decide between hiring a writer and doing it yourself. You’ll find though, that even if you decide to outsource, there’s still a lot of work that needs to come from your side too. A writer won’t know all the ins and outs of your business, your USPs, and your positioning. They’ll have lots of questions for you!
For your writing, it’s wise to combine some SEO content writing tools to make sure your writing is optimized for both SEO and readability. I’d recommend a content optimization tool like Frase that helps you nail the right keywords, and a free readability tool like Hemingway App to make sure you’re being concise. This is relevant throughout the site, but especially on your service pages – where you’re most likely to generate non-brand organic traffic from.
You can also consider getting some professional photos or illustrations for your pages. Stock imagery probably won’t cut it in 2022!
It’s easy to get paralyzed by trying to make everything 100% perfect, especially if this is your first website. My advice to you would be to make sure that things look professional and complete, but don’t obsess over it. It’s better to just get started and iterate later, than to delay by weeks or months trying to make finishing touches.
Get your website indexed in Google as soon as possible to start building up some authority, share it on social media websites and any other channels you have available to you. Have your professional network take a look and give you feedback.
It’s time to kickstart your promotion efforts. Here’s three easy things you can try with a small budget to get your website off the ground.
SEO is something that has been on our radar throughout the website build and content writing process, but it’s not a one-off job.
Even if your on-page optimizations are perfect for your current pages, there’s a ton more you can do to generate organic traffic.
The biggest one is to start publishing content on a blog. You can conduct keyword research to find out what your target market is searching for, and create content that satisfies their intent. By producing lots of high-quality content over time, you’ll build topical authority, and it’ll start to get easier & easier to rank as your domain gains authority.
To learn more about SEO, I’d recommend reading our SEO Guides.
(Source: SEO Guide)
While SEO takes time to bear fruit, PPC can give you more immediate results. Launching paid traffic campaigns can help you validate your website. Getting instant traffic on a PPC basis will help you learn about how your website will perform, before you invest long-term into driving more and more organic traffic.
The most common PPC channel is Google Ads, but you can also experiment with Bing Ads, Reddit Ads, Facebook/Instagram Ads, Quora Ads and more – there are a ton of channels available.
While this isn’t a promotion channel per se, I’d recommend that you spend some time putting in place basic analytics for your site.
There are two completely free tools that every webmaster should be using: Google Analytics and Google Search Console. They’re quick to set up & easy to learn.
Google Analytics lets you learn about the traffic coming to your website, and set up conversion tracking events. For example, if you have an enquiry form, you can set up Goals that show you which traffic source (e.g. Google, Bing, Facebook) yielded the enquiry, and which page they entered your site through using a last-touch attribution model (by default).
Installing Google Analytics is quick & easy. You get a short code snippet that looks something like this:
You don’t need to know what any of that code snippet means; all you have to do is copy/paste it in the right place on your website.Most CMS / website builders like Wordpress make this very straightforward.
And Google Search Console lets you dig deeper into the organic search channel. Google Analytics won’t be able to tell you which keywords your site gets traffic from, together with your average positions, organic CTRs, and impressions. Search Console is also the place to go to submit an XML sitemap, check for manual actions, and more.
To set up Search Console, all you need to do is verify your ownership. There are several straightforward methods for doing this which you can see here.
To go one step further, I’d recommend getting a rank tracking tool too. Although Search Console can deliver data on average keyword positions, it’s quite limited. Using a rank tracker let’s you:
- Tag, segment and analyze groups of keywords much more easily
- Get ranking data on low-volume keywords which would be anonymized in the Console
- Track SERP features like featured snippets
- … and more
Ranktracker.com is one of the lowest cost solutions for this, and it comes with a 7-day free trial. It’s a very worthwhile investment if you plan to make SEO one of your priority growth channels.