Like most people, when I first began to learn how to build a website for my small business, I was too busy trying to figure out which software (or Content Management System) to use — Wix or WordPress or Joomla or something else? Then I was busy reading the documentation to figure out how to install and customize my website and worst of all, troubleshooting! By the time I become proficient in developing websites, I began to face the most important question –how do I rank high in search engine results? In fact, after setting up my first site, I could not find it even when I Googled. It took about 1-2 weeks before Google display my website on search results and that’s if I search specifically using my domain name.
After some time, when my website could appear on top of search results when I search my site title, I was still unable to get my website rank high for specific keywords. That led me to do a lot of research into search engine optimization (SEO). Many of the findings are not easy to implement when your website has been designed with a lot of third party plugins and filled with contents because you will be worried how the changes might alter and break your theme.
Moreover, I soon discovered that websites are very prone to being hacked and that can damage your SEO ranking because SEO spam-infected sites typically redirect visitors to spam pages.
Hence, I am sharing in this post 5 things which I wish I had known before I start my website. Whether you are a business owner who is getting a web agency to set up your website or if you are a blogger learning to set up your first website, this would be good knowledge for you.
- Choose the right Content Management System–There are many content management system that allows you to build your own website without having to do any coding. Hence, if you are not a programmer, you can still build very professional websites for commercial purpose. However, which should you choose? That depends largely on your technical skills and how much time you can put in. If you do not like to get into technical stuff, Wix is actually an excellent platform. If however, you are prepared to put in more time and effort to get more features and functionalities, WordPress would be the next in line that I would recommend. If you choose Wix, you need not worry about hosting issue and how to connect to Google Analytics for statistics. It’s all built in. If you choose WordPress, then you will need to work on the next few items.
- Choose the right Hosting company–Three important aspects ought to be considered when selecting a hosting company. Firstly, whether they provide free domain privacy protection, one-click installs and free SSL encryption. Companies such as Dreamhost provide free domain privacy protection and free “Let’s encrypt” SSL. These days, many hosting companies provide one-click installs for WordPress. However, the key thing to check is how would they support you in terms of website security and hacking. Some company quarantine your website (pull it down) when it gets hacked and you have to go through all the technical stuff of restoring it. Whereas, hosting companies such as Wpengine provides daily automatic backups and help you to restore to an earlier , unhacked version should your website gets hacked.
- If you are using WordPress, choose the right theme–Site speed is important because Google takes that into account in their search ranking algorithm. If you are not a tech-savvy person, it is advisable to choose a theme that is designed for speed and SEO instead of choosing themes base on aesthetic reasons.
- Diligently work on your On-Page SEO – This means defining the meta description of each page, specifying the Alt field of each image that you upload, planning your categories, tags and site structure, displaying categories and related posts and very importantly make sure to compress and optimise your images. All these will ensure that your site is search-engine friendly.
- Submit your site to Google Search Console — Submitting your site to Google Search Console ensure that Google can speedily crawl your site. This is essential if you want your website to be discovered by search engines.
The above are five essential things that you must know an work on right from the start when planning your website.