“Getting information off the Internet is like drinking from a fire hydrant”-Mitchell Kapor
This one sentence epitomises the state of disarray the Internet lies in! While most of us have some sort of online presence or the other, some of us haven’t had to market ourselves or try to become a brand or an entity. This is why we’re oblivious to the clutter of information that our social media profiles and websites are part of.
SEO plays a vital role in getting visitors to a site, but it’s important to convert those first time visitors into recurring customers. The best type of advert is when paying customers become advertisers and recommend your services to others. To reach to that stage, a major overhaul is needed. Today, we’re going to show you how to create a website project plan.
For the convenience of our readers, we’re going to break this down into 5 separate phases. All 5 phases are in chronological order and we urge our readers to not skip any of the steps as that might end up hampering their chances of getting the best possible result out of their revamped website.
This website planning template ains to make your audience aware of the various nuances that have to consider when creating a website from scratch or rebuilding an old website. As such, this is just a rough outline and there is always room for customising and adding points in order to best suit the needs of the individual website.
Phase 1: Conceptualisation and Planning
There are plenty of websites that exist on the Internet because they had been built on a whim Websites like these contribute nothing substantial and this can be seen from their messy layout. The same thought process applies to website building as well. Whenever we begin our work on a website project plan, we must have a definitive idea of what we are hoping to achieve with the particular website.
Once that is finalised we can move on to intricate details about what we want the website to look like. For someone who is making their first website, choosing a CMS (ie content management service) is a huge decision that must be determined after careful consideration.
For most businesses and individuals, a WordPress or Joomla site should suffice. There are a lot of other options and careful research is required before jumping to any solution as migrating to a different platform can be difficult.
There’s another vital aspect that needs to be taken care of at this stage. SEO needs to be woven into the fabric of the website from its inception so it‘s vital we pay attention right from the beginning. This is the stage where the path differs for pre-existing site owners vs new creators. We will detail both of them below:
– Pre-Existing Site Owners: At this stage, all site metrics need to be recorded. From performance metrics to page view numbers, everything is important. Depending on these numbers, we can customise the building phase for maximum profit generation.
– New Site Creators: Competitor research is key. Often new creators enter into a niche just because they see that the payout and competition on a particular keyword is low and the competition on that seems to be low as well. The chosen keyword may be dominated by an authority site. This site would be near impossible to dislodge using white hat SEO techniques. This means we are back where we started and we need to start researching on a new keyword, all over again!
Once these tests have been conducted, we can move onto Phase 2.
Phase 2: Designing and Development
While developing a website project brief, this is one of the most time consuming and crucial phases. Depending on your estimated audience visits and the type of content you’ll be hosting on your website, there are different prices and categories of hosting you can opt for. One important point to remember is that your hosting stores all the data of your website. That’s why going with shared hosting or one that doesn’t offer a robust backup service isn’t always the greatest idea.
Once a hosting has been chosen and a plan purchased, it’s time to host your domain on it. While this might be an very easy process for seasoned webmasters, a fair few people have trouble with it. As such, it’s important to enlist some technical help in this stage of rebuilding the website.
Once the database and the CMS have been installed onto your host, the foundations of your website are built. Now it’s time to choose a theme and design element that perfectly describes your brand. This can be a bit of a hit or miss and needs consistent A-B Testing to see which one elicits better results.
While it’s important to create an experience that’s fluid and easy to understand, your website must be made keeping in mind that the first visitors to it will be the web crawlers of search engines. This having an updated sitemap as well as robots.txt file can mean the difference between new content getting indexed instantly vs hours after publication.
Phase 3: On Page and Off Page SEO
This is important for the success of the website as almost everything revolves around SEO and content. Both go hand in hand so this is the perfect opportunity to let them take centre stage. On Page SEO is all about striking a delicate balance. It basically boils down to following a set of guidelines that outlines how to optimise the content on the website to make it easy to index for the search engines without making it cryptic and unreadable for the human viewers.
The major do’s and don’ts for On Page SEO are as follows:
– Maintain a healthy keyword density. Don’t overstuff the content and always add related keywords to maintain adequate density throughout article.
– Use headings, anchor texts, alt tags and other editing tools correctly so that interlinking and crawling is easier.
– Always include a call to action in your content that compels the reader to interact with the website and thus increase the time spent on page. They can also be used to take users to a different page, increase conversions and with the right landing page, even gain leads.
While there are plenty of other tricks used to maximise On Page SEO, they’re mostly niche dependent and outside the scope of this website planning template.
As far as Off Page SEO is concerned, the best practices are:
– Create dofollow backlinks from relevant authority sites in your niche
– Have a healthy and diverse backlink profile
– Make sure all your outbound links are live and if they’re not, redirect them to similar content from authority sites.
Now here we must take a moment to address the fact that for older websites with plenty of content already on board, a website refresh doesn’t just mean a new paint of coat but also updated information on older less relevant articles.
Phase 4: Launch and Competitor Analysis
Once you are done with Phase 3, the going gets much easier as most of the workload has already been completed! After making the new site live, it’s time to run a new set of metrics and if you already had an older site, you should notice marked improvements in the performance front. It’s important to keep an eye on these metrics after launch as your competitors will keep improving which means that there’s no time to sit back and relax.
This leads us to the next point, where we delve into competitor analysis- or as Bill Gates put it “Whether it’s Google or Apple or free software, we’ve got some fantastic competitors and it keeps us on our toes”. The trick to maintaining your rankings is to emulate what your competitors are doing and copy their best backlinks while attacking their low competition keywords. SEO is a never ending game of cat and mouse.This is why it is often best left to the hands of professionals such as Red-Fern.
Phase 5: Social Media and Branding
Finally we arrive at the last stage of the website planning template.This phase involves creating a robust social media presence across platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many others. Whilst we’re not going to go too deep for the sake of brevity, social signals play a huge role in boosting traffic to a website and as such it’s one of the most important yet overlooked aspect of creating a brand name on the internet.
At the end of the day a website isn’t merely an information portal but an extension of an individual or a brand. It’s important that every website project brief considers that audience interaction and UI and design fluidity is what keeps people coming back to their sites again and again.