Checklist for new web sites

I came back from Croatia not only with a tan and several Gigabyte of photos but also with a lot of ideas for new web sites! Whilst buying the domain names and doing the basic set up, I noticed that I follow always the same system. So I wrote out my checklist and expanded it for all that might be interested to know the workflow of setting up a web site from idea to basic content. If I left something unclear, forgot something or could do something better, just leave me your opinion in a comment 😉

0. Idea
That is where all starts, I have an idea like “Oh, that would make a great web site topic!” Such ideas can be triggered by places (think travel web site) or problems / how-tos (think how to find cheap internet whilst traveling style web sites). I  always carry a little tiny paper note book with me where I write down all this ideas, yes, with pen on paper 😉

1. Evaluating the ideas
Coming home, I check my bank account to see how many domains I can buy (just kidding). Next step is to see which ideas have the most potential, I use Market Samurai or the Google Keyword Tool for this. I am researching search volume, advertiser competition and estimated average CPC. Search volume tells me how many people might be interested in the subject, advertiser competition tells me if there are people / businesses around that pay to advertise in that niche and CPC tells me how much they might pay. That is the moment a lot of “great” ideas are getting filled into the bin… The remaining ones, the ones that promise potential, are checked for their competition. I do a google search for the niche topic and look how strong the competition is. Basically I want to see if it will be easy to get on Google’s first page of search results with my key words. That is the next moment a lot of “good” ideas are filed in the “perhaps later” folder… Now I am left with a few ideas that have potential earning wise and don’t have a competition that is too strong. Follows step

2. Choosing and buying a domain name
Again with the help of Market Samurai or the Google Keyword Tool I check for the ideal domain name and then I check if the domain name is still available. And if I find a good domain name that contains my keywords, I buy it! Normally at a domain registrar called Godaddy, I use them only to buy and manage my domains, that is what they do very, very well!

3. Web hosting
I use Hostgator for all my sites as they allow me to host as many sites as I want on one, really affordable, web hosting account. Their service is first class and they have a 24 / 7 live support via chat. I can’t recommend them enough! They have also a nice referral program *hint, hint*, so if you choose Hostgator as your new web host, make sure to sign up via the banner in the site bar or use this Hostgator sign up link.

4. Redirecting name servers to web host
The name servers are the address of a web site, whilst the domain is the name of it. To be able to set up a web site you and I have to connect the name to the correct address, that is called redirecting the name servers. This name server information you will get from your web host and it will look similar to this one NS000.hostgator.com. There are normally two such address that you have to change in the domain control panel at your registrar. After that it can take up to 3 days for the domain to have moved for good. Means that sometimes when you go to your site you get the old web site from your registrar and sometimes the new web site from your web host. But that is not really important for a new web site, you still can build content and set the site up via the cpanel of your web host!

5. Installing wordpress or similar
Next what I do is to set up something on the web site. This something is most of the time a wordpress blog, similar to this you are just reading. This takes me about 5min, as my web host offers one-click installations of wordpress (and many other goodies) via Fantastico in the cpanel. Having installed wordpress on my new site, and having changed the default template to something a bit more attractive, I am good to go to put some basic content on the site.

6.  Basic web site setup and content
First I clear the site bars from the default links and delete the templates I don’t need anymore. I change the text on the sample page to a little keyword optimized blurb about the niche, set this page as my static front page and delete the ugly default “Hello World!” sample post. This way Google has already a bite to index what is relevant to the niche I will built / expand the web site for. The blurb should have around 500 words and no outgoing links. I just try to write an article about the niche and avoid everything that sounds like “web site still under construction”.

7. Google Analytics and Webmaster tools
Last but not least, I add Google Analytics to my site. Please see this blog post “How to add Google Analytics to a WordPress blog”  for more information about how this is done. And don’t forget to filter yourself out of the analytics, if not, you’ll wonder why all of your neighbors are visiting your brand new site when it is only you, working on it;-)
After I have added Google Analytics to my new web site, I add the web site also to Google Webmaster Tools in my Google account. Many people skip this last step, but it is important to do this, as the Webmaster Tools serve as a health check center for web sites. If anything is wrong with it, Google will tell you there what it is. So add and verify your site and you are done! Now you can start to write more content for your new web site, to tweak the layout and to promote it 😉

You see, setting up a new web site from scratch is easy! Any questions? Just ask!

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12 comments to Checklist for new web sites

  • Roz

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information. It will be very useful to me. I have a few ideas for websites but not really much idea of how to research potential markets and set up a website from scratch.

    Thanks again,

    Roz

  • hospitalera

    @Roz
    Hi! Long time not seen, how is life in Australia? You are of to a good start with your “crafts on a budget blog”. The main drawback with blogspot blogs is that you can’t sell them, but if that doesn’t matter to you, you can built as many blogs for free around your chosen niche. Give me a shout if I can help you with anything 😉 SY

  • alex farguson

    To start earning money with your blog, initially use Google Adsense but gradually as your traffic increases, keep adding more and more money making programs to your site.

  • Roz

    Thanks, Hospitalera – I may just take you up on that offer! Things have been quite hectic here, but I’m coping (just!). Hopefully, I’ll have more time to devote to blogging soon.

    Best wishes,

    Roz

  • hospitalera

    @alex farguson
    Isn’t that a bit general? Some blogs don’t perform well with Adsense.

    @Roz
    You are welcome, you know where to find me! All the best, SY

  • @Alex – Adsense may or may not work on a blog – but you never mix advertising media don’t run adsense and affiliates/ebay etc – it confuses the visitor and they generally back out without buying anything – too many choices causes paralysis in the buyer – its a common marketing principal around long before the Internet

    @hospitalera – don’t add a new site to webmaster tools. It will just slow down indexing – in effect you are telling Google that your site is not good enough for them to find naturally. Get a few good backlinks and the site will index fine. I don’t even use analytics unless the site is going to be an Adsense site – best that Google knows as little as possible statcounter.com is a good free alternative.

  • hospitalera

    @Lis
    I disagree, I just checked my two latest sites and Google started to crawl and index them max two days after they went online. One is already receiving nice search engine traffic, the other is a bit too young (3 days) to rank high enough for anything important. Both are in highly competitive niches (Health / make money online). I agree that it would be bad if Google could find my site ONLY in its webmaster tools, but as long as Google sees a few other backlinks to it, I never had a problem in getting a web site indexed very fast. Normally I start to rank for less competitive keywords in the first week or so.
    I also disagree with not mixing advertising media, but I normally don’t mix them on the same page! All my latest niche sites have a astore attached, hospitalera.com is not a niche site, so here I am going wild and try things out 😉 But yes, my niche sites normally carry only adsense on the posts and a link to an astore with related products.
    But different people can and should have different experiences and opinions, wouldn’t it be boring if we all agree on everything? Thanks for voicing your opinion, makes this blog less boring 😉 SY

  • I LOVE the moment when you are brainstorming about websites, and then you get the opportunity to check out if the domain names are available! It’s like giving birth to your own new idea, and to me, finding the WordPress theme and all of the other components just makes it part of the fun.

  • hospitalera

    @Chuggin
    I have never given birth, but I heard creating web sites is far less painful! SY

  • hospitalera

    @Lis
    Did you mean this http://www.google.com/addurl/ ? If yes, I agree, that is a pretty useless tool, but I spoke of https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en Two completely different things, imho, SY

  • Thank you for outlining these steps. So often I will want to start a blog with no prior understanding or knowledge of the market it is in. but you’re right, it’s so important to check out how many people are even searching for your topic.

  • hospitalera

    @Pool Table
    Correct, if you write online, you normally also want readers. SY