HOW TO BUILD A WEBSITE:
The Definitive 2021 Guide
This updated guide will show you everything you need to know and do to build a website that is successful in 2021.
First, I’ll walk you through some simple planning steps. But we’ll keep these concise because I know you want to get going!
Then, I’ll give you all the pro tips and tricks to get your website visible in search engines even if you have no experience!
Sound good? Well, let’s get started…
QUICK JUMP CHAPTER LIST
Just a thought… if you get stuck at any point and feel you need help. Just contact us and we can work out how best to help you based on where you are at and what you have left to do!
And if you want someone to build it for you, we can get your website design complete and online usually within 2 weeks (just depends how quick you are to approve haha!)
Planning your website project
In this chapter I’m going to show you how to quickly plan out your website.
I’ll cover all the things you’ll need to make sure you website project runs smoothly.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short because I know you like to get going and start building!
1. Choose your desired outcome
An elite athlete constantly looks for performance gains. But they are specific about their goals.
When you make a website it’s important to do the same.
Because then you can focus your efforts and get better results.
There are a few major categories of websites. Let’s have a look at some of them and what these websites look like in real life.
Brand Awareness Websites
When a website is built with brand awareness as it’s central theme you can expect to see hardly any sales talk.
These types of website will focus on mission statements and building trust with their target market.
Here are a couple of big brand websites showing us how to raise awareness.
For example Coca-Cola…
Or Nestle’s heavily corporate website…
and of course there is BP as well…
These three examples all have one purpose – to show strength and direction.
But what if you aren’t a global brand?
This technique works for smaller brand as well. But there is often a bit more focus on the services. For example, look at this website from a large Australian financier…
If you are selling a number of products you will probably build an ecommerce website to sell your wares.
This works for both physical products as well as online courses or downloads.
There are many examples of ecommerce websites.
And I bet you’ve bought something online recently, so you’ve got some experience on how they should work and what you expect as a customer.
There are many great website that fit into this category.
A good example ecommerce website is Amazon…
or this one from Rusty’s Surfboards:
An informational website can be a blog or a site providing info with the purpose of generating an enquiry.
If you are going to make an information website, make sure you’re going to be joining a big crowd of people.
Because currently in 2018 there are over 1.8 billion websites online.
That’s a lot of content!
And, there’s an amazing number of blogs that make up that 1.8 billion.
It’s estimated there are around 400 million blogs.
The WordPress statistics show that there are 76.3 million posts published on the WordPress platform each month.
And they go on to say that there are more than 409 million people viewing 22.3 billion blog pages each month.
So, if you are planning on making a website in this category just make sure it’s unique and delivers high value to the reader.
A portfolio website lends itself well to artists, photographers or anyone who needs to showcase their work, but sell offline.
These websites are usally very visual and challenge the design principles of modern website design.
Look at these stunning examples:
2. Figure out your audience
When you build a website it’s important to know who your target market is. You might be selling a product or service for kids, but is it the parents who will be browsing and making the decision?
There’s always more than one target audience in your business. Because there are different types of people who have different requirements.
Consider a store that sells footwear.
And let’s say for instance this specialises in women’s shoes. That’s great, the target is women. And that may work, but it’s not very effective because it’s too broad and generic.
The store may sell
- Open Toes
- Closed Toes
There’s 6 target market audiences without even getting into age ranges and styles or material such as leather versus fabric, etc.
So you see a shoe store specialising in women’s shoes could have over 300 target audiences, each being communicated to in a different way.
But how do you identify a target audience?
- Do a lot of research and observation OR
- Pay a professional branding agency
- CUSTOMERS. Do you have existing customers? If so look for patterns and similarities in their purchase habits, styles and profiles.
- COMPETITION. Look at the websites of your competitors. How have they positioned their product? What words do they use? What graphic styles have they used? Is there a common colour associated with their customers?
- ANALYSE. Look at your product/service and work out who needs it.
- DEMOGRAPHICS. Focus on which demographics are most relevant to your product and try to narrow down as much as possible.
- PSYCHOGRAPHICS. Consider the psychographics of your target audience – what do they feel, how do they act, how will your product/service impact them?
- MARKET. Design your marketing messages and styles to fit the above 5 points.
3. Do you need a graphic designer?
Websites are built for people, and let’s be honest if something looks bad we are less likely to want to interact with it.
As soon as your web page is loading people are already forming an opinion on a subconscious level. We are talking microseconds. Because time is so important you need to focus a lot of attention on how the website is presented to the viewer.
A graphic designer is going to bring a lot of expertise to the table.
Domain Names & Hosting
OK, now we are starting to make some progress. With our website plan in hand, it’s time to dive in…
In this section I’ll walk you through how to buy a domain name and the best options for website hosting.
There’s a lot of options out there for website hosting and it can get confusing. So I’ve boiled it all down to make it child-proof!
How to pick the right domain name
In the old days, we were encouraged to buy domain names that were descriptive. And that description could include either a geographic location or a keyword your users might use to search on Google.
That’s why you see a lot of domains names like “BobsDogWashingBrisbane.com.au”
In a way it was useful because it allowed you to get hyper-specific on your identity so you can attract the right customers. And Google encouraged it up until about 2018. But in 2021 Google are preferring you to use shorter domain names.
Shorter names are easier to remember, less prone to typos. AND, this is important… A shorter domain name means more characters are visible in the search results. Look how much more of the page URL is visible when the site uses a shorter domain name
1. See if your domain name is available
Popular places to purchase a domain name include:
Most domain registrars have similar features and systems. But some are faster than others. Using a budget registrar usually means a slower speed, especially when updating the records.
Here’s how to check your name availability using VentraIP.
1. Head to VentraIP.com.au
2. Scroll down and enter your desired name in the box and hit enter.
3. Browse the list and choose the option you want. You can see in the example the .com version is already taken. If the version you want is not available keep searching.
2. Domain name top tips
Choosing the right name can be difficult because there are so many factors to consider. It’s worthwhile grabbing a bit of old-fashioned paper and writing down your ideas.
If the name you want isn’t available you can try brainstorming ideas with a business partner, your life partner or a good friend.
It’s also worth buying the other domain versions as well to protect your brand identity. So if you are buying MyAwesomeSite.com.au you should look to buy MyAwesomeWebsite.com and MyAwesomeWebsite.net. There are more, but no need to go crazy because it can get expensive.
Here are few things to consider when choosing a name:
- It’s short and memorable
- Represents your brand or main product/service.
- Looks good on email.
- Doesn’t contain ambiguous characters, for example a zero and a letter o.
- The name isn’t really close to a competitor’s name. Because a person might mistype the address and end up viewing your competitor!
2. Website Hosts
Choosing a place to store your website is crucial to its success.
While there are many cheap hosting solutions you have to be careful because the cheaper hosts are almost always slower.
You need to aim to have your website load in under 2 seconds, 3 seconds at a push.
Google really likes speed, speed, speed.
You can optimize your website as much as you want. But if your host takes its sweet time responding to requests you are stuck.
Most web hosts will tell you about 99.9% uptime, daily backups, fast speed etc. Yeah yeah yeah, but what about real-world tests? Sorry to throw a technical term in here but one of the critical speed factors is the TTFB. That’s short for Time To First Byte. Meaning how long it takes for the very first bit of information to be sent from the host to the person.
Generally speaking, most hosts that offer dedicated wordpress hosting will be better suited to hosting your website.
We recommend testing via a system called GTMetrix. It gives you a score on how fast your website is. to be honest, it’s quite technical if you are not a developer. But look at the example below… The TTFB is a whopping 1.5 seconds! It should be under 200 milliseconds!
3. Website Hosting
There are thousands of website hosts across the globe and you should choose one that is reasonably close to where most fo your visitors are.
For example in Australia you can go as far as Singpore to host your website. And, in most cases hosting in Singapore is faster than hosting in Melbourne or Sydney. It’s a technical reason which I’m not going to bore you with!
Our TOP PICKS: SITEGROUND
We recommend Siteground becauase of their dedicated WordPress hosting opions. Plus they have some advanced speed tools that give you a massive Google advantage. Yes, the prices after the first year are high. But speed is everything and Siteground will deliver when you need it the most.
Other hosts you can consider include:
VentraIP or GoDaddy. In our experince the cheap hosting with GoDaddy is very poor and the speed is slow. Don’t get lured in with cheap prices thinking you are getting a good deal!
OTHER HOSTING HELP…
You don’t need to be a technology expert to run an online business and Digital.com helps by doing the research for you, comparing the best products, services, and software to start or grow your small business website or online store.
Digital.com helps you to choose the right services to run your business – saving you time and money. They stand out because their team of researchers, writers, and experts have experience running online businesses and using software to meet your business goals.
Here’s why they are a little different…
- They obtained trial accounts for each product so that our researchers could experience the onboarding process and user flow.
- They interview power users of each product in order to incorporate their practical and long-term experience.
- They summarize every user review available on the web using artificial intelligence to gauge overall user sentiment for each software product.
- They devote weeks of researching, writing, and editing to develop each analytical review.
They took the best of what they learned and created this guide that breaks down web hosting so that anyone can easily understand how it works and find the one that best suits their needs.
To understand more about choosing the right web host, check out their blogs below:
Choosing a CMS
Many moons ago websites were technical. They were built by geeks and updating them required a developer.
And guess what?
That involved cost until Content Management Systems came onto the scene.
Let’s have a look at the top options to help you get your website up and running ASAP!
What is a CMS?
A CMS (Content Management System) is a way of organising the text and images and resources on your website. It allows you to make changes fast and easily, and in most cases without the help of a developer.
The CMS will take care of most of the technical requirements of the website. But, in most cases, you will need to have extra functionality added to the website via something called a “plugin”. For example if you want to have a contact form on the website you will need a plugin. If you want to sell products you will need a plugin.
So, a CMS is really a framework that you can expand with plugins to give you the website you want.
There are many CMS’ available, but the top ones are:
- and many, many more!
Let’s take a closer look and try to compare the top-runners.
1. Hosted Versus Self-Hosted
Say what now?
OK, OK, I know thats confusing.
Self-hosting your CMS means you choose your own web host (see previous chapter) and you install the CMS there. It’s all under your control and you take care of all the updates and security etc.
Hosted CMS means you don’t have full access and your brand is at the mercy of the company that provides the service. For example, Wix makes it very easy for people to build a website. But what if Wix went bust? You’d lose your website. Shopify is a great way to build an online shop. It takes away a lot of complexity, but again you don’t own the asset.
We recommend self-hosting solutions because it gives you peace of mind as well as more flexibility. Sure you have to take care of security and so forth, but there are plugins for that!
Typically a person would start of with a cheap and cheerful Wix website. But then they want more features and they outgrow it fast.
It’s best to start the right way, and in our opinion that would be either WordPress or Joomla.
Let’s have a look at some pro’s and con’s…
2. WordPress Versus Joomla
Both platforms are are similar age. WordPress launched in 2003 and Joomla launched in 2005. But there is a big gap in market share!
WordPress owns about 40% of the CMS market compared to Joomla’s 3%
In case you were wondering, Joomla isn’t some tenth place option, it’s number 2 in the list.
- Easy to use – WordPress is said to be the easiest CMS to use, especially for non-developers.
- Easy to setup – typically it will take a couple of hours to get a basic website setup.
- Perfect for blogging – WordPress makes it easy to seperate “blog posts” vs “static pages” right out of the box, whereas Joomla just includes a single “article” type that you can manipulate with categories.
- Extending – When it comes time to adding in new functionality to your website, the WordPress ecosystem wins hand down.
- Massive support community – because WordPress is so popular, it’s easy to find help online and via website designers on Facebook.
- Minimal Costs – WordPress websites can be setup very cheaply and developers are plentiful which means if you need help you can find it fast and cheaply.
Advanced user management – Joomla offers an advanced system for user access controls and user management out of the box.
Flexible content types – Joomla’s components and modules give you a bit more flexibility for displaying non-standard content types.
Multilingual support – Joomla has multilingual support built-in to the core, while WordPress requires you to use a third-party plugin.
Multiple templates – Joomla lets you use different templates for different pieces of content, whereas you can only use one WordPress theme.
If you have little or no experience you’ll find WordPress the better option. Because its fast to learn and there is a lot of people who know the system inside out. At the time of writing there are approximately 455 million WordPress websites. I think those numbers speak for themselves?
Building Your Website
Alright, it’s time to get our hands dirty and start setting up the basics.
While this is just an example you should be able to use this to make what you want.
We’ll cover the initial WordPress setup, installing essential plugins and choosing a theme.
DON'T FORGET... if you want someone to build it for you, we can get your website design complete and online usually within 2 weeks (just depends how quick you are to approve haha!)l
1. Installing WordPress
Assuming you’ve got your web host all setup and configured it’s time to start installing WordPress.
If you are using Siteground they have a handy installer tool which speeds up the install. Just look in the “WordPress” options in your SiteTools for the “Install & Manage” option.
Other hosts often have a similar install tool. If you can’t find it and you’ve tried contacting their support desk you can install the long and slow way…
Download the latest WordPress version, then use an FTP account to upload it to your website host. If you aren’t sure what FTP is or how to use it you will have to ask your website host to help. Or you can review this tutorial on how to use an FTP Client
2. Adjusting WordPress Settings
When you first install WordPress there are a few settings you should probably tweak. Over the years I’ve found the best ones are the ones in this sequence. You can review and apply as necessary.
- From the left menu hover over “Settings” and click “General
2. Edit the following boxes: “Site Title” and the tag line. Change the WordPress URL and Site url from “http” to “https”
3. On the lower part of the screen change the “Timezone” to your timezone, change the date to the one shown with the arrow below, and the time format to the one shown below. Then press the blue “Save Changes” button. This will automatically log you out because we have changed to https.
4. Hover over “Settings” and click “Discussion”.
5. There are some boxes to tick and some to untick. The image below shows an arrow if you need to change it’s state.
6. Scroll down again and click the blue “Save Changes” button
That’s pretty much all we need to change for a default setup. Now it’s time to choose a theme and start to bring your website to life!
3. Choosing a Theme
A theme contains essential styles, colours, fonts, and layouts. Without a theme, you would have to start from scratch. Now, there is some benefit in starting with a blank slate – SPEED! But without any web developer skills, you would be best to opt for a theme that fits with your brand.
Not all themes are created equal!
Some themes are so bloated with styles and code you won’t use. That just means your website will go slow and visitors will leave early.
One of the best lightweight themes that still packs a punch is the Astra theme. they have a Pro version with some extra features, but most people can use the free one.
Searching for a theme:
- On the left-hand menu of WordPress hover over “Appearance” then click on “Themes”
2. Click the “Add New” button at the top of the screen
3. You can either search for a theme, for example, “Astra” on the right (pictured below). Or you can just scroll down until you see a theme you like.
4. Once you have a theme you like, hover over it and click the “Install” button. This will take a minute or so to complete.
5. Once the theme is installed the Install button will change to “Activate”. Click the “Activate” button.
Congratulations! You’ve just installed your first theme!
4. Installing Plugins
Even super basic WordPress websites have at least one plugin. They are essential to bringing functions to your website.
Typicaly when I set a website up for a client I will install these:
- Elementor Pro.
- Ninja Forms.
- Google Tag Manager.
- Code Snippets.
- Plus anything specific they need like a shopping cart.
Just in case you were wondering, Elementor is something called a Page Builder. It’s a way to make a page beautiful without any coding. I highly recommend checking out the Elementor website for more information.
To install a plugin you can either searc for one (just like you did with the theme) or you can upload one.
One of the key features you’ll need on your website is a contact form. Let’s have a look at how to install Ninja Forms on your site.
- From the left hand menu in Wordpres, hover over the “Plugins” menu item, then click “Add New”
2. In the search box (on the right) search for Ninja Forms
3. Click the “Install Now” button next to the Ninja Forms search result.
4. After a minute the button will change to “Activate”, click the blue “Activate” button.
5. You will now have another menu item on the big left menu.
6. You’ll want to setup a contact form. Ninja Forms have excellent documentation and help with building forms and using them on your website.
If you need more plugins for example if you want to try out Elementor, just repeat the above process.
5. Creating Pages
So far we’ve set up WordPress, installed one or more plugins, and chosen a theme. But we need a place to be able to create content!
I’m going to assume you have installed Elementor, simply because its an awesome way to make your web pages beautiful. Let’s create some pages!
1. From the left hand menu hover over “Pages” and click “All Pages”
2. At the top of the screen click “Add New”
3. Where it says “Add Title” type in the name of the page, for example “Home”, then press the blue “Edit with Elementor” button at the top
4. Add your page content and design the page, check out the Elementor resources for help on page design! There are over 9 hours of in-depth video tutorial across a range of topics, beginner to advanced. (Click the green “Publish” button at the bottom left of the screen.
5. Click the hamburger icon top left and then click on “Exit To Dashboard”.
6. Click the WordPress Icon at the top left of the screen.
7. Repeat steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 so we create all of these pages:
8. Hover over “Sample Page” and click the “Trash” link
Content Guide Checklist
Content is for humans not for robots! But when it works for both you are in the sweet spot. The golden rule is start with humans in mind first, then tweak for Google.
If your content can deliver value, engage, create excitement and desire you are on the way to achieving amazing success.
Let’s look at some tips and tricks for your content…
Content is for users, not for robots!
Not more than a few years ago we saw heaps of websites with little content. Some clever people found a way to “game” Google and get to position 1 by creating lots of little pages with a small amount of content.
That’s all stopped now and Google requires a minimum of 600-800 words on a page to qualify for attention. Why? Well, how well can you describe a topic in under 800 words? Probably not too well, right?
Content Task List Overview
- Craft a compelling Value Proposition.
- Work out if you have multiple buyer “Avatars.”
- Write content that connects to your target market.
- Review for content and make sure it connects at the right “buying stage.”
- Use the right language.
- Write and maintain a blog
- Set up a content calendar.
1. Start with a purpose
One of the most critical factors in successful writing is having a clear purpose before you commit pen to paper (or fingers to keys).
Some ideas for purpose include:
- Is the website intended to sell a product or a service?
- Is it focused on building traffic with the intention of increasing advertising revenue or sponsorships?
- Is it aimed at attracting new clients and generating leads?
- Is the main objective to attract subscribers or build a community?
2. Know your audience
Let’s say selling is your primary goal. You can determine the best methods of selling only by knowing your audience. The more you know about your prospects, the better you can convert them into paying customers.
To write copy that hooks your potential customers, you need to get into their mindset:
Who are the people coming to your site?
What kinds of problems do they want to solve?
What search terms would they type into a search bar?
If you can learn to write in the ways in which your visitors speak or search, you can start building up a relationship of trust. And if you answer their specific question, they may become your loyal audience and clients.
3. Hook them early
People are busy and they are marketed to constantly. Far more than they used to be. So cutting through the noise effectively is your only chance.
One way to do that is to open with a strong or opinionated remark. Then back up the reason for it in the next few sentences. This allows people to consume the content they want.
By starting your paragraph with the “intent” or “context” you are giving the person the opportunity to want to know more or not. That builds trust and they feel you aren’t wasting their time.
The number 1 goal of every sentence, yes EVERY sentence is to get the person to read the next one.
Keeping paragraphs short and concise makes your content scannable and allows the person to read it faster. If they are enjoying the content they will slow down and absorb it all. But we’ve become accustomed to skim reading (thanks to social media)
SEO - Optimising For Search Engines
Search Engine Optimisation is a hot topic. Business owners want it, few understand it. Most often SEO companies charge massive fees and their reports are generic at best. That’s partly because it’s really hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Luckily there is one overriding factor that should drive all your SEO efforts. And it came from the horse’s mouth (Google). If you focus on creating quality content that people want, the SEO results will follow.
But there are things that can give you a bit of a boost. Below you’ll find our top 2 SEO tips for 2021.
Our top 3 SEO Tips for 2021
There is much to be said about SEO and I could easily write 10,000 words and not cover half the info you need. The tips below are the critical ones you should be focussing on in 2021. It will change for 2022 of course!
1. Use entity-based phrases where possible
Search engine optimization (SEO) used to be defined by the number of keywords and keyword synonyms across your website’s content.
When Google launched its knowledge graph, SEO shifted away from simply relying on keywords, they started to focus on rich snippets and entities on the result pages.
These days, Google has more systems to identify the true meaning of keyword searches and queries. By categorizing ideas into “entities,” Google revolutionized its search proficiency.
While keywords are still important, SEO experts now also use entity-based SEO to further their ranking efforts. Context and relevance are becoming increasingly important in search engine results, and entities can help improve these factors.
While keywords are an essential part of your SEO strategy, they don’t fully reflect how humans search for information. For example, a person who searches for “Paris” may be looking for Paris Jackson, the city of Paris (in France or Texas), the movie Paris Is Burning, or innumerable other options.
Google offers suggestions for searchers regarding additional context, which serves the dual purpose of speeding up their searches by showing popular options and reminding them to add more context if none of those are what they need.
Entity-based SEO is helpful for searchers but slightly has made things a bit more complicated for content creators. Three ways entity-based SEO has changed the landscape include:
- Better mobile capabilities: Entities allowed SEO to improve mobile results. Entities also improved mobile-first indexing, which is more prevalent than desktop searches.
- Translation improvements: Entities can be found regardless of homonyms, synonyms, and foreign language use thanks to context clues. For instance, a search for “red” will include results for “rouge” or “rojo,” if the searcher’s settings allow for this.
- Rich snippets: Rich snippets, which include things like photos and customer ratings as part of their results, generally outperform even number one search results.
2. Local, Local, Local
If you sell popular items such as wedding rings you might feel that you just can’t compete against the big retailers. But with a little optimization around location, you can actually beat them!
One of the best ways to focus on local SEO is with Google My Business
If your business is a traditional brick and mortar, make sure your address is visible.
Location: If your business is a Service Area Business that does not see customers from your location, you should be hiding your address and then set your Service areas.
If your business is a Service Area Business but does allow customers to come to your location, include the address AND set your service areas.
The primary category you choose for your listing will have more weight than the additional categories you add.
Categories: Selecting your primary category can also depend on if your business has any seasonality.
As an example, HVAC companies typically offer heating and cooling services. During the winter months, their primary category should be related to heating. During the summer months, their primary category should be related to cooling.
If you need help figuring out your primary category, do some searches for your primary keywords in Google Maps and take note of the primary category being used for the top listings.
3. Make Easy to Digest Content
Infographics have been around for a long time. And they are still super popular.
Their main benefit is that a reader can digest a huge amount of information and relevance in a very short space of time. The visuals also assist with data retention, meaning the person is more likely to remember it in the future.
Another benefit is that it sort of creates its own authority. Words on a page are just words. Anybody could copy and paste them. But an infographic is less easily changed. People are more likely to trust the infographic over a paragraph of words.
The final benefit of infographics is that people share them. Like a lot.
Check out this blog post from HubSpot who claim an infographic can increase your website traffic by as much as 12%.
Because SEO is about driving traffic to your website, it is important to look at all options. And if an infographic can drive as much as 1% more traffic to your website it would be highly advisable to start creating some.
Building a website can be hard, especially if you have no experience. There is much to know. And even if you get something up and working it might not even be optimsed using the right marketing language for the best conversions. If you do run into any difficulty just reach out and we can help out and get your project moving again (or take over and optimse it for the best success)
Remember your focus should be around creating clear and easy-to-understand content that delivers value and has a purpose. Every page should have a purpose and every sentence and word on the page should have a purpose.
I hope. you enjoyed reading the article and that it brings you some solid ideas for your creation. If you found it useful I’d appreciate you heading over to my Facebook page and liking it!