Promote your brand, build your tribe and grow your business.
Have a great business idea, want to launch your online business or just want to get your message heard but don’t know where to start You’re not alone…
My Website Launch Guide was born from an idea I had to take my knowledge and convert it to something that is easy to digest, practical and could be used to facilitate transformation within small a business.
The guide aims to put the power of marketing and promotion back in the hands of the business owner — with the goal of empowering and providing you with access to resources that will help you leverage your audience and gain influence in your particular area of business.
Designed for non-techies
The Website Launch Guide needed to be easy to follow for all users and not be overloaded with technical jargon. The guide explains concepts and processes in general, easy to understand, terms with explanations and handy references.
Learn at your own pace
Pick up your learning at any stage or go straight to the modules that interest you the most right from your computer, tablet or mobile phone.
Easy to follow modules
The Website Launch Guide consists of eight easy to follow and practical modules.
Module 1 — Identity and Brand Analysis
Any good Website launch begins with a sound marketing strategy, achievable goals, and an effective marketing funnel. We take a look at the steps to implement calls-to-action and lead magnets in-line with your brand and what it takes to drive quality traffic to your website as well as planning your content.
Module 2 — Technical Setup
A registered domain name and web hosting are two necessary elements to launching any Website and platform. We take a look at how to set these components up as well as some suggestions and technical considerations.
Module 3 — Social Media
A social media strategy forms the basis of any online communications and promotional activities, as well as enabling any business to connect with it’s audience in many forms. Ensuring they are all aligned and provide a consistent message is important so we have broken down the components to take into consideration when implementing your brand across the various social platforms.
Module 4 — Growing Your Audience
In this module, we take a look at how to set up email marketing campaigns, subscriber lists and how to leverage automation to communicate with your audience, as well as how to use a ‘gift’ as a lead magnet and generate qualified prospects.
Module 5 — Website Structure
There are three particular areas of your website structure we take a look at in some detail, these being; Taxonomy, Content, and Design. We break these down into their individual components and what they mean to a user of your website, as well as some things to avoid.
Module 6 — Search Engine Optimisation
Keeping up with changes in Google algorithms and best SEO practices can be a challenge for any blogger or website owner, pro or beginner. In this module, we take a look at 10 proven strategies you can implement today to give your SEO efforts their best chance while keeping both search engines and your human visitors happy.
Module 7 — Launch
This is where the real fun starts! Once you have turned your website on and made it accessible to the world, there are a few housekeeping tasks to consider to keep everything running smoothly. Such technical and performance considerations. Here we look at how to keep you site in good shape using Google Webmaster tools and other resources, as well as how to monitor performance and ensure your website stays online.
Module 8 — Marketing and Promotion
By now you would have launched and been loving your new website. Now it’s time to promote and take it to market. In this final module, we take a look at how and what to promote as well as when and what to share with your audience.
Is the Website Launch Guide for you?
Though the guide is suited to anyone running a business or looking to establish themselves online, the guide also works particularly well with start-ups and small businesses that are looking for the focused guidance and access to tools they can leverage to build their business and grow their audience.
If this sounds like you then start building your online business today!
Let’s get started.
Module 1: Identity & Brand Analysis
Your marketing strategy is, without doubt, the most single defining element of your success online.
Think of your marketing strategy as to how are you going to present your products and services to your audience and engage with them as you continue to grow and do business online.
Your marketing strategy also takes into consideration the “tone of voice” you use when writing your copy for your website and crosses over into the printed media you use to promote your business, service, and products.
Marketing strategy is the fundamental goal of increasing sales and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.
When it comes to mapping out and defining your online marketing strategy consider the following:
- Setting goals
- Creating a sales and marketing funnel
- Developing consistent calls to action
- Creating an effective lead magnet
- Methods of driving traffic
When setting goals, ask — what does success look like?
Make your goals realistic and achievable and then align with your strategies to ensure your best chance of achieving them. Ensuring they are measurable will also help you determine if the strategies you are implementing are successful and contributing to you achieving your business goals.
Consider starting out small as consistently showing up and producing content can be a very time consumer and resource intensive. Don’t promise too much, only what you’re confident you can deliver.
List these goals and have them visible when planning your content to ensure the tasks you are performing daily and weekly are getting you closer to achieving these goals.
Where possible, implement tracking on links for marketing campaigns to ensure you can track and report on any marketing initiatives.
Use the Google URL Builder to create campaign links you can track within Google Analytics.
Having goals helps you know what you should be focusing on.
Successful businesses have an effective marketing funnel in place.
To create your marketing funnel you need to start by mapping out your customer’s journey, starting from when a customer is a complete stranger to when they become a lead, and then move through particular strategies you have in place that will encourage them to move through this funnel.
Elements like lead magnets, calls to action, opt-ins and offers are all effective and important elements of a funnel.
Think of this marketing funnel as a ‘content conveyor belt’ — Pieces of targeted and topic-specific content, designed with the purpose of moving a potential customer through the various elements of your business to ultimately becoming a client.
Call to action
A call-to-action (CTA) is exactly that, a clear, unambiguous visual queue to a user that helps and guides them through a process of becoming a lead.
CTA’s should ultimately direct people to landing pages, where you can then collect the visitor's contact information in exchange for a valuable marketing offer — an opt-in or ‘Gift’ (discussed in a later module). In many cases, this could be a free ebook or whitepaper for example.
This path, from clicking on a CTA to a landing page, illustrates the process of lead generation. A good CTA should be attention-grabbing and help lead a potential customer further into your marketing funnel.
The sole purpose of a call-to-action is to get the user of the website (visitor) to take action. Typically this can be filling out a form (become a subscriber) or it could also be to make a phone call.
A call-to-action can take the form of:
- link, or
An effective call-to-action is not too distracting for a user and presented contextual and in-line with the user's experience on your website. For this reason, the size and placement of a call-to-action become important when deciding where to position one and its context.
A call-to-action typically uses contrasting colours in order to stand out. This is often referred to as an “accent” colour when speaking with your designer.
Tip: When using a call-to-action when making an offer, provide an alternative to the primary action — give the user a choice. Point out the disadvantages of not taking the action, sometimes this can have a very positive impact on your conversion rate. Also, consider conveying a sense of urgency and above all, make it easy for a user to take the action.
When crafting the steps for a successful conversion using your call-to-action, be sure to communicate with the user what to expect. Often it can be a good idea to redirect the user to a welcome or thank you page after they complete the call to action, which outlines what they can expect next and anything they should do.
One of these next steps for the user will most likely be to check their inbox for an automated confirmation email which will require them to confirm their email address.
Help the user at every chance to make it as easy as possible for them to engage and interact with you and your business.
Some best practices to consider when designing your call-to-action include:
- Make then visually appealing and enticing so your visitor wants to click the offer or button
- Make the call-to-action message brief and to the point
- Make them action orientated (“download” or “Register” for example)
- Position them in a way that makes them look like they belong and are a part of the content or copy on the page
- Keep them in-line with the overall style of your website
- Just large enough that they stand out but are not too distracting
- Easy to understand and clear to the user what will happen if they click on the button or link
A call-to-action should be part of every design and style guide. When discussing design requirements with your designer (if you’re starting out), be sure to include a few varied call-to-action styles (primary and secondary) in your design guidelines and requirements.
Remember, social sharing buttons can also be considered calls-to-action also. Particularly if you are offering an incentive for a user to share your content on social media.
Tip: A great WordPress plugin for building buttons and calls to action for your website is MaxButtons.
A lead magnet can be used alone or in combination with a CTA. This will also be used either within your marketing funnel or as a way to drive potential customers into your funnel. Supply them with something relevant to your product or service that they want.
Use your offers and Gifts as a way to gather more information about a potential buyer while at the same time, driving them further into your funnel. This brings them closer to becoming a quality lead that will spend money on your product or service.
The idea behind a lead magnet is to trade information. You supply something like a free download for example, but in order to complete the download, the individual has to fill out a form that will provide you with more information about them. As a minimum, this will be their email address. You’ll use the information you gather to interact with them more as they progress through your funnel and in further marketing initiatives.
In order to be able to drive visitors into your marketing funnel, there first has to be traffic on your website.
There a variety of ways you can drive traffic to your website.
Using content such as email newsletters and blog posts, insert links to various places on your website within this content to build your brand name through exposure and drive traffic to your website.
Inserting related keywords into content will help your content and website show up in more search results, this leads to higher volumes of web traffic.
Ensuring that your website is optimized and functioning at its best is essential. People don’t want to visit a website that doesn’t work properly.
Use engaging social media posts to attract more traffic to your site. Using pictures, video, and other relevant media will help your posts get more engagement.
Planning your content starts with the very basics. Ask yourself, what pages do you want and need on your website as well as those that will help and assist your customer and visitors to your website?
A typical content map usually begins with pages such as; home, about, services and contact. This will build out to eventually become your website “Taxonomy”.
Consider if you need a news (or blog) section. This type of chronologically ordered content is great for SEO and gives you another way of communicating with your audience over and above the written copy on the pages listed above. (More on this later in module 4 — Opt-in and other gifts).
Where should you start?
Don’t make this too complicated. Start with something as simple as an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet. List the pages you need to get started in the first column, then the URL (or ‘page slug’), type of content (page or file for example), targeted keywords and page summary.
Think of this step as creating a ‘content inventory’ of your website. For this step, you may even find using a pen and paper to sketch your ideas down and page flow through your website. A tool I like to use other than a typical spreadsheet is Mindomo. It’s great for mind mapping and creating easy to use and visualise flow charts and diagrams.
Things to consider
When planning the content for your website, be sure to consider your personas and avatars. These are the people and ideal customers you will be talking to.
Ensure your content speaks to these and addresses any concerns and questions you think they may have about your service or product.
Defining Your Avatar
Your avatar is your one perfect audience member that wants and needs the value you have to offer.
Defining your avatar is key in understanding the tone of voice of your website copy and will greatly assist in many marketing decisions.
Knowing who you are talking to, enables you to craft your content in a way that makes sense to your audience and also assists in engaging with the right audience and individual.
Once you know your avatar, you will be able to attract the right customer to your product and eliminate anyone that is either not the right fit for your business or not at the right engagement level.
When defining your avatar, consider:
- Their pain points
- Their likes and dislikes
- What they enjoy doing
- Their dreams
An avatar is a person (singular) who embodies your ideal audience member or customer. They are the person who you are creating your business, your content, your services and your products for.
Your avatar can’t wait for you to launch, because what you are going to provide them with is going to help solve the pain point and fill the informational void they are currently experiencing.
Defining your niche will help you determine what specific content you’re going to offer your avatar based on their pain points and needs.
You can’t sell everything to everyone. The reality is that if you cast too wide a net, you won’t catch much fish at all. But if you narrow your niche focus to a specific product or service, and you target a specific audience, you will have much more success.
So, how do you go about defining your niche market? How do you know what your business focus should be, or what kinds of products or services you should be offering? What will your message be?
Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you define your niche market:
- What am I good at and what do I enjoy doing? Where your strengths meet your interests is where you will find your niche. This is what your company should be focused on and this is what your message should be centered around.
- Are there people who will listen to my message? You need to do some research to discover if there is a demand for what you want to offer, and what your competition looks like. Can you make a profit — is there enough potential volume to support your business goals?
- What does my ideal customer look like?
- Are they female or male? Young or old? School- or life-taught?
- What are their interests and hobbies?
- What kinds of topics do they get involved with?
- Who do I enjoy working with now? Take a look at your current customers and take a look at why you like working with them. What attributes do they possess that you’d like all of your customers to possess?
- What do people, friends, and colleagues tell me I am good at? Is this something I want to be doing in the next 3 to 5 years and beyond?
With a defined niche market, you will better understand the purpose of your business.
Your website is typically many people’s first impression of your business, company, product or service. As a result, your website represents and is the face of a vital and critical component of your branding strategy. It communicates who you are and what you promise to offer your customers. It does this with its content, layout, design and overall feel.
A well branded website gives a clear picture of your company through the information that’s presented, the way in which it’s presented and the user experience of the site.
A well-branded website gives your organization a great foundation for an online presence, a platform from which to communicate what you do and everything you stand for. It’s the place where you can tell your story and engage your customers.
Tip: If you have a registered domain name, use this as your primary email address instead of the generic one supplied to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Things to consider
Choosing the right color palette is very important when it comes to both offline and online branding. More importantly, they need to match.
Color stimulates emotions and facilitates subconscious associations to various things and characteristics.
When deciding on a color or colors for your brand, research their effects to see if the colors you have chosen reflect the emotions and characteristics you believe your brand represents or is wanting to project.
Does your brand have character?
Where possible, try to incorporate personality into your brand to help it stand out and better connect with your audience.
Just as color can engage a visitor to your website, so to can its character. Character enables you to convey and communicate trust — trust in your brand and in doing business with you.
Making your brand successful requires you to make it memorable. How do you want your brand or company to be remembered?
One way of making your brand memorable and stick in people’s minds is to make your message consistent — repeat it.
Be both consistent and congruent throughout your website and offline marketing to ensure you are giving your brand the best chance to be memorable. Ensure your website projects a consistent, uniform image to its visitors and users.
Your logo is one of the key elements of your brand you can leverage consistency and identity awareness.
A logo is essential to any brand and is a key element in your website.
Consider hiring a designer to not only design a great logo but to also develop your business collateral including business cards and letterhead paper. By making that initial investment, you’ll create a cohesive visual voice and begin to establish control over your brand.
When designing your website and deciding on a layout, try to keep it in the widely accepted area of your page header, top left. This is where most users will expect to find it on every page.
Size is also an important factor when positioning your logo on your website. Ensure it is readable, unambiguous and mixed in with other elements yet big enough to be the second or third visual element a user is drawn to. It should be obvious it’s your logo.
When a visitor hits your website, they inevitably think to themselves — what’s in it for me? What’s service or product is this company or website offering and how does it help or benefit me.
To ensure you are attracting the right customer or audience, ensure your value proposition or statement is clear and concise and easily visible to your visitor.
Once you have researched and defined your niche, you are able to draw up your value proposition (or mission statement).
This is targeted directly at your avatar, your one perfect customer, and enables visitors to your website to do their own validation that they are on the right website for the information or solution they are after.
In a few words explain exactly what benefit your site provides to the visitor, so that they’ll know not only what your site is about, but why they should keep using it.
Tone of voice
The language you use on your website and the manner in which you talk to your visitors must reinforce your brand’s character and personality.
It’s not just about what you say it’s also about how you say it. Be sure to choose a tone of voice that reflects your brand’s character and suits your audience.
A website provides the opportunity to communicate a lot about a company.
While products and services may be the first things that come to your mind, the essential components are:
- Overall Feel and Experience
- Quality Content
Module 1 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
Module 2: Technical Setup
Domain Name Registration
To get your new website online, you’re going to need two things:
- A registered domain name
- Web hosting service
Owning your own domain name looks far more professional than having your site on someone else’s or a free domain and it is more affordable now than ever before.
Owning and managing your own hosting will allow you to easily customise your website to your liking and install and configure plugins that will enhance the overall experience and administration and maintenance of your site.
Looking for somewhere to start? Here are some personal recommendations.
Domain name registration
Their services are extremely affordable and offer combined domain name management services with every account.
I have personally used many hosting companies over the past 10 years. Three local to AUS I would recommend are:
When it comes to looking for a trusted and reliable web host, it often comes down to two things; location and cost — where will your website hosting service be located and what will it cost you.
The location is important. If your audience and a vast majority of your visitors are located in Sydney Australia (for example) then you would be looking for Sydney based hosting. If your audience is global, then setting up a CDN as can address the issue of speed when it comes to delivering files to the visitor's computer quickly.
Cost is important for obvious reasons. Remember, this is an investment in your business we are talking about.
But what cost is right for you? Well, only you can determine that.
But before you do, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you would want to choose a reliable web hosting provider.
Web hosting particularly impacts two things on your website:
- Speed, and
Did you know that Google considers website speed as one of its major ranking factors? Therefore, if your site takes a long time to load your search rankings will be affected.
Just in the same way, if your site is fast to load, Google will reward you with favorable rankings.
To understand how fast and effective your website loads, head on over to GTmetrix and run a free performance analysis. It will only take a minute and provide some valuable insight into your website’s performance. You can even download the report and hand it over to your developer for investigation and follow up into areas you can focus on to improve your page load times (and a lot more).
Downtime hurts! It hurts your search engine rankings because a search engine cannot access your site to rank or crawl it and it hurts your visitors because they cannot access your site or do business with you when they want to.
Your website could go offline for a number of reasons. Two reasons I want to cover here though are poor infrastructure and the wrong type of hosting.
Cheap and free hosting (yes there is still free hosting out there) does not adjust nor is it scalable to your hosting needs according to your traffic volumes and often falls under the term, “shared” hosting service. It is shared because you are sharing the available resources on the server with many other users. Think of it as many different websites all on the one web hosting server. If just one of these other websites gets hit with a spike in its usage and blows out its shared resource allocation, there is every chance the site will go down and take yours with it.
The hosting company will need to get involved and restore the websites and the server. Frequent downtime will, in many cases, lead to being penalized by search engines. Not good for anyone right!
This is always a risk with a shared hosting service. You can take precautions like that mentioned above and setup CloudFlare, for example, to ensure your website is available in cases like this, but should you need to?
Another option is to consider a Virtual Private Server (VPS). This provides a more reliable hosting service and removes the risk of another website taking yours down because it suddenly got popular.
A VPS does come at a cost though. Typically you would be looking at upwards of $100 per month to get started. However, if your website is that popular and this is a service you need, it’s a pretty good expense to have to incur.
Look around and Google website hosting providers and research the different types of services they provide. Be sure you can upgrade or downgrade accordingly and above all, have a backup plan.
Email Address Setup
After registering your domain name the first thing you usually want to do is start using your new email address at your domain. Of course, you do!
If you want to start using your domain name for email, you will need a web hosting service. A web hosting service not only provides web space to host your website but also your email. You can either use an email client like Outlook or Mac Mail to manage your email or a hosted service like Google Apps.
If you’re a fan of Gmail, you can create alias mailboxes in your Gmail account to send and receive email from your domain also, which you can do for free. My personal suggestion.
Alternatively, if you do not need to be able to send email from your domain name but rather receive an email, then setting up a ‘catch-all’ email forward will solve this problem. A catchall email is a service typically provided by some domain name registrars as part of their service bundle. Not all registrars provide this service though so shop around before deciding on who to register your domain name with. Mydomain.com offers these services for free and much more for top-level domains (.com or .net, etc.).
Having a ‘catch-all’ email forwarding service setup means anything preceding the @ part of your email address will be forwarded on to your existing email address. For example, an email could be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and it will be forwarded on to your existing, personal email address (eg. Gmail). It does not matter what is before the @ symbol in the email address, the service ‘catches all’ emails for the domain and forwards them on for you. A nice, easy, free way to get started using your domain name.
Alternatively, if you want to send email from your domain name you will need either a web hosting account or an email hosting service. Even if your website is not ready yet, you can sign up for a web hosting service purely for the ability to start using email.
Tip: Keep your email address as short as possible. There is no need to make it longer than necessary. It’s your domain name so you can have anything you like. If your name is John Smith, go with firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com.
Let’s start by taking a look at what to look for in a web hosting company.
Your website is working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, therefore, your website host should also. This is particularly important to your developer who is most likely performing website updates after hours and if it’s urgent you do not want to have to wait until opening hours the next day for support.
Look for online chat and email support options when you’re doing your research. Also, be sure to check for a service status page. You may need to check if there are any known or reported issues at times.
This is an important factor in all business decisions and hosting is no different.
Unfortunately, all too often, a business will end up spending only a fraction of the cost they just spent on their shiny new website on its hosting.
Look for a reasonable price but don’t skimp. Consider paying a little more than what you think you need to.
If there is one thing that is true when it comes to hosting it’s — you get what you pay for.
Remember, you’re not just paying a business to house your website, you’re paying for it to be online and serviceable.
Be sure to look for:
- Uptime guarantee
- Included bandwidth
- Number of accounts
Configuration and setup
Signing up for the hosting service is the easy step. After that, you will need to configure your new web space. You will most likely have a technical person or contact that will be able to do this for you however I am sure that won’t always be the case.
Look for access to a web hosting control panel, often referred to a cPanel. This will give you access to a one-click installation of most common web services and applications. Always ensure these web applications are the latest versions to save you time updating later.
Multiple domain hosting
If you’re looking to host more than one website on your new web space, you will also most likely need to use another domain name. Look for multiple domain hosting options.
This will enable you to host multiple domain names and websites on the one account.
Positive reviews and feedback
This is easily overlooked when researching web hosting companies. Do your research. Search Google, social media and forums for reviews and feedback on your short list of providers.
Finding a web hosting company with an absolutely clean slate and 100% positive reviews can be difficult but they’re out there. Weigh up all reviews and feedback and be realistic.
If a review looks like it an intentional attempt to write a bad story about a hosting company, it probably is just that and may not tell the entire story or experience.
Module 2 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
Module 3: Social Media
Twitter is the ultimate in micro-publishing. With only 280 characters (for all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) to get your message across, you need to choose your words wisely. However, it goes much deeper than just the status update.
Take the time and setup your profile, including;
- Avatar image
- Profile banner
- Website link
Make sure the images you use and branding, including custom colors, match that of your website, online presence, and brand.
Consider using a Twitter landing page. This is a page on your website you would create specifically for visitors arriving from clicking on your website link within your Twitter bio. Typically you would simply have this set to your website URL. You can view my Twitter landing page here.
Creating a page in your site called something like “Welcome Twitter Followers” with a simple page slug of “t” means you could have a Twitter bio link of mywebsite.com/t — something nice and short, which takes the user straight to your Twitter landing page.
This landing page provides you the opportunity to deliver a more customised welcome message and recognises that the visitor may only know about you what they have just learned from your Twitter bio.
A gravatar is a ‘globally recognised avatar’.
An ‘avatar’ is an image that represents you online — a little picture that appears next to your name when you interact with websites.
Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums.
This Gravatar image (or icon) typically appears alongside your name on blog comments and is associated with your email address. It’s a great way to increase the visibility of your profile and for others to get to know and associate with you.
Unlike standard avatars, Gravatars follow you around the web and automatically appear when you publish an article or leave a comment on a blog/website. Make this the same profile image as your other social accounts for consistency.
Setting up a Gravatar only takes a minute and is free.
Start here: https://en.gravatar.com/
Your bio is an important element of your social presence. Try to keep this as short and specific as possible. Try to keep it within 156 characters so it appears in full in a search engine result where needed.
Create two versions; a short 156 character or less and a longer version for your website or About page.
Use this across all your social platforms and anywhere a bio is requested, particularly on your WordPress website’s user bio in your profile settings.
Banners and assets
Banners and assets (images) are an easily overlooked part of a social media strategy and platform setup.
Banners and assets include things such as:
- Bio image (as above)
- Blog post feature images
- Promotional tiles (eg. Blog sidebar)
- Social media icons for your website
- Email newsletter headers
- Email newsletter signup forms
- Cover photos for social accounts
Module 3 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
Module 4: Growing Your Audience
Getting started with MailChimp
MailChimp is a free email marketing service and is based on the three main tasks of targeted email marketing:
- Manage subscriber lists,
- Build email campaigns, and
- Review campaign reports
MailChimp is not the only email marketing solution available. There are a few to choose from and it usually takes trying each to find which one works best for you and your marketing requirements.
Research available options and make use of any free trials to become familiar with each service.
MailChimp has proven to be at the top of its market, particularly if you have less than 5000 subscribers.
Some other notable email marketing services include:
There are a few rules and regulations you should be aware of when getting started with MailChimp and it is worth ensuring you are across them at the early stages.
Once you have decided on an email marketing service, you will need to create at least one Subscriber List. This is a list of subscribers that will opt-in on your website for your offer.
Tip: Keep your subscriber lists specific, don’t mix them.
If you offer a weekly email newsletter opt-in at the end of each blog post, have subscribers for this placed into a ‘Email Newsletters’ subscriber list.
If you provide special offers to clients who subscribe in an account area of your website, make sure these go into their own ‘Client Offers’ (for example) subscriber list.
Keeping your lists separate make sending campaigns easier and don’t confuse your subscribers when they get an automated email from you.
Setting up automated emails can be done based on an event (a new subscriber) or a trigger (a period of time after subscribing).
Automation is your friend and when done properly can save you time and provide a good user experience for your subscribers.
Some examples of where you would use automation to grow, build and connect with your audience are:
- Sending a welcome message to a new subscriber that informs them of what happens next now that they have subscribed and how they can further connect with you or your business.
- Sending a link to a download a day after a new subscriber has confirmed their email address and have become a subscriber.
In these examples, the emails that are sent can be the same in layout and content and only need to be set up and configured once. Once the trigger has been activated, the email will be automatically sent to the user for you. The content delivered is also being delivered at the right time and in the right context for the user. The content is the same for every user and their automated delivery is in almost all cases, expected to be automated.
Automation should particularly be used where the task to be completed can be set based on rules and actions being completed.
Another example here could be sending a completion certificate once a user has completed all the required modules of an online course. The rules around the certificate being sent have been met and do not require a human to validate any part of the process.
Referred to in an earlier module (Lead Magnet), the gift is what you provide free to those that subscribe or join a mailing list. Also referred to as the ‘opt-in’, it is essentially something of value and a way of saying thank you, thank you for providing your personal details to join our mailing list and allowing us to send you content via email.
Gifts can be used as a way of motivating a user to subscribe, particularly if it has a high perceived value by the visitor to your website.
Some examples of opt-in gifts:
- Free eBook
- Report (or study findings)
- Software trial
- Exclusive membership
- Discount offers
- Premium content
This kind of offering is also often referred to as ‘products for prospects’. It’s a nice, risk-free, offer for a potential customer that is not yet ready to do business with you but is willing and ready to find out more or experience what you have to offer. Like Apple offering iTunes free to get a taste of using an Apple product.
Module 4 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
Module 5: Website Structure
The taxonomy of also referred to as navigation. It is essential an ordered map of the pages and content that make up your website.
Starting with the taxonomy when building your website structure helps with understanding all the components and types of content that need to come together and more importantly, helps you arrange them in a logical order. Logical meaning, the sections of your website are grouped together in a way that is meaningful and useful to your visitor and helps eliminate confusion for a user finding their way around.
A great place to start with this is simply with Post-it® Notes or even just pieces of paper or cards. Take a piece of paper or note and write down the name (title) of every page that will be needed in your website (eg. home, about, services, contact, products, contact, online quote). Once you have done this, lay them out grouping them together in columns so that they are in some logical form and order. This is the first step in building a taxonomy. Once completed, copy it over to a spreadsheet so you can then start building out further information like page titles, summaries, content type (page or blog post) and metadata (keywords and categories).
What you will end up with is useful data that can be used to start building your website pages and navigation, if you’re starting from scratch. Also, create a website folder on your computer so you can begin building and collecting the content for your website. Create a folder for each top-level section and then documents within labeled by the page name to make are easy to manage.
You’re now ready to start creating the content for your website.
You have heard it before — content is king — and it is still king today.
It is content that drives traffic to your website, enables you to influence your Search Engine Optimisation, convert visitors to customers and educate your audience about your products or services.
When it comes to planning the content for your website, take the approach of not hiding anything from your audience and making it as easy as possible to navigate and understand.
The more your audience knows about you, the more likely they are to connect and convert to customers.
Align your content with the taxonomy you created in the previous step. Create a document for each page on your website and save it in a folder labeled the same as the particular section of the website where it will be located.
When writing your content, break down any technical jargon and link to (and reference) any appropriate pages or sections in your website as you go. In-page links to other sections of your website are great for SEO.
Be sure to write with clear labeling and formatting of headings and structure. Be sure to use heading styles (H1, H2, and H3, etc.) where appropriate and break your copy down into small chunk that is easy for your visitor to digest. Doing so makes your content easier to scan, something every user of the web has become very well acquainted in doing.
Use lists and bulleted content to help the user read, scan and understand your copy and if using images, make sure they support the content and enhance the user experience. Anything else will only prove to be a distraction for a visitor and stand in the way of them taking in the content on the page.
Tip: If a particular section of your website has only a small amount of content to support it, don’t load the page up with an unnecessary copy to make it look more than it is. Keep it on its own page and leverage the opportunity to target the specific keyword for that section of the site.
The topic of “design” can be a very subjective one, and rightly so. We all know what we like and don’t like right?
Well, when it comes to designing your website, there a few best practices and considerations you should be aware of and communicate clearly with your designer and developer.
Firstly, let’s take a look at what we are talking about when it comes to “design” and your website.
“Website design” is not just how your website looks, it visual appeal. The design process encompasses:
- Graphic design
- Interface design
- Content authoring
- Website structure
- User experience (UX), and
- User information (UI)
Deciding on a design
The overall design and usability of your website or blog play an integral role in its success. Putting the user first in your design decisions is important.
If you’re just starting out you will most likely not be familiar with terms like User Experience (UX) and Taxonomy (navigation) and that’s ok. However, they are very important factors to consider when deciding on a design for your website or blog.
Let’s look at the high-level elements of a blog’s design that you should definitely take into consideration when starting out and how they impact your visitors.
Design considerations for your website and blog
One of the first steps in deciding on a design for your blog is to determine how much and what functionality your blog requires. This will depend on your marketing strategy, use of social profiles and advertising you will want to run. You may want to keep your advertising in the right-hand column for example.
If no advertising, you may want to consider a single, one column design for your post pages.
Looking at the layout of your blog, break it down into the following parts:
This typically contains your blog or website logo, menu and search box. The menu should clearly indicate to the visitor how the blog's content is categorised and be easy to understand. If using two levels of menu’s, ensure it is obvious to the visitor why there are multiple levels of navigation.
2. Inner page
This is where your content will be located and will typically be full width (100% of the page) or broken up into columns, an inner content area with one or two sidebars.
Make the most of your available sidebar real estate. You would typically find post tags (tag cloud), archives list, promotions and subscribe forms and a search box if you don’t want to have it located in your header.
Your blogs footer can contain as little or as much as you like. Be sure to include any links to your social profiles. You should also include your Twitter feed and contact information as a minimum.
Searching for ideas
A good way to search for ideas is to hit Google and start searching. Search for blogs in similar industries or business and visit their blogs. Take note of things they do that you like and do not like. This can be very subjective of course.
You will most likely want your blog to be very similar in look and feel to your company or business website. This would extend into colors used, typography, fonts, logos, tone of voice and general look and feel. Be sure to let your designer or developer know to what degree the two should align.
When deciding on a design for your blog, you should choose a template of a framework that utilises the above four components on each page as a minimum, including the homepage of the blog.
Categorising your content
Categorising your blog's content helps visitors understand how it has been grouped. Tags take these categorisations a step further and make the content more granular and meaningful. A post should be associated with only one category but could have multiple tags. Be sure to include your blog's categories as an influencer on its design and overall visual appeal.
Change and adapt
Don’t be afraid to listen to your visitors and regular readers. Listen to feedback if and when it’s provided about your blog and its layout and design. If visitors are saying there is too much ‘noise’ on the page you may want to look at any advertising or unnecessary images you are using that is distracting to the user.
You won’t always get it right the first time. Choose a design with readability in mind.
When starting out you may choose to experiment with different layouts over a six to twelve month period to find one that suits and that you’re happy with.
Some things to avoid
There are many practices to avoid when designing your website. Such as:
- Using a dark background with light text
- Too many ads
- Using images in posts that look like ads and vice versa
- Not providing a site search
- Too many colors in the design
- Confusing navigation
Once you have found a design that works for both your business and your readers, stick with it. It is easier to focus on writing quality content when you’re not thinking about the design of your website.
Module 5 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
Module 6: Search Engine Optimisation
Where to start with SEO
Keeping up with changes in Google algorithms and best SEO practices can be a challenge for any blogger or website owner, pro or beginner.
If you’re beginning your blogging or online journey, my advice would be to focus on defining your blog or website’s purpose and attracting an audience. This should be your priority. Then over time, you will learn to develop and sharpen your SEO skills.
Here are 10 time-proven techniques to use to keep your SEO in good shape.
Include your targeted keywords in your page title
Your page title should be unique within your website or blog. Be sure to include your targeted keyword or keywords when deciding on the title.
Use a meaningful permalink
Also referred to as a page slug or permalink, your post’s permalink should be meaningful and include your targeted keywords, just like your blogs post or webpage title. Be sure to use a dash to separate words and not an underscore.
Keep you post title under 70 characters
The simple reason for this is that Google only indexes the first 70 characters of your page or post title. Anything outside 70 characters won’t be shown in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
Keep your meta description less than 160 characters
Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description meta tag as a snippet in a search result. Be sure to write a custom meta description of needed and make it meaningful.
Use as heading tags throughout your post
A typical blog post will have the post title included in the page as a heading 1. When breaking down your page blog post, be sure to use heading style tags from H2 to H5 where and when appropriate. This makes it easier for the user to scan and gain a quicker understanding of what the page or post is about.
Keep your word count above 300
A blog post should be as long as it needs to be to get the message across. A blog post of fewer than 300 words is seen to be less informative than one with a greater word count. If you do choose to elaborate on your topic, be sure to keep it relative and contextual.
Use your keywords in your post intro
Be sure to use your targeted keywords at the beginning of your blog post. Ensuring your targeted keywords are in the first 100 and last 100 words says to Google that the content backs up your keyword selection and is not off topic.
Anchor your links
Anchor text is the clickable text that users will see as a result of a link and is placed within the anchor tag. Make it descriptive and concise. The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about.
Optimise your use of images
Ensure all your images have a unique, distinct and descriptive file name. Be sure to include ALT tags and descriptions on all your images and remember — if they don’t add value, don’t use them!
Use consistent page naming conventions
The structure you choose when it comes to your page titles can vary, however, choose one and stick with it. I would suggest going with Google’s suggestion of:
[post title] — [blog name]
Module 6 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
Module 7: Launch
Now is a good time to do some very important housekeeping to ensure you have everything in place to ensure a successful website launch.
Firstly, a few quick points about Google.
Search Engine Optimisation is not an overnight solution to your website's problems. It is a journey and one that only needs to be taken in small steps in order to see big returns. However, in order to be able to look back and benchmark your results, there is one important thing you need to have in place first — Google Analytics.
Now you could choose any analytics service and there is certainly a lot to choose from, but it is Google Analytics that I will be referring to and using for the program and the steps provided. Don’t worry, the steps you will receive throughout the program can be measured by any reasonable analytics package. The important thing is that you choose one and commit to it. One of the reasons I suggest this is that if you switch analytics programs you will not have data available to do historical reporting against.
If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, head on over to the below URL to sign up.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is a console that allows webmasters and website owners to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites.
You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.
A site that’s active in Webmaster Tools has a better shot at being fully indexed and ranking well. There are also a number of deeper insights from Google Webmaster Tools that can be leveraged to improve and maximize your SEO efforts.
If you haven’t set your site up on Google Webmaster Tools yet, getting started is quick and easy. Once you’ve signed up for an account, log in to the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. From there, you’re able to add your site and go through the setup process.
Submit your site to Google
Submitting your site to search engines is certainly not mandatory as your website will eventually be found, crawled and indexed. However, why wait? Submitting your site to search engines only takes a minute and is good due diligence.
To check if your site is indexed and what pages have been indexed for search, simply go to google.com and type “site:yourdomain.com” and hit search. All pages indexed will show up in the search result for the domain name entered. This not only works on Google but most other search engines too.
For example, if you wanted to see what pages Google has indexed for the Cnet website, you would enter site:cnet.com into the search field.
There are many ways to monitor your blog's performance. Let’s take a look at why it’s important.
Elements of performance
We should kick off by defining the elements that make up your blog’s performance.
When we talk about performance, we’re referring to:
- Site and page load time
- Uptime statistics
- Page size, or weight
- Mobile accessibility
Monitoring and testing tools
There are a number of online tools available to check the performance of your blog. Best of all, they’re free. Let’s have a look at a couple.
GTmetrix is a terrific tool that analyses all aspects of your websites loading behaviors and provides its findings in a well laid out report. They offer a Pro (paid) subscription that provides deeper analysis more detailed analysis report, alerts and a lot more, however, you should find the free performance report more than enough to get you started.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Similar to GTmetrix, Google PageSpeed Insights analyses all the elements of your webpage and determines where you can improve the page load and response times. It also analyses the URL you provide from the view of both desktop and mobile accessibility. It then generates a report suggesting ways you can make the page load faster.
Would you know if your website was offline? Website monitoring tools such as Site24x7 and Pingdom does. Uptime monitoring tools such as these are continuously monitoring your website, if it goes does or offline then you receive an alert, usually SMS or email. These kinds of reporting tools provide valuable insight into not only your websites uptime but the performance and reliability of your website hosting provider.
Interpreting the results of these kinds of reports can be a little tricky as they do tend to use technical jargon. However, the Google PageSpeed service does provide some handy and helpful user tips and advice to help you get the most out of the report.
If you are running a WordPress powered website, there are a number of plugins that can improve the speed and page load times of your website such as “WP Super Cache” and “W3 Total Cache”.
Depending on where your primary audience is located you may also want to consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service such as MaxCDN.
- Maintenance mode is turned off and the site is accessible
- Google Analytics is active and tracking confirmed
- Google webmaster tools is active and the site has been verified
- Keywords have been defined for all pages and posts
- Descriptions and summaries set for all pages and posts
- The site functions correctly on a mobile device
- Content has been proofread and is free of typos
- There are no broken links
- Images have ALT tags and descriptions
- An XML sitemap is available
- Images have been optimized for size and speed
- Forms submit data correctly and work
- Your logo is visible and linked to the homepage
- Email autoresponders work correctly
- There no pages with the same (competing) keywords
- A copy of the website has been made for backup
- Regular backups have been scheduled
- Favicon has been created and displays correctly
- Typestyles have been used for headings etc.
- Social media accounts are visible
- Footer includes copyright and link to the site creator
- Uptime monitoring is in place
- Subscribe to mailing list options tested
Module 7 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
Module 8: Marketing & Promotion
So you have launched your platform (website or blog) — That’s great! Now the fun begins. It’s time to share it with the world.
With well over 300 million blogs and websites worldwide, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get noticed online. By simply asking yourself the question, “how will people find my website?” opens up a whole new discussion topic in itself.
The need to take your website to the people (so to speak) is an absolute requirement now. You need to tell the world you exist and not be embarrassed to so do. You market your business right? So you need to market your blog.
Let’s take a high-level look at some considerations.
Firstly you need to decide on to what platform you are going to share your post or blog update. For many, this should and will most likely be Twitter, Facebook and linkedIn. However, as we have mentioned, if your market is in one of these particular platforms you may choose to only push out to this platform. This is really up to you. I would suggest LinkedIn and Twitter as a minimum.
These options should, of course, be aligned with your social profiles promoted on your blog. If you are going to send updates out to Twitter, be sure to have your follow buttons well visible on your blog so people can follow you as an author or your blog.
Use sharing plugins like ShareThis or Po.st so visitors can share your posts from within your blog themselves with one click increases the chances of your posts being shared and also makes it very easy for your audience to do so.
What to share
When posting out a status update about a recent post you have published, you would typically include:
- the page title
- an excerpt
- the link to the post
- a supporting image (optional
Depending on the platform you will be limited by the number of characters you can use.
Using one that has tracking available will allow you to see how many clicks your link received from your Tweet or status update.
For more information, you may want to read up on scheduling your Tweets and further tools available.
Be sure to use hashtags (#) contextually and not at the end of the tweet if possible.
How and when to share
Whether you use an application such as Tweetbot or Hootsuite to post your updates or do so directly from Twitter or Google+, the result will be the same. You may prefer to use browser add-ons or have your status update scheduled and delivered automatically when you publish your post.
When to share your post can be a very subjective discussion. My personal view is to schedule pretty much just after posting and then consider reposting in a few days to a week. I suggest this as you won’t always get a ‘look in’ on your follower’s timelines. Tweets and status updates can be easily missed now that many platforms utilise a ‘timeline’ approach.
If you have email subscribers to your blog or newsletter, treat them as gold as you have willingly allowed you to get into their inbox and the email will sit there for actioning when they’re ready.
No matter what you choose to use when sharing updates, just be sure to include a link back to your blog post the update is about. Don’t make it a dead end experience for your followers.
Monitor and engage
Once you have posted an update and shared your blog post with the world, it’s important to look out for and respond to any engagement from your followers.
Remember, sharing your blog updates via social platforms increases the traffic to your blog and can greatly improve the opportunity to engage with your audience.
Setting yourself up on your social platform of choice and ‘working it like a boss’, as they say, takes your social media marketing to the next of many levels.
Module 8 — Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)
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