5 Things to Consider when Starting a Website

With approximately 1.1 billion websites registered (as of 2023), having your site contend with the best is harder than ever. Yet, with a few core principles adhered to sufficiently, the likelihood of your website ranking high on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) – and by extension, allowing you to gain a healthy flow of traffic – is a strong and fair possibility.

So without further ado, here are 5 things you should consider when starting a website…

1. Domain Names

When branding your business, you’ll always want a short, snappy name that resonates upon first hearing it. This same principle applies to anything that is purposed to garner attention, whether that’s a username, a YouTube channel or even a song or album. Snappy names are catchy and they won’t be forgotten anytime soon. When combined with a name that has a simple spelling, searching for your business on the web will be a far easier process – benefitting both the person searching and youSo make note – keep your domain name as simple and as memorable as possible because if done correctly, you’ll have a solid foundation to build a successful website upon.

HTTP:// title card

Creating your domain name may be a relatively clean-cut process, but acquiring said name is where complications can arise. As mentioned, with a whopping 1.1 billion websites currently registered (according to Siteefy), a large number of potential domain names are already occupied and simply cannot be acquired through registrars. There are however a few simple techniques to be used which reduce the chances of your ideal domain name already being taken:

  • Specify – Home in on the fundamental purpose of your website. For example, a mechanic could add the word “repairs” after their business name to slightly increase the likelihood of availability whilst eliminating the need to alter their core name/branding. 
  • Add-on Words – Adding a short, unessential word to your name is another way of increasing the chances of availability whilst avoiding any disruptive changes to your branding. This method typically consists of adding words like “go”, “my” or “now” to your name. Lean Domain Search is a handy resource for this technique.
  • Location – Likely the most obvious method, simply add “UK” to your domain name if you’re UK-based or add “US” if you’re US-based. If you operate in a smaller area, maybe a UK town or US state, adding the name of your local area will increase the availability of your desired name.

With these techniques applied and your core name left uncomplicated, you’ll have a far greater chance of acquiring the closest thing possible to your highly sought domain name with all functionality remaining intact.

If the domain is still unavailable, you can contact the owner and negotiate a takeover, just be cautious of domain squatters. Check out our article Things to Consider when Buying a Domain Name for a deeper dive into domain name creation, purchasing from registrars, common pitfalls and squatters.

2. UX

User experience can truly make or break the success of a website. Ranging from elements as blatant as the colour scheme to ones as discreet and as psychological as reading patterns, UX revolves around each and every aspect of a website that impacts the user’s experience, whether for better or for worse. 

For beginners who are starting a website for the first time, poor UX can result in a site that is dead on arrival; so for this segment, we’ll cover some of the core principles of UX that will at least shelter your bounce rate from any sharp surges.

The direct implications of poor UX surface through a website’s aforementioned bounce rate (how many users exit the site without visiting other pages). Say your site has a disorganised header or huge blocks of bland text, only a tiny percentage of users (if any) are going to remain on your site, never mind proceeding to other pages. Therefore, your bounce rate skyrockets and your rankings falter. The point is – good UX equates to better rankings.

a plan for a website written out on paper with the structure laid out

When starting a website or designing/developing your website, bear in mind the following checklist. If done correctly, your UX should be perfectly fine, if not excellent.

  • Useful – Is your content original and truly beneficial for its audience?
  • Usable – Is the site easy to use and as clear as it can be?
  • Desirable – Is the colour scheme and design aesthetically pleasing?
  • Findable – Is the site easy to find? Is the name memorable and easy to spell?
  • Accessible – Is the site easily navigable for people with disabilities?
  • Credible – Does the site look trustworthy? Does it build trust with the user?

Providing these criteria are met, your site should have a healthy bounce rate and will work effectively in symbiosis with SEO. With good UX, quality content and thorough SEO in place, there is little reason as to why your site shouldn’t be in the higher ranks of Google’s results page.

3. Quality Content

Quality content is the bedrock of any successful, high-ranking website. SEO and good UX are futile without high-quality, original content that is well-formatted, well-punctuated, well-written and engaging to the reader. There’s little point in starting a website that will be littered with poor-quality content. It simply won’t compete under Google’s algorithm.

Throughout the early 2000s when Google was still in its infancy, the top-ranking websites weren’t of the professional standard they typically are today and were often worlds away from being considered “high-quality”. Due to keyword stuffing (the excessive repetition of keywords regardless of content/context), poor-quality sites would soar lightyears ahead of high-quality sites. To rectify this, Google poured vast amounts of capital into refining and improving its algorithm with the end goal of making it so advanced and so comprehensive that it could thoroughly, yet systematically judge content with exceptional precision.

So what exactly does the algorithm classify as “high-quality content”?

First of all, keywords. These aren’t the most important factors of quality content, but they’re definitely up there. Keywords are the words and phrases that a user will search for to find your site. These words and/or phrases need to be used correctly throughout a page for them to be effective. This involves:

  • Keyword Density – The number of times your chosen keyword appears within a page. Ideally, your keyword density should be around 1-2% of your whole word count and should be spaced as evenly as possible. 
  • Titles – Your focus keyword (the main keyword you wish to rank for) has to appear in your main heading (H1). It should also appear in at least one subheading (H2).
  • Introduction – Optimally, your keyword should be used within the introductory paragraph of your page. This isn’t as critical as the prior points, but it’s still important and will still contribute to your ranking.
  • Meta Description – With quite significant importance, your meta description (the small overview of your website found on the results page) needs to include your keyword so that Google understands that the title is linked to the content.

Other primary factors in Google’s judgment of quality are word count, plagiarism, the number of inbound/external links and the quality of links.

A close up of a typewriter with the words "Content Is King!" typed onto the paper

The significance of word count is highly debated and each SEO will give a different answer. Google has suggested that word count isn’t a ranking factor, yet nearly all high-ranking websites have around a 1000-2000 word count on their homepage. So the correlation between higher word counts and higher rankings can’t be ignored. For individual posts (blogs, articles, etc…) the general consensus is to have around 2000-2500 words, but as long as you cover a topic in enough detail and with enough depth, any number of words should be fine.

Plagiarism is a serious rank killer. Understandably, Google isn’t fond of plagiarised content and will eventually catch onto anything you’ve copied directly from another site. The best thing you can do to avoid any penalties or stagnation brought on by plagiarism is to write content that is 100% unique. If you’re using statistics from another page, maybe consider adding a link to credit them – just to be safe.

Links can be a great boost to your site’s authority. That is if you’re linking to already high-authority sites. Linking to low-authority sites will have little to no effect. These links to other sites are known as “external/outbound links” and are contrary to “internal links”. The latter are links to your own website via other pages. This assists Google in understanding your whole website and can (if used correctly) provide a great boost to your rankings.

These basic, but essential aspects of Google’s approach to quality will serve especially useful when starting a website.

4. SEO

As previously mentioned, Google’s judgment of a website’s quality is down to its super-advanced, ever-evolving algorithm. The algorithm has strict criteria for ranking websites and the better said criteria are met, the higher your website will rank. Cue SEO – the process of optimising a website so extensively that all (or as much as possible) of the criteria are met.

SEO isn’t hugely important when starting a website, but it’s critically important once your website goes live. In preparation, the following will address some of the core elements of SEO.

Something to note is that there are two types of SEO: on-page and off-page. On-page refers to the optimisation of everything on your page (i.e. text, images and keywords) whereas off-page refers to the more technical aspects which occur outside of the page (i.e. page speed, backlinks and domain authority).

Keyword Research

One of the primary components of SEO is keywords – something we discussed under Quality Content. In that section, we discussed the application of keywords and their core rules: keyword density, titles and introduction. For this section, we’ll discuss keyword research and the role that it plays in your website’s optimisation. 

The importance of keyword research truly cannot be overstated. If you’re using a tool like Ubersuggest or SE Ranking, you’ll notice there’s a measurement of search volume and a measurement for difficulty. For the optimal keyword, you’ll want a keyword with a high search volume and a low/medium difficulty. Since these words are few and far between, you’ll need to do a fair bit of research before selecting a keyword. 

Keywords come in two different forms: long-tail and short-tail. A long-tail keyword is a slightly longer, more descriptive keyword (i.e. SEO tips and tricks for beginners). A short-tail keyword is the opposite – vague and direct (i.e. SEO tips). When starting a website or managing a site that is in its early stages, your optimal choice of keyword will be long-tail due to lower difficulties. Starting off with long-tail will (theoretically) gain slight traction that will progressively build up. Once you’ve built up your authority, you’ll have an easier time ranking for the short-tail keywords that have high, sometimes really high search volumes.

Links and Backlinks

Also previously touched upon, but too important not to mention are links. Including a link to another website (known as an external link) contributes hugely to SEO, providing the destination of said link has a high domain score and solid authority. Linking to low-authority sites won’t benefit your SEO and linking to suspicious sites can actively damage your SEO. So ensure that your external links are landing users to high authority, trustworthy websites.

Linking from one of your pages to another is known as an internal link and can help Google understand what your page is about. Naturally, the higher your authority, the more effective an inbound link is. These are great for sites that have an array of blogs and articles.

a set of chess pieces

Inbound links, better known as backlinks are links from external websites which are destined for your site. These provide a highly effective way of building up your authority with .gov and .edu TLDs providing the highest value. Gaining backlinks can be an incredibly challenging task and is often an uphill battle. Some backlinking methods include:

Infographics – Create useful and simple infographics. These are likely to be shared and can result in a great number of organically earned backlinks.

Promotion – A traditional, but effective method. Getting your name out there will simply increase the chances of amassing backlinks. With a bit of PR, you can promote specific articles that’ll most likely gain a few backlinks from sources that found it useful.

Skyscraper – This cunning yet practical technique involves finding a link to an article (or anything which you’re capable of creating), creating your own version of what that link was pointing to whilst improving upon the original and then simply contacting the webmaster of the initial link and offer him/her a refined, more advanced version of the original content.

Link building can be tricky for the most advanced SEOs so we advise that you take some time to plan and research the various techniques out there.

So having covered keywords and links, the other hugely impactful element of SEO is quality content – discussed quite extensively in the former half of the article. Executing these three factors of SEO will contribute greatly to having your website rank high, but there are a huge number of other factors that need to be optimised if you wish to reach Google’s first page. These include:

  • Alt Tags
  • Sitemap
  • Domain Trust
  • Mobile Optimisation
  • TDL
  • Page Speed
  • Accessibility
  • SSL
  • Bounce Rate
  • Usability
  • Tags/Topics
  • URL
  • Grammar and Spelling
  • Multimedia

5. Web Hosting

A web host acts as the bridge between your website and the user. By renting out servers, web hosting services effectively add your website to the world wide web and allow it to be accessed by people through their browsers.

a series of wires plugged into a server

As always, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to web hosting and one size doesn’t fit all. With various types of servers, there are three in particular that are the go-to choice for site owners. These are:

Shared Hosting – Being the entry-level choice of web hosting server, shared hosting is ideal for small businesses and websites that are just starting off or expecting low amounts of traffic. As the name suggests, your website will be hosted from a server that is shared by others. The benefits of this are in the cheap costs and basic provisions. 

The drawbacks are that you’ll be very restricted in terms of resources (RAM, CPU, etc…) meaning that your site may be slower and less reliable than most. As your website grows and your traffic increases, you’ll likely have to upgrade to a server with greater capabilities.

VPS (Virtual Private Server) – VPS is the ‘middle ground’ of web hosts and acts mostly as a premium version of shared hosting. Similarly to shared hosting, VPS requires your site to be shared on a server amongst others, but unlike shared hosting, all sites on a single server will have their own dedicated space. So although you’re sharing a server with others, you’ll have access to more powerful resources and stronger security. Additionally, you have more control with a VPS as you can add and remove software as you please. 

Shared Hosting – Being the entry-level choice of web hosting server, shared hosting is ideal for small businesses and websites that are just starting off or expecting low amounts of traffic. As the name suggests, your website will be hosted from a server that is shared by others. The benefits of this are in the cheap costs and basic provisions. 

The drawbacks are that you’ll be very restricted in terms of resources (RAM, CPU, etc…) meaning that your site may be slower and less reliable than most. As your website grows and your traffic increases, you’ll likely have to upgrade to a server with greater capabilities.

For more information on web hosting, check out our article.

Or, click here if you’re looking to browse through our very own web hosting packages.

With so many factors in starting a website, it’s important to really think about whether or not creating, hosting and maintaining a website is right for you. Of course, if you own a business, it’s hugely important that you take on the responsibility and launch a website

Hopefully, you should now have at least a basic understanding of what is needed to run a website. In the development stage, ensure UX is an absolute priority as flawless UX will pave the way for strong SEO and healthy amounts of traffic. Choose a good web host that suits your needs – not too much and not too little and don’t neglect SEO.

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