Building a website is fairly easy nowdays with all of the information available on the Internet and the various tools available like Microsoft Frontpage.
Building a profitable site, or even a site which people will be able to find on the Internet, is a little trickier.
First, what do I mean by a “Content” site? A content site is primarily an information site. A site where people go to find information on a particular topic. I would like to make the distinction between company websites, e-commerce websites and affiliate websites, although there is often overlap between these types of sites.
Some examples of content websites are travel information sites, news sites and product review sites. Content sites make money through advertising products or services directly with companies, affiliate programs or advertising programs, like Google Adsense.
To build a content site you obviously have to write reasonably well. If you haven’t done any writing since high-school, you might want to do some reading on the subject. If you have money to develop the site, you could also consider paying people to write articles. You could advertise in a university magazine for example. Just be careful with publishing copy-righted material.
If you don’t already have one, get a digital camera. Accompanying your articles with picutres will make your website more attractive and interesting. Aim to launch your website with at least 50 articles on your topic.
Choosing your Subject
This is going to obviously be one of the most difficult decisions. You need to choose something that wiil be interesting, unique and something which you have some knowledge about. It will be a lot easier to stay motivated if you are interested in the topic. However, your own interests may not necessarily be the most profitable.
Use the Overture keyword selector tool to see the related searches that include your subject and how many times that term was searched on last month.
How do you know if your website will be profitable?
As a very general guide you can use Overture’s bid tool which displays how much people are willing to bid on a keyword to display their ads. For example, the maximum bid for “refinance” is $12, “Mesothelioma” – $50, “greek history” – 10c.
Before you go out and start creating your website on Mesothelioma, you have to realize that the subject is very crowded. A quick search on Google shows that there are 8,540,000 sites on the subject. To get in the top ten search results would mean you you either have to have an excellent website on the topic, or you need to spend a lot of money.
The important point is to look for a niche using a combination of the above two tools.
It might be tempting to use free hosting and not bothering to register a domain, but how can people remember something like http://www3.tky.3web.ne.jp/~edjacob/. The owner of the site has since registered http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/, but other websites still link to the old address. If you are serious at all about your new business register a domain from the start. You can buy domain names at GoDaddy for $8.95.
How to choose a domain name?
Most people like myself tend to create their domain name using keyword-keyword. However, if you think of the most popular websites out there now, they haven’t used this approach. Think of Google or Yahoo. The domain GoDaddy doesn’t even mention the company’s prime business of web-hosting, but is now one of the most successful companies in the space. Starting companies might be tempted to create their domain like, “cheapwebhosting.com”, the above examples show that this might not necessarily be the best idea to create a long-lasting memorable domain. Google has become of the English language. You can often hear people say, “Google-it” rather than “look it up on the Internet”.
Creating the Site
I believe your ultimate goal for designing your site should be simplicity. Sites like Ebay and Amazon are good examples. I personally hate sites which open with a flash presentation and can’t find the “Skip” button quick enough. Aim for simple and professional.
If you don’t know HTML, I suggest you learn. Even with tools like Dreamweaver or Micrsoft Frontpage, if you are serious at all about the business it will pay off quickly. It is very easy to learn. At the same time pick up a book on CSS.
With CSS you can create your own site template, so that if you want to change the design of your site anytime in the future you can do it in just one file, rather than having to go through every page. Imagine you had a site with with 1000 pages and you want to change the font!
Your site should be easy to navigate through and not confusing. Have a read of Google’s Design and Content Guidelines
Avoid using frames
It is tempting for the beginning webmaster to start their site using frames. It is difficult for search engines to index the site properly. Your site can also can get in a mess easily if the site isn’t created well. Try to use tables or CSS.
To grow your website in terms of popularity and profitablility you need to continually update and create new content. Aim for at least one page of content per day. Occasionally go back and read your previously written articles and update any information that may have gotten out of date. If your website is starting to generate money consider buying articles to further develop the site. If your site is popular, people may even write articles for free to promote their own website.
Go back to the Overture keyword selector tool to check on words related to your site. Use these keywords to develop content and use the keywords in the titles of your articles. This makes it easy for people to find your site when they search on a particular term.
Your content should be well written and be composed of short concise sentences and easily understood. Remember that the readers of your website might not have English as their first language. Breaking points into separate paragraphs also makes the text easier to read. Re-read your text before publishing or possibly ask a friend to check your articles and spell check! (I need to listen to my own advice).