Before you contract with someone to build your website, you need to make some important decisions about your website’s functionality and “behind the scenes” technical specifications. These decisions require unique, specific technical setups for SEO (search engine optimization), eCommerce, website security and automatic follow-up communication with your prospects.
Build Your Website in WordPress
Do you want to be able to update the website yourself, but you’re not well-versed in HTML coding? Then consider building your website in WordPress. A webmaster can build the navigation and main pages then teach you how to edit the text, add images and make minor changes to individual pages.
There are lots of free and inexpensive plug-ins that can create fun and exciting features and functionality without programming a lot of custom code. If you find a cool feature (i.e. a page-flipper) on someone else’s site, give your webmaster the website’s address, then he/she will be able to look at the source code to identify the plug-in. I use several cool plug-ins on my website. You can see the page flipper and others in the Portfolio section of my website.
Utilize SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in Your Page Construction
As you are writing the content for your website, pull together unique metadata for each page. The essential SEO items for each page are:
- Page Title: Create a concise title for each page using between 10 and 70 characters (which includes spaces). Include your focus keywords in the title. Your page title appears in the top margin of the browser when the page is displayed and in the top line of Google results.
- Page URL: The first part will be your domain name, but the rest of the URL address that comes AFTER the forward slash should use your keywords to describe the page. Don’t make it too long.
- Meta Description: Using your keywords, create an explicit and compelling description for each page using between 70 and 160 characters (which includes spaces). This description is also displayed on Google results (see example below).
Here is a sample result in Google showing the page title, URL and meta description:
This is a page title as it appears in a website browser above the URL:
Use Opt-In Boxes to Generate a List of Prospects
Create several opt-in boxes on your website where you can capture prospects’ first names and email addresses in return for a free product such as a downloadable report, guide, worksheet, audio file or eNewsletter.
You’ll need an autoresponder and/or email newsletter system to make this work. Find out what your host offers or you can use third party services such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.
Build a list of prospects who’ve “opted-in” to receive communications from you. Use this list to email notices and information about your company, services, and special offers on a regular basis. Eventually the prospects on this list may become paying customers.
Decide on a Shopping Cart or Use PayPal
If you have products to sell on your website, research your options for eCommerce tools. You can use the basic PayPal which has a limited “shopping cart” interface, or upgrade your PayPal account to a monthly subscription to utilize more robust features. Or you can add eCommerce plug–ins that work PayPal.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to one of the many of eCommerce shopping cart software and merchant account programs out there. You’ll need to consider the monthly cost of these programs, how many products you’ll be selling, and your average monthly revenue from product sales to determine which one best fits your business.
Secure Your Website
1. Use CloudFlare
Speak with your website host to make sure they are using CloudFlare. This improves your website performance and speed while acting as a buffer between website visitors and your actual website. This setup protects your website from hackers, abusive bots and crawlers.
2. Install SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer)
SSL is a security protocol that inserts an encrypted link between a website and browser. You know when a website has this installed when you see the letters https and a little padlock up in the URL address area. In the past we only saw SSL used on bank sites and shopping cart pages to protect financial transactions, but now it is prevalent on all pages of many websites. Google now gives higher results to websites that have SSL installed.
To get a certificate you need to create a CSR (certificate signing request) on your server, and your website must be stored on a dedicated IP server. Then you’ll need to send the CSR data file to a certificate authority (CA). All the pages in your website need to comply with the HTTPS specifications. This process is fairly technical so it should be done by your host or webmaster.
3. Keep Your WordPress Software Updated
Be sure to keep your WordPress software updated with the latest version to ward off hacking attacks. Sites with older versions of WordPress have been viciously attacked with many thousands of repeated attempts of logging in, bringing down the server and crashing the website.