I have made quite a few websites and they tend to do well. It isn’t because I am particularly gifted, it is because of the decisions I make before creating a website.
I do not try (and fail) to make a million zillion dollars on the web.
I do try (and succeed) to make a few hundred dollars a month on websites that are really good and really small (if you make a few of these websites, they add up pretty quick).
The work to money ratio on these types of websites is amazing.
I have sites that make from 1000 to 30,000 dollars a year that only took me a couple of days to create. I never did any link building campaigns for those sites, I never looked at any charts and SEO graphs for those sites, and I never kissed up to anyone or begged for social mentions for those sites. I just made really good websites that were really small. Since I have several such sites, I have a good solid income, I don’t need to have a job and I don’t need to deal with clients.
If that sounds good to you, read on.
I consider 3 key elements while creating a new website because when I consider these elements, I know I can likely make a website in a weekend, have it do well, and get recurring revenue from it. These types of websites also make the web better. I am going to describe at length the process and considerations I use to make web sites. This post will provide actual examples using a website I specifically made for this post which uses the concepts I discuss.
How to Make a Website That Ranks Well Without a Bunch of Links
The first step is to decide what your website is about, here is what I do when I am thinking of creating a new site. I always start with a very important question…
1. Does the web need this website?
The surest path to disappointment on the web is creating a web site that isn’t really needed.
There are millions of things you can make a website about, you need to ask yourself if there is a need for the website you are creating. The websites that tend to do well fill an existing need that is not currently being filled. As you dream up your website, make sure it does not already exist.
The first step in making a great website is to determine if the web site is needed on the web. To make that determination is basically asking yourself if the subject of the proposed website is covered well already in the search engine results.
Probably the best way to find a subject for a successful website is to use your search experience. If you are searching for “odd hats” on Google and all you find is sites that have normal hats, then you know you can make a website about odd hats and have it work and have a good chance of ranking even without a million links.
In contrast, if you search for something on Google and all the results are websites that fufill your search needs, then you probably shouldn’t make a site about that subject.
2. Decide how your website will be better than other websites
If you have decided that the subject of your website is needed, now you have to decide how it will be better than the websites that already exist. This is crucial. Prior to getting a domain name, decide how your website will be superior. To use the “odd hats” example again, if you made a website about odd hats, one of the main ways you could be better is by only highlighting odd, unique hats.
Even if there are a million websites out there on a subject, they may not be filling a need well.
The top results for image related CSS information often did not have an image in it. There are no visual cues on the pages. I often found myself reading through very verbose explanations when all I really need was a tiny bit of code.
This to most would seem a minor frustration, but to me it was a web site in the making, particularly because there isn’t a website out there that only discusses image related CSS.
I knew if I made a website that was only about image CSS, was very visual, to the point, and simple, it would probably rank well even in an area as crowded as CSS sites. It probably wouldn’t need to get alot of links to start getting traffic.
If you search for “float images left” on Google, nine of the top 10 results do not even have an image on them to display the concept of what it is they are explaining. Articles about image CSS techniques should have images. This could be done better.
3. Only Make Websites That You Can Finish Quickly
One common mistake is to make a website with a subject so broad that it gets bigger and bigger and takes forever to finish and maintain.
Being more comprehensive is a wonderful way to have a better website than someone else. However, you must realize that in the spirit of “making really good websites that are really small” you should not choose a subject that takes more then 10 or 20 pages to be comprehensive. If you can not be a comprehensive resource about a subject in a few amount of pages, you have not found the right subject yet.
There is real wisdom in creating concise laser focused websites that solve a certain problem. This is what “niche” is all about. Niche web sites are talked about all the time, but not many people talk about what a niche site really is.
How do you know if a subject is niche? I do not know how other people decide but here is what I think…
If you can not make a comprehensive website in a weekend about a subject, that subject is not niche.
Understand that well. It is very important.
With my CSS frustration I outlined above, I knew that I could make a website that took care of all of my frustrations and it could likely be less than ten pages.
So I made decided to make a website that would take care of all the gripes I had about the subject and use it as a real example for this post.
Here is the website that I made for this post. It is about… image CSS.
Here are the things I did to make that site and why I did them…
What I did step by step
- I had a problem finding what I wanted in Google when searching for image CSS subjects.
- There was no website specifically about image CSS
- Image CSS is a no brainer when it came to traffic. Virtually everyone creating web content, no matter their skill level, will at some point wonder about CSS and images. I did not use tools or charts to determine this, I used my common sense.
2. I decided how my website would be better than other websites… Specifically, I looked at the problems I noticed:
- There was no website that was only about image CSS
- There were no (or very few) web results that quickly and concisely gave me the information I needed.
- There were no images in posts about image CSS techniques, which I found incredibly weird.
- There were not visually simple and pleasant websites about this subject.
- Many of the results I found were overly verbose, and spoke with complicated terms rather than simple terms.
Having seen these problems, I knew that I could be better than those results because…
- My website will only be about image CSS
- My website will have pages that quickly gave the user the information they want
- My website will have visual examples of the techniques using images.
- My website will scream simplicity
- My website will focus only on providing solutions, not history of problems.
3. Get a domain name.
Now that I know how my website will be better, I can look for a domain name.
Amazingly, I found a rather good one…
That is a good domain name for a website about Image CSS huh? I lucked out on that one. Ten bucks well spent.
4. I need to think about how it will look visually.
I want it to scream simple. I want it to be clear within an instant what the site is about. I want to use images that are friendly. I want it to be visual , visual, visual. This would mean I need to spend some money on images, but whenever I spend money, I want to do it effectively. I decided I would spend about 100/200 dollars on images so the site would look good.
Since this would be a visual website I decided I need to find and use images that were friendly, cute, simple. I used istockphoto.com to find images. Here are some tips when looking for images to use on your new sites…
- Understand that your images need to tie together in a theme. You are not looking for one perfect image, you are looking for a suite of images that work together. This is important so that you site “fits together” well.
- Drawings are less used on the web because they cost more than photos do. Consider this when making your visual decisions. Your website can often look more original if you use stock drawings instead of stock photos.
Knowing these two things, I went to istockphoto and searched around…
When I did a search I searched for “cute friendly”…
I then unchecked all of the choices except for “illustrations”…
I browsed through the results and came across an image I liked. Once you find something you like, it is well worth the time to make sure that the artist has other things you like so that you can used the same “look” throughout your site. To do this choose “view portfolio”…
Okay when I did that there were lots of similiar drawings. I had found an image I liked, with a look I liked, and made sure that there were many options available from the same artist.
5. I need to make a good header.
I found an image from the artist I liked that was simple and friendly and that I thought would be a good logo of sorts…
I then got a pen and some paper (cause I’m fancy like that).
I sketched out a design that I thought would be kinda cool using that image as part of the header.
Once I decided it would look nice, I bought the image.
You can also download a copy of the image and use that in your experiments.
I am cheap. I do not want to pay for an image I do not want. Testing is good.
Here is the header I eventually made…
With this header I accomplished a few of my goals (remember one of my gripes was that “there was not a website only about image CSS”).
It is simple and friendly (one of my gripes was that “There were not visually simple and pleasant websites about this subject”).
It is clear what the site is about without even seeing any content, nobody who ends up on this website will be confused if they have found the right place or not. A good website header will let the user know instantly what the site is about.
The tag line is concise and a little bit humorous (non technical and simple).
6. I need to make a good homepage.
I have a domain, I have a header, now I need to figure out what the site should include and how it will be presented. The home page is important, and should illustrate quickly to someone what the site is about.
The information I want to provide is image CSS related stuff. The most common issues I had were how to move an image left, right, center, etc. I decided all this type of info should be quickly and plainly addressed.
I wanted a visual homepage that clearly showed what information you could find at this site. Under the friendly header, I decided to make this for the home content…
The home page has six boxes that cover the main ways an image can be placed in a web page or blog: left, right, center (horizontal), center (vertical), top, and bottom. This solved my gripe that “There were no (or very few) web results that quickly and concisely gave me the information I needed.”
Each box has a visual example of what technique I am describing (remember that my biggest gripe was that there were no visual examples of techniques on other sites. I am better!).
The friendly theme of the header is continued. In the side bar it says a blurb about how the site covers simple and easy ways to do things with images using CSS. It is friendly, simple and provides visual indications of the techniques that are described.
7. I need to decide the hierarchy of the site.
The great thing about small websites is that they have simple hierarchies. You know that advice about “every page should be able to found in two clicks”?. When you have a small site that is easy to accomplish. In fact, every page of my website is linked to from the homepage.
That being said, it is still good to have a list of your pages, and a general idea of how they will fit together. I decided that the home page would be the main navigation of the site (sorta like a “sitemap”) because each page of my site is linked to from it.
My site has a grand total of 11 pages and describes the subject pretty well, pretty throughly, and pretty simple like.
I did not choose to look at keyword research for what my subjects would be, but many people do. I instead just covered what I felt were useful. Because the total of pages is so small, all the pages can be linked to about evenly.
8. Create the information pages
I have a great domain, a great header and a great homepage, now I need to have great content. The content must to fulfill the needs of people searching for image CSS terms.
Each page should describe quickly and visually the concept. It should have a clear title and describe off the bat what the page is about.
I also decided to have a short concise description of each technique at the top, and then a more thougrough and in depth explanation below. This way if people knew what they wanted, but just couldn’t remeber the code (like me) they could grab it quick. If a person need more info, they could just scroll down and get it…
Below the fold there is a much more in depth explanation of the technique and how to accomplish it.
I made the articles as good and simple as I could. I made one for each technique (left, right, center, etc.). I also decided to create content that helped people understand things like background images, image opacity, and the image tag. I did not go crazy. The only thing the website discusses is image CSS.
Things like “padding”, “margin”, and “border” can be hard to explain or understand, but it can be visually explained in an image quite quickly with the CSS box…
I made the best content I could, I chose my subjects and stuck to them.
I now have a good website. Now what?
I do not do much as far a as SEO goes, here is what I do…
- Choose “www” or “non www”. Make a choice, and the do the 301 redirect to the version you decide.
- Make sure that a search engine spider can see the site using a spider simulator.
- Add it to Google webmaster tools
Okay, that is the SEO I do. Pretty involved, huh? In the beginning, this is really all I do as far as SEO goes.
I do not do much on the link building front either.
I tweeted about the site yesterday. Today I am linking to it in this post. I also put it on Stumbleupon.
That is all I will do for the first few weeks. Three links is good for now
If that surprises you or you feel that is too little effort, you might just be surprised. We will revisit this site in a couple weeks and I will do another post about tweaking, monetizing, and more link stuff if necessary.
For the first month or so, I do not put any money stuff on my sites. I sometimes end up getting emails from people wanting to advertise. If I do not, I will probably put Adsense on there, again we will revisit this in a few weeks.
The important part
This post is like 3000 or more words long. I spent around 2800 of those words describing the things to do before you make a website. The thing to spend time on is the decisions you make before making a website and knowing how it will be better than others and how it will fill the needs of searchers.