Not all websites are created equal.
If you want to build a website that naturally attracts traffic and gets people to return, then it needs to be exceptionally good.
But what is it that makes a good website? Here are 12 key things to keep in mind.
1. Have a clear topic and stick to it
The topic of your website needs to be crystal clear for visitors.
In other words, you need to know what your “niche” is and it needs to be clear for people who land on your site for the first time.
Some common topics for websites include health, nutrition, cooking, finance, investing, politics, beauty, fashion, parenting, news, etc.
You should try to stick to your chosen niche as much as possible. For example, if your site is about nutrition then your articles should be about nutrition. Most of your readers won’t be interested if you suddenly start posting about dog training.
It is perfectly fine to cover different topics if you have a personal blog, but if you want to build an authority site that gets a lot of traffic then you need to have a clear topic.
Make sure that your website’s name and domain reflect the topic of the site.
2. Choose the right website software
Choosing the right software to build your website is crucial. It will make it easier to customize your site to make it as useful as possible for visitors.
I recommend that you use WordPress, which is the world’s most popular software to build websites. It also happens to be free.
One of the best things about WordPress is that it is super simple to use.
You can easily install themes that instantly change the look and feel of your site. You can also install plugins to add certain types of functionality, like making your site faster or adding social sharing buttons.
In addition, WordPress has a fantastic content editor that enables you to produce high-quality content without having to know how to code.
In fact, most other items in this article are easy to do with WordPress but can be very hard to accomplish with other website builders.
3. Produce high-quality content
Your content is the most important part of your website. Everything else is secondary.
For this reason, it is not surprising that high-quality content is the single most important ranking factor in search engines.
Your main goal should be to produce high-quality content that genuinely helps your readers and makes the internet a better place.
Your content should answer people’s questions and provide clear, actionable solutions to what they are looking for.
Put yourself in the mindset of Google searchers who are looking for your topic. What is the best way for you to give these people what they are looking for?
4. Have a pleasant, modern-looking design
When people land on your site for the first time, they make a split-second decision about whether to stay or leave.
This is largely subconscious, where people experience the look and feel of your site and decide instantly whether they think it is the type of site they are looking for.
For this reason, it is absolutely crucial that your site has a fresh, modern and trustworthy look.
The look of your site should also reflect the main topic. For example, a site about recipes should be designed differently than a site about real estate.
This is incredibly simple to do with WordPress. Their theme library has thousands of free themes and you can find a good one for any common topic.
5. Make your site load fast
Internet users are incredibly impatient these days. According to a study by Google, 53% of mobile visitors will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
For this reason, fast loading is one of the most important aspects of providing a good user experience. It is also an official search engine ranking factor because Google knows that its users hate slow websites.
There are many things involved in making a website fast. Some of the main things include avoiding unnecessary plugins, having a well-coded theme and optimizing images. Having a fast web host is also important.
Keep in mind that even if your site feels fast to you, on your own computer, then this may not be the case for other visitors.
Many people have slow internet connections. A site that takes a second to load on a fast connection could take forever to load on a slow connection.
So, you should be mindful of slower connections when optimizing the loading times of your site.
I recommend that you use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool analyze your site and find ways to improve your speed.
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6. Learn about search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine traffic is the best type of traffic you can get.
If you have stable high rankings for popular search terms, then you will get a steady stream of traffic to your site.
This traffic will come to your site day and night, even while you are sleeping or on holiday. If you write about “evergreen” topics then you can get traffic to the same pages for years.
By creating high-quality content that answers people’s search queries and helps them find solutions, then you are likely to start ranking in search engines over time.
But there is a lot involved and you should learn as much as you can about search engine optimization (SEO). This is a high ROI skill, meaning that you will be well rewarded for any time you spend on learning and implementing it.
7. Have a mobile-friendly site
The smartphone has surpassed the computer as the most common device that people use to browse the web.
For this reason, it is absolutely crucial that your website performs and functions well on mobile devices.
If you use WordPress, then it is easy to do this by installing a theme with responsive design. This means that your site will automatically adapt to the size of the screen.
Most modern WordPress themes are responsive by default, but you should check your site on your phone and tablet to make sure.
8. Organize and structure you text
If you want people to consume your content, then you need to make sure that it is easy for them.
You should split your content into chapters with clear headings and make sure that each paragraph isn’t way too long.
You don’t need to use super short paragraphs like I do, but make sure that they’re not absolutely massive.
Keep in mind that many readers aren’t going to read your content from start to finish, no matter how well written it is.
They are going to scan the content for their answer, so try to make sure that the key points in your content can be found by scanning.
9. Have a clear site structure with good navigation
Few things are as frustrating as poorly structured websites.
You need to make it easy for visitors to accomplish their tasks or they may simply give up and look elsewhere.
For example, a shopping site needs to have very clear calls to action in the different stages of the shopping experience. The steps need to be simple and intuitive.
Having a good menu bar is also crucial. You should have a navigation menu in the header where people can find the most important pages.
It may also make sense to have a secondary menu and/or a menu in the footer, depending on the complexity of your site.
You should also link to related content in your articles so that people can read more about topics that they are interested in.
Think about this from the perspective of a first-time visitor. What are they trying to accomplish on your site and how can you make it as easy as possible for them?
10. Clear titles, descriptions and URLs
The title/headline is the most important part of every piece of content.
In many cases, the title is the only part of your content that people will read. You need to make sure that it grabs their attention and makes them want to click to read more.
You should also make sure to use good descriptions for your content and a URL that clearly shows what the content is about.
Titles, descriptions and URLs are the things that show up in Google when people search for your content:
What I do is write at least 20 different versions of the title for every article I publish, then I pick the best one. With this method, I am often able to come up with a much better title than the one I had in mind originally.
Even though your title should be interesting, it needs to clearly and honestly convey what the topic is about. Keep it interesting, but avoid clickbait like the plague.
If you want to get search traffic to your content, then you should also make sure to include the words and phrases that people search for in your titles.
11. Don’t put too many ads or popups
One of the constant struggles for website owners is striking the perfect balance between monetization and user experience.
People that spend a lot of time building great websites should be getting paid for it, such as with ads.
At the same time, it is important not to annoy your visitors with disruptive ads that make it hard to consume your content.
Try to strike a good balance when deciding how many ads to use, as well as where to place them. Don’t blend the ads too much into your content and make it clear to your readers that they are ads and not part of your content.
You should also make it easy for readers to follow you online, for example via a newsletter or social media. But don’t go overboard with excessive amounts of popups or annoying widgets that disturb visitors that are trying to consume your content.
When deciding between more ads or better user experience, it is usually best to err on the side of user experience.
12. Think about what’s best for your visitors
You need to be obsessively focused on always doing what is best for your visitors.
Be open to criticism and feedback and think about whether what you’re doing is necessarily what people want.
Consider installing Google Analytics to see how people are using your website and what content they are most engaged with. This can help you determine which types of content to produce more (or less) of.
At the end of the day, you should always strive to be honest and authentic. People don’t want sites that are salesy, hyperbolic or clickbaity.
Be good to your visitors and respect them. Then they are more likely to return and become regular followers.