Building DIY Websites For Dummies
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If you want to build your own website from start to finish, this book serves as a great resource. It includes many secrets and best practices that web developers know and implement when building any quality website. This cheat sheet includes bits and pieces of what you'll find in the book.

Building pages that work

There is a lot to consider as you build your site. However, as you organize your pages, keep in mind these five main ideas:

  • Build trust with your visitors.
  • Resonate with your visitors.
  • Let your visitors know your offering.
  • Give your visitors the same information in multiple places — in other words, reiterate topics on each page. No one is going to read your website like a book from start to finish, so you need to “catch” them in a few places.
  • Build a website where visitors don’t need to think that much. If you provide the information that visitors would naturally want to know when they visit your service pages, you have done a good job. This is good UX.

Designing your homepage

Your homepage could be the most important page on your website, so you want to make sure it’s doing its job! The homepage has a lot of jobs, but here are the four most important:

  • Lets visitors know they’re in the right place by showing the services or products you offer and, if applicable, your location. If you provide local services, let visitors know right away where you are located. For example, if you are a landscaper or doctor in Idaho, people in California or Arizona are probably not going to use your services. Many times, a business will have a similar name or the same name but they might be in different states… so you want to let visitors know right away that they are in the correct place!
  • Makes a great first impression and encourage the visitors to stick around and engage with you. You want the homepage to look gorgeous and bring the visitors in. You have three-five seconds to make this impression, so right up front you want to connect with the visitors.
  • Shows that your company is up to date with a modern website. If visitors see an outdated, old, shall I say “vintage” website, they will translate that feeling of being “out of touch” or “behind the times” to your company. You want to show through your modern website homepage that you are keeping up with modern technologies, services, and techniques.
  • Strategically drives people to content. You want visitors to take action toward your primary goals on your website.

On modern websites, information is typically organized in rows down the page. The first row on your homepage is crucial, as it’s the initial area that visitors see. Therefore, you want to dedicate significant effort to perfecting this row.

Finding good stock photography for your site

There is good stock photography and horrible stock photography. When you are on a website searching the photography, there are a few factors you want to keep in mind.

High-quality, relevant images can draw in visitors, create an emotional connection, and convey your brand’s message effectively. On the other hand, poor quality or overused images can turn visitors away. Here are some tips for choosing good stock photography for your website:

  • Consider your audience: When selecting stock photography for your website, it is important to consider your target audience. Ask yourself what type of images will resonate most with your audience. Choose images that help communicate your message in a meaningful way.
  • Consider your brand’s tone and aesthetic: Images should align with your brand’s tone and aesthetic.
  • Choose the color palette: Choose images with colors that complement or match your brand’s color palette. This helps create a consistent and harmonious visual experience.
  • Make sure photos are authentic: Choose images that feel genuine and natural, as opposed to overly staged or unrealistic. Authentic images are more relatable and can help establish trust with your audience.
  • Pick creative commons/royalty free images: When searching for free stock photos, look for Royalty Free or Creative Commons labeled images on websites. Some software may offer different licensed images, which can become costly, so be cautious. Always read the terms of use. If you happen to use an image that you do not have the rights to, you can get fined significantly. Don’t get into this situation. Purchase them, or if they are free, make sure you are allowed to use them.

Choosing file formats for images

Here is a quick summary of the image file formats:

  • JPEG is a good choice for photographs and images with lots of colors.
  • PNG is a good choice for graphics and images with transparent backgrounds.
  • GIF is a good choice for simple graphics and animations.
  • WebP is a good choice for graphics, photographs, and animation with reduced image file sizes.
  • SVG is a good choice for graphics and images that need to be resized without losing quality, but most likely you will not use these.
  • At this time, it’s best to convert any HEIC images to JPG images for best results.

Following basic design rules

If you remember only one thing, remember to always strive for simplicity and consistency in your design:

  • Use the same fonts in the same places.
  • Use less color to begin and add tiny elements as you go along.
  • Use the same types of borders across your site.
  • Make sure all your buttons are consistent.
  • Employ lots of whitespace.
  • Choose crisp, clear images that support your content and do not look staged.

Researching keywords

Keyword research helps you determine which keywords people are typing into search engines. You can literally “research” the keywords that people are using in searches and determine if those searches have grown or shrunk recently. These are powerful insights that will help you choose the perfect keywords and phrases to use on your website.

The goal is to build a list of keywords and keyword phrases that you want to appear in the search results. The best keywords stand on actual data — they are keywords and phrases that people are actually typing in and searching, thousands of times a month.

Follow these steps to begin building your seed keywords:

  1. Open a web browser, head over to Google, and type some search terms that you think your customers will use or have used to find your website.

    When you see the SERP, look closely at the websites that Google returns for your search and ask: Does this look like a list that your company should appear in?

  2. If list doesn’t match your business, refine your search terms and use long-tail keyword phrases. Find some specific phrases that, when searched, return a list of your competition.

    These are the results you want to appear in, and hopefully appear on top of! These phrases are a great place to start your keyword research. Do this search for each term you can think of.

  3. Add these phrases to your initial keyword list.

  4. For each keyword phrase you choose, scroll down the page. You will see “Related Searches” (at the time of the publishing of this book Google is calling it Related Searches. They used to call it “People Also Search For” and “People Also Ask”).

    This section can be a valuable strategy when it comes to generating search terms and enhancing your content strategy because it shows related search queries that you can use to expand your keyword list, inspire content ideas, reveal user intent, aid you in competitive analysis, and uncover long-tail keyword opportunities. Look at this list and add these words to your seed keyword list.

  5. You should now have a pretty long list of keywords. Take that list and put them into a tool of your choice to get some real data.

    There are a ton of tools you can use, and I mention just a few here.

Obtaining backlinks

A backlink is simply a link to your website from another website. You might also hear backlinks also called “incoming links” or “inbound links” and the sites that link to your website are called “referring domains.”

Other websites will link to your website if they view your website as important. You can think of a backlink to your website as a vote of confidence! Search engines use backlinks to determine the value of your website.

There are some quick and easy ways you can get some backlinks — the rest is hard work. The process of getting links is called link building. You get backlinks by either outright asking for them or because your content is good enough that another site chooses to link to it.

Here are some ways you can obtain backlinks to your website:

  • Include links to your website from your social media channels. Set up social media profiles on all the platforms and then link back to your website.
  • Many associations have a public online directory where they list a link to your website. Chambers, networking groups, clubs, and associations are good places to look.
  • Ask blog owners of reputable, informative blogs in your industry if you can write a guest post. Then, write an amazing article with an author bio and ask for a follow link back to your website.
  • Ask your local paper or better yet, a regional or national paper to do a story on your company or organization. This is a great way to obtain a backlink that is high authority.
  • Write amazing, complete how-to guides or other content, and then ask other websites in your industry to link to your valuable content. This is sometimes called reverse outreach. This needs to be a comprehensive guide with great, valuable information. It is even better if there are not a lot of articles already online about this topic.
  • Publish free guides or a free tool is great, as other websites might want to link to your free guide or tool to help their visitors.
  • Check if there are unlinked mentions of your brand on the Internet, meaning your brand was mentioned but they did not link to your website. When you find these, ask the websites to include a link.
  • Check with your suppliers or those you supply to. Will they link to your website? Do a bit of research on their websites and see if there is a natural spot where they could link or ask your rep.
  • Many industries grant awards. Find those websites behind the awards and see what the application process is like. Determine if you can receive a follow backlink to your site.
  • Some people use the broken link method and this can be effective but takes some time. If you install the Chrome extension called Check My Links and then visit websites in your industry, you can see using this tool to identify links that the website has provided that are broken. Then, write a great alternative to the broken link. Reach out to the webmaster that takes care of the site with the broken links. Tell them how much you love their content and that you found a broken link, but that you have created an alternative and they should link to your site.
  • Local directories and citations are important. If you provide services or products to a local area or if you are a brick and mortar store, you are known as a local business. You should set up directories and citations. There are two ways to do this: you can create your own directory listings or you can pay a service to set these up for you. Either way, this is very important.
  • HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a website that matches experts and writers with journalists. Many journalists are looking for experts in fields to help them with their articles. You can create an account on the HARO system and you will be sent requests for articles.
  • Find influencers who like what you have to offer and see if they will link to your website. This is becoming a completely new and vibrant industry. There are influencer brokers you can contact as well.
  • Interview people, post the interview on your website, and then place a link to their website. They will most likely link back to this article.

Want to learn more? Get the Building DIY Websites For Dummies book.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Jennifer DeRosa is the founder of Toto Coaching, which walks the DIY website builder through the process of building a website from start to finish. Jennifer has been building websites since 1994. She formed her web development agency in 2001, growing it into a successful website development agency over two decades.

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