I have a problem. I create new niche websites way too often. Most of them go nowhere, but it helps me with the feeling that I'm missing out on a niche industry that has potential.
My reasoning for creating new websites all the time is simple. New niche websites take 6-12 months to start ranking for their keywords. If I can just slap together a simple website, add unique content to it, then leave it to age, it will eventually start seeing traffic and I can pick it up from there.
There is a bigger problem that starts to show its face, though. Not every website gets the attention it deserves. If I were to categorize the tasks in alphabetical order, say, from A to E, then each website would have task completion that looks something like this:
Website 1: ABE
Website 2: BCDE
Website 3: ABCE
So you can see, every website is all over the place. I lose track of what needs to get finished and whats already been finished.
To combat this issue, I've decided to create a quick and simple blueprint to follow, in perfect order, so that every site sees it's day.
If this is something you find yourself doing often, then continue reading.
The following is my checklist for making sure every niche website launch gets the proper attention it deserves.
A. Add Domain to Hosting + Install WordPress
I won't get into detail about how to do this. This is assuming you already know and understand the process of purchasing a domain, changing nameservers, and installing WordPress through your hosting provider. If you're not caught up on how to do this, you can see my posts about domain name basics and hosting basics.
- Buy new domain
- Add domain to hosting
- Change nameservers
- Install WordPress
- Setup SSL/HTTPS certificate (this is free)
- Check "Enforce HTTPS"
This step takes me about ten minutes and is probably the biggest creator of spam on my hosting account. I'll find some good keywords in a niche I'd love to get into, then buy a domain and add it to my host. I'll admit, I have a few website where I've done this step and didn't bother with taking the next steps.
Classic shiny object syndrome.
B. Configure WordPress + Plugins and Theme
This step is unique to everyone, depending on the plugins you like to use. One of the first things I'll do is go into my settings and change my site link from http to https. This will kick you out of WordPress, requiring you to log back in. I'll add all my favourite plugins and do some basic configuration of each one.
- GeneratePress Theme - A crazy lightweight WordPress theme, although free, truly shows it's potential when you upgrade it to it's premium version.
- GP Premium - The premium upgrade for GeneratePress theme. This unlocks a ton of customization that makes it easy to add or remove all sorts of elements from your site. If there is anything that stumps you, their support forum will have an answer...every time.
- Updraft - A simple backup plugin. Anytime you make a lot of changes to your site, make a backup. Simple and quick.
- WordFence - A simple security plugin. It creates a firewall for your website to prevent malicious attacks and injections. It will email you about admin logins, brute force attacks, and plugins that are out of date.
- RankMath - A very useful SEO plugin that gets new features and updates regularly. It's not really necessary for brand new website but it's good to have it in place for when you start creating pages and new content.
- Thrive Architect or Elementor Pro - I have both. I like both. I can't decide which one to drop, but I've payed to have them for the year so I'm happy to use whichever one I feel will work best for my site. A page builder can really speed up how you spruce up your content.
C. Make Basic Trust Pages. Don't Skip This Step, Seriously.
Have you ever tried to put ads on one of your websites? Do you know what the bare minimum requirement is for having ads on your site? The answer is simple. You need to disclose what you're doing with user's data, establish some terms for visiting your website, a way to get in touch with you in case somebody has a complaint, and a page that explains who you are and what your website is about.
To re-iterate, you NEED:
- About Page
- Contact Page
- Terms and Conditions of Use Page
There is a reason why these pages are required. They establish trust between the user and the business. This is the website equivalent to carrying an ID everywhere you go. Without an ID, you won't get far. It is possible to rank without these pages, but your rankings will be much stronger if you have them.
So make these pages. Non-negotiable.
Your contact page doesn't require a form. You can simply have an email address or phone number to use.
Make sure these pages are accessible somewhere on your website's theme/design. I like to stick it in the footer bar.
D. Logo, Design, and Navigation
This can really be an on-going step, but you should get the basics down. I'm not a stellar web designer, so I won't get into detail about how to make your site look pretty. Let's go over the fundamentals.
- Site Icon - This should be 512x512 pixels and will most likely be your logo/badge.
- Site Logo - There are rules for what your logo should look like. I prefer to have a logo that has a badge on the left with the website name written next to it. This makes it easy to add a profile photo to social profiles and looks nice in the header of your theme.
- Brand Colours - Pick 2 or 3 colours that look good together. Use them in your theme, your headers, your navigation, etc. Play around with it until the colours blend nicely into the design of the site. This isn't my strongest skill, so I do it quick and move on.
- Primary Navigation - It's good to have your navigation menu setup. You don't have any pages (silos), or posts yet, but when you do, you'll have a quick place to drop them in. This will make it quick for search engines to discover your content.
- Layout - I like to keep my layouts simple. Set up container width and spacing (very quick with GeneratePress), and if I'm not strapped for time, I'll throw in some CSS to pretty up some elements. I'll add one sidebar that I'll drop my primary navigation menu widget into. Until I get something more substantial to add in (resources, ads, etc), navigation will be a good placeholder.
- Mobile Responsive - Google has made it clear they want websites to work with mobile and they will use it as a ranking signal. Make sure your website works on mobile through and through. Non-negotiable. See what this means.
E. Your First Content Silo
A content silo is a technique of covering an entire topic from start to finish. Each topic will essentially have it's own home page. The page is meant to cover the initial topic in as much detail as possible. Any sub-topic that could have it's own page--should absolutely have it's own page.
The rule of thumb, at least for my silos, is that if you need more than 500 words to cover the sub-topic, throw it into it's own page. From the top page, add a header and 200-300 words introducing it and drop a link to the page that goes deeper into the subject.
A good example of a content silo is creating a buyer's guide for one specific type of product. Introduce the product by describing what it is and what problems it solves. Of this product type, what are the top five choices you would recommend, and include links to full-page reviews of each product mentioned. Buyer's guide typically have 2000-3000 words on them, while the individual product reviews will have 1000-2000 each. It's a lot of content to slap together, but you will be able to catch a lot of keywords if the quality is high enough.
F. Set Up Your Homepage
I leave this as one of the final steps because your homepage will be the strongest place to put links to inner pages. If your niche is very specific towards one product type only, you can make your homepage the buyer's guide as discussed in the previous step. If you plan to have more than one content silo, you want to link to each silo from the home page.
Introduce your content silo with a header and some text, then link to the top silo page from within this section.
Your homepage should also be very clear what your website is about from the moment you land on it. A quick cheat code for achieving this is to create a full-width hero element for the homepage with a big H1 header tag stating what your website is about. Hero headers also work well as images with text over them.
G. Have Your Website Indexed on Google
I will always leave indexing as the last step to any content process. You don't want Google to check your website before it's ready. They will send a spider/crawler to inspect your site. They won't be able to able to tell the difference if you're still working on it. Having empty pages or incomplete content will signal to Google that your website quality is crappy and not worth indexing.