You’re about to set up your website, but you want to do it right from the beginning because it’s nearly impossible to change later on.
I got you.
I’ve set up hundreds of websites and made the perfect formula to set up a website for organic traffic growth success.
It consists of 10 steps and is super straightforward; it’s not very technical.
1. Choose A DNS And Domain
The first thing you want to choose is your DNS and your domain.
For DNS, there is only one right choice: Cloudflare.
Cloudflare has consistently been the top 3 fastest DNS for the last many years, and it’s completely free to use.
You can also buy and “host” your domain at Cloudflare.
But it doesn’t stop here.
Cloudflare also provides speed optimization features to optimize your website’s loading on the DNS level. Cloudflare will compress your files and ensure that if people visit your website more than once, it loads from caching the second time.
The last thing I want to mention is that you can manage your email forwarding with Cloudflare and your DMARC management, which is a requirement from Gmail and Yahoo in 2024 and probably more email providers moving forward.
Without setting up your DMARC management, the chances of your email marketing ending up in spam are close to 100%.
I think you get it now. Cloudflare is incredible, and it’s completely free.
2. Choose Hosting
Hosting is the next part, and this is where your website is physically stored.
A website is made up of files that need to be stored on a server, and that’s basically what web hosting is.
When choosing your hosting provider, there are 4 things you need to be aware of:
- Loading speed
- Backup (How often?)
- Uptime percentage
- Support (24/7)
As I use WordPress for all my websites, we’ll get into it, and I always go with managed WordPress hosting.
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The difference between general web hosting and managed WordPress hosting is that the latter is tailored to make WordPress websites perform the best.
As loading speed is super important to rank in search engines, you want to optimize this on all layers, including your hosting.
For managed WordPress hosting, there are 2 providers I can confidently recommend:
Kinsta is the best premium solution, and it’s packed with speed optimization features such as image compression, caching, the newest PHP versions, early signals, and much more.
With Cloudways, you get the same, but based on my testing, the support is a bit better with Kinsta, and they’re often frontrunners for new features in the industry.
They’re close, though, so if you’re on a tight budget, go with Cloudways; otherwise, choose Kinsta.
3. Choose The Right CMS
Your CMS(Content Management System) is the base of your website, the backbone, and it’s so important to choose the right one from the start because this one is tough to change later on.
I like to go with WordPress because of its ecosystem and endless customizable options to tweak it to my liking.
If you want a more fixed system where you don’t need to ability to customize it, then I can recommend Webflow, but you do get locked in their system.
It’s really important to ask yourself, do I need a simple website, and I don’t see myself expanding in the future? The go with Webflow.
If you see yourself building a huge brand with email marketing, integrations, a focus on Google Search, and much more, then I can only recommend WordPress.
4. Choose The Theme: Your Website’s Identity
Your theme is your identity, and you want to be unique on this point, but you can still start with a template.
If you’re using WordPress, which I do, then I can recommend looking at Themeforest.
It’s a marketplace jam-packed with premium WordPress themes for any use case you’re looking for, but be careful.
It might be tempting just to choose a multipurpose theme, but you’ll get a slow-loading website if you do this.
With a multipurpose theme, you might use 10% of its full feature set, so the 90% will just sit there and slow down your website.
If you want a super flexible website, look into Elementor, but it slows your website down.
5. 4 Plugins For A Solid Structure
Using WordPress, there are some plugins I always install, and I recommend you do the same, 4 in total, to be precise.
They’re a combination of improving your SEO on your website, speeding up your website, and making it compliant.
The first plugin is Rank Math SEO.
This plugin will generate an XML Sitemap, which you can submit to Google Search Console to improve Google’s ranking of your website.
If you don’t have a Google Search Console already, I strongly recommend you sign up and submit your XML sitemap, and it’ll improve your visibility on Google vastly.
You get a lot of extra features such as an integration to Google Search Console and Google Analytics, the ability to manage your meta tags, your E-E-A-T, and much more.
The next plugin is WP Rocket or FlyingPress.
Both are great plugins for speeding up your website to load faster. These plugins compress your entire website from files to form and serve it to the visitor optimally.
It optimizes everything from A to Z and ensures your website loads as fast as possible, which creates a good experience on your website that is perfect for any target audience.
Nobody wants to sit around and wait for your website to load.
The third plugin is Shortpixel.
Shortpixel is for optimizing your images by compressing them without losing quality.
This is incredibly powerful, and as images are the most heavy things to load on a website, this is crucial you use a plugin like this.
Shortpixel has a secondary plugin that serves the images in the right size to the visitor, which takes it a step further. It’s a treasure trove of great features.
The last plugin is iubenda.
iubenda is a compliance plugin that basically shows the cookie consent popup you see on any website today.
It’s super valuable, and it even scans your website to come up with suggestions on improving your compliance.
This is my favorite compliance plugin.
6. Create 4 Pages For E-E-A-T
- About us page (Include what?)
- Contact pages (Include)
- Author pages (Include)
- Disclaimer page
Connect these in Rank Math
- Title & Meta → Local SEO
7. Set Up Google Search Console / Google Analytics / Bing Webmaster Tools
Now it’s time to set up your free SEO tools: Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Don’t forget Bing Webmaster Tools.
Start by setting up Google Search Console and Google Analytics, as you can then easily set up Bing Webmaster Tools.
Google Search Console is perfect for measuring your performance on Google, how it goes with your rankings, and how many clicks and impressions you get.
Google Analytics is perfect for tracking the engagement on your website. Do people scroll, click, read, and overall use your website?
Bing Webmaster Tools is a copy of Google Search Console, but just for the Bing search engine.
If you want to take your tracking a step further, you can set up Microsoft Clarity, which records the visitors on your website, creates heatmaps, and much more.
All these 4 tools are entirely free to set up, and anyone running a website should use these tools.
8. Create A Topical Map / Content Strategy
This is a huge step, so ensure you break it up over a couple of days, but you want to create a topical map.
Start by mapping out your topic layout. If you’re in a travel niche, start with a destination and map out the cities, and for each city, map out the attractions, restaurants, and so on. Roughly.
From there, take each topic and perform keyword research in a tool like KeySearch or Google Trends, search in forums, or anywhere you can find information.
Then rinse and repeat from there until you have an entire topical map.
Then, you choose one cluster, exhaust that cluster of content, and interlink the content before you move on to the next.
9. Set Up An Automated Site Audit
A site audit is a report on your website containing all the technical issues, but don’t worry, it’s not as technical as you think.
You see, optimizing for Google Search, I always say there are 2 forms of SEO. The on-page SEO is the technical part and the elements you control.
Then there is the off-page SEO, which is the elements you don’t control, such as backlinks.
Focusing on the part you can control, you can vastly improve your SEO ranking in Google Search by optimizing the technical part through a site audit.
I like to use Ahrefs and Website Auditor; they’re both free.
Ahrefs runs automatically once a week and checks everything from broken links and images to external links and much more.
The same goes for Website auditors, but they do take it a step further by integrating Google Analytics and Google PageSpeed Insight.
By using Website Auditor, you get a table-like overview of all your pages, which makes it perfect if you have a lot of pages and posts on your website.
10. Share Your Knowledge And Earn Backlinks
The last step is that you want to sign up for some reporter services; they’re all free and fairly easy to use.
Here, you’ll receive an email daily, or you can search for requests yourself.
Each email or list contains hundreds of questions from reports and websites that you can answer.
If the reporter chooses your website, they will link back to you; thus, you’ll get backlinks. Sometimes, it’s a nofollow link; other times, you’re lucky.
A pro tip here is to track your requests and see if they use your quote. Sometimes, they use it without linking to you, and then you simply have to reach out to them and ask them to link back to you.
Here are some services I’m using today:
Those are the steps I always do for every single new website I set up, with search engine optimization as a primary focus.
Load time and crawlability are the most important elements while setting up your website, and from here, you’ll want to focus on user experience.
With these steps, you have a good starting point, but you want to take the user experience to a whole new level with custom design elements and engaging elements.
I’ll also recommend you create an SEO strategy to execute once your website is live and you start with your content management.