Four Key Steps to a Successful Web Site

Jun 3 15:47 2008 Charles J. Bonner Print This Article

Most Web sites and blogs follow a haphazard development path that begins with enthusiasm and ends in oblivion.  No matter what the purpose of your Web site or blog, there are four things you must do in order to succeed.  Keep that original enthusiasm alive by thinking it through and laying out the full plan before you start down the wrong path.  This article will show you the four main steps you must follow before you put up your virtual shingle, and that you must continue following in an ever-improving cycle that will bring you the success your enthusiasm deserves.

There are four main steps you must take in order to build a successful Web site:

1. Select your target market or audience

2. Create your site

3. Monetize your site

4. Promote your site

Depending on the purpose of your Web site - whether to support an off-line business,Guest Posting to sell your products on-line, to generate passive income from affiliate programs or other advertising, or simply to share your interest in a hobby or profession - your definition of "success" can include many different things.  However, there is one thing that any Web site or blog must have in order to be "successful," and that is traffic.  Therefore, you must do all four key steps with a view to generating appropriate traffic.

So let's look into each of these four steps in more detail.  What do I mean by each of them, and what should you do at each step?  Along the way, I'll also get into more detail about what I mean by appropriate traffic.

Also bear in mind that this is a continually repeating process.  On the Web, you never reach a point where you just sit back and leave your Web site to stand on its own.  You must constantly review and adjust your appeal to your target market, the Web site content you are creating, how your site is monetized, and how you promote your site.

Selecting your Market

The first thing to think about is, who in the vast world of the Internet are you addressing?  To define the audience you want to reach, begin with your own interests and passions.  But it's not enough to be interested, passionate, and knowledgeable about a subject.  If you are to have a successful Web site, you must determine whether enough other people are also interested, and whether their needs are being adequately addressed.  You will probably have to define a specialized niche within the broader market.

The best way to do all that is by conducting good keyword research.  Suppose, for example, you are an expert on caring for babies.  A little keyword research will reveal that although there are dozens of searches on the Web each day for the term "baby care," there are over fourteen million Web sites matching that term.  Why would a typical Web surfer pick your site from among those fourteen million others?  Further keyword research will show you that there are about a dozen searches each day for the term "polypropylene baby bottle care tips," and only one site on the Web addressing this term.  You have identified a specialty that is perhaps not being addressed adequately.

(Incidentally, those are actual numbers from cursory keyword research I did while writing this article.  They will change with time, of course.  My past experience suggests that this article will soon begin appearing to match the specialized term I used as an example, even though this article is not really about that subject.)

Now, maybe you're not passionate enough about the subject to start building a Web site devoted to the care of polypropylene baby bottles, but you get the idea.  From within the broadest definition of your interests, find a specialty:

* A specialty that keyword research reveals to be of general interest

* A specialty that is not a saturated market

* A specialty that you want to address

Creating your Site

Once you have carefully researched your audience, you can begin creating your Web site or blog.  There are many detailed steps within this larger step, and many variations along the way, but here are the main ones to consider:

1. Choose an effective name for your site.

2. Create rich Web site content.

A successful Web site must have a name (domain name) that is memorable and clearly related to the subject matter of the site.

You have a disadvantage when it comes to choosing relevant terms.  You're the expert on the subject, which means that you do not view the subject the same way as the non-expert who is looking for information.  What terms do they consider relevant?

Keyword research is again your best tool.  Look at what people are searching for when they end up finding Web sites like the one you are building.  Then choose your domain name accordingly.  To continue the previous example, you might think "infant care," while most people are searching for "baby care."

Create your Web site name from relevant, commonly-used search terms (keywords), and you'll draw in the traffic.

This gets us into the notion of "appropriate" traffic that I mentioned earlier.  Your keyword research might suggest that "polypropylenebabybottlecaretips<dot>com" will bring in lots of traffic, but if your Web site is about the merits of breast feeding, you will bring in visitors who are not interested in your subject matter.  This causes two huge problems:

1. You will not get the visitors you really want

2. You will antagonize the visitors who do come to your site.

Some of the same ideas apply to the content of your Web site.  I suggest that you simply write the Web site content that you think people are interested in, writing in the terms that come naturally to you, then optimize its use of keywords after you've written it.

Monetizing your Site

Strange as it may seem, you usually must first publish your Web site before you can monetize it.  Most of the better affiliate programs and advertising networks (such as Google Adsense) will want an opportunity to look at your Web site before they approve you as a member of their program.

If you plan to monetize by selling your own products, you have a great many details to consider, which are beyond the scope of this article.  Among other things, you need to work out how you will process payments and how you will route orders for fulfillment.  For our immediate purposes, the main consideration is that you need to write the content of your sales pages using effective marketing and sales language.

If you plan to monetize only by displaying contextual advertisements, there's not much to it.  Find an effective, reputable carrier (search for "contextual advertising"), understand their rules and requirements regarding the placement of their ads on your pages, and place the ads!

In between those two methods is advertising via affiliate programs.  If you plan to make money with affiliate links, you must include some mention of the products you are recommending, but it can be less "salesy" and more informative.

There is an important implication in that last paragraph about affiliate programs:  You have to change your Web site content in order to make proper use of the affiliate links.  And as you change your Web site content, you should review it to make sure it is still using effective keywords.

Promoting your Site

There are worlds within worlds of information about how to promote your site.  For our purposes, the main thing to keep in mind is that you need to think about how you will promote your Web site in conjunction with how you do the rest of these steps.

Remember who your target audience or market is, and promote your site in a way that will reach that same target audience.  Among other things, this means that your promotion plans must be based on the same keyword research that you used to build your Web site content.  For instance, if you are using article marketing, which is perhaps the most cost effective way to promote your site, the articles must use the same keywords as you used in your Web site's content.  Likewise, if you are using a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, you must base your search engine advertisements on keywords that are also used in your Web site content, so that once a visitor clicks on your ad, they will stay on your site because it is exactly what they were looking for.

The Cycle

Once you have done all four of these steps, go back and do them again, continually:

* No, you don't need to select your target audience all over again, but you do need to repeat that keyword research from time to time.  Are you still offering what people are looking for?  Is there another specialty emerging which you can address?

* No, you don't need to create your site all over again, but you do need to update your site's content all the time.  Stagnation is death.  Fresh content keeps you at the top of the search engine result lists, and keeps the traffic coming.

* You don't necessarily want to repeat the whole process of monetizing your Web site, but you should review your programs from time to time.  Add new affiliate or contextual advertising programs (but be careful to avoid displaying competitive ads that one or another of your programs may disallow).  Discontinue any affiliate or contextual advertising programs that aren't working for you.

* Above all, you need to repeat your promotional efforts all the time.  Once you get past your original roll-out, create a schedule for yourself such that you launch a new campaign on a regular basis.  Just as with content, stagnation is death.


Perhaps you noticed the recurring theme in most of these four steps:  Keyword research.  You must be in touch with what the Web community is looking for in order to provide a Web site that meets their needs, and in order to let them know that it is what they're looking for.

Create your Web site name and its content using the right keywords, and you will have a door.  Promote your site using those same keywords, and the appropriate users will beat a path to your door.

But the Web is a dynamic place.  The hot keywords of today will be old and tired tomorrow.  In order to have continued success with your Web site, you must continually repeat the process of identifying your market, maintaining fresh content, monetizing your site, and promoting your site.

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Charles J. Bonner
Charles J. Bonner

Charles J. Bonner is the founder and principal project manager of  For more tips, techniques, and services for creating, maintaining, and promoting your Web site, especially using Article Marketing, visit

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