We work with a lot of clients that start out building their own website on any number of “do it yourself” platforms like Weebly, Wix, GoDaddy, Square and more. And every once in a while, we support this and help improve these websites – usually because of budgetary concerns. Because of this, we feel it’s important to help others understand best practices for how to build a website from scratch on one of these DIY platforms. Our intention is to save you money, time, and frustration.
NOTE: We absolutely feel the best possible investment you can make in the growth of your business is a stand-alone website. You’re facing an uphill battle if you try to go it alone. There are many reasons for this, that we’ll include at the bottom of this article. But we do want to help if you choose the DIY model.
#1 Content – The One Word Answer to “How to Build a Website From Scratch?”
If you aren’t willing to write content when you build your website…at least 3000 words of it to start and more over time…then you’re wasting your time. Your website will not be found in organic keyword searches unless you point ads to it or have very little competition. Content is the #1 essential ingredient in being found. There’s an expert recipe for creating awesome searchable content. But you can get by just starting with 300 words about each of your services or products, 300 words about you and your team, 300 words about frequently asked questions, and 300 words about anything else important to your customers. Try to write 10 pages.
If you can afford it, hire an expert to look at the content through the lens of a search engine. Maybe even have this expert (hint: us) map out the keywords you should write around. If your eyes started crossing just now, then just write. The only point here is that there are ways to make the content better and give each page a better chance of being found.
Adding more content over time is the key to building your website to become a marketing tool for you. Stagnant websites don’t get as much love, period. Think of your website as a honeycomb. Every page adds a cell to the comb and every cell attracts more bees. Buzz. Buzz.
#2 SEO Tools
Every one of the DIY builders has optional tools for creating metadata. Use these tools to the best of your ability (or hire us to help). The most useful reason is because you can craft your SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). These are the little snippets that show up in searches. Like this one:
A SERP has a title, a URL and a description.
The DIY builders most often will let you craft these SERPS. Again, there is an expert recipe for this, but the best thing to do if you are going it alone is to try to attract a click. Use action words. Highlight the best of what they’ll learn if they click.
Almost every single DIY website we’ve seen has too many images that take up too much space, are too large, and don’t fit well with the text. Because you aren’t a graphic designer, the chances of you having the same issue are pretty good. So. Follow my father’s advice: KISS. Keep. It. Simple. Sweetie.
One photo per page. Try not to have it be a ginormous photo. Try really hard to make sure it isn’t pixelated. Try to have the content come FIRST, before the photo, so that the search engines will get to the content before running into an image.
Why Don’t We Want You to Follow Our Three Steps for How to Build a Website From Scratch?
I like the bee reference from before, so let’s continue with that. No matter what you do, using a DIY builder means that you will be part of a hive – a very, very, very, very big hive. And so when a search engine finds you, they’ve had to enter that hive and there are a lot of distractions. Even if you have your own URL pointing to your section of honey – there are still obstacles and it’s really noisy, so a search engine won’t stay too long. They prefer websites that have their own piece of property.
Also, you don’t own a DIY website but more, you’re renting it. You own the content, which is another reason to invest in that because you can take it with you when you’re ready.
Last, you won’t be able to easily change the way it looks once you’ve chosen a template so it’s harder for the website to grow with you. Whereas websites we create for you are modular and can morph and change and grow over time. Plus, there are tons of other options for search optimization, functionality, and beautiful design.
The biggest issue is always cost. Keep in mind that we offer payment plans and also think about the investment against a bigger picture. Your website is the single biggest and best marketing tool you can have for the ongoing growth of your business. Somewhere around 90% of people look at a business online before buying from them. That’s almost everyone. Mic drop. 🙂