Mastering the art of creating a new website can be overwhelming.

You have to worry about the copy, design, and functionality all-in-one. In addition, you need to make sure it’s optimized for search engines so your customers can find it.

Even the most experienced marketers sometimes struggle to know where to start.

That’s why we put together this guide highlighting how to publish a website.

In this post, you’ll discover the key areas of focus you should think about when putting together your site. By following these steps, you’ll have a solid foundation for creating an engaging, effective website.

1. Select Your Publishing Option

You don’t have to be a tech expert to publish your own website. There are tools available to fit every level of experience and every budget.

The first step is to select from your four main options.

Coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)

If you have a professional web developer on your team or choose to hire one, your site can be coded from scratch using languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

This is the most difficult and time-consuming option. If you want to update your site, you’ll need to bring in a developer again.

On the plus side, you have total flexibility to create anything you want. And there’s no underlying software or plugins to update and manage.

Website Builder

Website builders are fast, easy, and cheap.

They let you create a website using a simple drag-and-drop interface. Sometimes, website builders allow you to build and host your site for free, but you’ll usually have some limitations with a free account. For example, you typically won’t be able to choose your own domain name.

Popular website builders include Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.

If you want to put up a website quickly and inexpensively, a website builder can be a good option. But you don’t have much customization ability, and most website builders make it impossible to move your site to a different host in the future.

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Content Management System (CMS)

A Content Management System is software that helps users create, manage, and edit the content of a website.

Anyone can use a CMS, but it’s not as simple as a website builder. There’s more to learn before you can effectively create and maintain a website. While you can build an entire CMS-powered website without knowing any HTML, it will help to know some.

It’s an extremely popular option — there are 70 million sites in the world that use a CMS. Some of the most common are:

A chart showing CMS distribution across the internet
CMS distribution across the internet

A Content Management System gives you the flexibility to create a custom website and continue updating it. You can add functionality with a wide variety of easy-to-install plugins.

Unlike a website builder, a CMS requires you to choose a separate website host (see step 4).

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it isn’t always free to use a CMS. While there will usually be a free version, these have limitations.

Combination

You don’t have to choose just one of these options to publish your website.

For example, WordPress website builders let you build a CMS website with the simplicity of a website builder.

Many sites are built using a combination of code and CMS. That way, a professional web developer can create the website and make any significant changes to the design or functionality, but tasks like uploading new blog posts or switching out images will be easy for anyone to do.

2. Prepare Your Website Content

No matter what solution you use to build your website, its success or failure depends on the content you put on it.

It’s best to have a plan for your content before you design the site. You don’t have to map out every topic your blog will cover, but you should have an idea of what your core pages will be about.

Brainstorm Meaningful Topics

What’s the focus of your website? What do you think your ideal audience wants to read about?

Brainstorm a list of interesting, relevant topics.

If you’re at a loss, take a look at your competitors’ sites to see what topics they’re covering.

Perform Keyword Research

A good way to figure out what topics to write about is to research keywords. The goal is to figure out which terms your ideal audience is searching for and use those words in your content so people can find you.

You should come up with a combination of short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Short-tail keywords are broad terms that tons of people are searching for. For example, “art supplies.” You’re probably never going to be the top “art supplies” website on Google.

But maybe you could rank for “buy paintbrushes in St. Louis.” That’s a long-tail keyword. The competition is lower, but so is the search volume.

Long-tail vs. short-tail keywords
Long-tail vs. short-tail keywords (Source: Ahrefs)

The trick is to rank for a lot of long-tail keywords to drive a high volume of traffic to your site.

Choose a Name

In some cases, the name of your website will be obvious. For example, if you’re an established business, you’ll want to locate your site at yourbrandname.com or a similar domain.

If the name of your website is still a work in progress, you can narrow it down by seeing which domain names are available. Search major domain registrars like GoDaddy, Namecheap, Bluehost, and HostGator.

The cost of your domain name may vary between registrars. In some cases, you’ll get a domain name free for a year or more if you choose to host your website on that service.

Your domain name should be engaging and tell visitors what your site is all about.

Use Images and Video Content

Your website content shouldn’t be exclusively text. People like images on a website, and they really like videos.

In fact, 69% of consumers say they would prefer to watch a video explaining a product or service rather than read a text-based article about it (18%) or view an infographic (4%).

Map Your Content Strategy

Your website audience isn’t made up of just one type of person.

For example, you might have site visitors at different stages in the customer journey. Some are in the awareness stage. They’re just learning about what you do and the problems you solve.

Others are close to making a purchase for the first time, and others are loyal customers.

You also probably have a few different buyer personas visiting your site. For example, a B2B company might sell its service to marketing and sales leaders. Each group requires different targeted content.

Brainstorm content topic ideas for each buyer persona at each stage of the customer journey.

Content mapping example
Content mapping example (Source: Hull)

Edit For Quality Control

Review your work and perform a round of revisions. It’s rare that you’ll knock your article out of the park on the first try, so review all your content with a fresh pair of eyes.

If you need a little help with grammar and spelling, pick a tool from our list of the best grammar checkers for WordPress.

3. Design and Build Your Site

The best websites are both functional and beautiful. In this step, you decide what your site will look like and what features it will have.

Wireframe Your Layout

Website designs begin with a wireframe — a drawing of your site in its simplest form. Think of it as your website’s skeleton.

A website wireframe isn’t concerned with colors or fonts. Rather, it serves as blueprints for the placement of elements like buttons, menus, and images.

Website wireframe example
Website wireframe example

You can hand draw the wireframe or use a tool like Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma.

If you’re using a drag-and-drop website builder or WordPress template, you might not need a precise wireframe, but you should still sketch out your design before you start creating.

Design Your Brand Look and Feel

The look and feel of your website should match your brand. Integrate your logo and brand colors into the design and write content in the voice of your brand.

If your brand is new, think about this: how do you want your readers or customers to feel when they visit your website? Consider how you can make that sentiment shine through in your copy and design.

Implement an Easy-to-Navigate UX

All the great content in the world can’t save your website if consuming that content is confusing or frustrating.

That’s why UX, or user experience, is one of the primary considerations of website design. UX design is about providing a seamless, pleasant user experience for visitors to your site.

For example, structure your site in a logical way. There should be an organized hierarchy of website pages, and how to navigate that hierarchy should be obvious.

Organized website structure
Organized website structure (Source: Lucidchart)

Be consistent with design elements. Buttons and menus should all behave the same way across the site.

Don’t neglect mobile site design. It’s important that your site is easy to use for the 54.8% of internet users browsing on mobile devices. Mobile responsive design is no longer optional.

A/B testing takes the guesswork out of website design. A/B testing, or split testing, pits two web page elements against each other to see which one performs better. For example, you could test whether red or blue CTA buttons get more clicks.

Use the results from your split tests to continually optimize your UX.

Not sure how to start A/B testing? We’ve got you covered with our list of the ten best WordPress A/B testing tools.

4. Host Your Site

Web hosting is an online service that allows you to publish your website. The web host provides server space for the website’s files.

If you used a website builder like Wix or Weebly, you probably don’t need to find a separate host. But most websites require a hosting solution.

Find a Web host

The first thing you have to do is decide what type of web host to use. For a small-to-medium website, you have several options.

Shared Hosting

Your first option is to use one of the popular hosting platforms like GoDaddy or HostGator. The actual server where your website is stored will be owned by the hosting service and often (at least in the case of the cheapest plans) shared with other websites.

Shared hosting is an affordable option, but it has downsides. Many hosting platforms cause your site to have slow page load times or downtime.

That’s pretty significant since website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time.

Some platforms also limit your RAM and CPU, which could lead to your site having performance issues.

Managed Hosting

Managed hosting, in short, means the hosting company handles the setup, administration, and maintenance of the servers.

But there’s more for those who chose Kinsta as their hosting provider such as unmatched support, performance-optimized hosting infrastructure that takes advantage of GCP’s premium tier network, compute-optimized C2 VMs, 35 data center locations, free Kinsta CDN powered by Cloudflare and its global network of 200+ cities, an enterprise-level firewall and DDoS protection.

Managed hosting costs a little more than shared hosting, but the investment always pays off in terms of better performance, security, support, and an improved workload.

DIY

Another option is to take full responsibility for configuring, updating, and keeping your website’s servers running and operational.

It might sound like a good deal since you don’t have to pay a managed hosting provider. But being your own sysadmin is a lot of work and requires a great deal of technical expertise.

If you don’t have the resources to manage regular backups, security scans, and other maintenance, DIY hosting is not for you.

Upload Files

Upload your images, video, and custom theme options to begin filling your site with your engaging content.

Test Site

Before you launch, make sure to test your site for any bugs. Your site should be tested in a small group or in preview mode prior to being made available to the public.

Optimize Files and Media for Performance

Oversized files will slow your website down. Make sure you shrink large images to ensure a fast site speed.

Also, add metadata to your media to make it more searchable. Give your images titles and alt text, and add titles, descriptions, keywords, and transcripts to your video content.

5. Publish Your Site

This is it! The moment you share your creation with the world.

Push Site Live

If you’ve designed and built your site, purchased your domain name, set up web hosting, and tested your site with a preview group, there’s only one thing left to do.

Hit publish and go live.

Submit Site to Search Engines

Google and the other major search engines are pretty good about indexing new websites eventually, but to ensure that it happens quickly, you should proactively submit it yourself.

Google

To submit your website to Google, set yourself up with Google Search Console, and verify website ownership.

The easiest way to verify domain ownership is to copy the DNS TXT record and add it to your domain name provider.

Once you’re logged into Search Console, go to “Sitemaps” in the sidebar, paste in your sitemap URL, and click “Submit.”

Submitting a site to Google Search Console
Google Search Console

Bing

Bing requires you to follow an almost identical process with Bing Webmaster Tools. Log in, go to “Sitemaps” in the sidebar, paste in your sitemap URL, and click “Submit sitemap.”

Other Search Engines

You can also submit your new website to Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo.

6. Plan For the Future

A website isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ project.

From the day you launch your site, you should have a plan for website maintenance and improvements.

Expand with New Content and Features

You should constantly be writing new content for your site. This keeps your audience engaged and interested, and it’s good for SEO.

One study found that publishing two to four blog posts per week is the sweet spot for maximizing traffic and conversions.

You can keep the ideas flowing through keyword and competitor research.

You should also keep adding new features and updating your user interface. Split testing and website analytics will tell you what your audience likes and doesn’t like.

Increase Revenue Channels Through Monetization

You’ve put a lot of work into your site — it’s time you got something back. There are ways to monetize your website that go beyond selling a product or service.

Display Ads

No one likes ads on a website, but they’re one of the easiest ways to monetize your internet presence.

Google Adsense is a platform that lets you display text, images, video, and interactive media advertisements. The ads that people see are based on their personal preferences and search history.

There are also Adsense alternatives you can look into.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when a brand works with affiliates (that’s you) who promote the brand’s products.

As an affiliate marketer, you put affiliate links on your website. When someone follows your unique link and buys the product, you get a commission.

You can even earn money by promoting Kinsta through our affiliate program.

Sell Content

Selling premium content like ebooks and online courses can make you some money. It also serves other purposes.

Creating this type of content can help build interest in and awareness about your brand. And you can put the content behind a sign-up form to collect contact information from prospects.

Use an SEO Strategy

You already did some keyword research and followed SEO best practices when you created your site, but your work isn’t done.

As an important part of content marketing, an SEO strategy is critical for your site’s continued success.

Part of that strategy is creating new content, which we already discussed.

An often overlooked area is technical SEO. Check regularly for tech issues like broken links, redirect loops, or a lack of HTTPS security.

You should also work on building your site’s backlink profile. A backlink profile is the collection of links on other websites that send visitors to your site. It’s important that these links are from high-quality sites.

Use a Social Media Strategy

84% of U.S. adults ages 18–29 are active social media users. With an engaging social media strategy, you can build brand awareness and drive some of those users to your site.

Create profiles for your business on social media sites, and update them regularly with new content. Avoid posting solely promotional content. Your social media audience is just getting to know you — make posts that build awareness or showcase your brand’s values.

Social media is supposed to be social, so encourage your followers to engage with you and with each other.

Most social media platforms also let you create ads to attract more users.

Publishing your first site may seem scary...but it doesn't have to be. This guide is here to help. 😌Click to Tweet

Summary

Publishing your first website can be a time-consuming yet rewarding task. Once you know what steps you need to take, you can begin to chip away at the tasks at hand.

With the right guidance, you can create an effective website that showcases your blog or company in the best possible light.

If you’re ready to get started building a website with a CMS, check out these articles on why you should use WordPress and where you can learn how to use it.


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