Maybe we will start some more threads that get into specifics, but I think it would be good to share with beginners what steps are taken in developing a website. I know that if I had this knowledge starting out, it would save me a ton of time and confusion. My post assumes you already have a working knowledge of HTML and SEO and is skewed toward on earning money from affiliate programs.
Research Design Promote Refine
How can I make money with the site?
Is there a sufficient source of free traffic?
What is my competition like? (number of sites, unoptimized or optimized sites? etc.)
Is it feasible to rank well with my current SEO knowledge and ability?
What keywords do I design the site around?
What are the primary keywords being used in relation to the site content? Secondary keywords?
What am I going to use for content to attract users and build confidence?
If everything checks out, I move on to stage II.
My overriding philosophy is designing a site that caters to what the user wants in every way possible from keywords to content to small page sizes. Also, the site must be designed to rank well
Develop index pages of subdirectories (if used)
Develop each subdirectory individually
Structure designed for scalability to accommodate future growth
Load up site
Use link checker
Once I feel the site is decent (maybe not perfect but workable), I feel I can launch it and start promoting
My first steps are to capture as much free traffic as possible (Yahho needed for rank boost -- will pay here if confident of rank).
Submit site to Yahoo
Submit to ODP
Submit to Google, Wisenut, Teoma, AltaVista, Fast
Find topic specific directories and authority sites to link with. Try to get free links first, will reciprocate if needed or advantageous
Usually I wait at this point for the traffic to roll in. I usually don't do PPC because I feel I can get enough traffic from Yahoo fairly quickly. Other than getting more links from on topic or highly authoritative (or high traffic) sites, my initial promotion ends here.
At this point I should have a decent traffic stream coming in. First I evaluate my affiliate programs:
Are they producing they way I thought?
Am I promoting them well enough?
Do I need to sub in some other programs?
Do I need to give one program more emphasis than another?
Next, my traffic stream:
Are my rankings what I thought they would be?
What can I optimize on the site to get better rankings?
After analyzing my traffic logs, are there some words I need to hone in on more that I missed earlier?
What other sites can I get traffic from?
What can I add to the site to help people buy or participate in my revenue generating programs? More graphics? More content? Better marketing language?
Does my site build rapport with the user or do I come across as unbelievable? Would I buy anything at this site or participate in the affiliate programs?
The rest of the process is going over these steps to build the site in size, add more affiliate programs or other revenue possiblities, adding content, refining, and optimizing.
I am sure I missed some steps but this is the basic idea of my site development from start to finish. Other systems welcome in this thread. Sites involving shopping carts, programming, or other elements not mentioned here are especially welcome. Let's try to keep an overall approach and dive into specifics in future threads.