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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
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).
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:
Next, my traffic stream:
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.
In the research phase I take a strong look at the industry itself. What does the industry itself have to offer? This includes associations, portals, newsletters and such. What are others, not just the direct competitors, but also others in the industry doing to develop and then promote their sites? In this portion of the research I often find a great deal of linking potential and future promotional ideas.
I then look at what it will take to make my site sticky and get folks to return. I know not every site should be sticky but generally speaking I like the idea of folks returning so I like to figure out how best to do that.
The design I leave to experts although I have no problem suggesting they follow at least the basics of what Brett presented in Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone [webmasterworld.com] or of course my own personal version ;)
Other points based on experience:
Note that I prefer keywords and hyphens in the URL.
The code has to be clean.
Navigation and internal linking are developed by the SEO expert and not the designer. Argue that if you will but it impacts optimization more I believe than it impacts the design.
Again, a good SEO expert will more effectively develop the structure of a site than a designer. Oh yes, those may be fighting words but I believe they speak the truth. Isnít the goal to maximize every effort?
On promotion Ė client dependent of course but I find a bit of PPC goes along way to keep the client interested those first three months until the other promotional activities really kick in and start drawing traffic.
Iím also working on Ďalternativeí sources of promotion and traffic building including advertising, articles, and of course more of what Iím trying to draw out of the current discussion on ďLinking Outside the Box ď [webmasterworld.com]
The refining portion depends so much on proper log analysis tools and data. Itís especially important to see the process a visitor follows through the site, how much time spent on each page and which pages they actually visit. Am I getting them to the sale and if so whatís the best route.
Not to be undervalued is the content and the copywriting including the sales copywriting content. You can have a great site, drawing great traffic but how does it convert.
My 2 bits.