Now you are ready to roll! You have your subject, website builder and hosting in place and you are ready to showcase your content to the world! However, before you dive into your 1st post, it would be best to take this time to really optimize your website from the get-go.
As we mentioned in Step 2 of our process, website speed matters a lot and the 2 factors that go into speed is hosting services and how optimized your website is. We already covered hosting services, so the next focus will be website optimization. We know this may sound like a daunting task if you aren’t the most knowledgeable in computers, but it’s really not too bad. This guide isn’t going to cover the step-by-step installation of each tool (you can easily Google or find a video for this) but rather it’s going to provide a quick checklist of the general tools/plugins that you will need to get started.
The exact name of the plug-in/tool will depend on the website builder you are using (or they might be built directly into the program), so we are going to refer them by the general function they are designed to provide.
Security / Anti-Virus
Just like any other computer files, websites can be infected, hi-jacked, hacked and all the other nasty things you rather not deal with. Most website builders have a standard layer of security, but we would recommend adding a 3rd party plugins/tool for the added security if available. There are many to choose from depending on the website platform you are using, so just do a quick search to see what is recommended.
Much like security and anti-virus, this is a proactive step to take in case something does happen to your website. Having a back up means you would be able to restore your website in a matter of hours rather than waiting weeks, months or maybe never. Again, most website builders have a backup system integrated into their programs, but we would recommend also using a 3rd party plugins/tool to safely store a copy of your files onto a different server. That way, if the attack happens to take down the network of servers, your back up files will be located on an unaffected 3rd party server. There are many services that can help keep these backup files stored for you like Google Drive, Dropbox, Mega, Box, etc. Read around and see what service works best with your website builder.
Here is another technological word that sounds scary, but it’s really a simple concept. Cache is the act of storing recently used files of your website into the user’s browser so websites load quicker. Think of it like this, when you are cooking, you leave the salt on the countertop where it is easily accessible rather than putting it back in the pantry each time. Once you are done cooking, you will then put the salt away. It’s the same thing just in computer lingo! Again, there are many different tool/plugins that do this, but most website builders will have this technology built in. Hosting providers also often provide their own cache program designed to work best with their servers, so that is a good way to go as well! With whatever cache technology you end up with, just make sure you have it ticked on!
This might be where we scare some people since we said the ‘C’ word, or code. But don’t worry, you won’t have to code at all! Like above, all you have to do is find the right tool/plugins that will do this for you. Or better yet, if your website builder has one integrated in, all you have to do is check ON. What this is doing is basically ‘minifying’ certain codes to make them shorter, thus be more compact in size so you can send them off faster. The easiest way to think about this is instead of saying ‘The United States of America’, you just abbreviate with ‘USA’. It means the exact same thing, but you made it more compact and faster to type out.
Regardless of your subject, pictures/videos are going to be part of your website. Nobody likes to read blocks of texts regardless of how great the content is (when was the last time you read a textbook that you actually enjoyed)! So when using an image on your website, you’re going to want to optimize them, which just means you compress the size while maintaining quality. Luckily for you, tool/plugins can do this automatically for you every time you upload a picture. Certain website builders also automatically do this for you, so just confirm the option is ticked ON. There also is something called ‘lazy loading’, which just defers loading the image until the user gets to that portion of the page. This may or may not be a good option depending on the type of website you are running, so do a quick Google search to see if it’s something you would like to run on your website.
Analytics and Google Search Console
These Google programs are going to be a big part of where you spend the majority of your time! Like it or not, you will become a pro user to the point where you can list it as a skill on your resume! Here is the step-by-step from Google that shows how you can install this on your website.
Google Analytics – this is going to be your bread and butter to see how your website is doing. You can see everything from how many people come to your website, what they looked at, where they’re coming from, how long they stayed and the list goes on and on. As the name states, it provides you with all the analytics you want to determine what’s working on your website and what isn’t.
Google Search Console – this program is more focused on your SEO rankings (what position you show up in search results) and how your website is doing on Google search. If you’re just starting out, you probably won’t use this all too much because you won’t be getting any Google traffic at the beginning, but still a good idea to get familiar with the interface. As your website grows, the majority of your traffic will most likely come from organic search and you will be using this program a lot more. It shows data regarding Google search such as how many people came to your website via Google search, what keywords were used to find your website, where your website ranks with respect to that keyword, etc.
Now – that was a lot of work! We know it’s a lot of information to take in, but the good part is that most of these optimizations are set and forget, and we learned from experience it’s just better to get it done at the beginning rather than waiting until the end! So with your website ready to bring down the internet, we will move onto Step 4 and share our tips on how to write a post with SEO in mind!