seo for website design 101: your free guide to plan, design & build a website for your business that google loves

Recently, several friends who are starting new businesses reached out to me for advice about how to build business websites that would attract new clients.

I started to write emails to each of them with advice, but realized that regardless of the business types my friends were running — one local architect, one ecommerce, and one online coaching — the advice was very similar.

Instead of sending these as one-off emails, I realized that even more people could benefit from these resources … which is why I decided to improve & publish this how-to guide. 

We’ve broken the process down into 3 stages; if you’ve already got a website, skip ahead to where you are in the process.

Wherever you are in the process, we created this comprehensive guide to walk you through all the steps to go from “I have a business now what the heck do I do online?” to “I’ve got a glorious website attracting my ideal clients from Google.”

Stage 1: Website Planning

you’re brand new to web design + online marketing

Start at the beginning and use this guide as a road map for how to plan and build your website … without wasting valuable resources focusing on the advanced tactics too soon.

Stage 2: Website + SEO Basics

get a starter website published (or give your existing site a facelift)

If you’ve outgrown the style of your current site, you can leap right into website strategy, copywriting, design & development.

Stage 3: Website Optimization

you’ve got a beautiful website … but it doesn’t bring you clients

Jump ahead for a game plan to turn your website from a pretty brochure into a lead-generation machine.

The #1 reason your business needs a website

Your website isn’t just a PART of your business’ digital marketing strategy.
It should be a unified hub to synthesize all your marketing strategies: search, social, email & analytics.

Your business needs a digital home that you have complete decisionmaking power and ownership over. Somewhere that establishes your expertise and captures your leads in a sustainable way.

The top two marketing assets that you can truly own are your website and your email list.

Remember: Those Twitter follows could disappear, your Facebook group could get shut down without notice, or Instagram could change it algorithm again and bring your reach & engagement to a screeching halt.

Social media marketing is like building a house on somebody else’s land. It’s a great place to start, because the people are already there … but at any point, the rules could change and your platform could be ripped out from under you. (We’re not trying to be all doom-and-gloom, but we’ve seen it happen. A lot.)

So even if you’re cruising along and getting tons of leads from LinkedIn DMs (and we’re thrilled for you!) … it’s absolutely worth taking the time to build a marketing asset that positions you as an expert and increases in value over time.

Now that we’re all set with that disclaimer … let’s get started. 

Stage 1: Plan Your Website

We know, you want to leap right into the fun stuff, like picking colors and laying out photos. But a little bit of planning can go a long way in making sure the website you build will be more than just a pretty brochure … or an expensive mistake. 

Choose your website software

WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify … which platform does Google love best?

buy your domain

Does your URL matter for your SEO? Where should you buy it?

DIY or hire a designer?

How much time, money & energy can you devote to this?

identify your basic pages

What are the 2-4 key pages you need to get your basic website launched?

map customer journey

Once people arrive on your site, what do you want them to do?

1. Choose your website software platform

Your website is the hub of all your digital marketing, so choosing how & where you want to build it is the equivalent of buying land for a new house. Just like in real estate, the three most important choices are “location, location, location;” the choice of where to build your website is paramount.

There are a lot of platforms out there for different purposes — some are really customizable, some are easy to build quickly without knowing a lot about the tech behind it, and some are good choices for specific industries or business models.

What website software does Google like best?

Google doesn’t care where your website lives, what colors or fonts you use, how long the page is, or how many images you include.
What matters to Google is your website’s technical SEO performance it cares that your website loads quickly, looks great on mobile devices, has SSL site security, and that you organize your website content in a way that its robots can understand.

Based on those criteria, we typically recommend 3 website software options: WordPress, Squarespace, and Shopify.

In most cases: We love WordPress

WordPress is a free software you can use to build your website and then you can use themes & plugins to customize your functionality. There’s no limit to the ways that you can make a WordPress website perfect for exactly what you need it to do.

But just like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker: With great power comes great responsibility. And in WordPress’ case, many choices come with a big learning curve.

The WordPress software is free, but you need a place for it to live, so if you’re building on WordPress, you have to start by choosing a hosting provider. (In our “house” metaphor, the WordPress software is the blueprint but the hosting is the land you’re building on.) This can cost anywhere from $3/month to $100/month, based on how many people visit your website, how long your contract is, how many other websites you share a server with, and other factors.

Here’s our quick guide to building a WordPress website in 3 hours, including all our favorite hosting providers, themes, plugins, and more.

For the non-tech savvy: Squarespace is awesome

If you have the time & resources to build a WordPress website, we suggest that.

If you don’t want the headache of learning all the lingo & the maintenance of updating plugins and worrying about site speed, just head to Squarespace. (And if you’re worried about your website not ranking on Google, here’s our guide to Squarespace SEO.)

Squarespace doesn’t have all the customization available on WordPress, and if you really want to make a website feel exactly the way you want, you might still have to hire a CSS developer to write you some custom code … but you also never have to worry about things like incompatible plugins. So, what you lose in flexibility, you gain in ease.

Related: How to choose between WordPress and Squarespace for SEO

For ecommerce sites: just use Shopify

If you know you want to sell physical products, just start your website on Shopify. It’s a really robust platform that can automatically take care of things like shipping rates, inventory, and credit card payments, even from international buyers. Additionally, it integrates incredibly well with social media and other online marketplaces, and also plays nicely with email automation software.

What about Wix or GoDaddy?

As an SEO agency, we don’t recommend Wix or GoDaddy as preferred website platforms.

Wix uses a lot of JavaScript in their code, which Google doesn’t love, so although we have clients who love Wix’s simple interface, their content takes longer to rank in Google search.

We also have moved many clients off GoDaddy — their templates and SEO tools are incredibly limited.

I want to sell courses; should I use an all-in-one solution like Kajabi or Kartra?

There’s a big lure to having all of your digital marketing tools for website, course delivery, and email marketing live in one place … but we’ve found these “all-in-one solutions” can be pretty limiting in terms of customization, and because they’re trying to do all-the-things, they simply can’t be best-in-class at everything.

2. Choose your domain

Select your domain, but don’t agonize over it

💣 Truth bomb: Your domain isn’t really that important.
Wait, let me clarify: The words in your domain aren’t really that important for SEO.

The words that you’re using barely matter to Google, and having keywords in your domain might give you a 1% bump, but they’re not usually worth the premium prices.
In other words: if you’re an interior designer in Dallas, you don’t need the domain “dallasinteriordesigner-dot-com” to be successful.

What does matter for your domain is that it’s memorable, easy to spell, and generally reflects what you’re trying to do.Google notices a few things about your domain: How long it’s been active, how many links it has (both internal and external), whether it’s secure, etc.

Where should you purchase your domain?

The easiest solution is often to buy your domain from the same place that your website will live. If you’re building on Squarespace → buy it on Squarespace. If you’re hosting your WordPress website on Flywheel, just buy your domain at the same time.

Or you could buy your domain from a domain-specific website; some people like Namecheap or GoDaddy; Personally, our company buys all of ours through Google Domains (because we’re often testing out new platforms and find it easier to have the domains centralized and then pointing to different places rather than having different point of sale).

Either way, the place you buy your domain shouldn’t impact your ability to use it wherever you want — you can always move domains to new locations. So, if you buy it for a WordPress website then decide to move to Kajabi, you don’t have to lose that domain, you can just migrate it.

3. Decide if you want to hire a designer or DIY your website

Next: You need to decide if you should DIY your website or hire a designer.

Some people would put this decision step first, but we intentionally put it here because we want to neutrally explain how the different software works … before somebody tries to convince you that their solution is best.
For example, WordPress designers might try to push you to their solution, but after reading the guide above, you might crave the functionality of Shopify. If that’s the case, go seek out a Shopify designer instead of resigning yourself to a platform just because you like a person.
(Can’t tell you how often we hear, “My designer works on {platform} so I agreed to use it and I hate it.” We suggest you choose the platform first, then find the specialist!)

The real decision here is about your time, interest, and budget.

  • If you want to learn to DIY your website design, you absolutely can! But there will be a learning curve as you figure out all the design best practices.
  • If you never want to learn to build a website, that’s what web designers & developers are for! Go hire someone awesome to turn your vision into digital reality.
  • If you’re not sure, keep following along on this guide to see what’s included in getting your site published. If it sounds tough but exciting, you can get your simple site published, and then you can hire somebody to re-design your website in the future. (Here are some things to consider for your SEO during a redesign.) And it makes you break out in a sweat, consider outsourcing.

Here are a few of our colleague’s website design packages to get your website up & running quickly, or resources to DIY your website.

Are you a designer interested in incorporating SEO into your client projects? And maybe getting featured in our resources lists? Check out our SEO Design Partnerships.

4. Figure out which basic pages you need

At the very least: You need a way to introduce yourself, share your offer(s), and a way for people to contact you.

If you need to get something up quickly, or you’re not exactly sure what you want to offer but you want to start establishing yourself online, you can create a simple one-page website. Usually these are long-form pages that explain your offers and include a simple way to contact you to find out more.

This is a short-term solution, because it’s really limiting for Google … but sometimes it’s important to get something live to establish your business & give people a way to contact you while you figure the rest out!

When you’re ready to build out more, your website organization matters so that your visitors can navigate easily & Google’s robots understand how all the pages fit together. Make sure to set up your website menu to improve ease of navigation too!

Your website should include at least 4 sections: homepage (here are our tips to improve the SEO on your homepage), about page, services or shop page, and contact page. Then you can add other sections, like a portfolio, blog, product categories, etc.

Do keyword research for your key pages

As you’re planning out the basic structure of your website, do some simple keyword research for your main pages and map 1-2 keywords to each page. These can be pretty high level ideas; if you’re a copywriter, you might have the following keyword phrases assigned to the SEO title tags of your key pages:

  • Homepage: Copywriting services for small businesses
  • About: [your name], copywriter | Pensacola, Florida
  • Services: Professional copywriting services for entrepreneurs

Yes, it seems repetitive. That’s ok. We’ll talk about what to do with these keywords in Step 9, but for right now just start thinking about what you’d want people to search for if they need that specific page.

5. Plan out your customer journey

As a business owner, you don’t want traffic, you want leads. You don’t need people to visit your website without engaging in any way … you want them to take the next step, to turn from cold visitors into qualified leads.

What are possible “next steps” for your customers?

  1. buying a product
  2. filling out a contact form
  3. joining your email list
  4. subscribing to your podcast
  5. following you on social media

(And we’d put the level of priority in that order!)

How do you know what the right next step is for your clients?

Think about how you want a potential client to interact with your site. Where do you want them to go and what do you want them to do from each page? Here are some ideas:

If you want people to book your services, the “next step” would be to fill out your contact form or book a consultation call with you.
If you’re ecommerce, the “next step” would be to visit popular products in your shop.
If you’re doing email marketing, plan to have an engaging lead magnet to encourage people to join your email list (Want an example? Check out our free SEO Starter Kit!)

Plan what comes next (probably email)

Once somebody fills out your contact form or joins your email list … then what?
When you’re first starting and leads are trickling in, you can probably reply to every email, but you need a plan for when you start getting lots of sign-ups, sales or inquiries. Because that’s the goal, right?
For now just think about what comes next, we’ll work this into your design in the next stage!

Stage 2: Build Your Basic Website

Web design can be overwhelming: figuring out what to say, where to say it, how to lay it out, and how to make it work for your business. That analysis can cause paralysis.

This stage is focused on getting your new functional website published with minimal friction, so it can start establishing your credibility, attracting clients and making sales as soon as possible.

Write your website copy

Overcoming writer’s block and integrating SEO from the jump.

design your visual brand

We finally get to the fun stuff, like colors & fonts!

build your site foundation

Choose your templates and install any relevant plugins,

Add Local SEO

If you’re running a local business, get your website popping up on Google Maps and local results!

Connect your marketing hub

Make your website the central location for all your digital marketing. 

Build your starter website!

Get that first version published in a matter of weeks, not months.

1. Write your website copy

Alright, you know where you’re going to build the site and how to organize it … now what’s it gonna SAY?

There are two super-important questions to keep in mind when you’re writing your website copy:

Be clear & obvious who you’re talking to

From the moment your ideal customer arrives, we want them to immediately know they are in the right place. How will they know?
Well, ideally, the words you choose (especially the words in your headlines) will tell them.
Now, I’m not saying you should write “This is for women ages 35-55 who are feeling unsatisfied with their lives and are looking for life coaching…” That’s a bit on the nose.

Instead, you should choose words and phrases that they might say or use when they’re describing themselves or their problem.

Pro tip: Create a document somewhere where you can copy and paste actual phrases your clients and customers (or leads) use to talk about themselves and their problems. Then use those words in your copy. You’ll get people saying, “It’s like you read my mind!”
If you haven’t had many clients yet, check out places like Facebook groups where people might be talking about their problem, or Amazon reviews for books in your niche.

Make sure you have at least one clear action on every page

When you ask your your visitor to take the next step, this is is called a Call to Action (CTA). You can (and should!) include at least 1 call to action on every page.

Remember: people come to your website looking for the next thing to do. For example, include a box to opt-in to your email list on your about page, because if people are looking for more information about you, there’s a good chance they want to get your freebie or emails.

Here are 3 ways you can work your CTAs into your copywriting & design:

  1. If you’re an ecommerce business, include links to your best-selling categories or top products on your homepage so people can easily find their new favorites
  2. If you’re offering 1:1 services, have an intake form to help you qualify leads
  3. If you’re doing email marketing, have an engaging lead magnet/opt-in to encourage people to join your email list (want an example? Check out my free SEO Starter Kit)

It’s a good rule of thumb to have at least one call to action on every page, and for long pages, include a call to action every few “scrolls.” (Think about whether most of your audience will be viewing your page on a computer or a phone — because that changes how much content they can see in one “scroll.”)

Most people vastly underestimate the number of calls to action — that is, email opt-ins, buttons, links, “book a call” boxes etc. — they should have, so add more than you think! Statistically, the more calls to action you have, the more people will take advantage of them.

Calls to action aren’t limited to the products and services that you’ve created, either! Here’s an example of a call to action box for an affiliate product you might like:

If you need help getting started with what to write, grab these amazing website copy templates for only $47 from our friends over at North Star Messaging. These Google Doc templates include:

  • Home pages
  • About pages
  • Service pages
  • Media/press kit pages
  • Contact pages
  • Blog/podcast pages

(And don’t miss the bonus content for access to our SEO Your First Blog post training — a $17 value!)

Now that we’ve gone through the basic prep, we’re ready to dive into building the website. But first, did you notice the earlier invitation several scrolls above to download this guide? Or is the box below the first time you’ve noticed our recommendations for your next step?

The chances that you’re just registering it now are pretty high. That is why you want to make sure you use multiple callout boxes on your pages.

(And of course, because we’re data nerds, we track the success of every one of those links using tools like ConvertBox and HotJar to figure out which ones people are actually clicking on … but you don’t need to worry about that yet! Just know that it’s trackable when you’re ready.)

2. Design your visual brand

Colors & fonts & logos, oh my!
This might be what you thought of when you started planning your dreamy website. Maybe you already have a Pinterest board of ideas. But let’s get the basics in place, you can always improve it later.

There are a lot of brand designers out there who can help you with a cohesive brand design & gorgeous visual identity. But if you’re just getting started and don’t have a big budget to invest yet, don’t let this slow down your progress. Right now, we’re focused on form not beauty.

Determine your visual brand elements

Time to search Pinterest for color palettes and font combinations. Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for, get an account on Canva to design a wordmark logo (your brand name in your brand colors + fonts). You can upgrade this later, when you have a better idea of what your ideal client is looking for.

Related: Branding resources from our design partners

Include great images in your website

You can get started with a selfie, but it would also be good to have some business photographs taken so that you have a high-quality image that shows both your professionalism & personality.
(If you’re in Rochester, NY: here’s where I’ve been getting all my personal branding photos for years.)

And when it’s time to upload your images, follow these 5 rules to optimize your images for SEO so that they load quickly and help you show up in search results!

3. Set up your site

I know, you probably thought this would come a lot earlier. Like, “Step 1: Start a business, Step 2: Build a website, Step 3: Profit.”

But now we’re finally building the website (and ignoring what you don’t need yet).

The fastest way to get your website done quickly without falling into massive paralysis is to use the templates that come with your theme and/or page builder software.

Choose your theme or template

The first step is to choose your website theme (as they’re called on WordPress) or template (as they’re called on Squarespace & Shopify). This is the basic structure for the layout and design of your website, which you can then customize to change your font, colors, and design elements.

Each of the software choices has hundreds of free templates, and they typically have demo sites you can review to test out your options. You can also use a site like Theme Forest or Creative Market to find a theme that fits your style. We also really like the feminine options on The Design Space.​

Decide if you want to use a page builder

For WordPress websites, you can choose to use a page builder to simplify your design changes without needing to learn to code. Page builders allow you to “drag and drop” elements onto the page, so you can structure & design your website however you want, without being locked into a specific template in a predetermined order. Popular page builders include: Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, and WPBakery.

Warning: Sometimes these “page builders” can add extra code to your website and slow them down … so if you use one, make sure to check your page load speed!

4. Include local SEO

If you’re running a local business — whether that’s a brick-and-mortar location where your clients can walk in, or a local service business where you meet your clients at their locations (like a photographer) — making sure Google knows where you are is essential!

And heck, even if you’re entirely online, you might be surprised how much people in your community are still excited to connect with you — and be more likely to work with you! — so it can’t hurt to add this to your site too! 

Here are some quick tips:

  • Google Business Profile: Set up a free Google business profile so Google knows exactly where your business and service area are
  • Homepage: Your homepage should very clearly state where you’re located — the title tag, heading and meta description should include that info.
  • Contact page: Include your address or service area, and embed the Google map from your Google business profile. Have more than one location? Consider making a different page for each location, and make sure you include the details about each location in the SEO title and headline.
  • Add universal code: Paste Local Business Schema markup to make sure all the search engines have access to all your relevant details (bonus: if you add your social media or any review sites as a “sameAs” listing, Google can include your reviews from those site on your Business Profile)
  • Footer: Add your NAP listing — Name, Address, and Phone Number — exactly as it’s listed on your Google Business Profile.

Related: Here’s our quick intro to local SEO & Backlinko’s full guide to local SEO, or check out Module 5 of our SEO for Beginners self-paced course👇🏼

5. Synthesize your marketing hub

Your website isn’t just a PART of your business’ digital marketing strategy, it’s the HUB: the centralized, unified location that connects all your marketing strategies: search, social, email & analytics.

Set up your website performance tracking

We encourage all websites to have some kind of performance tracking, so that you know where people are finding your website and how visitors are behaving when they arrive.
The best free option is to install Google Analytics & Google Search Console.

If you’re concerned about privacy, two amazing tracking alternatives that don’t record as much data about your visitors are Fathom Analytics & Plausible Analytics.

We’ll include some resources in Step 12 about what to do with this data, but for right now as you’re setting up your website, it’s important just to start collecting it.

Integrate your SEO keywords while you build your website

It’s easier to build it right the first time than to go back and fix it later, so as you’re building out your pages, take the keywords that you found during your page planning and include your keywords in these places on every page: your SEO title, meta description, headline, sub-headings, every ~300 words, and in image details.

Link up your social media accounts

Even though we run a podcast about making your marketing less dependent on social media, the fact is: Social media isn’t going anywhere. Sometimes when your audience isn’t quite ready to buy, they can follow you on their favorite social channel and you can stay top-of-mind for when they are ready to purchase. Two great places to include social icons are  your website footer & secondary menu.

That’s why even though we rarely make sales on social media, we still post regularly on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn. Yes, please connect with us!

Pro tip: We use Sendible to distribute our content to all these channels easily.

Make sure everyone can browse your website easily

To make sure it’s easy for everyone in your audience to easily navigate your website, run your website through the free WAVE Website Accessibility Evaluation Tool.

And check out our post about how accessibility and SEO can work together!

Add your email marketing integrations

Link an email service provider to your website that can automatically deliver a confirmation email to your new buyers, contacts and email subscribers.

For a fairly simple email marketing system (ie just delivering a PDF or sending one automated reply), you could use a software like MailerLite or FloDesk.

If you’re planning to have email as a central part of your marketing strategy, you probably want a software that has more functionality & automation options. We’ve used both ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit: we’ve found ConvertKit to be slightly more affordable & user-friendly, but it doesn’t have nearly as much customization & reporting capabilities as ActiveCampaign.

Once you choose your software, connect it to your website. This usually involves copying the API code from your email service provider & copying it into your website (either a plugin or under “integrations”), but your exact process may vary based on your website & email software choices.

Now time to add your email marketing into your website design!

Remember from our Copywriting section that you want to include a call to action on every page of your website. Choose your primary call to action (buy my thing, schedule a call, etc.) and include a button or link to do that on every page.

Also include a secondary call to action to join your email list — great places to include an email subscription box is in your footer, at the end of every post, on the sidebar of your blog, etc.

6. Launch your website & celebrate! 🎉🎉

You did it! Take a moment to celebrate!

Phew, that was a lot of freaking work to get the simple website up and running. You deserve a pat on the back! (And maybe bar of chocolate, a massage, or a glass of cabernet … or all 3, if you’re like us. Treat yo’ self!)

How to manage perfectionism & comparisonitis

You might be looking around the internet, seeing other websites and feeling like yours isn’t “enough.” Guess what? All those beautiful sites started at zero traffic, and many of their first iterations were ugly AF. We promise.

Your website doesn’t need to be perfect to go live; it’s more important to get it up and running, then you can adjust it later and you learn more. Your business could absolutely be wildly successful without even having a website, but for your credibility & peace of mind, it’s important to have a digital presence online.

Share your victory (and put it to work)

Share the link widely with your friends and family, and celebrate your accomplishment! For almost all of us, our first clients come directly from our personal networks, and that’s a wonderful thing … so tell your people what you’re doing, post it on all your profiles, and ask your people to share it with their friends.

So, once you’ve launched? Take a breather, release the stress of the website launch, and tap into your network to get your first clients.

Don’t expect to get clients from “The Internet” right away (whether that’s your website, social media, email marketing, etc.) … instead lean into your network to land those first few sales, hone your craft, and figure out what you love doing best (and just as importantly, what you don’t like) before you shift into full blown Digital Marketing Mode in Stage 3.

Stage 3: Expand & optimize

Your website is live, and it’s beautiful … but it might not be bringing you clients yet. That’s ok! Time to leverage what you’ve created to make it even more desirable to Google and prospects.

optimize every asset

Maximize your time by ensuring everything you create is search-friendly.

Consider content

Once your site is established, you can add a blog, podcast or YouTube channel to expand your reach.

make more money

Make sure your website is actually bringing in the right traffic … you know, the kind that boosts your revenue!

grow authority

Your website doesn’t exist in a vacuum, time to leverage the internet.

lather, rinse, repeat

Consider these website tasks like your car’s oil changes, to keep it running smoothly.

1. Optimize every asset

Every single marketing asset on your website can be optimized for something different in search results. It’s not just blog posts (although SEO advice often leaps to that first!) … if you’re uploading or writing something, it can be searchable:


Check out our 5-step blueprint to a Google-friendly homepage:

about page

What are you going to tell Google and your ideal clients about your brand experience?

product pages

Ecommerce websites can optimize each product listing for different searches:

project portfolios

Designers,artists & writers, listen up: Your previous work can help you get more clients.

services & sales pages

When people are ready to buy or join your program, help them find what you offer!

categories & tags

Organizing your existing products & content means your people & Google can find exactly what they need:

photos & graphics

All your visual media can be found in Google Images & visual search engines like Pinterest:

existing content

If you’ve been blogging but it hasn’t been getting traction, spend some time updating before you create more:

3. Consider content marketing

You may notice that we didn’t include blogging advice at first, and feel startled because you’ve been told ‘YOU NEED TO BLOG to have a successful website!’

That’s true for traditional bloggers and media sites, who are monetizing by placing display ads (like Google Adsense, Ezoic, Media Vine, etc) on their websites.

But for most business owners, we call bullshit on that advice. The most important thing for you is to make sure your messaging is clear and your website helps guide people towards a sale.

Once the key pages of your site are fully optimized, you may realize that you have more to say on a specific topic, or you want to educate your clients on things they’re curious about. 

You can create this content in any or all of these three formats:

blog: written content

Get those search-friendly words into posts so Google can send traffic directly to your website.

podcast: audio content

Have long-form interviews or share your opinion and expertise in content your audience can easily bingewhile driving or washing dishes.

youtube: video content

Video content can be found on YouTube (the second biggest search engine) and Google’s video search results.

If you’re not sure what to say in your content — especially if you’ve blogged before and haven’t seen results — you might worry that you’ll waste time on creating blogs, podcasts or videos that don’t bring new leads.

The secret to maximizing your content production time is to use keyword research to figure out what to write first, before you record a single thought.

Create an intentional, strategic content marketing strategy

Here are some blogging & content strategy resources to help you figure out what to content to:

Once you have your plan, you can create content marketing habits & systems to make your process run efficiently:

Then once you’ve started creating content (whether that’s a written blog, podcast or video), part of your content strategy should include linking between your posts and organizing your content with categories & tags. (But you don’t have to worry about that until you’re at least 20-30 blog posts in, so don’t let the organization piece get in the way of getting started.)

3. Measure & monetize

A beautiful website that shows up in search results is cool.

A website that brings you new leads and makes sales while you sleep? That’s the dream. 

Once your website has been live for a few months, take some time to look at the Analytics & Search Console data that you installed ages ago, and evaluate whether your marketing is actually working.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Where is my traffic coming from?

If it’s from search, check Google Search Console to see the exact keywords they’re typing

How are visitors behaving?

Figure out the first page they’re seeing (the Landing Page) and compare how different pages perform against each other — grab my free Marketing Measurement training to see this in action

Who’s actually signing up & buying?

You might get a ton of traffic without only 1-2% of people buying, or have a small audience with a 10-15% purchase rate. Don’t just look at traffic; also pay attention to sales data.

Bonus: Don’t rule out affiliate commissions as an income source!

Promoting other people’s products & services and getting a small commission for that recommendation can be a great way to make some extra income. Love At First Search makes about $10,000/year in affiliate commissions, mostly from software companies (like Thrivecart, SEMRush, Circle, ConvertBox, GreenGeeks, Sendible and DeadlineFunnel … software we use anyway, but make a one-time fee when people sign up using our link). We also promote specific marketing events throughout the year, and love to sell our business friends’ products and services (like those templates in the copywriting section).

4. grow your authority

Your website doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s a tiny part of the entire internet. Google scans every website, then has to figure out how much domain authority they have. One of the key factors it reviews is the number of backlinks coming into your site.

A backlink is any time other websites have linked to yours. Backlinks are a key indicator for Google to determine how important your website is; the more high-quality backlinks you have, the more Google trusts your authority & expertise.

Here are some suggestion to get high-quality backlinks to your website:

  • Get featured in the press: Reach out to local media in your community. Find industry publications & pitch your story. Or use a service like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to find journalists looking for your expertise.
  • Local citations: If you’re a local business, get your NAP (business name, address & phone number) listed in local directories. Listings in places like (yes, it still exists) and local chamber of commerce directory are really important in Google Maps. Use a tool like BrightLocal to find great opportunities for about $3/citation.
  • Industry directories: One of the best ways to prove your expertise to Google is to show up in industry specialist listings. If you’re in mental health, your Psychology Today backlink is really powerful. If you’re in home design, make sure to link to your website from your Houzz profile.
  • Guest posting: You’re creating content that someone else is publishing on your behalf and sharing with their audience in order to expand your reach and your profile.
  • Guest podcasting: Being a guest expert on other people’s podcasts can be fun (we promise!). Think about it. You show up for an hour and you get content for your website and social media, increased reach to a new audience, and backlinks coming into your site.

Need more support? We talk a lot about getting new backlinks & making the most of your media coverage in our Attract & Activate group coaching program.

5. lather, rinse, repeat

Time to schedule your routine maintenance, like a car going in for an oil change & annual inspection.

(Good news: No registration fees required.)

I’ve got good news and bad news: Your website is never done.

It isn’t a piece of art to hang on the wall and admire from afar.

It’s more like a garden: It requires planning, tilling, watering, and weeding. If you take care of it, it will give you a bountiful harvest.
No matter what website platform you choose, there will always be routine maintenance & updates required; here are some tasks to think about once or twice a year (we follow these 6 steps for website spring cleaning).

Make sure your website is in tip-top shape:

Recap! Here are all those steps again:

Feel free to review any steps where you still have questions or just want to dive in a bit more. Good luck tackling your website! And, if you need — or would like! — some help, below are some options that might be useful. 

website software

buy domain

diy or hire

basic pages

map journey

Write copy

design brand

Build site

Add Local SEO

connect marketing

launch & celebrate!

optimize every asset

Consider content

measure & monetize

expand authority

maintain & improve

Need some SEO support? We got you covered.

This guide is a great start, but if you need additional training or customized support, here are some ways that Love At First Search can make SEO as simple and painless as possible to help Google send you consistent, free leads on autopilot!