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Building a Successful Content Based Site

18-Feb-2013

The simplest and most common idea people have for a new website is a blog, or content based website, featuring regularly updated articles about a particular topic of interest, very much like this website. 

The good news is that it’s very easy to build a content-based website. But doing it well enough to become successful takes planning and commitment. Some might even say that it takes a lot of hard work, but if you’re creating content about a topic that you find interesting, it probably won’t feel like work at all.  

To build a successful content-based website, you need to consider the following elements:

  • Content Creation
  • Technical Infrastructure
  • Graphical Design
  • Audience Building

Content Creation

This may seem like the easiest element, and that’s why people often don’t give it the as much attention as it deserves.  If you start a blog about a topic that interests you, it’s easy to assume that you will have a constant stream of ideas for things to write about, but this is not always the case.

A successful blog needs to be regularly updated with fresh articles, even when your well of inspiration runs dry. This is why it’s a good idea to maintain an ongoing content plan, a list of articles that you plan to publish up to several  months in the future, so that you always have an active pipeline of content for your site.

It’s also a good idea to have more one person working on the content. Not only can they bring additional ideas and inspiration, they can also help proof-read and edit articles to improve content quality. No matter how good a writer you are, it always helps to have an extra pair of eyes to check your work.

Technical Infrastructure

If your website will be updated regularly with fresh content, it would be a bad idea to manually create each new web-page every time you want to add  new article, so you will need to use some software called a Content Management System (CMS). This might sound complicated, but in most cases the best kind of CMS for building a content based website is a simple blog.

The most popular blog platform in the world is Wordpress, which comes in two versions. The hosted version at Wordpress.com provide a free customisable blog which you can use with your own domain name. If you want more control over your blog, you can download the free, open source Wordpress software from Wordpress.org and install it on your own web space or server. To do this you will need to understand a little about how to set up PHP scripts, but you don’t need to do any kind of programming, just enter a few simple details which your web host should be able to provide for you.

Wordpress is heavily customisable and there are thousands of free templates and plugins designed to enhance the functionality of the software. In most cases Wordpress will be the ideal solution, but there are plenty of other Content Management Systems available, and many of them are also free and open source.

Graphical Design

The way your website looks is very important; the overall layout, the colour scheme, logos, navigation. All these elements play a part in how your audience will view your site and how easy they will find it to use, so it’s essential to get them right.

If you use Wordpress as your CMS, you will find thousands of freely available templates to use off-the-shelf, or customise for your needs. Alternatively, there are a lot of professional theme designers who can create a custom Wordpress theme specifically for your requirements – costs can vary from as little as £100 to several thousand pounds. 

You should think carefully about your site’s design, and get the opinions of people with design skills, as it will have a significant impact on the way people perceive the authority and value of your content.

Audience Building

Once you have built a website and start posting great content, you need to find a way to encourage people to visit the site; this won’t simply happen by itself. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Build social media profiles for your site on Twitter, Facebook and other relevant channels. Whenever you publish new content on the site, send an update to your social channel to let your fans/followers know about it.
  • Find sites that cover similar topics to yours and agree partnerships with them. You can simply agree to exchange links to each other’s sites, or you can offer to write guest posts in exchange for links to your site.
  • When you write about products and organisations, let them know about it. Quite often they will link to your article from their own website and will promote it on their Twitter and Facebook pages.
  • Make sure you understand the basics of SEO (http://www.verisigninc.com/en_GB/domain-names/online/promote/seo/index.xhtml) and implement the lessons in your website, as this will really help people to find your site when they are searching for relevant phrases on Google.

Above all, give people a reason to come to your site and to keep coming back – work hard to produce great quality content on a regular basis, and the audience is guaranteed to find you eventually.