I have started numerous websites / weblogs and learned many things. I have learned what to do before your purchase a domain name and what to do immediately after you purchase a domain name. This article is a procedural to do list for the latter, a guide that will hopefully lead you down the right path, shorten the time it takes you to get a site online, and help you avoid bad decisions.
Aubrey Plaza Rachel Bilson The To Do List
Many of the below items were touched upon in these “start” articles:
Assigning Nameservers to your Domain Name
After you have purchased a domain name and signed up for a hosting company (in this example Hostgator), sign in to your domain name retailer where you purchased the domain name (in this example GoDaddy), and navigate to your customer dashboard.
Find the domain name you just purchased in the dashboard. Click on it. Go to “Name Servers”. Click the option that says you have namerservers or a hosting company and would like to enter the nameservers’ information. Enter your two nameservers into each supplied slot (there should be two nameserver slots to enter information into). Click “OK” or click “Enter” on your keyboard when you are done. It will take 24-48 hours for the nameservers to point to your URL and website.
You obtain the two nameserver addresses from your web hosting company.
For WordPress Users
After you have done that…
1. Addon Domains
If you are using cPanel, log in and go down to ‘Domains’ and click ‘Addon Domains’. In ‘Addon Domains’, enter in the name of your website like this: example.com into ‘New Domain Name’. The other fields underneath it will auto-populate. After they have, enter in a password. When that is done click ‘Add Domain’.
2. Quick Install
After you are done with ‘Addon Domains’, click ‘Quick install’. On the list that displays, choose the name you just created under ‘Addon Domains’. Next click “Install”. WordPress will now be installed under the domain you just created. Quick Install will then ask you to select a user name and password. I would suggest choosing a user name that you want to be identified by (user names can not be changed).
Plugins, Add-ons, Widgets
Once your site is online, you will want to install the Disqus Commenting System, an SEO plugin, a caching plugin, a Site Map plugin, and a Robot Meta plugin. Many of these plugins come standard or are a part of Blogger. They are not with WordPress. Here is list of the best WordPress Plugins for a Start-up, including the ones I just mentioned.
Before You Publish Your First Article
Before publishing a single article, set up: a.) your website’s permalink structure and b.) your website’s social networks.
If you wish admittance into Google News, set your permalink structure up in the format that Google News is looking for (or create an extremely large and comprehensive news website with multiple writers so that this is not necessary, one where Google would be foolish not to accept you).
They want your URLs to contain at least three numbers that are unique to that article and that article only. For a WordPress CMS website, I would go with this permalink structure: http://webiste.com/%postname%/%post_id%. The Hollywood Reporter does. Deadline uses the year, month format. For WordPress, you will find the permalink settings screen under “Settings”, then “Permalink”.
If Google News is of no concern to you, I would recommend this format: http://webiste.com/%postname%/, consult a web designer, or leave the permalink as is.
If and when you do want inclusion into Google News, starting off with the three number or more permalink structure will help you with admission, if you have all the other requirements in place (those requirements can be found here: How to Become a Google News Publisher). It will help you to avoid the headache of changing your permalink structure later and having to deal with redirects for all the URLs on your website that have now changed.
Social Networks, RSS, Email Newsletter
Before publishing an article (hopefully you read this article: How to Avoid a Social Networking Error When Purchasing a Domain Name), sign up for a Twitter account, Facebook ‘Like’ page account, Tumblr account, and burn your main RSS feed into Google Feedburner. You should do this because when you publish your first article, it will be automatically published on all of these social networks (if you have set them up to do so):
For Feedburner, go to their website and sign up. If you already have a Google account, you are already signed in. If not, you will be prompted to do so. Once you are logged in, there will be a clickable button that says “Claim your feeds now >>” and a slot that reads “Burn a feed right this instant. Type your blog or feed address here:” Choose whichever options suits you best. I usually go with pasting in my feed address into the provided slot (what is great about Feedburner is that it lets you burn category addresses as well as RSS feeds). On the “Identify Feed Source” screen, choose the feed source. If you entered in a RSS feed, choose that. If you entered in a site category, choose that. On the “Welcome! Let us burn a feed for you.” screen, title the feed you wish to burn. This title will be visible in your dashboard and at the top of your feed when anyone views the feed’s address. On this page you can also choose how the feed’s address will be configured. Click “Next” when you are done and you will be taken to the “Congrats! Your FeedBurner feed is now live. Want to dress it up a little?” screen. On the next screen entitled “Get More Gusto From Your Feed Traffic Statistics.”, I check the boxes for “” and “I want more! Have FeedBurner Stats also track:”. Click “Next” and your feed has been created.
Next, click on the feed. Once the next screen comes up click the “Email Subscriptions” tab. On the “Email Subscriptions” page, click “Activate”. Now you website has its very own email newsletter (follow the on-screen instructions for implementation).
For Twitter, after you sign up for a Feedburner account and are signed into the Twitter account you are going to use for your website, go to ‘Socialize’ in Feedburner. Find and click “Add a Twitter Account”. On the Twitter account list that appears, select your website’s Twitter name (that is why you should be signed into your site’s Twitter account). Select the other Twitter options you would like from the remainder of the screen and then click ‘Activate.’ Now when you publish an article on your website, it will be published on Twitter as well.
For Facebook, follow the procedure laid out here: How to Create A Facebook Like Page That Publishes Your Site’s Articles except when you get to the RSS Graffiti part, substitute in Dlvr.it instead. RSS Graffiti caps you at 300 articles per month (for their free service) unless you pay (though their output is less glitchy than Dlvr.it‘s).
For Tumblr, follow the procedure laid out here: How to Create A Tumblr Blog That Publishes Your Site’s Articles.
With all of these feed and social networks in place, when you publish an article, it will show up in all four and not just on your website.
Set up easy to manipulate navigation for your website and a easy-to-find search engine box at the top of the website.
Content Delivery Network
Traffic spikes will happen if you publish popular content that people want to read or look at. If you are starting out, you are most-likely not on a dedicated server. Because of that, you will want to use a content delivery network (CDN) if you are using a WordPress or custom HTML website. If you are using a Blogger or Tumblr website, a CDN is not necessary.
What is a CDN:
A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance.
…Besides better performance and availability, CDNs also offload the traffic served directly from the content provider’s origin infrastructure, resulting in cost savings for the content provider. In addition, CDNs provide the content provider a degree of protection from DoS attacks by using their large distributed server infrastructure to absorb the attack traffic.
With a CDN, your website will load faster and when a traffic spike hits, the relevant information will be distributed from a server close to the person that made the request, not just the web host you signed up for.
There are a number of free and pay CDN services out there. I use Cloudflare. Its free and effective. Another webmaster I know swears by Incapsula for his CDN. A few others are mentioned on our How to Start Movie Website Resources page. The choice is up to you.
Start tracking your website traffic the instant it goes online. Tracking your website traffic is important. The gold standard for that is Google Analytics. When you quote your website traffic to a potential advertiser, they will indelibly ask where you got your numbers from. The top source they will accept is Google Analytics. Mentioned on our How to Start Movie Website Resources page and in this article: New Google Analytics Dashboards: Advanced Segments, Custom Reports, Google Analytics shows you where your traffic is coming from, what keywords are bringing people to your site, and what is popular on your website.
Signing up for a Google Analytics account is free. If you already have a Google account, you can log-in to Google Analytics with it by clicking “Create an Account” and then”Sign Up.” On the “Create an Account” screen, you will have to make selections and fill in information for these three sections: “What would you like to track?”, “Setting up your web property”, and “Setting up your account”.
Once that is completed, click “Get Tracking ID”. Once you are given a tracking code, add the code to the footer and/or single post php file of your website.
Google Analytics traffic tracking can be added to Tumblr blogs. Those instructions can be found here. Blogger websites come with one of the best traffic tracking systems pre-installed but if that is not enough, you can add Google Analytics traffic tracking to them. Those instructions can be found here.
Universal Commenting System
As mentioned above, install the Disqus Commenting System onto your website. Its free and enables quick logging in (via social media accounts or Disqus) and commenting on your website.
Search Engine Submission
Submit site/blog to Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines. Submit your site to Baidu and other international search engines as well.
To add your site to Google Blog Search, go here. Type in the URL and click “Submit Blog”.
To add your site to Bing, go here. Type in the URL and click “Submit”. Supposedly as of 2012, Yahoo site explorer has merged into Bing Webmaster Tools. Submitting your blog to Bing will now cover Bing and Yahoo.
To add your site to Baidu, go here. Type in the URL and click the appropriate button. (Use Google Chrome, it will translate the page for you.)
Google Webmaster Tools
Be warned of any search engine incidents, site errors, or crawler errors instantly with Google Webmaster Tools. If you have a Google account, just log-in. If you do not, you will be prompted to create one.
Once you have logged in, click “Add Site”, type in the URL for your website, click “Continue”, and download the HTML. Place the HTML into your site, the wp-content file will do or the public HTML folder (if your are using a WordPress or HTML website. Blogger has Webmaster Tools pre-installed. You only need a Google account then just click it in your Blogger dashboard. You will be taken to Webmaster Tools.), and hit the “Verify” button. Once you are verified, you are done. Now Google will look at your site and tell you if their are any problems that need to be fixed from that point on.
Once you are verified, add your sitemap to Webmaster Tools by clicking “Add/Test Sitemap”. The sitemap URL is usually your regular URL plus “sitemap.xml”. This WordPress plugin will help with generating a sitemap: Google XML Sitemaps. On the plugin’s main page, you will find the info you need under “Location of your sitemap file”.
Website Pages and Content
Now that you have taken care of the back-end of your website, take care of the front-end. Create an About Us page, a Contact Us page, and a Advertise page. Though important, the most important thing you should create on the front end of your website is great, original content. That will work wonders.
SEO Checklist for Websites
We have written many articles about search engine optimization (SEO) on this website. The video below touches on many of the points you need to keep in mind after you have purchased your domain name and are just getting started with your website.
I had no to do list when I purchased my first domain name. I had to call my website host, I had to read, read, read other people’s websites and blogs for the information I required. I had to cobble together all the information that I needed and had to learn from trial and error. That for you is now over (in a small or large part depending upon which CMS you use) with this article.
What to do tips do you have for someone that has just purchased a domain name that was not covered in this article? Please share them below.