How to plan your website and content sitemap

You’ve made the decision to get a website up and running.  Your designer is ready to go and is working on the platform and template and now wants your content to populate the site.

Yikes…

Where do you start?  I’m going to run you through briefly how I plan websites so you have an idea of the process and what needs to be done.    Obviously, this works for me, but isn’t the only way to go about it.

Once, I’ve spent some time researching my keywords, the next step I look at is to plan the actual website navigation or sitemap (this is the bar that is found near the top of your site).

To easily replicate this, I’ll create a table in a Word doc, that looks something like this:

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Home About Us Contact Us Blog      
             
             

 

You’re the one who knows your business best, so aside from the titles above you may also have additional headings like ‘Services’,  ‘Hire Me’, ‘Our Products’ etc.    Remember that each of these titles will in turn have a web page, so you will need to provide content for each one. 

You can also drill down to more detail beneath each heading and have a sub page.  For example, you could have a Title called Our Services and beneath that have several more pages explaining each service.

From a search engine perspective it is recommended to dedicate one page to a specific topic – as we can optimise this page for specific keywords.

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Home About Us Contact Us Blog Our Services FAQ  
  -   The team     -Web Design    
        -Content Writing    
        -Web Hosting    

 

Remember also, that every website should have a couple of extra pages covering off your Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Once I’ve played around with my website navigation and sitemap and am happy with it, the next step is to write content for each of the boxes above.   

You’ll need to include some other fields to optimise your site for search engines.  I find it easier to complete these when I’m writing the content, as it’s too easy to skip when you’ve already loaded the content.  So be disciplined and complete it at the writing stage.

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So I use a template for each page, like this:

Home page

Page Title :          Most search engines use a maximum of 60 chars for the title

Meta Description (max 160 char):            Most search engines use a maximum of 160 chars for the description                     

Meta Keywords (10 or less):      

<Title>

<Content>

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Here is a completed example from one of my sites: 

Title:  Your Guide to online advertising : Tips for designing a web banner

Page Title :          Tips for designing a great looking web banner that works

Meta Description (max 160 char):  
Here are some simple, but crucial points, to remember when getting your web banner designed.  In no time you’ll have a great looking banner that works!

Meta Keywords (10 or less): web banner, design, banners, tips,  flash banner, static banner

<Title> Tips for designing a web banner

<Content>

As online advertising matures, it gets more and more intricate in the ways it tries to catch a user’s attention.  Sure, you can add sound, flashing, blinking and make your web banner expand whilst it runs through three minutes of high tech animation.

But just because you can add all the bells and whistles to your web banner – it doesn’t mean you SHOULD.   Sometimes annoying and intrusive banners ads will do your brand more harm than good.

Set amongst all the flash banners, it may be that your simple, static banner out-performs its peers. Remember, so sites offer up to three or more ad spaces on one page.  If each ad is blinking, it can get quite distracting for the end user.

Depending on whether the purpose of your banner is for generating clicks or branding,

Here are some simple, but crucial points, to remember when getting your web banner designed:

DO include a call to action

Make sure you place a button link that tells the user what to do.  “Click here” or “Free to download” buttons can improve your click-through. Having a reason to click, such as offering a free trial is effective.

[etc…]

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Normally the blog page will automatically populate itself, so you will only need to provide some keywords and description information.

Your About Us page should include a picture of the business owner and your staff and some information about the company and people. 

The Contact page will generally be a form that your designer will create – but you should still include a physical and postal address, phone numbers and emails.

You can now send this text to your web designer and they can populate the pages in your site.  It pays to invest the time in the planning before the navigation is created, as when you move pages from a top level navigation to a sub-menu navigation it can cause havoc with your URL’s.

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