So you have decided it's time for a new website. You have decided what the main purpose of your website will be; now it's time to create a website outline.
Do you remember writing those expository essays back in school? The teacher usually made you turn in an outline first, and then a week or so later, the entire essay was due? I always thought it was an easy assignment because you already had the main points laid out and all you had to do was fill it in with some meat and you were done.
Well, a website outline serves the same purposes; it makes the rest of your job oh-so-much easier!
What you need to begin
To create a website outline, you are first going to need a list of good keywords to use on your website. A keyword is a word or phrase that you think future customers will type into a search engine in order to find your website. If you do not have a list of keywords yet, you can brainstorm some on your own, but its always a good idea to do a bit of research and see what people are really using at the search engines.
You can research your own keywords manually using the free keywords tool from WordTracker or you can hire someone to do it for you.
Organizing your keywords
In my opinion, the easiest way to organize your keywords is using a combination of a large whiteboard and a computer.
Use the whiteboard first to mind map what I think is a logical order for this site. What buttons and links would you expect to find on the HOME page? A link to the description of your services? A map to your location with your phone number? A promotions page where you broadcast sales? A testimonials page? A link to an onine store?
Then take the second tier pages and decide what links and information should be on those. For example, your services page might have a brief list of all the services you provide, with links to a page that give more information (maybe pricing and ordering information) on that page.
Using Word to organize the keywords
Once that is starting to look like it's got a logical order to it, duplicate the site outline using Word or Excel, just like an essay outline by indenting the tiers.
For instance, in this example, the main site keyword goes all the way to the left and at the top. Each tier 2 keyword (the ones that are links on the HOME page) are indented one tab to the right. The tier 3 keywords are underneath the appropriate tier 2 keyword, indented one more tab.
Make sure there is sufficient information in the outline that you will be able to pick up your train of thought later regarding what goes on what page.
Using your site website outline
The brilliance of setting it up this way is that the document or spreadsheet can be saved and reviewed later, as well as added to and used as a reference. Think of it as a digital blueprint for your website.
Every time I start on a new page on my webite, I check my outline. It will show me at a glance what outgoing links should be on this page and what the best keywords are to use so I do not have to do that work again.
And when I get ready to add another page, it's easy to pick the best ranking keywords because they are all right there!
Filling in the meat – the easy part
The more detail you have put into your outline, the easier this will be. Now that you have the main points and an idea of the pages you will need, it is easy to go in and add a bit of meat onto each page. The meat could be personal stories related to the topic (even business owners should do this as it really does wonders to build trust with someone you have never met before), statistics, tips your readers will find useful or just a brief introduction on the topic .
I often find that once I have the outline done, filling it in is as simple as having a conversation with one of my customers. The necessary information just comes to mind and through my fingers easily. And all because you were smart enough to create a website outline.