The very first thing you should do for a website is to have a specific 'niche'. You shouldn't build a website selling unrelated products (such as Dog Kennels and Lingerie) on the same site, since search engines see these things as VERY irrelevant to each other-- and will hurt your rankings.
When you have a niche, you need to make sure that when you sell it - you do so in a UNIQUE way. If you have a site 'for the sake of having a site' then not many people are going to get to it - if any at all. Even if you inundate your website with thousands in PPC advertising, what is GETTING them to buy? What is ENGAGING them? What is getting them to STAY on your site? In essence, you need to have a product, but sell it in a 'unique' way. Why will someone buy from you and NO ONE ELSE?
Now, we'll go over the meta tags:
Meta title: Make sure EACH PAGE of your website has UNIQUE meta title. The meta title should be keyword rich, and make it into a call-to-action. This is so when it shows up in the search engine results, people will be more apt to click on it since you're 'telling people what to do'. Plus, The meta title communicates to Google what the rest of the page SHOULD be about - and it will look at the rest of the tags and content to see if that is still true - so make this optimized.
Meta descriptions - Just like the meta title, you need to have a UNIQUE meta description PER page. Make it keyword rich, AND a call-to-action WITH an incentive. (The same keyword optimization as the meta title)
Meta keywords - Google ignores them, but it doesn't punish them. Other search engines use them. Put them in.
Now - let's talk about the 'above the fold'
'Above the fold' refers to what is 'before you scroll down' on a website. This is VERY valuable real estate, and you need to make sure you're utilizing it well.
Within this space you need the following:
Your brand: Make sure it is clear, memorable, and catchy. This is usually done within a logo.
Contact information: This brings legitimacy to who you are and what you do. This can be in a live chat plugin, and/or your actual contact information.
Product visibility and/or emotional image: This helps PARTIALLY in the engagement of your audience. They need to be convinced to stay where they are BEFORE they click on a thing.
With the rest of your site, you need to make sure you have CONTENT. This content needs to be clear, good, original, NATIVE-WRITTEN content. Additionally, it needs to be optimized for the keywords you told Google (in your meta) it is relevant for. Not too much, about 1-2% is all. Otherwise it seems too forced, and 'unnatural'.
One other thing to consider when you're 'mapping' out a website is to remember the '3-click rule'. A potential buyer needs to be able to BUY something within 3 clicks from ANYWHERE on your site.
If they are clicking aimlessly going through category after subcategory, you're website is too complicated. A WIDE site is way better than a DEEP website.
But above all, the best website are websites that have a GREAT product sold a GREAT way.
Any issues as to if you are selling your item a 'great way' are simply answered by the behavior of your traffic.
If you are sending traffic to your site, but not watching their behavior and making adjustments because of it - then you're not getting one of the most important aspects of website construction.
The first time you complete a website is just the 1.0 version. Traffic tells you what adjustments you need to make to show you how to make it a GREAT website.
I hope this helps!
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