Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You've Got a Great Idea for a Web Site, but How can you Make It Succeed?

by Charles J. Bonner

Most Web sites and blogs begin with a great idea, but never get off the ground. How do you know whether your great idea can be translated into a great Web site? You must do a little research to make sure you're choosing the right path. This article will show you how begin to develop that great idea into a great, successful Web site.

Your definition of success with your Web site depends on the purpose of your Web site. But whether the purpose is to support an off-line business, to sell your products on-line, to generate passive income from affiliate programs or other advertising, or simply to share your interest in a hobby or profession, your Web site will need appropriate traffic. And in order to draw traffic, you must first think very carefully about what need your Web site addresses. Who will visit your Web site, and why will they choose your Web site out of all the millions of Web sites out there?

You need to define the market or audience you want to address, and you need to assess whether that market is already being addressed.

Assessing the market for your Web site idea is something of a Goldilocks decision:

* Some markets are too small

* Some markets are too big

* Some markets are just right

Obviously, you want that "just right" market, but how do you identify it?

Keyword Research

The main tool is keyword research. Keyword research will tell you two crucial things about the wide world of the Web:

1. What are people looking for?

2. What are people finding?

You need to discover what people are looking for on the Internet that is relevant to your great idea. Sure, you think it's a great idea, but does anybody else? Is there a need for it? Is anybody really looking for whatever it is you intend to offer? Good keyword research can tell you what they're looking for, and what specific terms they are using in their searching.

Once you know what Web surfers are looking for, you need to know what they are finding. The point here is that you need to know how much competition you will be facing.

There are two main things you can do when faced with competition:

1. Out-market the competition.

2. Avoid the competition by choosing a different market (or, preferably, a specialized slice of the market).

Keyword research won't help you much on that first option. Competing in a saturated market will require money, time, and luck. Lots and lots of all three. (Good luck.)

Most of us are richer in great ideas than in greenbacks, so the second option is the only way to go.

Keyword research will help you with this, too. And it will identify both the market and the competition in one operation.

Specialize to Avoid Competition

Let's take a particular example. Suppose you are an expert on tuataras.

(Don't know what a tuatara is? It doesn't matter. It's just an example of a subject somebody might be interested in. I intentionally chose a term with ridiculously low search engine value, so that this article will not "hijack" too much traffic. Apologies to all those seeking information about tuataras. (a) No, I didn't make it up, and (b) if you actually are interested in creating a Web site about tuataras, here's a little free keyword research.)

Preliminary keyword research indicates that there are about 150 searches per month for terms that include the word "tuatara." (That's not good, but let's go with this example.) Further research shows that there are well over 400,000 Web pages out there that have something to do with tuataras. This means that the keyword "tuatara" by itself is not of much value. There is some interest in it on the part of Web surfers, but that interest is being adequately met by nearly half a million Web pages. The "keyword effectiveness index" (KEI *) for the word "tuatara" is an abysmal 0.03 (as of the date of this writing).

(* Side note. "KEI," a numerical value based on popularity and competitiveness of a search term, is the subject of many articles all by itself. Virtually all keyword research tools will report the KEI of each term.)

But what's that on the list? The term "diagram of tuatara" was searched 18 times this month, and there is only one page on the entire Web that matches. This term has a KEI of 169 (as of the date of this writing) which is very good, and by far the highest KEI of any term having to do with tuataras.

So, this can be your specialty. If you can build the greatest Web site in the world relating to diagrams of tuataras, you can compete with that other Web page for all 18 of those users. You can study the competing pages (or page) to make sure that you have the very best tuatara diagram page out there, and that you keep it that way.

I hope you get the idea: Use keyword research to determine whether there really is an interest out there for the Web site you envision, and use it to identify specialized areas of interest that are not overly competitive. And for most areas of interest, you will find more than one search term with a KEI of greater than 100 that you can use to choose your specialty.

When you Must Generalize

But what if you were the poor unfortunate whose passion and expertise really are in a subject like tuataras, for which there is effectively no interest on the Web? You're not going to generate enough revenue to pay your domain hosting fees from 18 visitors per month.

In effect, a situation like this is telling you that your original great idea wasn't so great. But rather than just give up, you can continue your research to find related ideas that might work better.

What you need to do is to generalize a bit. Instead of tuataras, do a little keyword research on "reptiles." (Yes, a tuatara is a reptile.) Here you may find that there is plenty of interest, relevant search terms that are used many thousands of times each month, and you can narrow in again on specialties that are less competitive. Maybe you will find high KEI on search terms related to captive breeding of endangered reptiles, and you can build your Web site around that.

It's not exactly the great idea you started with, but it's close enough to keep your enthusiasm going, and there is a market that you can serve.

Next Steps

Now, take a deep breath, and consider carefully all the powerful things you can do with the results of your keyword research. This will set the direction for how your original great idea for a Web site will become a genuinely successful Web site. This keyword research will give you:

* Ideas for an effective domain name.

* Ideas for effective titles for your Web pages.

* Ideas for effective descriptions of your Web pages.

* Ideas for content of your Web pages, to help you focus your expertise onto the particular specialty you have identified.

* Ideas for articles you can write and publish to help drive traffic to your Web site.

* Keywords you can use in a "Pay Per Click" (PPC) campaign.

Look what happened! Your original great idea has become a whole flock of ideas, just waiting for you to act on them.

All of those things are the subjects of other articles.

The important thing to remember from this article is this: Before you act on your great idea for a Web site, do some research to determine whether other people will think it's a great idea, and refine your idea into something that you can turn into a successful Web site.

About the Author

Charles J. Bonner is the founder and principal project manager of www.FreeLanceSubmit.com. For more tips, techniques, and services for turning your great idea into a successful Web site, visit www.FreeLanceSubmit.com.