You may have a small business which you want to promote or start trading online, or you might have a particular interest and expertise in an area which you’d like to share with others.  You want to have your own website, but have absolutely no idea where to start.

The good news is now is a very good time for the small website owner with a great idea.  The bad news is that if you want to get rich quick by using any method going you have probably missed the boat.

Just having a website is not going to help you very much.  You need to get people visiting it, and this means getting your site noticed by the search engines.  Unless you have a very unique product or idea you are going to have to work hard at this, and make your site outstanding.

Up to now, this would mean being an expert in search engine optimisation, an understanding of HTML and a policy of getting hundreds of links from other sites no matter what they were.  Right now Google have implemented changes which have demoted thousands of sites which have used these techniques, and have announced that what is important to them is the quality of the content of the site, not the optimisation skills of professionals, and certainly not numerous dubious links from completely unrelated sites.

What is important now is that you have a good idea, and the ability to write about it.  For example, if you want to start selling online, why should visitors come to your site for a product they can buy from hundreds of well established and better known sites?  The answer could be the fantastic reviews you write for your products, the way you link products together (for example, suggest alternatives or things they might want to buy as well), and the real time usefulness of the information you provide.  A list of products is just not good enough nowadays.

If you have expert knowledge in a particular subject now is the time to get noticed if you can write about it in an interesting and informative way, if you can provide insights or tips which others might have missed or just simply an alternative approach.

When starting to design your site forget about search engines and think of humans.  When people enter words or phrases in a search engine, what kind of answers will they be expecting?  Try and think of how you would look for the information you are providing.  Then think about what other information you might like to know to follow on from what you’ve just discovered, and add that information as well to keep people on your site longer.

Once you’ve got your ideas and content, then you can think about designing your website and publishing it.  The bad news is that if your grammar is not good, if you cannot write sentences and paragraphs which flow, you will not be able to get away with copying content from other sites and hoping people won’t notice.  If you cannot write yourself, you should try and partner with someone who can.  But writing is one of your key skills you don’t have to factor in a huge budget to pay for search engine optimisation, as your content should sell itself.