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10 Steps to a Successful Website

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A successful website isn't built in a day. Turn your website into a moneymaker that keeps your visitors clicking.

1. Develop a Brand Strategy for Your Site

A photo of a man looking at computer screens
Photo © Colin Anderson / Getty Images
Anyone can build a website and promote it. How does your website fit into your media brand strategy? If you don't know, you'll never have a successful website and your site could actually hurt you. Your website is only one factor in building your media brand on the Internet but you have to clearly identify your site's role in the big picture. Do you want your site to serve as an extension to your traditional media outlet, stand on its own, be a source of revenue or another way to get your company's name out there regardless of the income potential?

2. Avoid Media Website Design Mistakes

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Photo © Andre Thijssen / Getty Images
Great content deserves a great-looking website. But a successful website relies on more than good color choices and pretty fonts. First impressions also count on the Internet. If first-time visitors are bombarded with ads, can't find the content they want or your site's not updated frequently, chances are you're going to lose that visitor forever. Media website design mistakes can cost you site visitors, which also decreases your site's earning potential.

3. Decide on Premium, Free or Freemium Content

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Photo © Alberto Incrocci / Getty Images
Deciding whether to offer free content, paid content or a mix of both is a crucial step in your site's plans. Some visitors will turn away the second they see they have to pay for your content. Offering paid and free content can help you build an audience and convert those users viewing your stories for free into paying customers who only want to read what you have to offer. While most Internet users are used to getting the content they want to read at no charge, a new report shows more people are opening up their minds and their wallets to sites with paywalls as long as the content is solid. Still, you should weigh all three options carefully to avoid shocking your readers with a big change to your site down the road.

4. Increase Website Traffic

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The most beautiful, well-designed website is a complete failure if you're the only one who's clicking through the pages. Becoming the number one resource readers turn to online takes time, solid content and a long-term plan. There are key elements you can start using on your website right now to increase your website's traffic and be well on your way to a successful website that keeps readers coming back daily.

5. Make Your Site Sticky

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Site owners often focus on boosting the number of their unique visitors but don't focus on keeping them clicking once they arrive. A successful website doesn't just land that unique visitor hit, the content motivates the user to click deeper and deeper into the site. Make your site sticky to maximize clicks and build loyal site visitors at the same time.

6. Use Killer SEO to Clobber the Competition

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There are billions of websites out there competing for clicks. Landing in the top position on page one of the major search engines is impossible without search engine optimization. Print and broadcast outlets use a completely different approach to target their audiences. Online, though, content doesn't get read if it's not properly optimized for search. Your site's content writers have to thoroughly understand SEO to write media content or you'll never gain any traction in search engines' results pages.

7. Generate Revenue Without Scaring Off Your Visitors

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Photo © David Woolley / Getty Images
When websites first started popping up on the Internet, many webmasters relied on banner ads to support their websites. Then pop-ups, pop-unders, page peels and flashing banners overloaded Internet users. Over the years, new ways of making money with your site have emerged without bombarding your sites visitors with annoying ads. Explore your options to generate website revenue. You won't get rich overnight but you will be able to see the results in your bottom line.

8. Show Advertisers What You Can Do for Them

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Photo © Getty Images
It seems like an easy way to make money. Offer ad space on your site. Put a price tag on it. Wait for advertisers to flock to your site and fork over their cash. But online competition is fierce. Attracting advertisers and convincing them your media site is the one where they should buy space has become increasingly difficult, even for the most successful websites. You have to show a potential advertiser the benefits of online ads and how placement on your site can help them grow their business.

9. Develop a Social Media Strategy

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Drive traffic to your site through social media. Encourage your journalists to use social networking to keep readers coming back to your site for the latest news. Get site visitors through Twitter and boost your site's awareness on Facebook to bring your site's visitors back multiple times a day.

10. Measure Your Traffic

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Use web analytics tools to track your site visitors' habits as they work their way through your content. Monitoring these patterns gives you a clear picture of what's working on your website and what isn't. If certain topics drive visitors to your site, you know you can increase clicks by giving users what they want. If you have other areas of your site that are practically ignored, you can decide if you want to alter the content or eliminate future coverage altogether.

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