Welcome to the ultimate grow online checklist. Today, I’ll focus on how to get more organic (free) visits to your site, allowing you to grow online faster and more sustainably. It’s designed to help you scale from 0 to 5,000 hits a month, all within a three-month period.
I’ve included a key milestones tracker within this piece, so you can make sure we’re making progress together.
Table of contents
1. How to grow online – getting started
The first thing you need to do is research. If you’re starting an online business you need to have an idea how you can put a unique spin on a subject through your knowledge or writing skill. Ideally you’d answer yes to both the following questions.
If you are prepared to learn a lot then you can skip the second question, but be aware that you’ll need to be ultra-committed to become an authority in an entirely new area.
Can you differentiate your content from others?
Have you got experience in this area?
Once you’ve answered the questions above, write a one sentence statement about who your audience is and what you can offer them.
2. Picking a niche
Great news – you’d have to pick a very, very specific niche to suffer from a lack of search traffic! However, picking a niche is the most important early decision you will make. You want to be able to answer yes to the four questions below:
Could my niche gain affiliate income?
I.e, are there affiliate programmes I could join & products I could promote that would be a natural fit for my website?
Does my niche have terms that feature a large volume of search traffic?
I.e keywords that gain 10,000+ search a month.
Could I gain money from consultancy within my niche?
Search on places like Fiverr and Freelancer to see if people are providing a service for what you do.
Has my niche got success stories and role models to follow?
This isn’t strictly necessary but it’s an early indicator as to whether your niche can be profitable or not.
3. Choose a host
Don’t spend too much time on this. Ideally, you want a cheap domain name and a fast server. Try one of the following:
Bluehost (host and server, and 1-click WordPress install)
WP engine (more expensive than Bluehost but faster)
Cloudways (a solid option with medium pricing)
4. Pick a revenue stream
Your niche should open itself up to several revenue streams, especially affiliate marketing (for passive income) and consultancy.
Consultancy is far easier because you could start making money off your first visitor if they liked you enough.
Write your two-line consultancy pitch below:
5. Choose a WordPress theme
Go to elegant themes or theme isle and choose a WordPress theme that you like.
Install your WordPress theme
Often this is very simple. if you have any difficulties reach out to your website host. Both Bluehost and WP engine have excellent support.
6. Install your plugins
Right from the start you’ll need a number of plugins to give you a variety of functionality, from speeding up your site, to adding share buttons, to optimizing image sizes, to gaining subscribers. Here are the key ones I recommend for EVERY beginner.
Yoast SEO – to help you optimze your on-page SEO
Autoptimize – to make your site faster
Cookie notice – to comply with GDPR (depending on region)
Easy table of contents – to help users navigate posts
Google analytics – to track your progress
ShortPixel image optimizer – to reduce image size and load times
Shareaholic / Mashshare – to add sharing functionality
UpdraftPlus – to back up your site
7. Plan your content
Every article you write will target ONE keyword. That’s the keyword that’ll be in your post title (H1 tag).
You can add multiple other keywords in heading and paragraphs, but you’ll build your post around one main word or phrase.
This means you need to KNOW this keyword converts. Imagine writing a 3,000 word blog post around a keyword that’s getting zero traffic. It’s a waste.
So you’ll need a keyword tool. I recommend Ahrefs, SEM Rush or Moz.
8. Publish and promote
Publish your first post.
When you hit publish you need to be patient. It can take a few months for Google to index this piece of content.
In the meantime, you need to leverage all the real-life relationships you have. Share your posts on your social media channels and get your friends and family to do the same.
9. Start building links for authority
If you can’t crack the top 10 for your keyword, you may as well be invisible. That sounds harsh but it’s true.
Most of the sites that rank in the top 10 for every keyword have a strong link profile.
This means that they are linked to from plenty of other high-authority websites. These links essentially count as votes from google and help a website build authority, which means their content is shown even higher.
Building backlinks can be a full-time job in itself. Here are some of the techniques I recommend.
But remember, don’t just do it for a link as that’ll be so transparent. You need to pitch a great article idea that adds value to your target site’s readers.
Haro stands for Help a Reporter Out. It’s a free email list where companies reach out for insight on a particular subject, and will often give you a backlink in return.
Write amazing content.
This needs no explanation but nobody is going to link to poorly written, poorly researched content.
Find broken links.
Use a keyword tool like ahrefs to find broken links and email the site owner if they would mind linking to you instead. you help them, and they’ll help you.
Write studies and promote them.
People LOVE linking to studies and citing statistics.
10. Build relationships to grow online
If you offer something to people (like linking to them), then there is a good chance they’ll want to help you out in return.
To grow online, you’ll need to leverage real relationships, which Google is surprisingly good at rewarding. This might mean connecting on Linkedin, or commenting on their posts, or retweeting their content.
Be helpful and try and build at least five relationships with people in your sector.
Grow online milestones – the tracker
The grow online checklist above is designed to keep you on track and do all the right things when you get started. Who know, some of it might also be useful even if you’ve been building your online business for a while. If you’d like to read a much more in-depth article, check out my guide on building a blog.
The key when getting started is to scale as quickly as possible by doing the things that really matter from the beginning (like building relationships).
If you follow the checklist above then you might even reach 100% of the milestones below within the first three months.
Key online growth milestones
Tick these milestones as you work your way through them.
I’ve left a blank box next to each so you can also write how many days it took you to achieve it – so you can have an internal competition with yourself.
The quicker the better!