Note: Staffordshire Fitness went live in Winter 2011, before I had even started working on The SEO Experiment. All of the comments for this project will be made in retrospect. Any current work will be marked as real-time.
The first step of any online project I enter into is the same, this one was no exception. I like to create a mind map of potential areas I feel I could create an internet presence in. If you take a look at my earlier posts Choosing the right Niche and Niche Ideas I describe the method I use to decide on potential subject matter.
By carrying out this process I decided that I was going to produce a website which orientated around Health & Fitness. It is a subject I know quite a lot about and enjoy. Deciding on the direction I would then take the site, proved to be a little more difficult and looking back, I think that I made this decision out of naievity and lack of ambition.
Before I had decided on a subject matter for my site or even registered a domain name, I knew which type of search traffic I wanted to focus on. I wanted to target informational search queries. Informational search queries are ones where you are purely looking for information, we have all Googled the answer to some question and millions of people do the same every day all over the world, it is widely publicised that informational searches make upto 85% of all search queries. The book I was reading at the time focused heavily on this subject and I had gotten it in to my head that the greatest opportunity to get traffic to my site was to produce a website which would be found through informational search queries. While I still believe that there is some value in this, I am writing this and shaking my head at the single mindedness of the whole idea.
With this plan in mind I decided to create a directory of known fitness locations. The next decision, or mistake, which ever way you want to look at it was to severely limit my target area to my home county of Staffordshire. If that wasn’t damning enough, the decision to call the domain staffordsirefitness.com certainly sealed it’s fate. If only I had named the site something a little more generic like “Fitness Finder” or ”Your Fitness” I could have expanded the project to a national scale at a later date when I had perfected the process locally
The reason I decided to focus on Staffordshire was purely based on competition, I could not imagine that I would ever be able to compete with some of the already established market leaders. On the plus side though, my site is on page 1 of Google for every single keyword phrase I have actively targeted. I am currnetly in the process of carrying out a few major revisions to the site in an attempt to get progress it to a wider audience. It’s going to be a nightmare but all of the changes I make will be documented on The SEO Experiment as and when they occur, real time.
One of the biggest challanges I will face in trying to enhance the project is down to the site design. I had just finished my web design course and was of the mindset that everything had to be hand coded. The entire site has been hand coded in XHTML & CSS; each page is effectivley a seperate entity. If I am to progress this project to the next level, I feel I will have to make the site design more dynamic and implement some form of content management system.
Oh well, Not to worry, and as they say in Meet the Robinsons “Keep moving Forward”. The best advice I can give you on in this area is “What will be, will be” you will set your own benchmark and youl will either fall short or surpass it, either way you will have learned many things about the overall process and more importantly about yourself and your commitment to the cause.
The main point I wanted to get accros in this post is that it was my first attempt at a real website, let alone a monetised site. I have made many mistakes on the project and I have learnt even more from doing it. I am by no means experienced these days and give it another 10 months I will again look back and find some of the things I am doing now are mistakes, but you can only do what you can at the time based on what you know.
I am not going to go into the full specifics of the site just yet, I will leave those for my next post where I can expand on things with greater detail. As an overview of the project; I created a Fitness website to try and make some money, that is all you really need to know because when I started the site in 2011, that is all I Knew too.