I have been thinking about doing this for a while - a guide from start to finish on how to put together your own website - this could be relevant to a niche site or an authority site, it doesn't matter. Ijgoing to comprise everything I have learnt in the time that I have been doing SEO/IM. This guide is aimed at beginners and to some people it may seem like really basic stuff but the aim is to make a guide thats really easy to follow and for anyone that really wants to get stuck in with IM and specifically wants to start and rank their own site, that's who this is for. The guide is going to be focused on whitehat techniques for the most part because thats really where my background is and although I have tried lots of blackhat techniques since I have been a member here at blackhatworld I have eventually come full circle and settled back on whitehat, but with the knowledge of blackhat under the bonnet Part 1: Picking your niche In my experience this is really important because it is like the foundation of your entire project so it is something you really should take your time with. Some people would just refer to this stage as keyword research but I am proposing that you take a step backwards from there and just think purely about your niche. This is perhaps more applicable if you are really into whitehat rather than blackhat and the reason is this - if you are whitehat then you are avoiding the most "dangerous" techniques when it comes to SEO and the chances are that you will be planning on making your website last for some time (As apposed to churn and burn for example where you are just looking for short life maximum return). Because you are planning on your site lasting you really need a niche that you can get behind. I have lost count of the times that I have done a little research and started a site only to get bored with it 3 months down the line and just lose interest completely. Or even worse get 3 months down the line and just totally run out of things to write about. In addition to actually being able to focus on and write about a topic you also need to have enthusiasm for your niche - once again I have often started a niche site on a topic that I have absolutely no interest in what so ever, purely because it was low competition, and for me that really didn't work either - its another thing that I used to think about IM, especially after joining blackhatworld, was that you could just chuck up any old crap site about a niche topic, build a few backlinks and rank #1 in no time - this was a really big misconception and I dont think there are many people here at all that do that: I think any successful site whether its an authority site or a micro niche site has to have some effort behind it - it really has to add value for the intended visitors because at some point in time its going to hit the top 3 in google and if visitors find that the site is crap they are going to bounce straight off the site and on to the next result. So for this reason you have to really find a niche that you can get behind, one that you are interested in, one that you are passionate about and one that you can be involved with for some time. Think about the competition within your niche This is really important as well - when you are thinking about a niche, think about how much competition there is likely to be and how saturated that niche is. Compare this to the type of site you want to build and the area you are going to cover. For example, with me I always vered towards the technology niche because that is where my background lies. My lesson learned here though was that tech is super saturated - and thats not neccesarily a problem if you want to do a really hyper-targeted niche site about one very small area of tech because you have the opportunity to add value there and also to find an area with very low competition, but anything else in tech I just find is very hard. So based on that I started to branch out the possible topics that I could be interested in and I would advise you to do the same - don't go for the obvious and saturated niches but try to think outside of the box and find something that is slightly less saturated. Think realistically about the size of your site and the niche you are going to target Maybe not everyone faces this issue but I definitely did - whenever I was trying to build a site I would always have some grand idea about making a humungous site about a miassive range of topics within a niche - but the reality is that its not practicle to do that and actually its much better to think realistically about the size of website that you plan to build, your budget for link building within that niche and also the timescale for your project. Brainstorming When you are ready to get down to work, the first thing to do is start brain storming ideas - this is how I start when I am picking a new niche - I just list down in notepad a few ideas - things that I am interested in, things I have seen recently in the news, hobbies and so on. As you start writing each idea should put something else in your mind. Rather than actively trying to think of "niches" just jot down everything that comes in to your head, one line at a time. Getting some data from Google When you have a list of perhaps 10 ideas, head over to Google keyword planner and put those ideas into the tool - use the option that says "generate new keyword ideas", put your keywords in to the search box, change the location ro suit wherever you are targeting and then click "get ideas". At this stage you will be presented with pages and pages of keywords - just look for the download button over to the top right of the list of keywords. This allows you to download a CSV file of all these keywords - which will be various combinations of the "seed" keywords that you entered at the beginning of the search. Once you have downloaded teh CSV file you can open it in excel, select all of the columns and click on "Data" and then "Filter". This will give you a nicely formated list where you can filter the results on certain criteria. Dont pay too much attention to search volume for now, just focus on the keywords - you should have 700 - 800 keywords to look through and hopefully you can find a niche that interests you in there - the bigger the search volume the better of course because that is an indicator that the niche is worth persuing. At this stage its a good idea to pick 5 - 10 niche ideas from the list and these can be assessed in more detail to see if they are worth going after. Once you have a few ideas, put those keywords in to Google and just look at the competition - see who is coming up top, see what types of results there are and think about the type of site you wll need to focus on that niche. Some niches are dominated by ecommerce sites, some niches are all about content, information and research and others are about definable things like codes, coupons, tutorials etc. When picking your niche you really need to be sure that you can provide the information that is required within that niche. As said previously, you also need to settle on a niche that you feel passionate about - one that you can think of loads of stuff to write about and one that you are genuinely interested in - this will really help further down the line when you are building out your site - not only to keep you interested but also to give you a decent idea of what the niche calls for, what people want when they seach for your terms and what constitutes good content within that niche. Next part in the guide will be in depth Keyword Research.