When building websites that focus on different niches or have multiple services or products, the most important thing is to plan out the structure of the website prior to launch. I have recently launched a fun little side project, I have dubbed akalius.com.
The website will a hub of a bunch of different web services. I am going to offer games, and potentially software. The challenge developing the website was finding a way to make WordPress work for a very large website. I had to take a step back and plan out the website services and structure, even what content each site will have.
Use Sub-Domains On Your Website
The first step was separating the various types of services in the same manners as many tech companies do (such as Google) by using sub-domains. In my site akalius.com there is a sub-domain news.akalius.com which is dedicated to news based content. The reason I chose to structure the website this way was from an SEO standpoint, sub-domains all rank independently of each other. For example, akalius.com and news.akalius.com will rank independently of each other.
WordPress Multi-Site Issues
I was left with a bit of a tech challenge. I opted to use WordPress Multisite with a wildcard sub-domain configuration. The benefit of this configuration was when I want to launch another service, I can quickly add the website to my network admin panel. The advantage of this is, I can quickly manage all of these websites from the comfort of a unified admin experience.
However, I quickly ran into some issues. The website is currently hosted on SiteGround, which is who I recommend for managed third-party hosting. SiteGround offers Let’sEncrypt for SSL installation, which is perfect. However, the issue was Let’sEncrypt currently does not support wildcard sub-domains. Therefore, I cannot use it on this website. Therefore, I do not have an SSL installed on the website currently, but that feature is expected to be released in early 2018.
The second issue was SiteGround’s integration with CloudFlare. SiteGround still manages the DNS, therefore I cannot have my sub-domains through the CloudFlare system. This is because SiteGround using the DNS means only websites that have the www prefix are able to be proxied through CloudFlare. Meaning www.akalius.com can be proxied. However, none of the sub-domains can be proxied because they lack the www prefix. The trade-off is I can remove the site from SiteGround’s implementation, move them to Cloudflare, and then add them through CloudFlare which would solve this issue.
Mapping Out Content
For the website to be done correctly, mapping out content is important.
The first tip would be to know what content you would like to produce. For example, on my website akalius.com, I want to produce content that covers a broad field and offer contributions. Secondly, map out content categories and basic structure before your content is created. When you plan out categories come up with meta tags for all your categories.
After the planning stage is over, content is able to be created. In my case, I will be able to compete in the open community in the news space. An issue I will run into is since it is based on an open community, there must be a solid moderation system. Even though it is based on an open community approach, quality content must be put first. As well as a payment system for contributors. The easiest will be allowing affiliate links in posts, within reason obviously.
Distribution of Content
Another issue that must be worked out in the planning stages, is the distribution of content. There must be a way for users to see and get the news they want to see. For example, someone interested in business news would be less likely to be interested in video game news. A user must be able to see the news they want. Users do not want to receive 100 Facebook notifications from various types of news posts they are not interested in. Therefore, different Facebook communities will need to be created per service. For example, technology, science, gaming, business, politics, etc. To easily publish news and manage lots of content, there is services like the Social Networks AutoPoster plugin.
I just started this venture, but the point of this post was to outline the importance of planning out your website. There will be issues you will run into. In my case, when designing a very large website with many different types of content, being able to design a website and distribution channels that attract users in multiple niches is very important. Users need to be allowed to get notified of only the content they want to be notified about. Using push notifications, social media channels, Facebook instant articles, or FeedBurner. As a content publisher, you need to be able to make a large amount of content digestible for many users.
If you are planning on creating a large website, either plan on hiring a developer like myself, or plan in stages. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.