NEW YORK, NY – Sometimes a simple explanation of how to do something can go a very long way. That is what we are doing this evening, we’re going over how the heck to build a website from a simple domain name address. The basics; in layman’s terms.
First. The first thing you want to do with your project is to pick a good domain name. You want to pick a domain name with keywords related to whatever it is that you are building. For instance, if you were building a downloadable book and you think people will search for information for it in search engines by typing “downloadable books” a good domain name would be downloadablebooks.com. This will give you an advantage over other websites and services because your website is most likely to rank really well for the term “downloadable books” in search engines. This is necessary leverage you need to make it online. If you cannot get a matching domain name this is OK, but it will make it more difficult to be found. Nowadays you need all the leverage you can get and getting a keyword rich domain name would be the first step I would take.
The next step is to choose a hosting account. This will be necessary to host your website on the Internet. If you are building a small information or text based website you can use a cheap through away hosting account such as one from Godaddy or Hostgator, but if your site will have a database, require backups, have any user generated images or videos or anything at all either server intensive or CPU intensive I would definitely not go with a cheaper hosting service. If it is going to be an important site and it will be storing anything other than text – I would use a better, more reliable and more scale-able hosting account. Not only will it save you potential headaches down the road and will probably come with better support, but your site will load faster and search engines also like sites that load really fast, so I would go with a great hosting account if there is any large image uploading and downloading or any other significant functionality going on. I have some easy to understand hosting recommendations here.
The third step is you want to build a website that is either mobile friendly or responsive. This will ensure that regardless of a user’s device, they will be able to read and use your website easily and that search engines will not filter out your website from results because it is not mobile friendly. Nowadays you can expect about half of your traffic to come from mobile devices, so when you build your website you have to make sure that it is mobile friendly and can be viewed on desktops, tablets and phones. Search engines do not like to take people to sites that are difficult to see or use so if your site is not easy to use on certain devices, search engines will demote your site in search results to not aggravate users. An example of a website that is not easy to use would be one where the text and links (tap targets) are too small to read and click accurately or the screen needs to be manipulated larger and smaller or left to right in order to see the entire page. Mobile friendly or responsive websites will resize themselves for users depending on how large the screen is and how small of a device is being used.
The fourth step, if you will be using ad revenue on your website, is to incorporate ad space on the site which will allow you to make money on the website from displaying advertising. You’ll want to allocate some prime inventory for ad space, so consider ad space close to or within content areas as many people will just ignore ads that are not centered on or around content in some regard. Banners in footers, sidebars and headers will be mostly ignored as these spaces are extremely common and are called areas where “banner blindness” takes place. People are accustomed to these areas being filled with ads so people generally ignore these areas subconsciously. Try to pick ad space that is either slightly above the content, below the title, but above the content, or directly in or beneath the content before a comment box or footer. This will ensure your ads are clicked as much as possible and be good return on investment for advertisers who will want to advertise on your site. I recommend Google AdSense for serving ads on your site. Google now allows you to place as many ads on a page as reasonable and if there is too many, some will not load. I recommend using as many as Google will load or at least three to four ad units.
Next you will want to purchase an SSL certificate for your hosting account and domain name because this is now important to do as it secures your website on the internet. Supposedly, search engines prefer SSL secured sites and this will help you in search engines (although I have not really seen any proof of this yet). There is all sorts of talk about it and Google has instructed website owners to do this, but I have not noticed anything to suggest an SSL assigns better rankings to a site; but that is what Google wants so that is what you do. Plus, it looks better and builds user confidence that the site is safe. It keeps your site more secure and prevents hackers from seeing information passed between users and their browser, especially if you have login boxes on your site, so this is something necessary to do nowadays, which just a year or so ago did not really matter at all. I suggest, if you care about search rankings and security for your site, you should get an SSL Certificate, which are fairly cheap, usually about $20 or $50 and can be purchased at most hosting and domain registrars such as Godaddy, Hostgator, etc..
After you have your site online and it is designed and hosted and you have your SSL installed – you’re ready to run your website and get people to find it. One of the first things you want to do is make sure search engines can find it so you have to point a link to it on the Internet. There are long lists of recommendations about submitting your site to search engines and using a webmaster tools account or purchasing all kinds of services – but all you really need to do is point one single hypertext link to it from somewhere on the internet that search engines already know about. So if you run a twitter account and it is fairly active, all you really need to do is Tweet the URL of the website and since search engines are already crawling and indexing tweets, they will find your website there and will index the site. An even faster way to tell search engines, specifically Google about your website, it to Post a link to your site on Google+. If you do this, you will notice, (if you have stats installed), that Google will visit your website immediately (or within a few minutes) to examine what was posted on Google+. Now your site will get indexed in Google and will most likely be listed in the search engine within 24 to 48 hours. This is happening a lot faster than it used to because Google is trying to compete with real-time search services like Twitter and in order to keep up, Google must have the ability to find and rank news and linked-to content near instantly.
If you do not yet have a stats program on your site or your hosting account does not include stats so that you can see who visits your website and from what IP address or what area of the world, or from what link they found your site, or even what keyword on a search engine, you need a stats program. Without being able to figure out where traffic is coming from you will not be able to improve on things that work well for driving traffic, so you need to know which efforts you put into your websites actually work well and drive traffic, so that you can do more of the good stuff, and less of what does not work well. Find and install a good stats program; a decent free one would be either Google Analytics or StatCounter.com (both free).
After you have notified search engines that your site exists you have some time to make sure they can rank it pretty easily by doing some basic search engine optimization. Search engine optimization can be an entire tutorial, or set of tutorials on their own, but if you want to cover the basics, this is what you want to get done and out of the way:
- A) Meta tags; make sure you do your Meta tags, Title, Keyword and Description.
- B) Use the Canonical tag, a Meta tags which helps search engines know which URL they should consider the main one, especially if there are multiple versions of the same URL.
- C) Try to use only unique content on your website. This means don’t just copy the content from somewhere else. This is no good and search engines might as well send people to the original content it found first. If you just copy your content from somewhere else, this means your content is of little value to Google and other search engines because it is not different that anything they are already aware of and prepared to send people to. Your content needs to be unique to rank well in search engines.
- D) Consider using a sitemap, especially if some of your pages URLs are hard to find or navigate to.
- E) Consider using rich-snippet data or microdata; Rich-snippet data and microdata are new elements of HTML which help search engines figure out what different elements of a page are, such as navigation links, ratings, reviews, comments, addresses or just text, phone numbers or just numbers, etc. Search engines love rich snippet data because it makes the pages easier to comprehend.
One of the last things I would set up if you are created a website business or new company on the Internet is its social media accounts. If you product or service is general in nature I would create a Twitter account, a Facebook account and a Google + account. These are all great tools for getting more people to find out about your website and will help you in search engines too. If your business is anything visual such as photography or anything visual in nature including things that need to look good such as food, design, cars, attention getting things, I would also use Pinterest and Instagram which make sharing images very easy.
Social networks not only help spread the word about your website but adding information to them also, in most cases, creates links to your site. Links to your site are very important and will be one of the leading factors for whether or not your site succeeds online. For the most part, nine times out of ten, if you look at big sites verses little sites, or great sites, verses not so great sites, the site with the most great links pointing to it wins almost every time.