Yes, you can build your own website in one day or less, but, the more preparation you do ahead of time, the easier it will be. This is because, if you have never built a website before, it takes quite a lot of time to sign up for a lot of the things you’ll need. More importantly, the more research you do ahead of time, the better. My advice is to do the preliminary steps first. Especially doing research on keywords and themes.
I can build a new website from the ground up in a matter of minutes. This is because I already have an account with PayPal that I use to pay for the domain name. I already have an account with NameCheap where I register the domain name. I already have an account with HostGator, on whose computer my site will exist. I already have FTP software I know how to use with dexterity, and I’m pretty good with PhotoShop for making header graphics. I have a Google AdSense account for monitization, etc. etc. If you’re a virgin webmaster, gathering all these tools together will take a while.
The best advice I can give is not to rush it. On the other hand, it’s also a mistake to wait until everything is polished to perfection before you begin. If you did that, you’ll probably never accomplish anything. Therefore, move carefully and deliberately, but move. A wise man once told me, “You don’t have to get it perfect; you just have to get it moving.”
Only you know your reasons for building a website, so only you can figure out the best way to proceed. This tutorial was based on a presentation I gave to a group of travel writers, so many of the examples I give are slanted in that direction. If you’re here because you want to make money as an internet marketer using AdSense and affiliate products, the method I describe is no less valid.
The instructions on how to start up your own website are based on my successes and failures. I built my first website in the mid 1990s before there was Dreamweaver or FrontPage. I used a new program called Hot Dog. Since then I have no idea how many hundreds of domains I’ve registered and how many thousands of pages I’ve put online. I’m quite pleased that one of my most recent websites achieved a #8 ranking on Google for its primary keywords within four days of my registering the new domain. I say this not to brag, but so you’ll realize my methods are proven effective for you to use.
I’ve arranged this website building tutorial in steps numbered from 1 to 10. Depending on your skills, you may be able to skip some of them and only focus on the specific details you need to know more about.
1. Set Your Goal
The first step in building a successful website is to decide why you want it. Do you have a specific product or service to sell? This new website can be focused on getting new customers. Do you want to make money without having your own product? That’s OK. Millions of websites were built to generate revenue through affiliate programs such as Google AdSense ads or by referring customers to buy products elsewhere, such as on Amazon.com, eBay, or through affiliate managers like ClickBank, Commission Junction and ShareaSale. The specifics of these programs will be dealt with in later chapters. For now, the important thing is to understand why you want a website.
Let’s assume you are a travel writer, and you want to have a professional image and provide a way for people you’d like to impress, such as editors you want to sell stories to or people you want to invite you on press trips. A website is an excellent medium to display articles you’ve had published, other examples of your writing, and possbily some of your photographs, awards you’ve won, etc.
If you do freelance work, such as technical writing or editing, for example, you can also attract new business. Your site can even have a form that prospective customers can fill out and email to you for a quote.
There are other ways to make money with a website. If you get enough visitors on a regular basis, you can sell advertising space. Or you can put up Google Adsense ads, and whenever a visitor clicks on one, you get anything from a few pennies to ten or twenty dollars. If you’ve written a book, you can sell it from your site. Or, you can sign up as an affiliate with Amazon.com and earn 3% or 4% commission whenever people buy the books you’ve advertised.
The Most Important Thing – you need to decide ahead of time why you want the website and what you want it to do for you. If you start with that clear vision, then you can make sure it works as well as possible to fulfill that vision. What the primary action you want your visitors to take?
- Buy your book?
- Click on your Google Ads?
- Publish your articles?
- Send you on a press trip?
- Request a quote for you to do a writing job?
- Buy the rights to reprint your pictures?
If you only want your website to be visited by people you have told about it, then, of course, you don’t need to worry about search engines. But if you want people to be able to use Google, Yahoo, MSN, or one of the other search engines to be able to type in some keywords and then find you, then your next step is to do some keyword research.
2. Keyword Research
Keywords are the words or phrases people enter into search engines when they’re looking for something but don’t know where to find it.
Your keyword research should start by imagining the mindset of the ideal people you want to find your website. Maybe it’s a newspaper editor, a magazine photo editor or a consumer seeking recommended bed and breakfast lodgings. You need to put yourself in their shoes and think what keywords they are likely to enter. Here are some possibilities…
- Vancouver freelance writers
- Stock photos Greece islands
- accommodations Kelowna
- bicycle travel stories
OK, those are your starting points. But, which variations of your keyword phrase are searched for more often?’
- Stock photos Greek isles?
- Greece pictures for sale?
- Stock images of Greece?
- bike travel stories?
- articles about cycling?
- bicycle touring adventures?
Don’t rely on your own hunches when there are free tools available to give you the facts.
For example, use the Free Search Term Suggestion Tool at http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html to query the keywords “freelance writer” and you’ll see results like this:
As you can see, they predict the phrase “freelance writer” will be made 643 times per day. These and other tools are useful to give you other perspectives on what is happening in the real world of the Internet.
The Seo Book Keyword Suggestion Tool at http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/index.php gives you a different viewpoint.
One of my favorite tools for finding “long-tail” keywords (useful in very popular niches) is WordTracker. Their full-meal deal is a bit pricey, but here is a link to their free demo: Wordtracker Free Keyword Tool
Up until today, July 9, 2008, Google had a Keyword tool that was less than wonderful regarding search numbers, as it only showed bar graphs of the number of searches per month and the amount of competition for your keyword and related phrases. Then, amazingly, they transformed it into a much more useful tool that actually shows the number of searches last month. But what I also love about it is that it shows how profitable different keywords can be. If you’re going to monitize with Google AdSense, you really ought to use the Google Keyword Tool. Here is a glimpse…
These numbers do not show how much money you would get, but rather how much you would have to pay per click if you were advertising using Google AdWords. Nobody but Google knows how much of a percentage they take and how much you get per click. Still, this tool is excellent for demonstrating, which keywords are potentially more profitable than similar ones in the same niche. That screen shot was taken a couple of days ago, so it doesn’t reflect their amazing transformation that — I’m still surprised by it — happened only today! I guess that goes to prove that any information you find on the internet, if it was written yesterday or earlier, may not be current anymore.
Before you make your final choice of which keyword phrases your site will be optimized for, you probably ought to check on two more things — your opportunities for monitization, and how much competition you will have.
The monitization part will be discussed at length in a different page. But briefly, it involves searching various affiliate websites to see what products or services are available in your niche. You would then collect a commission when someone clicks on one of your ads and makes a purchase. In the travel niche, there are affiliate programs offered by Travelocity and other online ticket brokers, as well as travel insurance companies, used suitcases for sale on eBay, and, of course, thousands of travel books for sale on Amazon.com.
To find out how many other web pages are optimized for your keyword, simply go to google.com and do a search with your phrase enclosed in quotes. My search for “freelance writers Vancouver” without quotes returned 217,000 results. With quotes, the more accurate figure of 712 was returned.
If you can find a keyword that gets least 10 searches per day, and has no more than 10,000 exact matches on Google, you can be pretty confident of getting your site listed on the first page when someone searches for those keywords you’re optimizing for.
One final caution. Never fall so deeply in love with an idea that you move on it too quickly before doing sufficient research.
After you have found the best keywords and narrowed them down to a short, short list, then you can proceed with registering a domain name.
3. Domain Name
The reason why this is the third and not the first step is because for effective Search Engine Optimization, your keyword phrase should be contained within your domain name. It doesn’t matter to Google, Yahoo, MSN and their buddies how much you like a domain name. All they are interested in is keywords. So make sure you do your keyword research first.
If your research has proven that your best keyword phrase is “freelance travel writer” then proceed to a domain name registrar and see if “freelancetravelwriter.com” is available.
There are probably thousands of domain registration companies, and I’ve only used three or four of them, but one that I like best (and so do many other folks) is NameCheap.com.
Just key in any proposed name and you’ll see if it’s taken or available.
If your first choice is taken, you could either go with freelancetravelwriter.org or you could check whether freelance-travelwriter.com is available.
The .com and .org domains are generally believed to be more highly regarded than .info, and it’s not recommended for a domain name to have more than 25 characters. It is also believed having more than one hyphen in a domain name makes it less desirable to search engines*.
*Footnote: All SEO theory is just that — theoretical. It’s based on observations by people who are users of and not designers of search engines. Only Google knows for sure how Google really works, and they do not reveal all their secrets. Still, some very smart and wealthy internet users have been carefully measuring what works well and what doesn’t, and this tutorial is based on those findings. And from the testing I’ve done, they seem to work.
As of today, the regular price at NameCheap for a .com or .org domain for one year is $9.29, and a .info is $5.88.
Bargain Hunters Alert!
Want to save money? Then pay a quick visit to http://www.dncoupons.com/namecheap.php and you can probably find a “coupon” allowing you to pick up a .com name for just $8.41. Hey — that’s a whopping 88-cents off!
You can purchase a domain name registration for one year or longer, and some internet marketers believe search engines favor a domain that’s been taken for more than one year, but I can’t verify if that’s true.
Once you’ve registered your domain, you also must let your registrar know where your website will be hosted. This is done by entering your DNS (domain name server numbers).
If you have already purchased hosting for your website, your host will have told you something like this…
Your name servers are:
If your domain registrar is NameCheap.com, you enter your DNS numbers by clicking on “Manage Domains” and “Domain Name Server Setup.” There you will see boxes in which to enter your DNS numbers.
If you have not yet obtained hosting for your site, then that is your next step…
4. Website Hosting
A website host is basically a computer somewhere on which the coding for your website is stored. Although some domain registrars also offer hosting service and some web hosting companies also are domain registrars, there is not necessarily any connection. Once you have registered a domain, you can have it hosted anywhere.
There must be tens of thousands of hosts from which to choose, but two of the most popular are HostGator.com and Godaddy.com. NameCheap.com has recently started offering web hosting, but I can’t comment on how good it may be. My favorite is HostGator.
Both HostGator and Godaddy, as well as most hosting services, include CPanel as part of their package. If you’re going with somebody else, make sure you’ll be getting CPanel, as it is a very user-friendly interface that practically builds websites for you. The instructions I will be giving you assume that you have access to CPanel. It’s not essential, but it sure saves hours of time, reducing your learning curve down to practically zero.
As of July, 2008, Hostgator’s price to host a single website was $4.95 per month (all prices are in US dollars) or an unlimited number of domains for $7.95/mo. (I believe NameCheap’s monthly rate for a single site is less than $3, but, depending on how much disk space and monthly bandwidth you’re allowed to use, that may be like comparing apples to windows.) My HostGator account costs $US$7.95 per month, allows unlimited domains and unlimited MySQL databases up to a maximum disk storage of 600 GB and 6 GB of bandwidth per month. I have no complaints at all.
I recently learned about a free web hosting service that almost sounds too good to be true. 000webhost.com is the name, and they say their no-charge hosting comes with no catch. Their free accounts give you 350 megs of disk space and 100 gigs of bandwidth per month, which is certainly adequate. And, they have the CPanel control panel, which is essential for inexperienced webmasters to set up their sites quickly. And finally, they do not put any kind of advertising on your pages. You can register at 000webhost.com here. I have not tried them out, so if you have a positive or negative experience, I would be very curious to hear about it.
By the way, most hosts offer you the option of Linux or Windows hosting. If your computer is using a Windows operating system, you do NOT have to opt for Windows hosting. In most cases, you’re better off selecting the Linux choice.
It is very unlikely you’ll ever use up all of the storage or bandwidth available, so go for the smallest one you think you’ll need. When and if the day ever comes you exceed your allotment, your website will have become so successful, you’ll happily pay your host for an upgrade to a bigger plan.
Once you’ve completed your host’s sign-up process, they’ll send you an email message that contains your DNS numbers. That message will also tell you the URL (web address) where you can access your CPanel as well as your FTP settings. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and you will need to have some kind of FTP software in order to move files from your computer to your host.
5. Installing WordPress
“But wait!” you may be shouting. “I don’t want a blog. I want a REAL website!”
It’s true that WordPress was created for people to use to write weblogs — blogs. But over the years WordPress and its associated themes and plug-ins have grown so versatile that many, many non-blog type websites are also built using the WordPress platform.
There are two excellent reasons why my plan for building an effective website in a very short time is based on WordPress…
It’s very fast and simple to do, and
Search engines LOVE WordPress websites, so you will get indexed very quickly.
When you follow my directions, Google’s spiders will race through the world wide web and find your WordPress site practically instantly. With a conventional website, it can take weeks or months before search engines notice you, even if you register your URL with them.
Do I know this system really works? Yes. I recently had a brand new domain achieve high search engine ranking (#8 out of 26,400) in only four days. I’ll give you details later on in the chapter about optimization. But for now, let’s get your site installed.
There are two ways to install WordPress. The hard way is to follow WordPress’s instructions to download the latest version free from WordPress.org, unzip it, set up a MySQL database, configure your settings, upload everything to your host, and then go through the installation procedure.
The easy way is to use CPanel and push two buttons. I’ll walk you through it.
After you have arrived at your CPanel, scroll down toward the bottom. If you’re on HostGator, it will look like this…
- Click on “Fantastico De Luxe”, and you’ll be taken to a page that looks something like this…
- Click on WordPress
- Click on New Installation
- Enter a username and password, and then follow a few more simple instructions.
Okay, maybe you have to push more than two buttons, but it’s still a process that takes only seconds instead of hours.
Once you have WordPress installed on your site, the next thing to do is customize it. You’re going to install a theme and some plug-ins, and then tweek them so Google and its colleagues will notice you and get you listed as fast as possible.
6. Themes and Plugins
I’m not sure whether changing the theme of your website will make it more attractive to search engines, but it will definitely have a positive effect on the human beings who visit. The theme controls the look and feel of your Internet identity, so you will probably want to spend some time selecting one.
Some themes have graphics at the top while others, like this one, use only words. A cool thing about graphics is that, if the theme you choose has a header photograph of, for example, a bridge in the fog, you can replace it with any picture in your collection, as long as you can fit it into the same dimensions.
There are themes with horizontal menu bars and vertical ones, or you can even choose not to have a menu bar at all There are narrow and wide themes, and ones with sidebars on the left, right, both or neither. And if you don’t like the colors, you can probably figure out how to change them.
Some themes use widgets and some do not. If you are not skilled at editing html I recommend you get a theme with widgets. This will make it easier when you are ready to add monitization in the form of AdSense ads, banner graphics, etc. It also makes it simpler for you to change what shows up where on your page, such as a calendar, search box, archive list, tag clouds, link lists, etc. I suggest you spend some time checking out all of the various themes available at the WordPress Theme Directory.
There’s also another way to find WordPress themes. If you do a lot of web surfing anyway, you might want to try this method…
Sneaky way to find a WordPress theme
When you visit a website that appeals to you, and you think it may have been built on the WordPress platform, here is how to discover which theme it is using. (The more familiar you get with WordPress, the easier it gets to recognize them.)
In your browser toolbar, select “View” and then “Source” with Internet Explorer or “Page Source” if your browser is Firefox. Do it now on this page and you’ll see what may appear to be incompresensible html coding, but somewhere near the top is a string, which reveals the WordPress theme I’m using…
Right after “wp-content/themes/” it says “blue-zinfandel,” and that is the theme this website uses. If you decide you’d like to try Blue Zinfandel for your site, all you have to do is go to http://themeviewer.com/downloads/. They may not have every WordPress theme in the world there, but they’ve got tons of them. If they don’t have the one you want, just go to Google.com and search for, for example, “wordpress plugin blue-zinfandel.” The beauty of WordPress and all the themes and plugins made for it, is they’re all free.
Some of my favorite themes with graphics are wp-andreas-01-12 and greenflower. For themes with no pictures, besides Blue Zinfandel I also like techdesigns.co.uk v 1.0
Before you install your theme, you should also download some plugins. Then you can upload them to your site all at the same time.
Download these WordPress plugins
- All in One SEO
- Google Sitemap Generator
- Smart Update Pinger
- Subscribe me
All in One SEO makes it easy to optimize your site. When you set it up, you enter your list of keywords, etc. Then, it automatically displays them for the search engines. It has no effect on the physical appearance of your site, only to the “behind the scenes” meta tags that spider-bots read.
If you only install one plugin, Google Sitemap Generator is the one that has the most profound effect on getting your site ranked well and quickly. It requires almost no set-up at all, and, whenever you write a new post, it re-writes your sitemap and automaticallyl tells Google, MSN and Ask.com about it.
Smart Update Pinger is good because it prevents you from accidentally getting the search engines mad at you. Every time you publish a post, WordPress automatically sends a “ping” to notify those websites on your ping list (I’ll give you a good list in another chapter). But the trouble is, if you edit one of those posts after publishing, WordPress will ping them again, and again with each re-edit. If this happens too often, it is going to look like you are spamming, and search engines will start treating you like the proverbial boy who cried wolf. They’ll ignore you. Smart Update Pinger prevents this from happening. It only sends out one ping per post, no matter how many times you edit it.
Subscribe me only helps optimize your site indirectly. It lets you put a collection of buttons onto, for example, your sidebar, so that a visitor can easily add your RSS feeds to whatever source they use, such as My Yahoo, or My AOL. You don’t even have to know what an RSS feed is. It’s very simple, and I’ll show you how to set it up in the next chapter.
Unzip: WordPress themes and plugins usually come compressed in the ZIP format. So you’ll need to be able to unzip them. If you’re using Windows, it’s easy. Just right click on the zipped file (once you’ve downloaded it) and select “Extract Files.”
FTP: Once your theme and plugins are downloaded and unzipped, you’ll need to upload them to your host using some kind of FTP software. The one I use is WS_FTP from Ipswitch, but I don’t think a free version is available anymore. Another free program I’ve tried and know is easy to use is FileZilla. Here is a link to download FileZilla 2008.
The folder into which you need to FTP your theme is “public_html/yourdomain/wp-content/themes/.” You’ll know you’ve navigated to the right folder if you see two other folders already there named “classic” and “default.”
Plugins go into “public_html/yourdomain/wp-content/plugins/.” There should already be one file there named hello.php.
After you’ve FTPd all your plugins and theme into place, then it’s time to visit your website and start configuring. Tell your browser to visit “http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin” and then sign in using the username and password you entered when you used Fantastico to install WordPress.
7. Configure WordPress
Setting up WordPress can be a bit daunting the first time you do it, but it helps to know that even the worst mistakes you make can be easily fixed simply by deleting the old file and uploading a new one.
After you’ve logged in, you’re at the WordPress Dashboard. Near the top right corner it says “Settings – Plugins – Users.” Start by clicking Plugins.
The Plugin Management page will list all the plugins you uploaded plus one called Hello Dolly and possibly Akismet. You can ignore them, but click “Activate” for all the others. You may get a message saying a newer version of a plugin is now available. This is optional. If you’re having trouble with a plugin and there’s an update available, then you should download and install it.
With all the plugins activated, click “Settings” up near the top right corner.
Once at the General Settings page, you can enter your website’s name and tagline. Not all themes display taglines, and you won’t be able to see yours until after you activate your new theme, which you’ll do later. Most of the other settings on this page are pretty self-explanatory. “Membership” is a bit confusing. This sets the rules for who can leave comments, if you decide to allow comments. Aside from allowing you to interact with your visitors, comments are valuable in that they can be a way of continually updating your pages, and search engines like that.
Settings – Reading
If you leave these settings unchanged, your home page will show up to the last 10 entries you have posted. Some people feel this is too many, and that a smaller number — even as low as one — might serve their purposes better. It’s a matter of how the page looks when it all comes together. This can easily be changed at any time, so don’t worry about it now.
Settings – Discussion
Here you can decide how to regulate comments. Again, you can leave it for now and not worry.
Settings – Privacy
This lets search engines find you or not, so unless you don’t want any traffic, make sure the box is checked that says “I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers”
Settings – Permalinks
This one is important. Set properly, it will name each of your posts with the name you give each article, rather than the WordPress default of simply giving each one a number.
Check the “Custom” box down at the bottom of “Common Settings” and in the text box put: /%postname% That’s foreward slash, percent sign, postname, percent sign (without the commas). I’ll paste it below so you can copy it:
Now, as long as you remember to write keyword-rich titles for every article, your URL will also be keyword-rich. Don’t forget to click “Save Changes” before you move on.
Settings – Miscellaneous
Nothing to concern yourself about there.
Settings – All in One SEO
Take your time and do this one right, as it will put keywords on your home page and everything else you post. Just fill in the first three boxes, or at least the first two, using up all the different keywords you did during your research phase.
Title: Can be 60 – 100 characters long. Description: Can have 25 to 30 words and up to 160 characters. When you’re done, click “Update Options” at the bottom. As with all of these settings, they can be changed tomorrow if you think up something better.
Settings – Subscribe Me
The way I usually configure this plugin is to check everything, including Show as a drop-down button. In the box, I write: Add my RSS feed to your…
Save by clicking “Update Options.”
This plug-in won’t necessarily appear until you add it with widgets, which we’ll do soon.
Settings – Smart Update Pinger
This should now be displaying the ping list you added from the “Writing” tab. If not, put them in now. You do not have to have “Enable pinging” checked now, but make sure it is checked before you post your first article.
You may see an error message about your log file. If so, it’s easy to fix. Open any plain text editor, such as Notepad or WordPad (but not Word) and save an empty page as “smart-update-pinger.log” (without the quotes). Then, FTP it up to your wp-content directory (/public_html/yourdomain/wp-content). That should do the trick.
Settings – XML Sitemap
As I said before, Google and the other search engines love it when you make it easy for them by automatically updating your sitemap each time you post a new article, and that’s what this plugin does. If you scroll way down to near the bottom, you may want to set Change Frequencies to reflect how often you plan on posting: daily, weekly or monthly.
The really important box is the 4th from the top – “Status.” Click to build your sitemap for the first time. You will probably get an error message about not being able to find sitemap log files. Not to worry. Here is what to do…
Open up a text editor, such as WordPad or Notepad (not Word) and save a blank file as “sitemap.xml” and another one as “sitemap.xml.gz” (both without the quotes). Save them to your desktop or anywhere handy. Then, FTP them up to your root directory (public_html/yourdomain/).
Manage – Posts
Delete “Hello World.” If you only edit it, its title will remain in the name of this post, no matter how many keywords you plug in when you re-title it. Don’t bother. Delete it now and start fresh later. You don’t want the search engines to think your site is about “yourdomain.com/hello-world.” You want them to know it’s about “yourdomain.com/lots-of-keywords.”
Manage – Pages
Delete “About” for the same reason.
Manage – Links
Delete all the WordPress links. If you check the top box, it will automatically select them all, so you only need to press “Delete” once.
Design – Themes
WordPress starts you set up with the Default theme, which looks pretty boring. Just click the name of your new theme to install it. You can “visit site” now if you want, but it will look a bit strange until you have written your first post.
Design – Widgets
Widgets are great. They let you add components and move them around with a great deal of flexibility even if you are not a whiz at writing html code. I like the text wizard because into it you can simply copy, for example, the coding for a Google AdSense ad or the html code for a banner graphic from an affiliate program, and paste it in. You start by selecting the area where you want the widgets to go. Different themes have different areas, such as header, left sidebar and right sidebar.
In the right column you’ll see “Current Widgets.” Click the pull-down menu button right below it to see how many choices you have of where widgets may go. Select one and click “Show.”
In the left column, locate the widgets you want to add to that area and click “Add.”
If you have added more than one widget, you can click on them and drag them up or down into position.
Note that each widget may be edited by clicking on “Edit.” The default title for the “Pages” widget is “Pages” but, for this website, all I did was edit the widget and wrote in “Web Building Steps” in the title box.
If you’ve installed the Subscribe Me plugin, it will appear as a widget. I usually put it toward the bottom of the left sidebar. Don’t forget to click on “Save Changes” after you’ve moved everything into place.
Design – Theme Editor
This one is not for those who are easily frightened. I was scared stiff the first time I deleted or added coding from one of the theme pages. But if you make a mistake and you can’t correct it, simply re-FTP up a fresh copy of the file you “broke” and all will be like new again, ready for you to change more carefully next time.
On this particular website, in the Blue Zinfandel theme, the names of the pages automatically appeared in the horizontal menu bar below the main title and subtitle. But I deleted them, and instead installed the Pages widget onto the left toolbar, renaming it Web Building Steps. In the empty space in the header where the pages used to be, I inserted a Google Ad Link bar. The file where I made the changes is “header.php”.
Before you can edit any of the theme components, you will need to change their permissions via FTP so they are writable.
Over the next few weeks I will be writing posts that describe in greater detail, with illustrations, how to edit theme pages and change permissions.
The “Users” tab on the far right menu bar is only useful if you want to add or change a name that is credited with having published posts. This is another opportunity for you to add another keyword to your pages. If you signed in as “Admin” that is the name that will be tagged onto every post you make. Why not change the author’s name to “travel writer” or “Your Name” or “another useful keyword phrase?” You can do that through the “Users” tab.
8. Promote with Links
Anyone who believes “If you build it they will come” is relevant to the Internet is probably living in a Field of Dreams. The reason why this chapter is positioned ahead of monitization is because if you do not get any traffic, there is no need for offering anything to buy. Before you can make money on ads or selling anything else, you need traffic. This chapter will give you a lot of different ways to get people flocking to your website, or at least to get your keyword phrase(s) ranked well in search engines.
Google and other search engines like websites that have backlinks. A backlink is a link on someone else’s site that links to yours. The most effective backlinks are ones that are anchored to good keywords. For example, here is the coding for a good backlink for this website:
<a href=”http://www.ahsanulkabir.com/”>Ahsanul Kabir</a>
The anchor text is “website building tutorial.”
But all backlinks are not created equal. Google gives importance to backlinks in proportion to the page rank of the site they are situated on. A backlink on a PR5 page is better than a backlink on a PR1 page. To be able to see the Page Rank of a page you are visiting, you can install a free Google toolbar from http://toolbar.google.com. There are also some free online pagelink checkers you can visit, but I have found their results do not always match those on my Google toolbar.
One way to get free links is to list your site in a free web directory. Here is one of the best ones I have found, as long as you are located in Canada – CanLinks.net. If you do a search for “free directories” you’ll find a gajillion of them, but most of the free ones have low page ranks, and most of the better ones require a reciprocal link. One of them is mine. It’s at http://www.newagewebdirectory.com and it has a PR4 ranking. You don’t need to provide a reciprocal link, but there is a one-time charge of $5.
An excellent way to get free backlinks is to write articles and submit them to article directories such as http://www.ezinearticles.com and http://www.goarticles.com. The first is a PR6 site and the 2nd a PR3. They both allow you to put backlinks into the resource box area at the end of your articles. This technique of writing original articles and submitting them to directories works so well that some internet marketers do not even build websites. They simply write articles about products for sale and include their affiliate links to the product’s sales page in the resource box. This is known as “bum marketing.”
Here are more way to get backlinks…
Sign up for forums that are pertinent to your topic, and include your backlink in your signature file. Whenever you post a comment, your backlink will be included.
Visit blogs that pertain to your topic and make comments on relevant posts. When you comment, include some keywords as part of your name, for example, I could leave my name as Robert – Website Tutorial. That will be linked to whatever URL I write in.
You can also create videos and post them onto YouTube. Put your keywords in the video title and your URL in the description.
Sign up for social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and put links to your site in your profile.
Send out press releases. The better online press release sites (such as PRweb.com) charge a fee, but there are also some free ones. Google “free press release submission” and see what you can find.
Proof this system works
On June 21, 2008 I registered a dotcom domain for $8.41. I posted four original articles on it (3 posts and 1 page) none of which appear anywhere else on the internet. I added links to it from 2 of my other sites that are PR5 and PR4, and also listed it on two free directories rated at PR5 and PR2. I did not submit any articles to any article directories.
Four days later, at noon on June 25, I did a google search for “my primary keyword phrase” and saw to my great surprise and delight that my site was ranked number 8 out of 26,400. Granted, it’s a pretty tiny niche, but nevertheless, I am convinced if I had built a “regular” website instead of using WordPress, I’d never have been indexed so fast and ranked so high in only four days.
There are two kinds of website builders — those who already have something to sell, and those looking for something to sell.
If you’ve already had a book published, or if you’re a freelancer with services to offer, you’re in category #1, and you can probably skip most of this chapter. But what you may need help with is the perennial problem of how to collect money from your customers in a transaction that is as secure and painless as possible for both parties.
Will that be Cash or Chargex?
If you’re doing thousands of dollars in sales per week, then you should be signing up with Moneris and handling the VISA, MasterCard and American Express charges yourself — or rather, having one of your people do it. But most small entrepreneurs need a simpler solution. I’ve found PayPal to be the answer. I sell a few back issues of my magazines, a few dog training DVDs, and a few assorted eBooks a month through PayPal, and my customers and I are satisfied. Not that I haven’t heard people curse PayPal up and down. It does have its detractors. But I’ve never had any problems with them, and that’s why I’m recommending you get an account with them. It really makes it easy when you need to add funds to your NameCheap account. Mind you, they will ding you a bit when you’re converting US dollars to Canadian and then transferring them to your bank account. Chalk it up to the cost of doing business.
When your website starts attracting significant numbers of visitors, then you may want to think about selling advertising space on it. Depending on how small and obscure your niche is, I’d say about 200 unique visitors per day would be the minimum threshold for being an attractive medium for potential advertisers. You’d have to set a reasonable rate, decide whether to accept banner graphics or text only ads, and work out several other different logistics. It’s definitely do-able. I know, because I’ve been doing it for several years.
There’s also a much easier way to do almost the same thing. That’s to put up Google AdSense ads. There is no minimum requirement for the number of visitors you get, but Google does insist that you have a website up and running before you can sign apply. If you do, I highly recommend that you take time and carefully read their terms and conditions. Because it’s easy to violate them, and if you do, Google can express its displeasure by canceling your account and making it difficult for you to get another one.
I have found Google Adsense to be a good source of on-going monthly income. You can sign up for it, or get more details here: https://www.google.com/adsense/g-app-single-1
Before we move to other affiliate programs, I want to let you know about the ability to have people compose messages and send them to you from one of the pages on your website. Here are a few suggestions for how you could use this feature…
For freelance writers to invite potential customers to request a quote on a job
For people who have purchased advertising to send you the text of their ad and other details
For readers to subscribe to your free newsletter
There may be several different WordPress plugins that will let you set up an interactive form, but the one I’ve used most successfully is the Secure Form Mailer Plugin from Dagon Design. Here is the link: http://www.dagondesign.com/articles/secure-form-mailer-plugin-for-wordpress/
It takes a bit of fiddling around with before you get the hang of it, but if you can invest an hour or two to understand how it works, I think you’ll be happy with the results.
There is serious money to be made using affiliate programs. One of my websites was built for the sole purpose of selling a micro-niche product that has a price tag of $250 and a commission rate of 20%. I built the site last year, and so far I’ve sold $7,178.85 worth of products, earning $1,376.82 in commissions. Not too shabby a return for an investment of $8.41 and about 8 hours of work.
The product is very, very strange and obscure. Truly “off the radar” and if you want to know more, well, my lips are sealed. I will say, though, that the best niches are little-known ones in which the buyers are passionate about their hobby or interest. Some of the best known niches are golf, bodybuilding, weight loss and pets — areas about which the enthusiasts are more enthusiastic than frugal. In other words, shoppers who are eager to buy — even over the internet.
Here is a list of some of the most popular companies where you can apply to become an affiliate to collect commissions from sales: eBay.com, Amazon.com, Commission Junction, ShareASale, and ClickBank.
I have had a good deal of success with several of the hundreds of different affiliate sponsors ShareASale.com has available. Some of them automatically approve publishers (webmasters) while others require passing the merchant’s scrutiny.
Another affiliate program I have had reasonable success promoting is MyHelpHub.com. They have a fairly wide range of downloadable products in several strong niches, including computer security, self-growth, anti-aging, and creative writing. Several of their promotions involve giving away thousands of dollars worth of software free, a good way to attract people’s attention. Here is a link to MyHelpHub.com.
The degree of success you have with affiliate sales is very likely proportionate to the number of visitors who come to your site. If 5% of your visitors click on your Google Adsense ads, you’re doing pretty well. If 5% to 10% of the people who click on your affiliate ads actually buy the product, you’re doing about average. Click-through rates and conversion rates, of course, have many variables. Where is the ad placed on the page? How compelling is the affiliate’s sales pitch? etc. etc.
Whatever the goal is you have set for your website to achieve, the number one most important thing you need to do for success is to attract new visitors and convince previous ones to come back again and again. You may be able to get them through your door once by the skillful use of keywords and search engine marketing, but to get them to want to bookmark your page and keep returning, you’ll need to keep providing content that is meaningful to them. And that leads us to the final chapter in this website building tutorial…
Perseverance — keeping at it on a regular basis, is the proven formula for making a successful website. If, at the outset, I gave you the impression that, in 24-hours you could have a successful website, then I was wrong. You can build a website that has the potential to become successful in a very short time. But getting it to the place where you are collecting tangible returns from your work and not just personal satisfaction is going to be a longer haul.
My recommendation would be to publish at least three posts during your first week, as well as doing at least two or three things that will give you backlinks. After that, probably once a week is the minimum amount of effort. Obviously, if you have the time and energy to write one or more new posts per day, you’ll get there even faster.
Someone recently told me that getting a new website well ranked in the search engines is a lot like chopping down a tree. There are many variable factors involved. How big and tough is the tree? How sharp is your axe? How hard and true can you chop? I hope that my website creation instructions will help you in choosing not only the right tools to use and the best way to use them, but also to locate the closest tree with the lowest-hanging fruit.
Structuring Your Website
Before you actually get working on your first website, I want to call your attention to the two basic building blocks of a WordPress site, Posts and Pages.
Posts are the articles that appear on your home page, with the most recent one at the top. They get filed into monthly archives automatically.
If I were a travel writer designing my first WordPress website, here are some of the things I would probably write as pages and not posts:
- My brief biography, including my areas of specialization, awards or other honours I’ve earned, and how to contact me
- Some of the best articles I’ve written, either as html files, links to PDF files, or links to online sources
- And a page about the books I’ve written and how to buy them (or failing that, maybe books or other things I recommend and how to buy them).
At least once a week I’d write a blog post with a minimum length of 200-words, and certainly no more than 1,000. If I had an appropriate photograph to illustrate the story, I’d include one.
And that’s about it.
I am suddenly reminded of two more tips about WordPress I want to pass along, regarding importing text and photographs.
I had been using WordPress for more than a year before I learned about one of its features. I wasted countless hours prior to gaining this knowledge. The issue is pasting text from a Microsoft Word page into a WordPress page. Word adds all kinds of formatting codes that foul up other software programs. I found that the best way to compensate was to copy a page from Word, paste it into a simple text editor like Notepad, and then copy it from Notepad and paste it into WordPress. This eliminated all the problems.
Boy, was I stupid!
There is an easier solution already built into WordPress. Do you know what the icon on the left of the image below is called?
It’s called “Kitchen Sink” and if you click it, you’ll find another whole row of available tools that had previously been hidden. And one of them…
…lets you paste text directly from a Word document by stripping away all the conflicting coding automatically.
I tell you this for two reasons. The first is obvious, to save you time in pasting from Word to WordPress. The second is the more important lesson. WordPress is filled with a lot of very powerful tools and useful features. If you will be smarter than me, and take some time to poke around in all of its dusty corners, learning how to use it correctly, that will be time well spent. It will probably end up saving you many frustrating hours.
Thank you for visiting my website and reading this tutorial on how to build your own website quickly and easily.