Start a Website
How to start a Website is not as easy as most people think. To start a Website you first need a domain name...but before that you need to consider what you are going to include in the Web site.
In the following pages you will learn:
- How to select a domain name
- Why your domain name should not necessarily be your business name
- How to know what keywords people search for your product
- Terminology critical to your success
- Secrets used by the experts
Do you have a plan?
Before you start a Website you need to know if you are you selling something people want. How do you know? Do people know your business? Is your business well recognized? Will you need to market your Web site so that people can find you?
To start a Website and before you register a domain name, you need to plan what you are going to have in your site and include "keywords phrases" in the domain name.
Your pages can have whatever text you want, and the title can be whatever you want. But you need to consider "keyword phrases" for your domain name. Then you can move on to the next step.
If you would like help every step of the way, Join our Community Forum to get all the answers TODAY! Regardless of your abilities we provide the answers in whatever terms you need for whatever stage of development.
I have no clue about SEO
SEO services generally come after you have completed your Website and you want to "please the search engine God's". In brief, "great" SEO will get your Web site listed in the first few pages of search results - somewhere people can find your listing.
SEO services are necessary in order that the search engines know how to understand and categorize your Web site in their vast databases. SEO is also necessary so that people will find your Web site - that is what you intend. Right?
Why do I need SEO?
People like the guy to the left will tell you, "Because you need links, articles, or "social networking" to make your site popular.
What a load of garbage! Links will get you either pushed back several hundred pages, or even banned from the search engines. Articles - really? Do you go somewhere to simply read articles? Neither does anybody else. Social networking "might" work, if you "tweet" about your site - all day/every day. But nobody goes to social sites to find a business. Those things are not SEO. SEO is all about the "relevance" of your site - period.
You won't make a dime if the search engines post you 200 pages back in the searches. How will anybody find you? Look at "SEO" in our Glossary (below). That will give you the basic premiss for SEO.
You need SEO to get at least 1 page of your Web site in the first or second page of search results. Not many people go beyond the second page of results. SEO, if applied correctly, will "earn" you a place in those first or second page of search results.
What's that going to cost...?
SEO services are expensive because of the time necessary to study your subject, content, statistics and coding - not to mention the years it takes to become an expert applying optimization. Generally, it takes 20 hours to optimize 1 page.
If you hired someone "cheaply" (like the guy to the left), then you'll need to consider the fact that your site will never be found in the search engines. Any person or company with less than 5 years of extensive SEO experience should be passed over. Check references. If they don't have any, don't listen to excuses as to why. Just contact me.
Selecting a Domain Name
To start a Website let's consider the subject of the site. For the purposes of this e-book we are going to use "children's antique rocking chairs" as the main product - focus - for our Web site. However, our business in general is selling rocking chairs. You'll see why we are going to focus on only one part of our business for the Web site in this first section.
Who Wants Your Product?
We are going to start a website focusing on "children's antique rocking chairs" even though we sell more different types of rocking chairs. This is our "niche".
We searched in Google and already know that "rocking chairs" alone is very competitive with more than 5,600,000 pages in the search results. So we thought for a minute about how to find a "niche" in the rocking chair industry - something with less competition that would allow us to get into the top of the search engines. Once people find our site they will see we have more products. But the initial point of a Web site is to gain recognition and part of that process is to be found on the first page of search results.
For the record, yes, it "IS" possible to compete with nearly 10,000,000 other pages in the search engines. But don't attempt that without having several years of experience in SEO. Always remember that just because there are nearly 10,000,000 results doesn't mean there are that many competitors.
In the US there are nearly 28,000,000 businesses. You can be certain that half (or close) are "not" selling rocking chairs. Search results are a list of "pages" from Web sites, not a list of different Web sites. Many pages from many sites appear in the same search results.
After a little investigating, thinking of something less competitive but still related to what we do, we're ready for the next step. Your initial investigation will be to find a 2 to 3 word phrase that is searched a lot for something related to what product or service you sell. Nobody searches for 1 word, so don't attempt to build your site based on 1 word.
Selecting a Domain Name
To start a website selling children's antique rocking chairs we chose a business name of "Rock 'N You". Does this mean we want a domain name of rocknyou.com? NO! Forget trying to include your business name in your domain name unless your business name is "highly" relevant to what you sell. Our name is cute, but it doesn't tell the search engines anything. It takes several years for a domain name to be of value if it's not relevant to the site.
In order to start from the beginning correctly we need to look at how many searches are done for keyword phrases similar to what we are selling.
Here is your first "must bookmark" - Google AdWords: Keyword Tool - You will use that bookmark perhaps hundreds of times if you expect to stay on top of your competitors.
Using that new bookmark, search "childrens antique rocking chairs". Notice we removed the apostrophe in childrens and we used the plural of chair. This allows the widest and most accurate search for our purposes. Our purpose? To see how many people are searching what we are selling.
For you to understand the following please make sure you scroll down the list of keyword terms (from the search you performed using the above link to the Keyword Tool) and find the terms to which we will refer (following).
In the "Keyword Tool" results we can see only 210 (as of June 2012 - this changes monthly) people searched Google in the U.S. (national results are considered "local" in this tool) and 260 people searched Google worldwide (globally) for the term we searched. This means that other search engines may add to this number, but it's so low that we may have to re-think the "targeted" keyword phrase. This also tells us that not very many people are searching on the Internet for what we are selling.
Know Your Competition
Before you start a Website you need to know how much competition is on the Internet so that you know how to compete. Open another tab in your browser and go to Google.com. In Google, search - children's antique rocking chairs including the apostrophe.
You will see (among other things) the total number of pages in the search results - your competition. At the time of our search there were 171,000 results. In the results we see that the first 1 is eBay. Ok...not actual businesses but people selling the product all the same. This means there really is nobody who has optimized a Web site for the keyword term we are going to target.
After the eBay result are 2 sites before an "images" link. Those 2 are actual sites selling the chairs. After the images link, 1 more site selling chairs before eHow is listed - bringing the results up to 6 of 9 that we know are not competitors. 3 sites selling the chairs and 6..simply related. How to make one of these chairs is not considered competition. Most of the results are pictures or information, but not sites actually selling the chairs.
So that's a great thing to know. 6 results so far in the list of 9 search results in the "Organic Listings" have nothing to do with selling a similar product from a Web site. If we built a great site selling children's antique rocking chairs, we could very possible get on page 1 results.
But it's not that easy...there is a great deal of information you need to know in order to have the content written correctly, keywords in the meta tags, title and how much text should appear on the page you hope to get into the top search results. Oh...and only 1 page of your site will get there - the 1 that is most relevant. Other pages should be optimized for different keyword phrases.
How Much Competition?
This all means just 3 listings out of 9 are actually a business selling children's antique rocking chairs. WOW! See what we found?! Little to no competition - at least on page one search results.
Of the organic top 10 results we found 3 competitors. None of the search results has the term children's antique rocking chairs in the domain name. It's in 1 of the page names, but as part of some "info", apparently, and not a page selling this product.
We've determined that the competition is weak so now we're going to register a domain name with children's antique rocking chairs as all or part of the domain name.
Finally, The Registration Process
If you think you will have a lot of competition in the future you could register the .net extension too, assuring nobody else can use your exact same domain name with the .net extension. NOTE: There is no value in registering the same domain name another Web site uses but with a different extension (or TLD). It will most likely hurt you in the search engines.
Now that we have our new domain name we'll need to create pages with highly relevant content. In about 60 days after the Web site is completed our new site will appear in the first page of search results. In the next section we'll move on to hosting our new domain name.
Hosting and Web Design
You could spend a great deal of time comparing hosting companies. Here's what you need for hosting these days:
- Low pricing - packages starting at less than $7 per month
- Storage beginning at 1000MB
- Bandwidth beginning at 10GB
- Free software to create a Web site - easy to use
- Detailed instructions
- The ability to grow (after paying for the upgrade have your host move your files at no charge)
- FTP access
- 25 E-mail addresses
- Ability to install content management software automatically
- 5 databases
- PhpMyAdmin access
These are only a few of the things I recommend, but they are the minimum you should expect from your hosting company.
I recommend only 1 company - A2Hosting.com
And, before you ask, yes - they include everything listed in what every provider should offer. How can you be sure? Take a look for yourself.
How to Begin Hosting Your New Domain Name
The process is automated and simple. You don't need to know anything other than your domain name and a couple of things about your domain registration.
It may take you about 15 minutes to complete the process and remit your payment if you take your time. If you are quick you can have the entire process completed in 5 minutes.
Once you have set up your account you will be able to access everything immediately. You won't need to wait for any sort of approval. Simply log in to your cPanel (instructions will be E-mailed to you) and begin working with your Web site.
I am going to presume you have purchased hosting that offers the "cPanel", so please continue reading. Don't be talked out of including the cPanel. It will be very important for you to have in the future.
Joomla! and WordPress are the most popular content management systems (CMS). Both require at least "some" knowledge of using them, but can be used by anybody - with or without training. Both also require a "template" for the overall look of your Web site. So the next step in creating your Web site would be to research the template you feel would work best for your business. Once you have the template, the only thing left is adding the text for your pages.
To start a website there are a great deal of steps to follow, although not necessarily a specific order. So we've devoted a page in this section for people to better understand what's involved in the "how to".
Whether you are a beginner, someone with a little understanding of what it takes to make a site, or even if you are well-versed at creating a Web site, we've included information for everybody to learn.
To start a website it's necessary to understand some of the terminology that you will hear constantly when discussing or reading about Websites. Please take a few moments to review these terms. They will help tremendously as you are learning how to fix, edit or begin your project. You won't be tested on this information from T.A. Garrison, LLC, but trust me - you "will" be tested on this if you create your own Web site.
- Address = The address Internet users see is found in the address bar of their browser. This address, as we have covered, is the result of a registered domain name having been assigned an IP address. That combination appears as the address you see in your browser. Just as an address for a house or business, an address allows you to find a location. In this case, Internet locations are Web sites found through addresses using a domain name.
- Address Bar = At the top of your browser, whichever you use, there is a wide space with some text which could even be combined with numbers or other characters - like a question mark or ampersand. If you look at the top of your browser right now while reading this sentence you will see the following address in your address bar - http://www.ltcreations.com/web-design/start-a-website.html. That is the address to this page and we can create a hyperlink when pasted or coded into the text of this page. If you click on this hyperlink address you will see your browser take action - which will result in returning to page 1 of this 3 page article.
- Anchor = An anchor creates the hyperlink. It's not a tool but another "tag". The anchor tag is used to tell the browser that the text contained in the anchor is to be a hyperlink creating some action.
- CSS = Cascading Style Sheet is an independent file used to define the characteristics of a Web site. Using CSS you can control the font size, type, color, position, style and font family of the content. You can also control where things (such as images) appear on a page. Using HTML "tags" in the content of the page to define a specific area, the CSS contains the instructions for each "tag". CSS can also be defined within the page, although it is preferred to use an "external" CSS that is "called" from the page by HTML code. In milliseconds, when your browser arrives at an address it reads the HTML, finds the CSS and displays the content of the page. If the site is poorly coded the time to display the page may be more than a few seconds or up to several minutes for something really coded badly.
- Domain Name = Ex: ltcreations.com is a domain name; google.com is a domain name. A domain name identifies a specific IP address for a Web site and forms the URI or "address" to access that Web site. What you see after the forward slash (/) identifies the specific page of a domain name you are viewing. The domain name is the "user friendly" address which is defined by your specific IP address. You cannot have a domain name without an IP address, but you can have an IP address without a domain name.
- Domain Registration = The "legal" process of obtaining a domain name for your Web site.
- Hosting = Making your domain name (a.k.a. URI; address; Web site; etc.) accessible to the World Wide Web (WWW). Unless your domain name is hosted by a quality hosting company, nobody can access your Web site. A hosting company pays for connection to a "Pipe" which is a main connection to the Internet through one of several phone utility companies (i.e. AT&T; Verizon; Century Link; Sprint; Cogent; SBC; NTT; Level3; XO; Savvis). Those companies provide the phone lines and hosting companies lease service to those lines.
- HTML = HyperText Markup Language is one of many "languages" used on the Internet. Although there are many different languages programmers use to display things on a Web site, every language must use HTML along with any other language in order for the Web site to display anything. HTML is the foundation (or "building blocks") of the Internet. Although there are many versions of HTML, the base of the language remains the same. The newer the version of HTML used in a Web site, the more modern applications that can be used in that same Web site. To see an example of HTML, right click on this page with your mouse and select "View Source" or "View Page Source" depending on your browser.
- Hyperlink = When you see text that is "different" and usually underlined to indicate that you can "click" on the text and an "action" results, that's a hyperlink. A button can also be a hyperlink. A hyperlink is something that causes an action if you click on that item. This "Community Forum" text is a hyperlink. If you click on that "link" the resulting "action" takes you to my Community Forum. If you are a member and logged in, you will go right into the forum by clicking on that link. If you are not a member or not logged in to the site, you will see a form to log in, or you can select any of the categories and/or threads to read.
- IP address = Internet Protocol address. Every Web site and computer connected to the Internet is defined with an IP address. An IP address is a block of 4 groups of 1, 2 or 3 number combinations separated by periods (i.e. 220.127.116.11 - if that random number happens to identify you it was not intentional). Like the address on your residence, this block of numbers identifies your specific Web site or computer. If you do not have an address you cannot get any mail, utilities and you would not be able to tell anybody where you live. In reality, you do not exist on nor have access to the Internet without a legal residence IP address. You can look here - What is my IP address? - to see how you are or a Web site is identified.
- Keyword = A word that in and of itself is very descriptive of the subject or text found on that specific 1 page.
- Keyword Phrase = A phrase (term) or combination of words that is very descriptive of what text is found on that 1 page.
- Link = Although most people use the word not everybody understands what it means. This word is simply an abbreviation or "slang" term for Hyperlink.
- Meta Tag = This is a specific type tag placed between the <head></head> tags of the HTML document (page). The meta tag is used to provide information the search engines such as what the page is about, the title of the page, the author, etc. This tag is the most misunderstood and misused tag of any found in a page. It's used to identify the keywords and phrases found in the page, and is used to describe what "should be found" on the page as well as a few other identifiers. Unfortunately for many sites, developers do not use the tag correctly and the site owner suffers.
- Niche = A small portion of a large subject. Rocking chairs is a very general subject and covers a lot of information. Antique rocking chairs is a portion of the rocking chair business and may be easier to compete. Children's antique rocking chairs would be an even smaller portion of the business and certainly be considered a small niche business. Find a niche so that you can more easily compete in your industry.
- Organic Results = When you search something in a search engine, "organic results" are the those you see with a white background in the center of the page. Often they are found under a colored area which contains paid listings. To the right of the "organic results" you see a column with a list of "Ads" or "Paid Listings". All search engines show 10 organic results per page. The colored area at the top of the search results in Google are "Paid Listings" in addition to the list on the right. People pay for those positions. The "Organic" listings are those attained by either SEO or a lot of traffic. If you see a site in the top 10 organic listings that is not very well optimized, that tells you the site has a great deal of traffic and the competition for the top 10 positions haven't done much (if any) SEO. You have a good chance to attain a top 10 position - a position on the first page of search results without paying for "Ads" - if those listed have little traffic and poor SEO.
- Relevant = Having significant and demonstrable bearing on the subject at hand. Or, the text on the page is extremely obvious to anybody about the subject of the page. EX: If the page is supposed to be about rocking chairs and the entire contents of the page discuss and obviously relate to rocking chairs (no stories about grandparents or antiques), then the page is highly relevant. If a page is about rocking chairs and the text includes a lot about "unrelated" subjects such as car parts, the text is not relevant.
- SEO = Search Engine Optimization is such a complex subject we are not going to cover much of it here. In short, it's the process of combining tags, code and content to make a page as "relevant" to specific search keywords or phrases (found in your site) as possible. The more "relevant" to specific keywords and keyword phrases your page is found, the better chance you have to attain a top 10 position in the search results. Pictures do not count. Think of your Web site as a large map and each page of your site is a smaller map within the large map. The content of your site is the families living in each part of your map, fire hydrants on the streets, trees, houses, etc. SEO is the legend for your map. There are very specific labels to indicate things on the map including the families and the number of people in each family. If the family changes in number, the map then changes and so must the legend or the legend becomes "less relevant". Each map (page) is like 1 single block in a neighborhood. They may be connected, but each block is significantly different than any other due to the number of homes, vehicles at each home and the number of family members. SEO has to define all of that information so that the search engine knows how to catalog each and every block in the maps. If something is wrong with the map legend (SEO), people can't find that map because it's been considered "less relevant" or "irrelevant" and is then placed some 10 to hundreds of pages back in the search engines. So, nobody will find anything on your map(s).
- TLD = Top Level Domain. This refers to the "extension" after the period in a domain name. The .com TLD is the most popular by far, followed by .net and .org. There are about 50 TLD's, but you may only be familiar with perhaps 5 or 6. If you'd like to know a "lot" more you can check out Wikipedia.
- Tag = This refers to the HTML tags that are used to define something on a page. There are tags for anchors, meta information, titles, body, and literally hundreds of HTML items. A tag tells the browser what to do with a specific part of the page and provides information for the search engines. All pages of a Web site must have the content contained within "opening" and "closing" html <body></body> tags. Everything you see in a page is contained within the body tags. Because there are hundreds of tags there is no room nor value in listing them here. If you need more help with tags please visit our "Community Forum" where all of your questions will be answered.
- Target = In reference to SEO, this means the keyword phrase or keyword term you use in your content and page(s). You need to determine what keyword term you should target based upon the knowledge of how many people are truly searching that term. Then you know people "can" find you in the first 2 pages of the search engines after you apply SEO correctly. "Target" can also be something you add to a "hyperlink". If you want a new window to open when someone clicks on a hyperlink, you would add the code target="_blank" to the anchor tag. You can target a new window, the same window (or parent), or some other reference you may need using the target code.
- URI = A "uniform resource identifier" (URI) identifies a resource either by location, or a name, or both. In most instances, we use a URI to define a location to a resource.
- URL = A "uniform resource locator" (URL) is a specialization of URI that defines the network location of a specific resource.
NOTE: A URI is an identifier for some resource, but a URL gives you specific information to obtain that resource. The acronym URL is used quite often when the correct acronym is URI. Among technicians, there "could" be a time when URL would be correct. The general public uses and references a URI. More often than not, URI is the correct term to use when referring to the location of resources (a Web site or page) on the World Wide Web (WWW).