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What would your business be without a website? That’s where it all begins, and we’ve got plenty of information for you on how to get started. We have a handy DIY guide that takes you through a step-by-step process where you learn everything you need to know about launching a website — including securing your domain name and hosting provider, SEO, ways to make money from your site and much, much more.
For the nerds out there who like to get their hands dirty, we’ve got a web development series with all the juicy technical details. We also cover CMS (content management systems) in detail, easy-to-use website builders, CDNs (content delivery networks; to make your site faster), security solutions, and more.
- Getting Started
- Essential Site Building Blocks
- Ways To Boost Your Site’s Success
- SEO: All You Need To Know To Rank #1
- How To Make Money With Your Site
- Getting High-Tech
- Need Help With Your Browser?
If you’ve never created your own website, it’s confusing to know where to start. Fortunately, our comprehensive DIY guide tells you everything from how to build a website from scratch to how to drive traffic to your site. We cover every facet of building and owning your online business, from coming up with a name for your venture, to securing your domain name, making your pages load fast and rank well, addressing security concerns, monetization, social media, you name it!
One of the first things you’ll need is a domain name. This is the “.com” website address where your visitors will find you. We’ll share with you the secrets to selecting a good domain name for your site, something you’ll want to get right the first time because once you decide on a name it takes a lot more effort (and painful rankings losses) to switch.
Your domain name is where you build your online equity, and the address of your business as far as the world is concerned. Just like you take care of your house and office, it’s very important that you select a reputable domain registrar, so you don’t risk losing everything you worked so hard to build and invest in.
Building Your Site
When it comes to building your web pages, there are two main popular options (aside from building from scratch, which you don’t see as much these days unless you’re really into geeking out over code, or you’re a large enterprise with many custom needs):
Content Management System (CMS)
Like the wildly popular WordPress platform, is web software that allows you to create and manage the content on your website with nearly 100% control of the back end of your site.
Did You Know…
That WordPress powers one third of all the websites on the internet?
Although WordPress dominates the market (it’s behind 34% of all websites, and 60% of the CMS market), you have other good options. Which CMS is right for your website? Find out in our reviews of the best CMS platforms, where we give you the key features and pros and cons of some of the most popular platforms, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Blogger.
Another option is to use a website builder, online software that gives you easy, drag-and-drop tools to build your web pages. Although a builder doesn’t give you as much back-end (i.e. behind the scenes) control as a CMS, they’re popular because they require little to no technical knowledge and are often a one-stop shop for hosting, domain name management, site design and more. See our reviews of the best website builders like Weebly and Squarespace to learn more.
Where To Host Your Website
If you don’t go with a website builder that includes hosting, another big decision you’ll need to make early on is where you’ll host your site. If you don’t know much about web hosting, be sure to start out with our ultimate guide to web hosting, where we’ll explain how hosting actually works (hint: it’s the engine behind all those webpages you painstakingly created), and show you how to avoid common pitfalls when choosing a provider.
There are hundreds of hosting companies out there, but only a handful of reliable ones that will keep your site online so your visitors can find you and buy your products and services. This is one of the most important investments you’ll make, so take your time doing so. Our comprehensive review brings you the best hosting providers, updated annually. We cover small hosts to large, so you can find a reliable solution whether you’re running a large online store, a simple blog or anything in between.
Designing Your Site
Gone are the days of needing an expensive web site designer to make your site look professional and modern. Now you can use one of many website template services that offer polished, SEO-friendly and responsive (mobile-friendly) website designs for a fraction of the cost.
There are tons of template services that vary in design quality, variety of themes available, tech assistance and pricing. How do you weed through them all? We can help you get started selecting a website template that fits your needs.
We also can help you narrow down your options with our series of reviews for the
- Top website template services
- Best places to find free templates
- Best WordPress themes (for multipurpose pages, e-commerce, creative industries and much more)
Do you want the speediest website possible? You may want to consider dropping a few bucks for a content delivery network (CDN). CDNs speed up your website by caching its files in servers located around the world so the content gets delivered from each site visitor’s nearest location. Some hosting providers include a CDN in their higher-level pricing tiers, but you can also choose your own CDN by a provider that specializes in this. See our CDN reviews for some of your best options.
Also be sure to check out our guide on how to optimize your homepage, including down and dirty tips for on-page SEO, user interface and navigation menus, social media and more. These are some easy ways you can tweak your existing website to drive more traffic and deliver a better experience for your visitors.
SEO, which is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, is one of the most invested categories on the internet. This term basically refers to the ability to optimize your website to cater to the search engines.
The more a search engine likes your site and content, the higher you’ll rank, the more visitors you’ll receive, and the more product or services you’ll sell.
SEO: Old vs New
SEO is not what it used to be – stuffing a page full of keywords and hoping to rank for something by churning out content and getting as many people as possible to link to your page is a strategy of the past. Find out how modern SEO works in our comprehensive SEO guide.
Companies will spend billions of dollars on paid search campaigns (the advertising results you see at the top and side of the page when you search for something in Google, for example). Those same companies will invest heavily in organic search campaigns (the organic results are those you can’t buy, i.e. the main listing of results when you search for something in a search engine.
It’s a fact that the top results get the majority of traffic, so the goal is to get as high up in the organic results as possible. This tends to be a more sustainable strategy than paid search, because although it takes a lot more up front effort to rank highly, once you’re up there you can maintain your ranking with less effort, whereas the minute you stop funding your paid search campaign your traffic goes to zero.
Now that you have your website up and running, how can you earn money from all your hard work? It’s a bit more straightforward if you’re running an online store versus writing a blog, but our guide to monetizing your website gives you a variety of options, whether you’re an e-commerce veteran or a blogger just starting out.
If you’re a publisher, there are several ways to monetize your content-rich website. Learn about how you can utilize pay-per-click (PPC) platforms, like Google Adsense, Bitvertiser and others, to earn revenue to keep your site up and running.
For a more direct approach to monetizing your content, learn about affiliate marketing, where you earn commissions from referrals completed through your website.
If you like to dabble in the back end of your site or want to learn more about various technical concerns, be sure to check out our web development series. These articles cover everything from XML and XSLT tutorials and CSS assistance to tips on how to use chron jobs and C-panel. We even tell you how to build your own mobile app!
Let’s face it, to see your website you need your browser to work and behave. Whether you use Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, or Mozilla’s Firefox, we’ve got some tips to help you troubleshoot common browser problems. For example, want to know how to set your default browser or how to clear your cache and cookies in any browser (and even your mobile devices)? We’ve got you covered.
It’s also wise to test your website in as many browsers as possible so you can see what your potential customers are experiencing.
What website issues do you as a business owner face most often?
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