How to Make a Website: A Complete Guide (2016) - by LukaB Whether you want to start a website for fun or to make money, you’ll first have to learn how to make a website. Making a website is not difficult at all. In fact you can have a website running in less than 10 minutes for under $15. Since the online industry is growing rapidly and everyone wants to have a website, I’ve been getting a lot of questions when it comes to building a website. So to make things easier for everyone, I’ve decided to write up this blog post on how to make a website, a complete guide. Registering a Domain First things first, you’ll have to decide on a domain name. If you’re a business, the ideal domain name would be your company’s name with the .com extension. There are hundreds of domain extensions, but the most common ones are .com, net & org I would personally suggest going for a .com, if it’s taken & there is no website (no competitor), I would suggest either trying to find a different domain name or register the .net extension. For non-profits/organizations, I would suggest .org. If you’re a business in a country outside the US, you should consider going with your country’s domain extension. There are different tools online that can help you come up with a name. I personally use the following two. BustaName – Great tool to see whether a domain is available. They also have a “Word Combiner” which combines the word (with your settings) and tries to come up with available domains. Thesaurus – Shows you alternative words that have the same & similar meaning. I often use this when naming my services & businesses. It’s great to use when writing for your website too. A Domain name should not be long, it should be easy to remember & brandable. After deciding for the name, you’ll have to register it. Depending on the domain extension, the price range for a .com is usually $7-$10 per year (Tip: Domain registrars usually have coupons available). Here’s a list of domain registrars & their pricing, you can use to register your domain. Note: “Whois Protection” is whether you want to hide your personal/contact info of the domain from the public. **Pricing is per year** iPage (read below) offers great web-hosting and also offers a free domain name when you sign up with them. Things to Consider when Choosing a Domain Name Brandable – Make it sound professional. “DogAcademy.com” sounds better than “dogtrainingtips.com” Catchy - It should stick in the person's head. It should be easy to remember Easy to Type - Avoid using words that are complicated to type. Short - The shorter the better. It will be more catchy, easier to remember & type Choosing a Web Host A web-host is simply a place where the files of your website are stored, giving everyone who has access to internet to access your website. This step is simple, yet very important. Different web-hosts offer different features, however usually the regular plans work. It’s important to choose a proper web-host the your site loads fast, and there are no interruptions such as your website going down. In most cases, a regular web-host plan is enough. There are free web-hosts out there but I would highly discourage the use of those. They are slow, fill up your site with ads and many other things you don’t want to deal with. Here’s a list of the top web-hosts I recommend (& had personal experience with). Personal Recommendation: iPage – They were founded in 1998, and serve over 1 million clients. You also get a Free Domain Name (1 Year). No other competitor can compete with their quality of support. They offer 24/7 live support. For $1.99 you get over $500 worth of features (incl. $200 advertising credit), check the image below for what’s included. Their servers are fast and your site(s) shouldn’t have interruptions. But nonetheless, all of the 4 web-hosts above are great and any should do fine. Signup for iPage Today! iPage (Non-Aff link): CLICK HERE After signing-up for a web-host, you will be given nameservers. Then you have to head back to your domain registrar and add the nameservers to your domain. In other words, this is basically linking your domain name with your web-host. Deciding on a Platform This step involves deciding on which platform you want to use. If you are building a forum, I would highly suggest vBulletin (paid) or SMF (Free). In most cases, whether you are building a website, blog, magazine or anything else, the three platforms below do the job. Most Popular Platforms (Credits: OpenSourceCMS.com) As you can see, over 50% of the websites use Wordpress. Wordpress is absolutely free, and it is what I would recommend for almost anything. They even also offer forum plugins/templates if you’re going to build a forum. Wordpress is incredibly well-coded, and very easy to use. You don’t need to have any prior experience to understand how to use it. Almost all web-hosts have “Fantastico” which is a feature making the installation of such platforms hassle-free. With Fantastico, you can have your Wordpress blog up within a minute, you’ll just have to fill in some basic info (blog title, email etc) and you’re set. I would encourage you to use Wordpress over Drupal & Joomla. Nonetheless, you should look at different platforms and see which fits you more. Choosing a Theme As you can see, over 50% of the websites use Wordpress. Wordpress is absolutely free, and it is what I would recommend for almost anything. They even also offer forum plugins/templates if you’re going to build a forum. Wordpress is incredibly well-coded, and very easy to use. You don’t need to have any prior experience to understand how to use it. Almost all web-hosts have “Fantastico” which is a feature making the installation of such platforms hassle-free. With Fantastico, you can have your Wordpress blog up within a minute, you’ll just have to fill in some basic info (blog title, email etc) and you’re set. I would encourage you to use Wordpress over Drupal & Joomla. Nonetheless, you should look at different platforms and see which fits you more. Things to Consider When Choosing a Theme Lightweight - Go for themes that are simple, and not overloaded with features. Your site should load fast (Use Pingdom to test theme speed) Responsive – This is a must today. The theme should be well optimized for all browsers, mobile phones & tablets User Experience – It should be easy for a visitor to navigate through the theme Features – Does the theme have all the features you want (ie sliders, columns etc) Customizability – It should be hassle-free for you to customize Rarity – If the theme looks like every other website, I’d suggest finding a different theme Within the Wordpress admin platform, you can search for free themes. However if you want more features, I would recommend heading over to ThemeForest.com , it is a theme marketplace for multiple platforms and there are thousands of options. Usually Wordpress themes with a lot of great features, responsiveness & all the requirements go for $30-$60. Wordpress Plugins Plugins improve your Wordpress blog and bring more features. There are both, free and paid plugins. Paid are usually the ones with very specific features. Unless you need those features, you’re fine with free plugins. Below are the must-have plugins. WordPress SEO by Yoast – This plugin will optimize your website to make it more search engine friendly Wordpress Super Cache – Great for speed. Your site won’t have to load heavy php scripts again Backup Buddy/BackWPup – Essential. It’s always good to have a backup for your website. You can schedule backups with this plugin WordFence – Protects your site from viruses & malware Gravity Forms/Contact Form 7 – Decide on one. They are both great plugins to add a “Contact” page to your website. Gravity Forms offers other types of forms too Disqus – This is a great third party commenting system Redirection – If the user stumbles upon a page on your website that doesn’t exist, it will tell them to go back to your site instead of showing a dead page Broken Link Checker – Checks your blog for broken links WP-Optimize - Cleans your database with a touch of a button Google Analyticor – You have to see track how many visitors come to your site, from which country, from what referral and etc SumoMeShare/Shareaholic – Choose one for social buttons. Social networks are a great & easy way to drive traffic to your website These are the basic plugins. Depending on your business, you may need a gallery, or some other feature. You can Google it and you will find a lot of different plugins. If not, you can have your own plugin made (expensive). Content is King You will start hearing the phrase “Content is King” often in the online world. And it really is true. Having high quality content not only engages your audience with your website, but it also helps tremendously with getting ranked well on search engines such as Google, Yahoo & Bing. Take a look at the most successful websites & blogs online, they have superb quality content that people love reading. As you populate your website with content not only will you get more readers, but you will establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Your content should be informative, engaging and easy to read. Don’t use fillers to make the content longer, it just won’t work. Take a look at Wikipedia, it’s a huge site literally filled with very lengthy informative content, and they rank incredibly well in the search engines. “I have a static website, should I add a blog?” Many businesses out there have a static website and never update their website after it goes live. Yes, they may have a brilliant service with a great website but they are missing one thing: a blog. Whatever industry you’re in whether it’s medical, auto-industry or even a tile-installation service, you should consider adding a blog to your website. With a blog that has quality content & is updated regularly, search engines will give you much more love. And not only that, but your “potential” clients will read your blog and see that you are an expert in your industry, and you’ll be able to close them much easier. Tips: - Make your headlines engaging so people will want to open it. - Write as many quality posts as possible. The more you have the more visitors you should be having. Make it engaging so it is shared in social media platforms by your audience. - Make your content appealing by using relevant appealing images. This will also improve traffic through social media sites because the display image will be relevant. - If you want to build a reputation for your name, add a photo of you & bio so and display it below every post, or on the side of your blog. Marketing Your Website Online Great, so now you have a great looking website built, with lots of great content. You’re missing one thing, traffic. In the online world, we refer visitors as “traffic.” The goal is to have as much high quality traffic as possible. The more quality traffic, the more money/clients you make. Depending on your website, there are different ways you can market your website. Below are some great, very easy basic ways to start driving traffic to your website. Social Media – One of my favorites, easy & effective. Get on Facebook, Twitter, and all other major social media platforms. Share your blog posts, engage with your target audience, even advertise through those platforms if you have the budget for it .Build an audience, a fan-base who will follow you wherever you go. SEO Marketing – I will talk about this one in the next step. Paid Advertising – Websites like Facebook & Google offer paid advertising. Read up a lot of guides on them and then test them out. You can also use BuySellAds.com to buy banner space on websites, make sure you have a good banner that people will click on. Or manually find niche-related websites and contact the owners regarding advertising. Reddit, Stumbleupon & Digg - Easy way to get instant traffic. Share your new blog posts up there. Although the traffic may not be as quality, it still converts. Q&A – Get on sites like Yahoo Answers & Quora and answer questions related to your niche. This will build you a reputation for being an “expert” in the industry, and can also drive traffic. Don’t spam, make sure your answers are good and that the link you drop is actually closely related to the question. (Note: Refer to the “BuzzBundle” sub-headline below). Guest Blogging – Contact other blogs and offer them to write a blog post for their blog, in exchange for a link to your website. Another way to build a reputation as an “expert” in your industry, bring traffic & effective for SEO. Tip: Google the following to find blogs that do guest posts: “[Keyword] guest post” & similar phrases such as “[Keyword] guest post by”. Neil Patel has written a great guide on guest posts here (http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/04/01/how-to-get-your-guest-post-published/). Eventually, you could invite others to write guest posts on your website, and they’ll end up promoting their post. LinkedIn – Connect with people in your industry & post your new posts up there. Email Lists – Have people signup for your email list (Tip: Give them an incentive to) and then whenever you release a new post, you can email them all. Probably your most quality source of traffic. Comment on Other Blogs – Comment on other blog posts related to your industry. Don’t spam, and make the comment useful. If you spam, it will ruin your reputation. Engage With Your Audience – If they leave a comment, reply to their comment. If they email, reply to their email. Take care of them, and they will take care of you. Get on Youtube – Another very effective way to build a reputation as an expert in your industry. Talk about a problem many people have to have more views, put your face out there. Interview Influencers - Interview other influencers in your industry, whether it’s through video or text, and put it up on your blog. They will also promote that blog post. Forums – Engage in forums in your industry. Put a link/banner in your signature. Be informative and help others, and you will get traffic. Email Signature – You most likely email with other people in your industry. Add your blog in your signature, they’re most probably going to click on it. Cross-Promotion - Engage with other influencers in your industry and cross promote one another, whether it’s through email subscribers, social media or websites. Infographics – This will most likely be paid unless you design them yourself. Have high-quality informative infographics made related to your industry, and share them. A very effective method. Trendy Topics – Write up blog posts about topics that are currently trending, people are more likely to read them. Tips: - Don’t give up. You may not start seeing traffic right away, but continue engaging with other people in your industry and you’ll eventually start seeing traffic pouring to your website. Don’t try to force people to go to your website by spamming as it will also kill your reputation. - Having subscribers is incredibly valuable. Don’t spam them with links to your blog posts. Engage with them, give them freebies, and have them fall in love with your content. You want to have them look forward to receiving an email from you. - If you’re a business/service, consider going to seminars/conferences in your industry and engaging with others while promoting your website. These visitors are usually of very high value. - Spy on your competition. See what ways they market themselves, and copy that. - Make use of Google Analytics. See the sources of where your traffic comes from, and focus on those. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) This one tends to be more difficult than others .But once you do it properly, you can have a lot of traffic coming to your site and increasing an audience-base fairly quickly afterwards. Organic traffic is one of the best sources of traffic you can get. SEO requires time & patience, depending on what you’re after. Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website to make it more search-engine friendly and then building links so you can rank better. There are 2 parts to SEO. The first part is on-page SEO. This is the process of making your site & content search-engine friendly .Meaning writing quality lengthy blog posts, internal & external linking (linking to other parts of your blog, and even to other websites), proper keywords in your title & content, and much more. The second part is off-page SEO. This part is building quality backlinks to your website. There are a lot of different ways you can get backlinks, these include guest posts, forum profiles, blog comments, directory submission, links from other blogs and much more. I cannot express how important it is for you to read a lot about SEO. Building bad backlinks can kill your website from search engines, and that’s the last thing you want. I would highly suggest reading Moz’s guide on SEO which can be found here(https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo). After that, if you want to learn even more, you can read “The Advanced Guide to SEO” (http://www.quicksprout.com/the-advanced-guide-to-seo/) by Neil Patel. It’s a very informative guide that will help you increase your SEO knowledge incredibly. He also has a lot of videos related to SEO which I highly encourage you to watch. They can be found here [http://www.quicksprout.com/university/category/seo-videos/]. Again, I cannot express how important it is for you to understand SEO (and that it is always changing) before doing any SEO yourself. Tips: -Try targeting long-tail keywords, they are generally easier to rank. Use different keyword research tools to see for which keywords you should aim for. - If you’re paying for SEO (which you most likely will), don’t try to save money by going for cheaper services. In this game, it’s “you get what you pay for”. - Your permalinks should be set properly. Instead of having site.com/post1 , it’s more effective to have it as site.com/your-title-goes-here. Monetizing Your Website Depending on your industry, there are multiple ways to start monetizing your website. You should consider testing out different ways and see which brings you most money. I’d suggest spy on your competitors and other similar industries, and see what they are doing then improve. Membership Programs – Offer better-valued content to your audience by offering a paid membership. If your free content is of great value, they will gladly sign-up for your paid membership. Your Own Product – Great way to make big bucks. Launch your own product, whether digital or physical. Being an Affiliate – Promote other products/services for a commission. Depending on your industry, you can sign up for a CPA Network, Clickbank, Amazon & many others and start promoting. (Note: You can also promote via your e-mail list) Google Adsense – You get paid for each time someone clicks on your ad. Selling Banner Space – If you have a blog with quite some traffic, you can always make extra money by selling your banner space. BuySellAds (marketplace for banner spaces) allows you to put your banner up for rent. You choose your own pricing. Tips: - Compare different sources such as selling banner spaces vs using Adsense, see which brings you more money. - Make your site look professional, don’t put up ads everywhere, it will kill your audience. - If you decide to build a membership program or your own product, consider opening an affiliate program. Conversation Rate Optimization (CRO) I absolutely love and enjoy doing optimizing websites for better conversion rates. The results are quick, so you know you’re doing well. If you’re blogging, it’s still important, but this is primarily focused on landing pages for businesses/services. Test, test and keep testing. You can always optimize it better for more conversions. Experts charge a large amount of money to optimize your landing page, because it can bring a lot more sales especially if your landing page isn’t good. You’ll need to do A/B split testing on things such as what title headline to use, where to place your call-to-action(CTA) buttons and much more. There are useful tools out there that can tell you where you need to put more focus on. Google Analytics – a must have for tracking where your visitors come from, the amount of time they spend on your site, the bounce rate and many other cool features. KISSmetrics – Owned by Neil Patel, a CRO expert. KISSmetrics offers a lot of great features such as funnel reports, A/B split testing, revenue reports with channels & the ability to see how behavior changes over time. HotJar – An incredible product. Offers heatmaps, recordings, funnels, forms, polls & more. I’m in love with this one. Gives you an in-depth analysis of the behavior of your audience on your site. KingSumo – Headlines are extremely important. It’s the first thing a person usually reads on your site, so you better try testing different headlines. KingSumo offers exactly that. Optimzely – Great product for A/B split testing. Owned by two former Google product managers. Qualaroo – Custom insights, asking your customer why they decided not to buy, and any other question you want. LivePerson/Zopim – Both are live support chats. Great way to communicate with your potential clients and showing your bad ass customer support. Tips: - If you don’t have as much traffic, you should consider testing it longer so you have more accurate data. The more you test, the more accurate the data is. - Spy on your competitors, see what they’re doing, test & improve. Extra: BuzzBundle BuzzBundle is a great piece of software to generate traffic and build a reputation with your target audience. The software finds forums, blogs, Q/A and social media posts related to your desired keywords. Then when you want to reply/engage with one of the posts, it will use your profile (if you do not have one, it will create it for you automatically with the info you want). Straight up, this is a very easy way to generate a lot of traffic quickly. And the best thing about it is, there will always be new posts, so you will keep getting steady traffic as long as you spend time engaging. BuzzBundle offers both, free & paid versions. I have nothing but the positive to say about this software. Conclusion You can have a website built fairly quickly. The cost depends on the quality and other factors. Having a domain that’s easy to remember and is not long is vital as you have to consider that your target audience may even involve other countries. When it comes to web-hosting, iPage is my personal recommendation as you also get a free domain name with it along with great features and $500 worth of value. What platform you should go for depends on your business. However I would highly suggest going for Wordpress as it is extremely easy to use and there are a lot of themes and plugins available out there to improve your blog.