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Ten Steps to Creating your First Website:
March 30th, 2009 . by Hosting Ref

If you want to publish a web site and you don’t know anything about web hosting, it can be very frustrating. Even though web hosting companies try to make publishing a web site as simple as possible, it is very easy to get lost in the world of point-and-click low cost web hosting if you don’t know what you are doing. You may even have already gone to some cheap web hosting companies and started to sign up for hosting plan, but hesitated because you weren’t quite sure where to go once you gave them your credit card. However, if you are new to web hosting and want to create your first website, here are ten simple steps that you can follow in order to accomplish this:

  1. Decide on a Product or a Message That You Want to Sell or Distribute: People publish web sites for many different reasons, but what is yours? Are you selling a product, putting up personal pages, or sending out a message on behalf of a charity? Whatever the reason, you need to be clear about exactly what it is you want to accomplish and what is different about your site that offers something that people can’t get anywhere else. For example, if you want to sell a product like silver jewelry, there are thousands of websites that also sell it. There is stiff competition for every product that is out there, and you have to decide what makes your product so special that customers will choose to buy from your online store over everyone else’s.

  2. Check Out the Competition: Once you decided on a product to sell on your website (in this case we’ll stick with silver jewelry), and you’ve decided what is different about it (you custom design it yourself), then it’s time to take a look at who else is selling custom-made silver jewelry. You do this simply by typing key words into one of the search engines that have to do with custom-made silver jewelry and see what you find. If you notice, there are going to be a list of the top ten ranked sites that come up on the page, but then there are probably about 40 pages of web sites after that. This is pretty tough competition. Now is the time that you are going to have to go through every site and look at what they are selling and ask yourself some questions like: What kind of products do they have? What are their price points? What is their return policy? How much is shipping? What kind of payments do they take? Do they have a toll-free phone number? How is their site set up? What kind of outbound links do they have? Etc, etc, etc.

  3. Design Your Site on Paper: If you don’t know anything about web site design, that’s okay. Since web sites are organized by pages, we’re going to start designing yours with pages as well. Simply take as many sheets of paper as you want your website to be and make each sheet a page on your web site. Set up each page as a mock-up of what it will look like when it will be published on the Internet. Include elements like your logo, any artwork, products shots, product descriptions, any text or other content, links, a shopping cart, drop down menus, active buttons, or any other technical elements that will be part of your site. If you lay your pages out on a table or put them up on the wall, you can get an overall picture of what your site look like and how a visitor might get around it.

  4. Research Keywords: You should have a pretty good idea of what your site looks like by now, but how are people going to find it on the Internet? If you think back to when you checked out the competition in step #2, you remember that you found their sites by looking up key words. Well, that’s exactly how they are going to find you. So, at this point, you need to come up with some keywords that people will put into the search engines so that your site will come up in their search. There are some free web sites that offer information on keywords and their popularity that will help you pick key words. However, you want to pick as many keywords that you can rank for as opposed to popular key words that everyone tries to get. In the case of ‘silver jewelry,’ you might want to try ranking for something more specific like ‘custom made silver jewelry’ or ‘southwest silver jewelry’ where the competition isn’t a s great; this is as opposed to just plain ‘silver jewelry’ where the thousands of people will be competing against you.

  5. Generate Content Including Images and Text: Now that you have keywords, and you also have your web pages layout, it is time to generate some content. Content on your web site means having more than just pictures and descriptions of the product. If you notice when you do a keyword search, there are always what are called ‘sponsored results.’ These are the websites who pay for rankings. They use different methods, but unless you have a lot of cash, you will have to get your ranking organically, or by generating content with keywords that potential customers can find in a keyword search. Content can be articles about your product, company, mission, or organization that contain your keywords. Some of the articles can appear on your web site, and some will appear on other sites, with links back to your site. Don’t get too worried about content yet, just have your keywords ready, and some ideas that you can write about when you are ready.

  6. Pick a Domain Name: Now that you have keywords, and your ideas for your site are much more concrete and written out on paper, you are ready to pick a domain name. A domain name should be easy to remember, easy to spell, and have something to do with your product and your keywords. Keep in mind that picking out a clever name is not necessarily going to get you rankings or get you traffic on the internet. It is much better to pick out a name that reflects exactly what you are going to do with your site, which will be reflected in your keywords, which is what people will type in when they do a keyword search for your product. This is the best way to get rankings and traffic when you have a new site.

  7. Pick a Hosting Platform: Picking a hosting platform or operating system may take some research on your part if you don’t know anything about the technical side of low cost web hosting. The three choices for operating system platforms are generally Linux, UNIX, and Windows. Windows is the most expensive, but also the most easy to use and the easiest to get started with if you want to create the most professional looking web site with the least amount of computer or technical knowledge. This is because with windows, you can us FrontPage to create your site. With a Linux or UNIX operating system, you will either have to use the free site builder provided by the cheap web hosting company you sign up with, or learn enough about web applications, scripting languages and data bases to be able to to enjoy the immediate professional capabilities of software like FrontPage. If you are just starting out, either option may be a bit overwhelming, so the best thing to do may be to take the free site builder offered by you hosting company to create your first site. Think of the free site builder as a learning experience. It may not have everything that other more professional sites will have, but it will give you the chance to learn what all of the different scripting languages do as well as all of the other basics of web hosting.

  8. Sign Up With your Hosting Company: Now it’s finally time to pick a web host. If you are going with a Linux hosting platform, you can pick almost any host that you want; with Windows, there are fewer choices. There are many reasons why you might pick one hosting company over another, but things to look for in a shared hosting plan are price, disk space, bandwidth, included features, and free features. Also, be sure to check out the data center, customer service, tech support, and uptime. Read the contract thoroughly before you submit your domain name for approval. Submitting your domain name is an important part of signing up with an affordable web hosting company. Domain names are like phone numbers in the fact that only one person can have a domain name because it identifies who you are on the Internet. Your web hosting company will do a domain name search for you to make sure that no one else has it and register that domain name for you for the next year. If someone has your domain name, they will make some suggestions, but you will have to keep trying until you find one that is unique. After that, you can sign the contract and pay for your website.

  9. Publish Your Site: Now, it’s time to build your web site. You will do this by using FrontPage, another software program, or the free site builder included in your web hosting package. Either way, you don’t have to panic; there will be step by step instructions and plenty of wizards to guide you. This is where you add your pictures and content that you have created to your web site. You can do this offline or online, and when you are finished, most hosting companies have an automatic publishing feature.

  10. Get Rankings: Once your website is live, you will want to look at getting rankings and getting traffic. One of the ways you can do this through Search Engine Optimization. This is method to get rankings by using your keywords and content to get links from other sites pointed back to yours. This is why when you create your web site, it is important that you pick a domain name, keywords, and content that will let you create a site that is relevant to what people are already searching for on the Internet. With relevant keywords and content you can get links to other sites and become a relevant presence on the Internet. There are many articles written about SEO on the Internet and once your site is created and published, you can explore all of the possibilities to becoming a highly ranked and successful site on the Internet.

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