Anyone who wants to run a successful online business must start with a home base: their website. That’s where they share their story. Visitors will drop-by and see what solutions they find to their challenges and problems. Whether they click that “Subscribe” button or buy from you, depends on a number of factors. It won’t happen overnight, but if you promote your website the right way, you’ll achieve the success your business deserves. This post looks at some of the ways of creating and promoting a website. They can be adapted depending on what business you run (consulting, freelancing, writing, etc). Let’s break down the process in two chunks.
How to create a website
1. Register Your Domain Name
This is the foundation of creating your website. Godaddy, Namecheap and 1&1 are just a few of the domain registrars you can choose from. All of them have low prices and offer a variety of package deals to suit every need. When deciding for a domain name, give it some thought; use keywords relevant to your business. Also, since you need to be perceived as a pro, the best thing to do is go for a self-hosted website.
2. Choose a Hosting Service
The next step is to register your hosting account. I recommend you stay away from the free blogging platforms like blogspot.com or wordpress.com, and build a professional website using wordpress.org. Here you also have dozens of options, but I personally recommend Westhost, which I’m using myself. I chose them for two main reasons: they offer a superior service and are extremely affordable. You want a website you can have control over, that you own and have the freedom to use as you wish to offer your visitors the best experience.
3. A Minimalist WordPress Theme Makes Your Content Stand Out
When getting to this point, bear in mind that your website doesn’t have to be perfect or super flashy. A clean and minimalist theme with a professional look would do. Some of the best WordPress theme providers are: Theme Forest, Genesis and Elegant themes. This post from wplift can also be instrumental in giving you a few ideas about what would work best for your website.
4. Install Plug-Ins on Your WordPress Website
There’s no need to go overboard here either. Some of the plug-ins you’ll most need are Akismet, to protect your blog (assuming you have one) from spam; BackWPup, to automatically back up your WordPress website; WP Super Cache, to help make your site faster and protect it from crashing in case of traffic spikes; and, last but not least, Google Analytics, to measure your results.
5. Persuade Your Visitors with Your Web Copy
Now that your website is shaping up nicely, your web copy should be engaging and right to the point. Persuasive. When you start creating your web pages, picture your potential clients in mind. What makes them tick? Highlight your key points first. Let your visitors know from the get go what you can do for them. Keep in mind they will only have a quick look at your website to decide whether they should stay or leave. Besides that, if you don’t tell them what to do, if your pages don’t include a call-to-action, they’ll click the back button in an instant.
6. Not Ready to Launch Yet? No Problem. Create a Landing Page First
As an alternative to the previously covered points, you could just create a landing page that lets your visitors know you’d be launching soon, and build a strong offer – give them a free report or an e-book in exchange for their email address. Make sure you don’t come up with another freebie just because almost everyone does. The world wide web is inundated with those kind of things. Make it count. It has to be useful, informative and smart. Why? Because you need credibility to attract visitors and convert them into buyers. Let’s look now at some of the ways to earn Google’s trust.
How to promote your website
You need eyeballs to your product or services no matter what business are you in. Your main goal is to turn visitors into subscribers or buyers. But before you get there, you need to spread the word about what you do. Even the best product is useless if people don’t know about it.
7. Start Marketing Your Business Early
This is a key lesson both Buffer co-founders Joel Gascoigne and Leo Widrich learned and discussed in the early days of their startup. Gascoigne wrote in one of his blog posts that treating his product as finished was essential to immediately see the benefits.
Widrich pointed out, reflecting to his business partner’s words: “Take what you have, treat it as finished and push it out there.” He added: “People don’t sign up for your product after hearing about you for the first time.” You need to put it out there, so people can hear about it, see how it works and what it can do for them. In our quest to launch the perfect website (or blog) for the perfect business, we tend to keep postponing, waiting for the perfect time when our product or service is polished enough to see the daylight. The thing is you have to start somewhere, otherwise you’ll never advance.
8. Get Links to Earn Credibility
When your website is brand new, you’re not an established authority yet. To get credibility, you need to get links from credible websites. The combination between the quality and quantity of these links is called domain authority (DA) and gives your credibility score. This is measured on a scale from one to 100. Page authority (PA) is also a scale of one to 100 and measures the credibility on a specific page on your website.
9. Link Popularity Matters
The more sites link to your page, the higher the chance that page will rank higher in the search results. Just like in any popularity contest. Your page must be relevant for a specific topic. Also, the words within the links (anchor text) must include a relevant keyword instead of a URL or a “click here.”
10. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is the modern day PR. Whether you sell a product or a service, everything goes down to content, how intelligently you create and promote it, and to what purpose. You write for real people, not robots. You ultimately need to guest post to drive quality traffic to your website, garner credibility and build relationships with the blog owners that will host you. If you already have your website up and running, with a blog attached to it, but still feel like you’re talking to an empty room, here’s what you should do: post two to four times per month on your blog.
Other than that, spend time on building relationships with your peers’ audience. Pitch guest post ideas to major blogs in your industry. As they accept and publish your guest posts, you position yourself as an authority. Here are a few tips from Orbit Media’s Strategic Director Andy Crestodina about how to find host blogs. You should guest post on websites that have a higher DA than yours. When you decide what blogs to pitch, you can use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to do a quick domain and link analysis on up to five sites. Or you can install the free Mozbar (for Google and Firefox), to get fast and easy access to advanced metrics, access top tools and instant website information, all in one place.
But more important, you have to create great content, as this is how you’ll earn brownie points with Google. To sum it up: build a solid offer, cultivate relationships, and gain enough subscribers to further spread the word about how awesome your product and services are. From here on in, you can confidently launch and grow your business. Your turn: What tactics do you use to create and promote your website?
Set a Goal For Yourself
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