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If you're a beginner, starting a website doesn't have to be difficult. If you begin with a good idea and take it step-by-step, you'll reap the rewards of a popular website.
Here are ten steps to online success:
1. Choose a domain name. Then, get it hosted.
Your domain name can be your own name, your company name, or a descriptive word for phrase describing what you do.
I often use GoDaddy.com for registration and hosting, but there are many inexpensive registrars and hosting services. Ask your friends for recommendations. Compare what the services offer, and read hosting service reviews.
2. Decide the theme or niche for your website.
Don't try to be all things to all people. For the best placement at search engines, select just one theme and build your site around that. If you want to expand, set up additional domain names and websites, one for each major subject.
For example, let's say that you're a writer and your website is about railroad history. Don't also try to include your favorite recipes or webpages about your skydiving service.
3. Create five webpages related to your theme.
If you don't know HTML, you can use a WYSIWYG program. (WYSIWYG = What You See Is What You Get)
If you have Netscape or Mozilla browsers, they include a free WYSIWYG program, Composer. There are other free WYSIWYG programs available online, too.
Your webpages should include an index.html (your main/entry page), another page that talks about you and how to contact you, plus at least three pages about your website's theme. Create links so that people can click from one page to the other, and already know what they're about.
If you're creating a website about your poetry, you might feature three poems--one each on a different page--or one page of your best poems, another to explain about writing poetry (and why yours are so great), and a third page that promotes another product that you give away (such as free online postcards featuring your poems).
4. Start a newsletter or ezine, to update people about your upcoming projects, where you've been published recently, and new webpages you've added to your site/s.
Yahoo Groups are free and easy to manage. Set yours to "announce only" (newsletter) and then let anyone and everyone join.
Or, use a free or low-cost service such as Ezine Director. However, make certain that they have a good reputation and don't do business with spammers.
5. Link to others, but only quality sites.
Links can be a very important factor in how well you're listed at Google and other search engines. Link only to websites that are very good.
Above all, do not sign up for one of those "Links4All" link exchanges. Also, avoid linking to competitors' sites. That might seem like common sense, but some new webmasters forget this.
After linking to others' sites, you can ask them to link back to you. Only a small percentage will do this, but some will.
6. Sign up for Google AdSense and/or affiliate programs.
If AdSense or affiliate programs are part of your income strategy--and they probably will be--sign up for them as soon as you can. In addition to Google AdSense, I like (and make money with) Amazon.com's Associates program, LinkShare.com and CommissionJunction.com.
At some of my websites, I also do very well with AllPosters.com and try to illustrate with their posters when I can.
7. Submit your site to the search engines.
Submit the URL of your index.html page to the search engines. Start with Yahoo and Google. DMOZ is important too, but it's vital to have a competitive and robust site built before submitting to them.
Do NOT over-submit. Check the search engine's rules. If you submit the same site to Google more than once a month, you risk being considered a spammer.
It can take search engines weeks or even months to list you among their pages. (It's normal to feel frustrated by how long it takes. Try to be patient.) And, even once you're listed, you may be in the "sandbox" for as long as eight months.
8. Start learning about keywords and search engine optimization.
Keywords can be the heart and soul of your success at search engines. Learn about keywords, and use them in the tags (META and Title areas) of your website and--even more importantly--in your webpage titles. Focus each webpage's content on three or four keywords that fit your niche.
9. Add one new webpage each week.
Now that you know your niche and have chosen a few words for your site's theme, add a new webpage to your site each week.
Every webpage should have valuable and interesting content. It should be at least 100 words long, but not more than 600 or so. (If it's longer, consider breaking it up into two pages or more.)
Each webpage should include one or two links to other pages. At least one link should be another page at your site, but you may want to link another high-quality website, too.
Every page should also link back to your home page (index.html) at the very least.
10. Tell people about your newest webpage.
Talk about your new page in your newsletter, ezine, or Yahoo! Group. Tell people in other groups, too, if their members might be very interested in your new page. (If many of them will be ho-hum, announce your pages every couple of weeks, or just put a link to your newest page below your signature, if the list rules say that's okay.)
At some search engines, you can submit new webpages as you put them online. Check each search engine's current rules to be certain.
If you have articles to share with others, submit them to a site such as EzineArticles.com. That's an easy source of free advertising.
Be certain to display your website URL on your business cards, invoices, letterhead, and everything that you print.
This will get you started. The Internet is a huge library of helpful information about website design and promotion. Read, learn, and grow, and you'll soon achieve success.
Eibhlin Morey MacIntosh is a published author, who writes travel and how-to books and articles. For more FREE tips and articles like this, especially for writers, see http://www.eibhlin.com/
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