Posts Tagged "website design tips"


How Much Advertising Should Be on Your Website?

If you start getting good traffic on your website, why not put up some advertising to make money? This is what many new website owners believe, but it could be hurting them. Online advertising isn’t what it used to be. Web users are becoming more savvy and sophisticated.

They are ignoring banners and other ads. It’s a concept known as ad blindness. In the early days of the web, you simply had to send traffic to your ad-enabled website, and you were sitting pretty as far as revenue was concerned. This is no longer the case. It’s a good idea for new webmasters to keep the advertising to a minimum, if at all.

Advertising image

Initially, your website is  not established. Google doesn’t like websites that focus primarily on making money. Instead, if you focus on creating value for your readers, you will gain authority. Google will notice this authority and reward you with better rankings.

As your website increases its rankings and authority, you can slowly incorporate some advertising where it makes sense. Make sure when you add your advertising to test its effectiveness. Test where on the page it works the best and which ads are doing better than others.

You can use the concepts of split testing and click through rates to get this information. Many advertising platforms allow you to add code to certain pages to determine the conversions of the ad placement. If you find that your advertising is not bringing you a good return, find other ways to make money with your website.

Conversion rate

An alternative to advertising is affiliate sales. You contract with major companies, such as Target, WalMart, etc. They give you a coded link that you place on your website. Usually, this link is incorporated into the content on your website. If visitors click on that link and purchase products as a result, you receive a commission from the vendor.

If you decide to use any form of advertising, and/or affiliate sales, make sure it is relevant to the theme of your website. You will confuse readers if you advertise baby carriages on a website about Forex Investing. Sometimes, you can connect products in a unique and innovative manner. But, it should always fit into the message of your website.

Whatever monetization strategy you decide upon, make your number one objective offering value to your readers. This could be in the form of offering reviews on products, revealing scams, or it could simply be an update to what is going on in your life.

Reverse Engineer Other Successful Websites

Reverse engineering

People try to emulate others when they are learning new skills or concepts. If you play guitar, you observe famous guitar players to pick up some techniques. The same is true of sports. This concept can be applied to just about any endeavor.

The same is true when creating your website and is something webmasters forget to do early on. Find authoritative websites with high rankings and break them apart to see what they are doing. Pay attention to every little detail, including the design elements, the wording, and the type of graphics shown on the site.

If you want to save time, you can look for the designers of the websites you are observing. If they are published on the website, you could simply reach out to these designers and get some pricing for your website. Make sure you have a clear plan of what type of site you want. It could be modeled after the authority sites if you want.

If you decide to do it yourself, it is still a good idea to dissect these authority websites to learn what has made them successful. Take notes along with plenty of screenshots. Ask yourself if the navigation seems intuitive and if so, use that as a guideline for your own design.

Inspect image

It shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but this doesn’t mean to copy anyone else’s website. It’s okay to use them as a reference. But if you copy the site verbatim, you could find yourself in some legal hot water. Besides, it doesn’t do you any good as readers will pick up on the tactic and so will search engines.

By the way, you are allowed to use the same theme if it is available to anyone. For instance, if you and an authority site both use the same WordPress theme, and you both have rights to use it, this is entirely acceptable, and you will notice similar themes when you browse the web.

The caveat about copying the site refers to the assets included within the site, i.e., the content, graphics, videos, etc. The reason why many webmasters skip this reverse engineering idea is because it is time-consuming and boring. But, the benefits outweigh these time-consuming tasks.

You will learn a lot about web design as well as proper content and graphic placement. Make sure you use this technique across several highly rated websites. Each one will have components that you may not have thought to use had you stuck to just one authority website.

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Issues You May Face as a Webmaster

 

Owning a website is a fun and exciting experience. But, once in a while, you are likely to come across some issues that get in the way of your efforts. Here are some common ones to consider.

Getting Hacked

Security image

Many websites get hacked. It’s a fact of life. If yours is one that has never been hacked, consider yourself lucky. However, it could be only a matter of time before it happens. The more popular your website becomes, the more likely it will be to get hacked. One way to reduce the occurrence of hacking is to make sure you have strong passwords.

This is for any aspect of your website. Your password for your registrar should not be the same for your hosting, and your hosting should not be the same if you have a WordPress installation. It’s understandably annoying to have to memorize all of those passwords, especially the more complicated they become.

And they should be complicated. You should set them with uppercase and lowercase letters. Put some numbers and symbols in them if allowed. Try to make the passwords as long as possible. It would take a hacker several hundreds of years to brute force attack a password with 15 or more characters.

Not Having a Back Up Plan

Backup image

Backing up your website or your hosting files is an activity that many webmasters put off until it’s too late. Many hosting companies will advertise that they back up your files, but you may have to wait days before they can restore it. If you do rely on them, make sure you are clear on what they include in those backups.

Don’t just assume everything you put on your server will be part of the backup. Another issue is the frequency at which they perform backups. If they only do it once a month, but you update your website frequently, you could still lose important information.

Too Many Files or Overusing Bandwidth

Web hosting companies like to advertise that you have unlimited domains with unlimited storage and bandwidth. Good luck with that. If you peel back the layers of the terms of services of your hosting company, you will likely find they adhere to a concept known as fair use.

Bandwidth image

This specifies how much space you are allowed as well as how much bandwidth you are allowed to use. It’s unknown why governments don’t crack down on this deceptive hosting practice. Don’t take a chance with your website.

Take precautions to keep your website safe and try to keep up with the latest threats happening in the industry.

Tips on Promoting Your Website

There are millions of websites or blogs with more appearing on the scene each and every week. No matter what kind of message you are trying to convey with your website, it needs to get noticed. Use the following tips to help get your website well positioned.

Create an Editorial Calendar

Editorial calendar image

You’ll hear this tip over and over again. Yet, it’s amazing how many people don’t do it. Creating frequent and consistent content for your website is a crucial element in gaining traction, both in the search engines and with your readers. Think about websites you follow regularly. Do you prefer websites that have frequent updates or ones that are updated only once in a while? All things being equal, you probably chose the frequently updated option. You are not alone. Most people would choose that option as well. It’s going to be the same for your website. Keep it updated regularly. The
best way to do this is to create an editorial calendar.

It’s Not Nice to Fool Google

You are going to read about all kinds of schemes on how to get better rankings on Google. Many of them, the majority, are going to be for techniques that try to game the system. They may even work in the short term. However, Google makes it a habit of adjusting its search algorithm to find these tricks. When it finds the culprits, it penalizes them with bad rankings. They have even been known to ban websites forever! Yes, this does happen. So, even though you may gain a couple of sales in the process, is it worth getting banned over?

Google image

Learn What Makes Your Readers’ Tick

Get inside the minds of your readers. How do you do this? Join forums and blogs of people that are in the same market as you. What kinds of questions are they asking? What kinds of answers are being given and by whom?

Follow Your Competition

Find competitors who have successful websites. While you don’t want to copy them outright, there is nothing wrong with using them as guidance. See what page components they are including. Look at the types of articles they write and subscribe to any newsletters they may offer, free or paid. Sometimes, the paid can be a measure of the quality of information these competitors are going after. Once you have a good feel, you can always unsubscribe from the newsletters.

Be sure to check back soon for the final Issue in this series of articles.

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Getting Help for Your Website

Running a website takes up a lot of time. You need to create new content. Then, you need to promote that content after you publish it. The content has to be really good in this competitive environment. If yours is not, another website with better content is right around the proverbial corner. A good plan may be to seek out the help of others.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing

This will be the most expensive option and one that is not completely necessary. But, it probably will be the quickest. Plus, the fact that you are paying for your content means that you can be strict about the standards you receive. If you don’t like what someone is producing, you can either ask for improvements or find someone else.

College Internships

One dilemma college students face when graduating is not having any experience. How do they get experience when they haven’t been in the workplace? If you advertise an internship, you can have them help you with your website, and they can get that much-needed experience. You may even be able to work with the school so that the student can get college credits for the work.

Guest Posts

Guest post

When your website gets a bit more known, you may find people starting to reach out to you to write for your website. They will do it for free in exchange for a byline which points back to their website. This can be a great way to get content created for your website and gives the guest poster some exposure to his or her website. One thing you want to stay away from, however, is guest posting exchanges. These have been recently frowned upon in the search engines.

Public Domain Information

Public Domain information is freely available to anyone for the taking. You can do as you choose with it, including commercial endeavors. There are several rules as to when something becomes part of the Public Domain, and you should seek out the advice of a qualified professional. There are entire courses and books dedicated to this topic.

Private Label Rights

PLR image

A Private Label Rights (PLR) product is one where valid holders of those products can use them as specified by the PLR agreement. These rights vary across the product creators. But, they often allow you to alter the content, sell it to others, and use them as giveaways for list building. If you decide to use these for your website, make sure you are allowed to do so and that you can modify them to enhance their value.

Great Resources for Website Owners

The following are some resources that website owners can use to get the most out of their websites. Be aware that these resources can change over time and others are constantly coming onto the scene.

Grammar Resources

Grammar image

Readers take you much more seriously when your website doesn’t contain grammar errors. The two biggest resources website owners can start with are: Grammarly.com and HemmingwayApp.com. Both have free and paid versions. Start out with the free versions and as your website becomes more established, you can decide if you want to upgrade.

Copyscape

It’s never a good idea to copy the work of others. It is okay to reference short segments of other people’s work as long as you give them credit. This is a copyright term known as fair use. However, if you want to ensure your documents have not been published elsewhere use Copyscape.com.

Amazon and Kindle

Amazon logo

Amazon has a large amount of resources available to website owners. If you are in the beginning stages of your website, you will need to learn much about what needs to be done. They also have several resources for advanced website owners. Keep in mind that you can also use Kindle books as ideas on what to write about for your niche. There are thousands of books available in just about
any category. Sometimes, all that is needed is to scan the table of contents to generate an idea or two for your website.

Udemy.com

Udemy has many classes available for website owners. Udemy offers courses for free as well as paid options. When seeking paid options, make sure you search online for coupons as you can get large discounts for courses that you take. Sometimes, those coupons knock down the price to $0, which obviously means it’s free.

Be sure to check back soon for Issue 4 in this series of articles.

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WordPress Leveled the Playing Field 

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). While it’s not the only one, it is the biggest. The best part about any CMS is the ease by which most webmasters can use to create and manage their websites.

A CMS in general, and WordPress specifically, became popular because of the ease with which people can not only get their websites up and running but also because of the support surrounding the platform. In WordPress, you can add functionality to your website via plugins and widgets.

Wordpress logo

You can control the look of your website via the various themes that exist. These are simple one-click components that instantly transform your website with the look and the features you require. Without a CMS, you would need to find a designer who would layout your website with design features you would be happy with.

This came at a huge cost since designers were not cheap. If you needed any extra functionality on your website, you would probably have to hire a programmer. Getting the programmer to work with the designer often led to compatibility issues.

Even when the programmer and designer are one-and- same, they tended to have stronger skills on one versus the other. Programmers typically didn’t make good designers. Good Designers were not very good programmers. These are two separate vocations, both requiring their own sets of training.

You either did one or the other. WordPress practically eliminated the need to hire a designer or a programmer. Granted, if you want more specialized or customized features, you still may need to get some outside help.

Wordpress design

But, for the most part, the standard components included within WordPress, are all that most need to get a complete solution going. There are plenty of plugins and themes, both paid options and free. The paid options will come with more options, all things being equal.

Many people find, however, the free options are great for starting and when their websites catch on, they upgrade to the paid options. Even if you need a custom solution that you couldn’t find in existing plugins or themes, you can outsource it.

The cost to develop these add on features will be much less than having a developer/designer build a website from scratch. There are other CMS platforms, and some will say they are better than WordPress. Keep in mind, however, WordPress is heavily supported due to its popularity.

This means that bugs will get fixed faster, and features will be created quicker. Platforms that are not popular will likely leave the market, which means you could be left high-and-dry if you choose those alternatives.

Design

The Technology That Drives a Website 

While you don’t need to be a technologist to create a website, having a basic understanding of the technologies involved can help, especially if you ever run into trouble with your website. When describing your problem to a tech support person, you will be able to identify at least where the problem lies.

If you are looking to connect to the internet, the first step is to find an Internet Service Provider (ISP). You probably already have one. This is the company you pay a monthly fee to in order to use the internet. It is typically your cable provider, or it could be via Fiber Optics, etc.

They provide you with a way to connect to the internet (usually a modem) and will even come to your house if you have trouble getting it installed. If you are looking to have multiple people in your house connect, you will purchase a router at your local electronics retailer. Most of these are wireless these days.

Router image

The next stage is to use a web browser to connect to the internet. Most modern-day operating systems have these pre-installed. If you don’t, your ISP can take you through the steps to get one installed. You will know these as FireFox, or Internet Explorer. Google has its own derivative called Chrome.

When you use your browser to make a request to the internet, it goes through your ISP to look up the address of where to find the information. If you typed in Google.com, for example, your ISP would send that to a name server. This name server translates Google.com into an address in and then routes the request to that numeric address.

It also knows who the requester was (you) to be able to send you the page. This is an oversimplification as there are also intermediary web servers, but this gives you the general concept. There needs to be a way for your browser to know how to interpret the data. You may think it’s just a document.

Server image

But, if you have ever worked with a Word document before or equivalent, you know that you have to format that document. You would have headers, line breaks, graphic elements, etc. The same is true of your web browser. When the web server sends the requested document, it sends it as a computer language known as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

This is simply instructions for your browser to use to render properly the various components of the pages you see in the browser. This is by no means meant to make you an expert on web technologies. But, if you ever need to communicate the problem you face, you will at least know what components are at work.

Be sure to check back soon for Issue 2 in this series of articles.

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So You Have Your Domain Name – Now What?

It takes a couple of seconds to obtain a domain name, assuming it’s available. You visit a registrar company like GoDaddy.com or Namecheap.com and search for the desired name. If it’s available, you pay money to get it.

Domain name

The amount you pay depends on several factors, but it shouldn’t set you back more than $8-$12 per year. Now that you have your domain name, what do you do with it? For the first time owner of a domain name, the choices can be daunting. The main reason is you may not know what is available or where to look for answers.

You’ll find plenty of answers online. But, without knowing the basics, you won’t know how to judge the good from the bad. Whatever solution is presented is going to seem like a good one, initially. Then, as you learn what options are available, you’ll kick yourself for not taking the time to familiarize yourself with those options in the beginning.

If you already have your domain name, the next stage is to figure out where you are going to host it. Newcomers mistakenly believe that just because you have a domain name automatically gives you a presence on the web. It doesn’t. You need a place to house the files that are going to be used within your website.

Domain host

It’s beyond the scope of this article to go into a discussion on what kinds of files are needed. But, it is a good starting point in your research on implementing your website. You could use hosting that is available within your domain registrar company.

However, choosing a company that tries to handle too many functions can lead to problems, both in terms of support or even restrictions on use. If you are looking for hosting, choose a company who is dedicated to performing that function. Hosting has become quite cheap, and you can find a decent option for about $5 per month.

After you decide on which host to house your web files, the next stage is designing your website. There are many options here along with various costs associated with them. If you try to do this on your own, you should know there is a bit of a learning curve. There are recent tools that have made it easier for most people to develop their websites.

Website design

However, just because someone can put a page or two together, doesn’t necessarily make them a designer. Consider finding someone who is skilled in this area.

Should You Use Free Website Solutions?

When you first start out as a webmaster, you will have a wide array of choices available to you. You won’t even know what to look for in the beginning. You also won’t know what features should cost or which ones to choose. You will find plenty of free options available.

But should you choose them? There are some decent free choices if that is the route you decide to take. You want to choose the platforms that display the least amount (if any) of advertising on your website. It’s one thing to display a link that shows who developed your website (the company offering the free website).

Web hosting

It’s another to have a bunch of banner ads plastered all throughout each of the pages on your site. This will be a huge turnoff to your readers and may slow down your website  considerably. Some solutions, such as WordPress.com and Blogger.com, present minimal advertising.

It’s easy to get started. You sign up with your account and then create a name for your blog or website. Bear in mind, the name is shared with you and the free host. In other words, if you choose the name MyWebsite, the full address for Blogger.com will be MyWebsite.BlogSpot.com.

Blogger website

BlogSpot is part of the Blogger.com platform. It’s similar to WordPress. Your address there would be MyWebsite.WordPress.com, etc. Another problem with the free options is that you have little control of the platform. While you can change certain aspects of the look-and-feel or add some functional components, these are limited.

Also, the free companies make the rules about what you are allowed to post on those sites. Those rules are subject to change at a moment’s notice. You could have a very popular site, and rule changes can invalidate your site. This hurts much more when that website is making a decent amount of money.

It used to be these websites would give you some search engine boosts. Many people would use these free sites to point links to their main website, i.e., the one that makes them money. It may still give you some of those boosts but overall, this methodology has become less effective since Google changed its algorithm.

Google algorithm image

Some webmasters still use the tactic. They either don’t realize it is no longer effective, or they believe that it can’t hurt. While this may be true, the role of a webmaster is to optimize the exposure.

A minute spent on a free website is one less that you can spend some other place that may actually mean something.

Be sure to check back soon for Issue 2 in this series of articles.

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