Posted on Mar 9, 2015

What you need to build a website and be found online

Whether you’re building a website yourself, getting a member of your team to do it, or you’re outsourcing to a web design company, you’re probably wondering where to start.

Start with the end in mind: you want people to visit your website, so you must make it easy to find. If this is your first foray into web development this may sound difficult. But there are a few things you need to know, and a few steps you need to take, to increase your chances of success.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

The tools that are now available means that it’s possible for anyone to build a website. So first, let’s start with the basics:

What Is A Domain?

So let’s start, as they say, at the beginning – the name of your website. A domain includes your chosen name followed by a TLD – .com, .org., .net etc.

You buy domain names from a domain registrar, usually for a period of a year although sometimes you can register them for longer. This gives you exclusive control over the usage of the domain, although you will have to renew it once the time period is up.

How do you choose a domain? It has two parts: the name and the TLD.

The name will depend on your business, but make it recognizable to your website visitors or customers. In terms of the TLD you have a number of options.

  • Common TLDs like .com, .net and .org – these are good choices but they are increasingly hard to get
  • Country TLD like .us, – a good choice if you trade in just one country
  • New TLDs – a batch of new TLDs are now available which offer an alternative

What Is Hosting and Why Do I Need It?

The next thing you need for your website is hosting. Hosting is the place on the internet where your website will live – the files, text, images, videos and database are all things stored at your website host.

When a visitor goes to your website they access your host in order to retrieve your web pages. Without website hosting, you cannot have a website.

Various hosting options are available, depending on the size of your website and the volume of traffic. Shared hosting or VPS hosting is the starting point for most websites.

What About Building the Website?

Once you have your domain name and your hosting you can start building your website. To do that you will need to choose a platform and an approach. Here are the main options:

  • Website Builder – website builders use a drag and drop interface along with templates to help you get your website up and running quickly and without the need to learn code. For example, inserting a contact form onto a page on your website is as easy as dragging that element into place.
  • WordPress – if you want more control over how your website looks and functions, or you need functionality that cannot be delivered easily through a website builder, WordPress is an option. It is the most popular website building platform on the internet. The learning curve is steeper, but you can mitigate this with services like specialist WordPress hosting plans.
  • Design services – finally, you can get someone else to design your website for you. The iPage Design Service is an example. It gives you the best of everything – a professionally designed website with all the functionality you need, and then the tools so you can manage and update it once it is built.

Getting Visitors To Your New Website

Once you have your website built the next task is to get people to visit. To help this process you can add your URL to your email signature, your Facebook profile and your invoices. But this is usually not enough, so here are some other options that will help you increase traffic levels.

  • Google My Business listing – this is a free listing from Google and helps increase the visibility of your business in Google search results, Google Maps and elsewhere
  • Bing Places for Business – something similar but on the Bing search engine
  • Google AdWords – you can also pay for ads on Google. AdWords work on a pay-per-click basis so you only pay when someone visits your website.
  • Facebook – depending on your business, Facebook ads could also be a viable source of traffic
  • Local search – if you are a local business you can improve your visibility on the internet with Local Lift
  • SEO – finally, you can work on your search engine optimization to improve your ranking in search results. Products like iPage’s SubmitNet are affordable and effective ways of doing this.

The final thing you need to build a website – and get traffic to it – is time. Websites are not tools that are ever really complete, just like your business is not “complete.” It’s something that you should constantly promote, develop, update and change. When you do that it will give you a greater return on your investment.