The need to have a strong online presence has become more compelling following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the new rules for social engagement which followed. The new realities have changed the ways people shop and do business giving online marketing a stronger boost.
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In this post, we take a step-by-step approach to how you can go about getting an online presence and optimizing the benefits of your new or existing website.
Getting a website basically requires a domain name, a website hosting account, and files uploaded to the hosting account. So let’s get started.
Getting a Domain Name
The starting point is the domain name you choose. Although exact match domain names have been argued by some SEOs as not having any strong influence on search engine rankings, this is not exactly so. Having a domain name that contains a keyword for which you want to rank can be very helpful in rankings. For example, ogoninews.com ranks well for the keyword “Ogoni news” but does not rank so well for “Ogoni” or “news”. So, you need to be very tactful in selecting your domain name.
You also need to keep your domain name as short as possible. The shorter it is, the more memorable it will become. We recommend that your domain names should not exceed 22 characters. Optimally, staying with 10 digits is good. However, if your domain name is longer than 10 digits and can be a good one containing the right keywords, you should use it. For example, “searchengineland.com contains 16 digits and had been a high-performing domain name. So also is “searchenginejournal.com” which contains 19 digits. The important thing here should be the keywords contained in the domain name and how that can be optimized to match the content and focus of your website.
The business of website hosting has been over-saturated with newcomers. The major reasons are that it is easy to start, less capital intensive, and comes with few entry barriers. But not all web hosting services will be good for you if you desire to run a competitive business.
You need a strong, reliable, and consistent web host for your business. Imagine finding a website in the search engines only to access it and you are told the site is not available. The customer does not only get frustrated, he leaves the page and may never return. So you must be concerned about uptime for your website.
The other reason you should be concerned about your web host is how it impacts the speed of your website. No matter your optimization efforts, if you are dealing with a really bad and slow web host, there isn’t much you can do to address the problem. Website speed is really important not just because of its impact on user experience but it has become a key signal Google uses for page ranking.
To get started with hosting your website, you will have choices to make. Let us look at them and the situations under which each option would be suitable.
In shared hosting, as the name implies, server resources such as bandwidth, IP address, MySQL and others are shared. So, performance can be affected by what other users do. But the fact is that over 99 percent of websites running on the internet are on shared servers. So making a choice to use a shared server is not a bad idea, you will just need to consider the stability of the server.
To learn about the suitability of a shared server, you just go through user reviews and see what users are saying about the web host. Carefully review to be sure you can trust the service.
Reseller hosting service is similar to shared plans in terms of how the service is configured because reseller plans can run on shared servers. The key difference is that reseller plans allow you to host multiple websites with separate cPanel accounts, each having its username and password and not as addons.
Reseller plans also make more bandwidth and disk space available to users. So what will not be allowed on shared plans in terms of resource usage may be permitted on reseller plans.
VPS is an acronym for Virtual Private Servers. Understand a VPS as a partition on a server, allowing a user to be configured to use one partition and operate like a dedicated server.
VPS plans allow you to run some customization on your server and can be self-managed.
Dedicated Server Hosting
This is the ultimate in terms of hosting. The server resources are all available to you and you can run custom configurations that suit your needs. Dedicated server hosting is good for very high-traffic sites and those engaged in real big web hosting business.
Running on a dedicated server provides more reliability and stability and you will encounter less issues as you do not share your space with any other user who could cause problems by using a malicious script.
What Next? – Adding Pages and Content to Your Website
This is a crucial aspect of your website launching plan. Once you have the web hosting account set up, you now need to upload files and build your live website. You will have to decide on which platform to use for your design. Here, you have choices and you have to decide whether to use a site builder, design from scratch, run a script, or get a freelancer or an agency to handle the design for you. Your budget and capacity to do it yourself should influence your choice.
Using a Site Builder
Building your website using a site builder like Weebly can simplify a lot of things for you. A drag-and-drop site builder takes a lot of workload from you and can make it really easy for you to have your website running. Site builders and not complicated and you really do not have to worry about software updates and software security.
But they can be a bit tasking to optimize for SEO and ranking and will require lots of effort to rank well in the search engines. Besides, they usually contain limited pages with thin content. Although you can update the content, add more content to the page could hurt the aesthetics of your design.
Using Web Building Scripts
These are simple-to-install scripts that come with your hosting account. They will be found in the Software section of the cPanel control panel of your website. Usually, the common ones are Softaculous and QuickInstall. Installing and using them are barely the same.
Let’s look at some of the popular scripts you can install with both Softaculous and QuickInstall.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS). It is the most popular CMS with an estimated 68 percent of the CMS market share and over 1.3 billion websites running on WordPress as of the end of 2020 according to a survey by Netcraft. WordPress powers an estimated 35 percent of the web and around 20 percent of self-hosted websites run on WordPress. These statistics suggest that WordPress is easy to use and also trusted.
Another advantage which goes for WordPress is the large community of developers providing custom templates and plugins which adds functionalities to WordPress and can help you achieve different capabilities without learning how to code.
The trouble with WordPress is that it occasionally undergoes updates and will require you to keep up with the latest updates for security, performance, and other new features which usually come with new versions.
Joomla is an emerging platform and the second most popular CMS after WordPress. Joomla is downloaded over 118 million times, and 2.5 million active sites run on Joomla making the CMSthe the second largest CMS, with a 3.5% market share.
Among business-oriented sites, 9% opt for Joomla. About 400 volunteers contribute to Joomla’s development. Over 800,000 people are registered on the official Joomla forums, Joomla has won the CMS Critic People’s Choice Award for Best Free CMS four years in a row, Joomla has been selected as a Google Summer of Code Mentor organization 10 times, Joomla is more secured than WordPress out of the box.
These are staggering credentials but one thing that excites Joomla is its security. Joomla is adjudged a more secure CMS than WordPress.
Joomla is also easy to install with simple clicks using Softaculous or QuickInstall available in the Software section of your Todhost cPanel control panel.
Drupal is the third most popular CMS coming after WordPress and Joomla and has a lot of features going for it. Drupal powered 2.2% of known content management systems. That translates to 1 out of 35 websites. One thing that goes for Drupal is its security. This was tested during the Egyptian uprising in 2011 when the Drupal site Al Jazeera was an essential news source on this uprising for the rest of the world and remained online despite traffic to its live blog spiking 2,000 percent during the crisis. Many websites will not withstand such traffic, servers will shut down and collapse to high loads.
The above content management systems are excellent with capabilities for great functionalities and still have a lot of prospects for growth and building functionalities. You can achieve a lot with them from building your company website and introducing your company and its services to adding e-commerce functionalities, you can achieve a lot with them whether you choose WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. What is most important is your mastery of the software to be able to secure it, optimize it for performance and the search engines, and manage updates without affecting your users or disrupting the flow of work on the front end.
What Next After Setting Your Website
Once your website is set up, the most obvious consideration would be maintenance. Additionally, you should also give serious attention to search engine optimization (SEO) and the security of your website. So, here is our take on how you maintain, secure, and optimize your website.
Maintenance and security are closely related. If you maintain the most recent versions of our software, the core files, plugins, modules, and extensions, you should be safe from attacks. However, this is rarely the case with most website owners. Besides, as new versions of the software are released, it does not automatically come with updated versions of plugins, modules, and extensions. So an upgrade can break your site. You need to be able to isolate the plugins and extensions to locate which one amongst them is causing the problem, try to update it, or get a better replacement.
Website security is extremely important. It could be really traumatic to wake up to find your years of work invested into building a website go down due to a lack of security. Dealing with website security cannot be exhausted in this section. However, we have published some useful articles on website security. You may want to look at them.
Here is our simple guide to keeping your website secured.
- Keep your website up to date. Make sure you are running the latest software version to be sure you are safe. New versions of software releases come with bug fixes, new features, and security fixes.
- If your CMS highlights updates, look out for security updates and act accordingly when there is an update on new versions.
- Keep away from plugins, modules, and extensions which have not been updated in over a year.
- Utilize the .htaccess file to further secure your website.
- Use security plugins and extensions to strengthen your website especially if you use WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.
- Keep an eye on your website and monitor for any abnormalities.
Website optimization covers all aspects that prepare your website for compliance with the expectations of the search engines and performance. This includes speed and content development. We have covered some of these in various articles below:
In today’s world, a business website is a great opportunity that opens you up to the world removing market entry barriers. When disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic strike, your website could serve as a window to still reach out to your markets despite the restrictions that may be.
It is important you have some basic knowledge of developing and managing your website. Some of the easy platforms available to build your website will include but are not limited to Site Builder Templates, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
It is also important that you take steps to secure your website, and maintain it by being up-to-date with the latest releases and optimizing it for performance.