If you are reading this, you may have tried building a website yourself, or needed to make important revisions and hit a wall. The original website designer has ghosted you. Or, the website you built has been live for weeks, even months, and still no where to be found in Google search? Trust me, I’ve been there. Stick around until the end to save yourself some time and headache.
Here’s what those other do-it-yourself website builders and digital marketing tutorials don’t tell you.
“For many years I was hiring paid consultants to build website for clients. Before that I spent a decade working for New York City advertising agencies.
As web development tools became more user friendly, there was less and less work for the “client manager.” The ones who understand it and sell it, but don’t actually build it. Before long, the doers had all the work.
That was me in 2018, now I do the work myself. The full stack.” Terry
13 things you need to know to successfully build, manage and market a website yourself.
Is this the definitive list? No, but it’s pretty darn close. Platforms and tools are changing all the time. Consider this the foundation on the road to successful completion. You don’t have to be an expert, just learn the right techniques to avoid the unnecessary frustration.
(Research) (DIY website tools) (Using AI to write content) (website hosting ) (Digital marketing & SEO) (Troubleshooting) (Taking ownership)
13) Do your research on how your industry, service or niche is experienced online. Do this even before you choose a domain name.
“I learned how Google page ranking works the hard way, when I chose a domain name for a publisher page with search volume in the billions. Talk about competition! Fortunately, I turned that mistake into a challenge. It took six months to move a new magazine publisher up the Google page ranks to number one.
Through it all learning how search engine optimization (SEO) really works.”
Start by building a list of popular keywords and long-tail keyword phrases for your business or niche.
If you familiar with the phrase, WORDS HAVE POWER, then you are off to a great start. keywords and keyword phrases are the backbone of the internet and the foundation for everything you do online. Do your research even before choosing a domain name. Skip this step at your own Google page-ranking peril.
If your website is associated with the wrong keywords, you will have tougher time getting ranked high in Google search. Why is that bad? Well, according to Forbes magazine, 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of search results, meaning you’ll need to be on that first page to capture attention.
“The words you think people are using to search online and the words they are actually using can be quite different. Your best guess is not good enough. Fortunately, there are a number of free keyword research tools available.”
Ahrefs The most complete keyword research tool on the market. Keywords Explorer runs on the world’s largest third-party database of search queries.
Similarweb provides useful free tools for doing research. It is the definitive measure of the digital world and relied on daily by digital marketing leaders like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Semrush is another leading research provider and SEO builder. Semruch require a credit card to activate the free trial, so be careful. Charges kick in automatically after the free trial ends.
Google keyword planner is a free feature found in Google Ads, once you open an account. The keyword planner tells you the volume of searches for any particular word or phrase. The sweet spot landing somewhere between 10,000 and 40,000 searches per month.
The higher the search volume the more competitive it is to rank for those keywords. It works like a bidding auction. Use the free Keyword planner in Google Ads to discover what are the popular keywords for your business or niche.
Achieving a high Google page ranking organically is the best way to generate free traffic, and the most influential in the long run. But there are no guarantees. By comparison, Google Ads guarantee your webpage will rank at the top of search results as a “sponsored” link.
For example, if you can afford $2.00 per click to make $10s or more profit, you should consider it. As the sayings goes: It pays to advertise. But also know when the link is clicked the ad money is spent (pay-per-click).
Stick with keywords that reflect purchase intent: Attract buyers, not browsers.
12) Save time and avoid the guesswork with AI generated keywords and webpage content.
AI can save you a lot of time and trouble by uncovering the best keywords for your niche in seconds. Guessing keywords has never been a good idea. You can use Chat GPT to generate popular keywords and write copy for your web pages with Copy.ai.
11) Get your business found online for free – even before your website is built – with Google for Retail. Yes, it’s true!
10) Turn your free gmail account into a Google Professional business email that connects to your website address.
9) A simple, straightforward landing page is often all you need to begin capturing leads and making sales.
WordPress, Shopify, and Wix are all relatively easy to use. WordPress is by far the most popular. Do a deep dive into best video tutorials on YouTube to help guide you through the process of setting-up and managing website content.
WordPress has been around the longest and includes thousands of well-tested templates and plugins tools rated by users. WordPress is the one I prefer, but it does takes some time getting used to.
When selecting a plug-in tool, make sure It’s been tested with the version of WordPress you are using. Avoid the headaches caused by untested plugins. Pay close attention to the number of plug-in users, the compatibility with your version of WordPress, and the level of technical support the plugin provides for troubleshooting. Test out the free version first and make sure your website has the proper restore backup system in place if something goes wrong.
WordPress is good for customization, but only to a degree. If you need more flexibility, try Elementor page-builder, starting with a barebones WordPress (hello theme) and customize from there using Elementor or Elementor Pro.
8) AI has revolutionized the speed and ease of do-it-yourself websites building.
Chap GPT, combined with AI website building tools, simplifies the process for novice and non-coders even more. Here are two AI website builders you can use to build stunning website in minutes. Go ahead, give Mixo and Durable AI a try!
7) The most difficult thing for most people is writing and organizing content for webpages. But don’t just copy and paste.
Not everyone enjoys writing or is blessed with a journalism degree from UNC-Chapel Hill like myself. Copywriting can be a loathsome chore and many would rather kick rocks. But there is a steep price to pay for cutting and pasting words from other websites and claiming them as your own. It is called plagiarism, or what Google describes as not being authentic. Either way, don’t do it.
Google bots read everything and plagiarism will be penalized in Google search results. Ignore this at your own page-rank peril.
Websites that rank highest in Google page ranking demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness also known as Google (E-E-A-T).
If you are not a copywriter, this is where your list of popular keywords comes in super handy. Chap GPT is a powerful writing tool that you can access with copy.ai. However, it still requires prompting, editing, proofing and fact checking.
What are the most important pages:
- Blog, Articles
- Search bar
6) Choose a hosting service that matches your level of experience. You are not yet an expert. The level of tech support can make or break you.
When building a website for the first time – without a webmaster – choosing a hosting service should not be taken lightly. Cheaper does not always mean better. Remember, you are setting up and hosting your own domain, and responsible for managing things like security, software updates, backups and more. So, a bit more hand-holding from your hosting service provider will give added peace of mind.
GoDaddy is great for those building a website for the first time, including 24-7 responsive phone support! GoDaddy has an intuitive, user-friendly management dashboard, along with plenty of features for advanced web designers.
5) Google search engine is king of the road for digital marketing and search engine optimization, aka (SEO).
Google is by far number one for search engine traffic volume. It is critical to make sure your website can be crawled and indexed by Google. You can check your status here in the Google Search Console. Second, check your speed with GTMetrix, A website with slow loading issues will be penalized in Google page rank. Third, by consistently providing high-quality content and establishing backlinks (e.g. incoming links from other websites) you will be well on your way to steadily growing traffic to your website.
Google Analytics is essential for measuring website traffic and engagement in real time, and it is free to use.
Google analytics is a digital marketers dream. It provides, in great detail, how users interact with your webpages, including real-time engagement, purchase behavior and more. Google Analytics can be connected to a range of useful tools on the Google Marketing Platform , including the new GA4, Google Search Console, Google Ads and so more.
Free SEO tools for WordPress
Organic vs. Paid Website Traffic
Organic search rankings are free and the most coveted in the long-term. Whereas a paid (“sponsored” links) will place your webpage at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), but for a price. If you are buying keywords to sell products, be sure to use keywords that demonstrate purchase intent. Attaching the right keywords and phrases are vital to generate traffic.
“Burned through more than one Google Ads consultants in the first year of receiving the Google Ad grant for this nonprofit. The more I learned from DIY tutorials the more I realized the organization was getting ripped off.
Today, Google ads are run in house.”
Sign-up for Google Ads for free and take advantage of their useful SEO tools. But it does cost money to advertise. If your nonprofit and received a Google Ad grant, reach out for a free consultation.
For those effectively selling online, Google Ads are considered the cost of doing business. But if you are new to the game, buyer beware: Doing Google advertising wrong will cost you, and hiring someone to do it wrong for you will cost you even more.
4) Email marketing is the gift that keeps on giving.
“If I learned anything from working in the marketing the departments for both Columbia College Alumni Association and Columbia Business School Executive Education, it is this:
Colleges and Universities rely heavily on email marketing to keep their alumni engaged, attract donors and to up-sell their continuing education courses.”
SEO strategies come and go, but a new user opting-in to a subscription or email newsletter last forever. Building a list takes time, I do not recommend purchasing email lists. Being labeled a spammer can get you emails blacklisted by your hosting service provider and penalized by Google, triggering a severe drop in page ranking and user engagement.
3) Don’t let troubleshooting or tech support be your downfall. Building and maintaining a website without a proper backup is a nonstarter.
Navigating the various channels of tech support, including forums, chat, email and live telephone operators can be frustrating and time consuming. Some will have you waiting hours, days, even weeks to get back to you. Move on from a platform or service with extremely poor tech support.
Tech Support from worst to best:
No tech support: No direct communication and expects you to get answers via forums or from the comment sections of blogs, including Reddit.
Email support: If they don’t have automated email confirmations, it can feel like you have entered a black hole, and you probably have.
Live Chat: increasingly more popular platform for resolving user issues quickly and conveniently
Live phone operator: Personal approach that actively listens and works through the problem with you.This one that is the most comforting.
This is your first go around, so steer clear if there is no tech support mentioned in the product description. There will always be something they don’t tell you, and without proper tech support you might never find out. Test drive the free tools wherever possible. Try it before you buy it.
Understanding and diagnosing the issue correctly is the main challenge. Screen captures of what you might think is the issue, along with clearly written simple descriptions work well. Be sure to copy and save all your written queries, or be prepared to write them over and over again, numerous times.
Tech support knowledge goes up in tiers. If they don’t know, request or get help from tier 2 or 3. Stay gratuitous when interacting, it goes without saying that you make more friends with honey than vinegar.
Website building is one of those rare instants where you can go back in time. Make sure you have a proper backup system in place at both the hosting and content management levels.
2) You can hire a paid consultant like me to do it all for you, but why?
You’ve made it this far and you’re a now ready to take the leap. Will it be as easy as 1-2-3? Answer: It depends. The trick is finding the right balance between doing it all yourself with helpful tutorials, or just paying someone to do it all for you. The latter I don’t highly recommend.
1) Take ownership. Lose the fear of being ghosted by a web designer or webmaster.
The keys to building and marketing a website are now yours. Congratulations! What’s more, here’s how you hand off those website access keys properly. Wishing you the best of luck. If you need additional help, I’m here.