5 Questions You’re Embarrassed to Ask About Websites
Fear not, my friend! You don’t need to be embarrassed about not knowing everything about websites. Armed with a bit of knowledge, you can navigate your next website convo like a seasoned pro. Let’s get a few things out of the way, shall we?
1. What is a domain? What is hosting?
Here’s how I explain it to my clients: The domain is your address online. Your .com address. (or .live or .co or .biz…)
Your hosting is where your website lives.
So if your domain is your address, your hosting is your foundation. Your website is the house that’s built on the foundation.
In practical terms, you can buy a domain from a company like Google or Siteground. They’re typically less than $15 a year, unless you’re interested in something that happens to be super in demand. You don’t have to buy hosting at the same time or even from the same company as your domain, although it’s a bit easier if you do.
Pro tip: Set your accounts to auto renew with a credit card on file to save the stress of your site being taken down because you forgot.
2. What do I need to have on my website?
This is such an important thing to think about before you make a website and is often left as the last thing, when it needs to be the first thing.
Essentially, there are 3 things your website needs to make very clear:
- What is your business
- Who are you
- Who you do it for
Every page of your site needs to go back to those 3 points.
Your website needs:
- A home page (read my post about what your home page should include)
- An about page
- A services/shop page, a place to sell whatever you’re selling
- A contact page (you can put this info in the footer too, but most people look for “Contact” in the navigation at the top of your site.
There can be more, but start there.
3. How do I get people to find my site?
Getting people to your site is all about marketing. I like to have several different strategies and traffic sources going at once and working together.
- Social Media: use your social media with a goal in mind: getting people to your website. (And then your website needs to have goals too, like getting people to sign up for your mailing list.) So when you’re posting, think of how you can entice and tempt people to click on that oh-so-important link in bio. On Pinterest, pin vertical (long) graphics and photos that go back to your site. On Facebook, tell your audience when you’ve published new blog posts. Go live and direct people to your site to sign up for something special.
- Email newsletter: Your email newsletter is a great way to get people to your site since they’re already an engaged audience. Make sure you tell them when you have new stuff going up.
- Other websites (referrals): The more sites that are linking to your site does two things. First — it increases your SEO rankings (see below) by telling Google your site is important and credible. Two — it gets more visitors over to your site. Guest blog posting is a great way to do this.
4. What does SEO mean and how do I do it?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Whenever people talk about it they’re saying they’re trying to do things to get higher rankings on Google. So if you own a flower shop in San Diego, it’d be nice to come up on the first page of Google searches when someone types in “flower shop San Diego”.
If your site is “search engine optimized”, in theory it’s easier to find by people searching on search engines. But it’s more complicated (and confusing) than that and isn’t a one-time thing you do for your site.
To keep it simple and sweet, the most important things I suggest for my clients with SEO are:
- You need a mobile-friendly site (no scrolling or zooming in required on phones and tablets)
- Choose a list of 10 or so keywords that you want to target. Keywords that you think people will be searching for when they’re looking for someone like you. These words are super important, ask around to get feedback on what you’ve suggested.
- Write long-form blog content (more than 500 words) that incorporates those keywords and topics
- Shoot for new blog posts every 1-2 weeks. Google likes when your site is updated and fresh.
5.Can I do it myself? Why does it cost so much to hire someone to make my website?
Yes, you can make your own website. There are plenty of tools and builders out there that make it relatively easy to do so.
Here’s the way I like to think of it, and this goes back to our house comparison. Could you build your own house? Yes, maybe. Thanks to Home Depot and Youtube, you can tackle just about any home project if you really want to.
But. There are a lot of reasons why you may not want to build your own house, or why it might not be advisable. For one thing, there may be things you need to be doing so you can afford to live in your house — i.e. making money. Sometimes DIY-er’s spend so much time on something in an effort to save money, and as a result may have missed out on new clients, marketing and money-making opportunities.
And then there’s the final result. Will your house be the same house that a professional home builder with years of experience, the best team, the best tools and the best materials build? Mmm…probably not, no.
It’s the same with websites. Sure, some people can build their own websites and it looks good. Two points here. First: just like a house, your website isn’t only about looks.
Second: How often do DIY-ers build really nice professional looking websites? I don’t have any official stats here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess 2% of the time. I did a whole post about how your DIY website is holding you back, so I won’t get into all the reasons why here, go check out that post.
So let’s talk about the cost. Building a beautifully branded website that takes into account your entire business and its future growth, and strategically takes your customers through a sales process, builds your “like, know and trust” factor, looks good on all devices, gets new leads in your inbox … well, that’s not easy. That takes a lot of skill and a lot of strategy.
If you have an online business, or a good chunk of your business is online, then your website is a huge deal. You could truly be leaving money on the table without a damn good one.