Setting Up Your First Website

Published: Oct 06, 2011

Rating: 4/5

Setting up your first website is incredibly exciting, but it can also be terribly intimidating. You have numerous difficult decisions to make, and bad choices now can have long-term negative ramifications. Of course, no first time will be perfect, but the goal should be to limit the mistakes and avoid the big blunders altogether. In order to help you do that, we’ve compiled this overview of all the essentials you need to know to set up your first website successfully.

Find Your Niche

The Internet is a big place, and a common mistake is an attempt to appeal to all of it. The better way to take advantage of the Internet’s size and scope is to find your niche, and then distinguish yourself in that niche. With this approach, you’ll be dealing with a much small visitor pool, but you’ll be converting visitors at a much higher rate.

Choosing a Domain Name

In the Internet age, unless you’ve already established a brand, the domain name is your brand, so choose accordingly. Optimally, a brand name should be short and memorable. Domain names play a role in SEO as well, so it needs to be indicative of the products or services sold, or the website’s theme. Short, memorable, meaningful names are in high demand, so you may have to be creative in order to claim an appropriate and effective name.

Choosing Domain Extensions

Another aspect of choosing a domain name is choosing the extension, such as com, net and org. Beware of claiming a net domain when another site already has the com version. Also, avoid geographic domains unless your product or service is specific to that area. Most first-timers have a limited budget, so focus on domains that have both com and net extensions available. Purchase both, and then expand with other extensions as the resources become available.

Choosing a Webhost

The good news is that webhosting is relatively inexpensive, especially for small startup websites, so don’t get caught up in achieving the absolute lowest price. Instead, focus on the webhosts that have strong reputations for integrity, uptime and money-back guarantees, and multiple upgrade options. As your website succeeds, you want the ability to grow with it, and you want the flexibility to change your hosting plan prior to the end of term without surcharges.

Choosing a Webhosting Package

Once you’ve settled on a reputable webhost that can meet your long-term needs, think small. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The idea is to get out of the red as quickly as possible, so limit your webhosting expenses until the website takes in enough profit to cover them. Don’t be afraid to commit to a year or more to get the lowest rate, and choose a plan that includes features like SiteBuilder and one-click deployment of software like WordPress.

Tackling Web Design

The most difficult task ahead of you is creating the website itself, and most first-timers won’t have the budget for professional design. A tool like SiteBuilder, which we mentioned earlier, is an excellent way to create a professional site with high-quality graphics with no investment or expertise. Remember, in today’s Web, more is less, and surfers favor accessibility and ease of use over spectacular displays of technology. The other advantage of a tool like SiteBuilder is that it provides you with a framework that conforms to modern Web standards and user sensibilities.

Integrating a Blog

All websites can make great use of blogs because they’re an amazing way to add content to a site consistently, and if you consistently add engaging content, you’ll earn loyal visitors. Don’t be afraid to expand the scope to make the blog fit the website. For instance, a site that sells fencing for gardens might have a blog that deals with the entire range of backyard gardening, and focus on content that engages the audience and seeks responses from them.

Keywords, Google and Advertising

Once you’ve created the website, you have to get the word out there. Advertising, such as through Google AdWords, is a great way to do that, but new sites don’t generate the money necessary for that. The better way to advertise, now and later, is through search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is about getting your target words out there through legitimate, engaging content. So in the example above, we might post a new blog article about gardening each day, and wherever it makes sense to do so, we’re going to sprinkle in phrases like garden fences and garden gates.


Building a successful website is all about minding the future without actually committing to it until necessary. It’s also about brand awareness and value. Don’t fall into the trap of spamming blog comments or some similar shady technique. Instead, take the time to post on the blogs in your niche with real engaging content. By investing the time and remaining committed to this approach, you’ll create a positive brand image that’ll pay dividends long-term.

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