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Owning a website or blog. Definitive guide for the layman.

A long overdue guide and explanation in layman's terms of starting/owning a website or blog with emphasis on content management systems ( CMS ) and search engine optimisation ( SEO ).
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  13 Oct 2017   admin

Getting a website

or a blog can be a

bit like a jigsaw


Too much jargon

on the web.

What does a website do ?


If we have all the pieces of the jigsaw and they are arranged in the correct order then maybe we can solve this puzzle.
random jigsaw pieces

jigsaw piece

The worldwide web or internet has really moved on since I started building websites in the late nineteen eighties. Google was a relative newcomer. The big two were Yahoo and Alta Vista. Yahoo operated as a search engine but Alta Vista was operating as a web directory.
Google has grown to such an extent that they are now the "look to" search engine for anything to do with the internet. They also now provide many more services than just search, but, and it's a big but ! all their services are related in some way to search. After all, if you couldn't search the internet you would never be able to find what you were looking for. Just a quick note to tell you that Yahoo search is still alive but it is now powered by Microsoft, whose big challenger to Google is Bing.

For the purpose of this blog though everything will relate to the Google search engine unless stated otherwise.

jigsaw pice

What is a website ? Don't think of a website as like a newspaper but more like a magazine. If you go out and buy a newspaper, it is full of news and adverts but the news and the adverts are diverse and bear no relevance to each other, whereas a magazine tends to follow a theme throughout its pages. A photography magazine, a gardening magazine, a beauty magazine etc. This is what a website or blog should be like. A set of pages with a common theme. There are exceptions to this rule however, but when building for the first time it is important that your pages have a common theme.

The easiest way to differentiate between a website and a blog, which is short for weblog, is to think that a blog is a set of pages for comment and a website is a set of pages for content. Obviously they do overlap in many cases, like this one, but starting out this is the best way.

jigsaw piece

In case the internet is new to you, it is easiest to imagine it as the telephone exchanges around the world that all interconnect to ensure you can phone anybody in any country. Most people understand the principle of telephony if not the internet. The websites and blogs are like the telephones on the end of the telephone wires.
Your internet service provider ( ISP ) issues an internet protocol ( IP ) address, sets of numbers separated by dots, somewhat like a telephone number, everytime you connect to the internet. This is your identity on the internet. The internet is still mostly connected by wires and several thousand miles of these are under the sea. According to Wikipedia the latest figures show that only 1% of international activity is by satellite.
The cables are now fibre optical and mainly managed by the large national telecom companies. When you start up your laptop or smartphone to connect to the internet you make a " telephone call " to that website you want or you put a name into a search engine that will look into thousands of phone books, which are the domain name servers, to find the " site " you are looking for.
In my opinion this is a reasonable and the simplest analogy.

jigsaw piece

What does a website do ? Put simply, as a business, it saves you time and money and reaches more people than any paper or magazine ad will ever do. You can perfectly describe your business and have this advertisement where everyone can see it. It's your best and cheapest marketing tool. If it's personal and a blog just won't do then put simply, what better way to get your stuff noticed by millions of people and its a great hobby when you reach retirement or even before. If you just want a blog then it's a great way to get your voice heard, your opinions noticed.
If you are a business, you cannot afford to be without a website. Some statistics from in the USA:

71% of small businesses have a website.

92% of the remainder plan to have a website by the end of next year.

25% of what's left won't have a website due to lack of knowledge.

So, now you know what a website is and what it is used for we can now get you started. Everything below will be written as to a small, medium or even large business but as an individual much of this blog will be pertinent, so keep reading.

jigsaw piece

Whatever else you have read or heard, the very first thing you should do is contact a web developer, unless, of course, you feel you can go it alone.
It is worth stating here that if you engage a web developer for your site and someone to manage it, this will be cheaper for you than starting an IT section in your company.
If you have an IT section already then just get them to manage it as designing and developing websites is a specialist profession.
The internet is full of web developers advertising their skills and prices but first port of call maybe a friendly business who has a website who can tell you if their experience was good or bad and some idea of price. This bit ( the price ) may startle you, but it will be worth finding out the breakdown of these costs.
When armed with this breakdown, you can then search the web. It is often concluded that web design and development companies are cheapest further down the ranking of Googles pages. This is definitely not so. Reputable companies that have done their homework and designed their website with awesome content will be high in the ranking and these are the ones to look at.
Most companies will give a breakdown of their cost. This sort of breakdown can be viewed at our pricing page here.

jigsaw piece

You will now need to decide with the help of the developer which type of website, platform in the jargon, you want or need. Basically there are two two types. A content management system CMS or one built from the ground up.

There are pros and cons for each type and it is your decision which type is the correct fit for your company.
At present CMS may be your first choice but issues like security and loading speed may deter you from this and with code writers continually looking at static websites and tinkering with the new static website generators that can make static pages dynamic, ie change in size, then this could influence your decision.
Do not let the web developer push you into a decision that is not right for you. Let him advise you but it is your decision.
Click the blue button to see the pros and cons of each system.

Click me

CMS pros:

  1. Permission can be granted to anybody to enable editing the site.
  2. Fast to be up and running as framework is usually pre built.
  3. Site can be edited without disrupting initial design.
  4. The software is usually free.
  5. SEO is usually built in the framework and only needs editing.
  6. Many themes and plug ins available on the internet.

CMS cons:

  1. Security can be an issue. Hackers could find a way into your site to edit it. Additional security may be required.
  2. The site is slower in use as a CMS files everything separately and has to find and place on the page when its called by a user.
  3. There are limitations on functionality and some things you may want may not be available to you.
  4. Themes and plug ins are commonly used. These are not free and can disrupt SEO.
  5. SEO can be difficult as a CMS duplicates so many items which slow pages down.

STATIC pros:

  1. Secure. No database.
  2. Displays the same information to every visitor.
  3. If WYSIWYG ( what you see is what you get ) editor is used, no HTML knowledge is required. HTML is the building blocks of web pages.
  4. Information is consistent through a period of time determined by you.
  5. If edited correctly site response can be immediate. Good for SEO.
  6. If built from ground up using coding ( not WYSIWYG ) virtually any functionality can be included.
  7. Easy to set up.

STATIC cons:

  1. A developer has to update the content.
  2. Cannot display dynamic content ie a forum or login form.
  3. Content can appear differently on different browsers.

jigsaw piece

When you've made your decision which system is preferred the developer will probably advise you which software he will use as the editor. With regard to static websites there are generally two types of software, WYSIWYG editors and HTML editors. HTML stands for hypertext mark up language which is the building blocks of web pages.
Code in PHP, hypertext preprocessor, the usual code for websites especially CMS, is written onto HTML which displays it onto your screen.
CMS software is usually drag and drop content onto a design framework, very often a theme. The software relies heavily on themes and plug ins ( content resources like a calendar or a form ) and can get quite expensive although most software is free to start.

To see what themes and plug ins are it would be good to visit Envato's marketplace.
To see the top five CMS and STATIC software click the blue button.

Click me

The five most popular CMS software platforms:

Wordpress - mainly a blogging platform but often used for CMS and has a WYSIWYG editor if needed. The most popular due to its extensive theme and plug in library and very active community forum.

Joomla - Just a CMS but very capable with a huge plug in list. Not as easy to use as Wordpress and the plug in extensions can be very expensive.

Drupal - Similar to Joomla but probably better support from Drupal. All this comes with a cost though.

Expression Engine - A useful feature of this software is that you can have multiple sites from one installation of software unlike the others. It also has global editing ie editing several pages at once. Biggest drawback is price, last known was €100 for a personal site and €250 for a commercial one.

Concrete 5 - Pure CMS with the features as EE above and added caching of pages feature to speed up user loading. Lots of themes and plug ins which don't break the bank and initial installation is free. This site is built on Concrete 5.7.

The five most popular STATIC website builders.

Wordpress - Worldwide the most popular but there are security issues with every plug in which is what Wordpress is based on. Installation is free but everything from then has to be paid for.

Xara Webdesign - Fairly easy to use but no access to HTML. Lots of dedicated themes and there is now a plug in to make the pages dynamic. Has 3D editor. However many themes and plug ins, many of which are responsive, ie can convert for mobile viewing, have to be paid for on top of the installation charge. Excellent support.

Wix - The best thing about Wix is that everything is totally free. The templates ( themes ) are all free and easy to set up. Drawback is that there are not very many of them.

GoDaddy - Many hosting companies are now offering free website builders. GoDaddy is one of them. I didn't have a very good experience with GoDaddy so no more comment.

Site.Pro - Free, easy to use website builder. No coding skills required. Responsive and multilingual.

jigsaw piece

You will probably have seen the acronym SEO if you clicked the blue buttons. SEO stands for search engine optimization.
For a company website, providing a service or selling something the most important part of owning a website is to get a top page ranking ( more about this later ) with Google and Bing.
Without your site being seen, you cannot provide that service or supply those goods. As there is very little left in the world that is unique you will be in competition for these top pages ranking.
Your website has to be structured in such a way that Google, Bing and Yahoo will place it as high in the page structure for that particular search ( more about that later ) as is possible. As you can see, this process is extremely important and is one of the first things to discuss with the web developer.
There are several grades of SEO but if you want to get onto page 1 of the search engines and your business is quite competitive then you WILL need to hire an SEO specialist. Unfortunately this service does not come cheap and it can cost several thousand euros to reach page 1 of Google.
If your business is quite unique then you only need to ensure that the search engines can " see " you. This is very often the case with a personal website or blog.
Another important part of SEO is ensuring the the website will be " responsive " ie easily read on tablets and smart phones. In this day and age this is a must and Google will mark you down for not ensuring the website looks great on a mobile and anyway potential customers may only search on their mobiles.
If you want to know more about SEO the best specialists would be Matt Diggity of Diggity Marketing. You can find him here if he's not in Thailand. Or head on over to Joshua Hardwick at ahrefs.

jigsaw piece

OK, you probably have a company name and logo etc. What you will need next is a domain name and a website hosting company.
The domain name is the bit between the www and dot com. It is extremely important that you include the developer and your SEO company in deciding the domain name for reasons I will explain later.
The domain name is usually provided by the same company that will " host " your website but it doesn't have to be.
It would be nice to be able to host your own website on your own computer. You could do this, but when people, " traffic " start using the site, your computer would probably catch fire.
There are specialist hosting companies on the web ( internet ) and it is usually best to get one that is located near to where you live. You don't have to do this but if you get telephoned support you need to keep the charges down.
These companies will charge for hosting your website but it is quite a small monthly charge. They will also charge you per year for a domain name. Some companies offer this free but there is usually a catch somewhere.
Most host companies will have several packages priced differently and once again include your developer in your choice.

So now we have a web developer, possibly an SEO manager, a platform, a website host and a domain name. At this point you will probably start worrying. However be you a small or large business or a personal blogger there is no need to worry. Remember, you did your homework at the beginning so everything is as it should be. No need for worry.

jigsaw piece

The next thing on the agenda is design. There has been a lot written about design, most of which is pure gobbledegook. The most common thing I read about design is that black writing on a white page with the odd relevant image is the correct way to go. WRONG !
The statistics say that more than half of visitors to any web page will leave if it does not have " a great design ". I prefer black text on a white background but not every piece of text and imagery is very important to a visitor. People need variety to hold their attention and we need to hold their attention to be able to convert to customers.
It's all very well scaling the heights to the top of Google ranking only to see your visitors leave on your homepage because they don't like the design of it.
Most companies, like mine, provide designers as well as developers, or you can decide on one of the many themes around the internet. A " theme " is where the design is done for you and all you need provide is the " content " ie text and images. Many web design & development companies have themes and this is usually the best approach as they will have been tested quite extensively on the internet. It also takes the worry of thinking about design when you can just choose a completed one from a set of images or even a fully working website.
However, the designer, if needed, will interview a prospective client, even visit the business or property to get an idea in his head of what the client wants. After consultation with the developer and SEO he will then present his ideas or themes for consideration by the client, you.

jigsaw piece

Now we are definitely getting somewhere. The only thing left to do is for you with the developer to create some great content about your business, your aims, your staff, your services, your prices, great images of your products and business, your contact details, working hours etc etc.
Whilst this great content is being developed, the architecture or the structure of the website will be being altered and adjusted to suit the content. If you are using an SEO company, the content will be sent to them for their input. They will analyse the content in line with the search engines, Google, Bing etc requirements and add to it to ensure that off site linking can be achieved. I will deal with off site linking later on.

jigsaw piece

I mentioned the phrase " as high in the page structure for that particular search " earlier and I will return to this very important part of the internet.
Some may say it is the most important and maybe I would agree with them.
The " information highway " is not called that without reason. As we all know, when we are looking for anything, be it on the TV, in a book, encyclopaedia, or on the internet, we have a word or a phrase in our mind that needs finding. We call these key words or key phrases, for the internet everything is called a keyword, phrase has been dropped. If it's a phrase we call them long tail keywords.
These keywords, we know, entered into a search will bring us to our goal. This is why search engines exist.
When starting out with the developer / SEO, one of the first things to decide is what the site's keywords will be. Keywords are placed in the structure and the content of a website. Keywords most importantly must be relevant to the website page and not an exact match of your domain name ( the reason for including the developer and SEO in your domain name choice ). It's no good sprinkling the word " bikes for rent " throughout your website if you are renting villas on a Greek island. Sorry about this simple analogy but it does get the point home.
As I said, when somebody searches the internet, say for a " holiday villa on a Greek island ", they click on their favourite browser, be it Chrome, Firefox or Safari, and put their search keywords either into the address bar at the top of the page or their search engines search bar if that page is open.
If the same keywords are used correctly on your website ie conform to Googles rules and expectations and easily noticed by the search engines, then you are in with a good chance of your page coming up in that persons browser window.
It used to be easy to sprinkle keywords around a website and wait for the hits, but Google got wise to this and will now penalise overuse or abuse of their rules. Careful relevant placement within the content is now order of the day.
I use the word relevant a lot. This is because relevancy is high on Google's list of priorities when examining a website.
Just a quick note here about Google examining a website. Google crawls the internet searching through billions of web pages and storing the information in massive data banks which it then indexes for future use. At this time it ranks how good the web pages are ie conforms to all the rules, how many worthy websites link to it and places them in order of best first, worst last. This is called PageRank, named after one of the founders of Google, Larry Page.
Then when you search, Google uses an algorythm, a set of rules or a list of steps to take to solve something. Similar to how all computers work when you ask them to do something. Google sends out this algorythm to its search index and finds the nearest match to your keyword you put into the search box and produces the pages for that search query, best first, worst last.
Surprisingly this algorythm can even adjust spelling mistakes and adjust syntax for the sake of the search.

Another keypoint that influences where you come on PageRank ( the be all and end all of SEO ) is how many other websites link to your website. This is called off site linking. These other websites have to be relevant ( that word again ) to your website. For instance a travel company having an advert on their site for your villa rental on a Greek island business is ideal, or a bike rental company on the same island linking to you.
There are many other reasons for getting a high position on the ranking, not least the way a visitor can navigate around your website, called onsite linking, but these above are the most important.
This isn't really a blog about SEO and there are a lot more features than have been mentioned but I will leave it there, maybe for another blog in the future.

I apologise for this extended explanation but this is a very important part of owning a website, blog or CMS and is worth reading until you understand it. Don't get mad at Google. Their rules and regulations exist purely for the users of the internet ie you.

I suspect you are getting worried again. No need, either the developer or the SEO will forge some keywords for you. If you really know your business the best keywords are likely to come from you. You now know everything, the developer has taken over from the designer and the website is complete. All that is left is to publish it or so a lot of website owners believe....................

jigsaw piece

The developer after agreeing with you will now publish the website onto the internet public domain where everyone can see it.
This will be done with either FTP, file transfer protocol, a set of rules for publishing ( transferring files ) to the public domain, if a static site or through the dashboard of say Wordpress if a blog or CMS or similar with Concrete5.
You can sit back and wonder at this beautiful piece of technology and play with all the functions of the site. Send emails to all your friends and tell them to look at your new website. It feels like a toy to play with, but in your hands is the best marketing tool you have ever had or will ever have.

It doesn't stop there though !

All the rules and regulations mentioned in step 12 above are constantly being updated to suit an ever changing world wide web. The SEO would keep on top of these as this is his business.
Your business would be constantly changing, environmental changes, staff changes, product changes, growth of the business, changes in marketing strategies, etc.
Google will be regularly crawling through your pages and adjusting your PageRank, going up hopefully if you had a low ranking on launch.
Google does not like a stagnant website and if it sees no change or update of content it will mark you down on PageRank.

All this adds up to one thing - the website needs to be managed. Preferably by a management company who have experience in SEO or are allied to an SEO and a company to help with marketing. Using this new tool of yours.

jigsaw piece

As this blog is really about owning a website and you now have all the pieces of the puzzle and you may not have a service or product to sell, I won't delve too deeply into marketing strategies but for many this is the whole point of the website.
The website will be considered the central hub that gathers all the marketing experience. The website will be used to link advertisements through GoogleAds, Google and Bing Business, all social media marketing, facebook, twitter, linkedIn etc, email marketing and of course engaging with all the visitors to your site and converting them to customers. You can see this on our page here.

The SEO and this marketing experience can be measured, assessed and improved if necessary by the management team and regular reports sent to you.

It makes you wonder why you never had this before. As I said at the start, I don't think all this information is out there in one piece until now.

The puzzle that we had at the start is now completed. I love jigsaws.

assembled jigsaw

Many thanks to for the use of their jigsaw pieces and heading image.

And many thanks for the help from Ahrefs, who have all the tools you need for SEO, Matt Diggity at Diggity Marketing and not forgetting Brian Dean at Backlinko who are all great bloggers about SEO.

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