Want to Start A Website? Tips on Where to Begin

So, Where Do I Begin to Start A Website

Daunting is probably the best word if you want to start a website yourself.  Before you begin there are things you have to consider, you first need to decide how you will build it. There are lots of options out there and WordPress is by far the most powerful and most popular. Other options can be likes of Squarespace, Strikingly and Wix but you are then tied into their hosting for life and will be possible but you will lose some info. With WordPress, you have the freedom to choose your own hosting, and if you are not happy, you can migrate it to another hosting company and still use WordPress. WordPress is more powerful too and can be customised more easily so it will grow with your business. Just to make sure you are clear, there are 2 types of WordPress. The initial WordPress.com which is free with a WordPress domain ($15 per month to use your own) and is not as powerful or as customisable as the hosted version, WordPress.org. For business, I suggest using a hosted version of WordPress. Most web hosting will have a single click install for WordPress to make it easy. Some are more user-friendly than others too which I will go into in the web hosting section.

You first need to organise two things, firstly your need a domain (that is the www link bit or also called URL) and some type of hosting provider. The domain for my website is emercarr.com and I have my health website on itsallaboutliving.ie but I chose this one a long time ago. Yes, it gives a great view of the mission on the website but it doesn’t tell you who it is.

You can think of your domain like a phone number or email address, it must be unique and make sense to your website. It is how people are going to find you and some user to your website will come from remembering the website name. I always suggest including your name if you can or have your name as an umbrella website and different businesses connecting them to you and your main business (as I do now). Remember, people are more likely to remember a name and a person than a generic business one.

Costs for Running a Website

Domains vary in price, a .com is around €8/$9 per year while TLDs like .ie can cost €30-35 per year after the first year. There are lots of different domain extensions including new ones like .club, .company, .online as it was getting more and more difficult to get suitable .com domains but I would always start with a .com if you can because your audience is likely to type this at times. 

The other cost to run a website is hosting. There are different types of hosting which you can read more about here but starting out, shared hosting with a good provider is more than adequate. Most will give great deals in the first year but will average out €8-€14 ($9-$15) per month starting out. Some are a lot more expensive so research before you choose. I use Hostpapa and I'm very happy with them on price, service and the fact they are a green company. You can find out more about hosting further on.

But, can I get a Free Website?

Yes, that is possible BUT you will not have your own website domain (or custom domain) without paying for the hosting. Even with likes of WordPress.com (the free version of WordPress) or WIX. If you are a business, you need to look professional and not having your own domain will not give a professional impression.

If you are a business, you need to look professional and not having your own domain will not give a professional impression. You should always have a proper domain and business style email (not a gmail or hotmail) for business if you want to be taken seriously.

So where do you get your domain from?

There are numerous registrars for domains, most are web hosting companies too which we will discuss in a minute. The first thing to note, your domain and web hosting do not need to be with the same company. Plus, certain domains called ‘country code top-level domain (ccTLD)’ like .ie are only available from registrars accredited by the IEDR (IE Domain Register).

For my own use, I keep my .ie domains with Hostpapa and use Namesilo.com for all my other domains (yes, I do have a collection at this stage). If you choose to register with Namesilo, use the code emercarr and you will receive a small discount.

So why choose Namesilo? For me, there are a few reasons. Firstly, the price you see is the price for renewal so no big shocks when you come to renew. While others may discount the 1st year costs, they also will charge you extra for WHOIS privacy and trust me you need it (I’ll explain what that is in a sec). With Namesilo, it is standard and part of the price although you do need to select it.

What is WHOIS privacy?

In order to register a domain, ICANN (governs domains etc) requires your personal details which will be published on the WHOIS lookup if you don’t have WHOIS privacy set. Think of it like an ex-directory phone number. It is something I highly recommend for your own privacy and security.

How to check your website name availability

So you have some ideas for a website domain name, but how do you know they are available? The easiest way, type them into a browser. If nothing is returned, BOOM! You can get it for yourself. You can also check on the likes of Namesilo.com for available domains and it will suggest other domain types. Simply type in what you would like and hit Search.

NameSilo Domain Search

WARNING: I would suggest trying to get a .com if you can rather than some other option. Also, if the option is gone, be sure it is a legitimate website, not some dodgy one. You don’t want your users accidentally landing on a weird website!

You can use tools like namemesh.com or other domain name generators if your first choice is gone and you want to look at alternatives.

Tips for selecting a domain

  • Keep it as simple are possible
  • Watch out for words that are easily misread when spaces are removed, eg: therapist could be read as the rapist!
  • Watch words ending and starting with the same letter, eg. successshines
  • You can use numbers or a hyphen but again, watch the readability.

How to host your website and where?

So now you have your domain, what next? You will need to host your website somewhere. It is a bit like having a phone provider, you need a hosting provider. I go into the different types of hosting on this blog here. For starting out, shared hosting is more than adequate, providing you go with a reputable web hosting company. I use Hostpapa for their great support & service and also the fact they are a Green company and I am very much about eco and sustainability where possible. They are all quite similar, they give you a fantastic offer in the first year and level out on price thereafter. Hostpapa is well priced for what you get after the offer ends plus they offer a security feature which monitors my websites which again, is again is something I value. They support WordPress and they have made it really easy to install from their user-friendly cp panel (a dashboard for managing everything).

For years I was with Blacknight but due to poor service, I left about a year and a half ago. There is a 24hr chat feature with Hostpapa so if I have questions out of office hours, I can ask. It is all about service in my opinion. Through clients, my experience with GoDaddy and HostGator were not good, my experience with both was a constant upsell in order to get things fixed, I have never experienced that with Hostpapa. Do your research! When you are reviewing anything, make sure you are always checking independent reviews not just from the company themselves and make your own decision. Some will give 30 days trial so another point worth noting.

You will also want emails for your website, so make sure whatever web hosting you choose allows for unlimited or a large number of email addresses. While you might not need them now, you will in the future.

One last thing to note, if you have your domain with one company and your hosting in another, you need to connect them by adding in the Nameservers of your hosting to your domain. This can take a few mins to take effect so if it doesn't work, check back in 10mins. Some can take longer to populate so please do not do this when you are in a rush. It never works then! Murphy's law.

Planning Your Website

So you know the setup, but have you planned your website? This is a step people regularly fall down on. Don't overload your website, users/visitors will not hang around if things are too cluttered and difficult to find things. With most things in business and life, applying the KISS principle will give you the best results. KEEP IT SIMPLE & STRAIGHTFORWARD. You can add as you go.

The basic structure of a website, you will need an About page, Contact(inc your location) and 2-3 key business goals for your website. Even if you are doing this for a club or charity, think of it as a business. What are the main reasons you want people to interact with 'your business' or 'your club/charity'?  These should be your main headings on your menu and you can create sub-menus underneath. You can also add a blog to your main menu too. This should be the max for main menu.

So you are ready to go! Next comes building your website. I run workshops to help you get your website in place in just one morning. Check here for details and get in touch if you are elsewhere in Ireland and we can see if we can arrange one near you.

 

What is Copyright and Copyright Infringement?

5 Myths Busted on What You Can & Can’t Use for Your Business

Understanding copyright is essential in business. Copyright infringement is a very common mistake in business. How do I know? Because people regularly use images for their business with watermarks - BIG tell it is copyrighted.

I'm not a legal eagle nor copyright expert, but I am a responsible business owner and don't want to risk my business over something as avoidable as copyright infringement so I have researched the area at length to understand the do's and don't in copyright and how to protect my own content.

Having great images will catch your users' eye before anything else but you need to be careful where you get them. For commercial use, you cannot just do a Google search to find a pic for your next blog or to put on social media to advertise your business. Catches are, by doing this, you will infringe on someone’s copyright.

So, what is copyright? Copyright applies to the owner of creative work such as photos, images, graphics, sound, music, video …… you get my drift. If you created it, it is your property, you own it and copyright protects that.

Copyright is automatic in most countries, but the understanding is ignored. Copyright means others don’t have the right to use the content without permission. Owners can add watermarks to their work in to order to try to stop others using it without permission, but the lack of understanding means people will just share anyway, because that is what everyone does on social media, right? True, but this doesn’t mean it is right! Creative work is the property of the owner until they decide otherwise. Using it without permission let’s face it, is stealing. It is no different than if you took a physical item from someone for your own use without asking.

There is a very, VERY simple rule of thumb if it isn’t yours and you don’t have permission to use it, then don’t!

1.   You can just use any images you find on Google

No you can't! The idea of sharing and use what is in front of you is a common misconception in social media. Most of the time, people use images, music and videos from others without thinking, or without having permission to use it. You probably will get away with it on a personal level, but it is very unprofessional in business.

I will tell you a quick story of what happened to me. Someone added me after a salsa event and then decided to take one of personal photos of my pug, Mise without asking and use it on their promotional poster for their event without asking. Oooooh, I felt mixed emotions about this and they definitely weren’t positive emotions. I'm not a professional photographer but it was still MY photo and MY dog! I very quickly removed this person from my personal Facebook profile and never attended the event, nor any they have promoted since.

So now you are thinking, OK where do I get images to use, as I need something for my website/blog/social media. There are tons of resources for finding that is available for use where the owner places it under what is called, Creative Commons Licencing or image that are in the Public Domain. Full copyright means the owner has full rights to the content but some people want others to share their content and that is where Creative Commons comes in to give the creator/owner options on whether their work can be used for personal use, commercial use, requires credit or can be modified without permission. This gives more flexible control to creators. Copyright isn’t indefinite but it does last 50-70yrs here in Ireland and roughly the same elsewhere, basically a pretty long time. After that, the works become Public Domain and as the name suggests, available to the public. Examples would be classically composed music from the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. When sourcing your images, music and video, always use a source that lists copyright free work under Creative Commons CC0 or adheres to any restrictions laid out by the Creative Commons licencing. You can also buy royalty free work to use too.

2.   Royalty free means free/no cost

This is another misconception, Royalties usually are paid per use of a property/work, royalty free simply means a one-off payment to the owner. Sometimes there is no cost, but in general, there is some cost involved. Let’s face it, if you did work, you would want to get paid or if you owned something, you would want someone to ask you permission to use it. Common sense really.

The term stock photo is often listed with Royalty free, and basically just means non-personal photos available for commercial use, but they can have different levels of licencing for use so please do your homework.

3.   You can use your favourite music in the background or on videos.

Record labels can be very strict on the use of music because music carries royalties, i.e. the record label gets paid every time the music is used and a percentage goes to the artist. Facebook has been known to close accounts using music from big artists in the background so it is something to consider.  Youtube will also claim copyright on music automatically.

Smaller bands and other artists can love when people use their music to help get it ‘out there’ but always respect that and support the artists in buying it officially too. If I use something from one of my favourite bands, example The Coronas, even if it is a video I filmed it at one of their gigs, I will link to their music and give them a shout out using Youtube cards, tags, links to iTunes etc.

Another thing I have learned from band members, not to publish new songs online before the music has been officially released and something to consider. This is their livelihood after all and we should respect it. Music is always copyright at the end of the day unless if it is listed on a website with Creative Commons licencing. It makes perfect sense when you stop and think about it, but the nature of sharing online for personal use is different when you are doing it for your business. We need to respect other businesses.

 

4.   How will they ever never know I am using the images?

Because big companies are losing out on this, likes of Getty images are tracking misuse of their images and suing people! Yep, you could end up with a lawsuit on your hands. They use tools that will run a reverse image search online and can identify where their images are being used and link it back to the accounts who have licenced them. This can also be used to protect your own images and photos.

Slightly aside but worth noting:

Plagiarism will also damage your business which means taking someone’s else’s written content and using without any reference. You can use quotes from others with reference but not take their content. Google penalises heavily for this on websites and referred to it as scraping content. While Google does like referenced content (shows credibility), you need to mention and link to your sources too.

You can find out more and some tools to use in the eNotes on The Businessi Sensei Notes: Understanding Copyright.

5.   You need to be a graphic artist to create cool images

No, you don’t have to be a talented graphic designer to create everyday graphics for your business. There are loads of tools out there to help you create some great graphics. Certainly, for more complex graphics you may want to consider a graphics designer but you can create great graphics yourself too. There are lots of easy to use online tools to help you design images you can use for your business. Get a graphic designer for the likes of branding images but you can create everyday business images yourself.

For more information on copyright with 45 free or low-cost resources to create stunning visuals and sounds for your business, check out the Businessi Sensei Notes on Understanding Copyright.

Setting Up Google Analytics on a WordPress Website

How To Set up Google Analytics and install your WordPress Website

1. Setting up your Website on Google Analytics

Steps 1 to 6 of this section 1 are the same for everyone, even if you don't have a WordPress website

Step 1: Sign up/Log in to analytics.google.com using your Google account.

Note: This should be an email you use regularly and doesn't have to your business email. 

Step 2: If you are a new user, you need to set up your Account first, simply use your name or your Business name.

Step 3: Next, you set up a Property ie. your website under this account. 

  • Enter a Website name just to distinguish it for any additional websites you might add in the future and the URL for your website. Be careful if you are using http or https, select accordingly. Most basic websites are http, https for payment websites.

Step 4: Next select the Category which best represents your business.

Step 5: Change the Reporting Zone to the country of your business. 

Step 6: Scroll to the bottom and hit Get Tracking ID.

Note: You can copy the tracking ID here or you can find it any time under the ADMIN tab at the top of the page. For the WordPress plugin I am going to show you, you don't even need to copy it but other websites, you will need to copy the tracking code onto each page of you website that you want to track. Details below on how to find your tracking code at a later stage too.

 

2. Easiest way to Add your Tracking Code to a WordPress Website

Before you start: Make sure you are logged into the same Google account you used for the Google Analytics setup.

Step 1: Log into your wordpress website and go down to Plugins on Left Menu

Step 2: Select Add New, either from the Left Menu or top of the Plugins page, makes no difference.

Step 3: On far top right, type in Google Analytics by MonsterInsights into the Search Plugins search box and select install.

Step 4: When it is installed, hit Activate.

insightsStep 5: When the plugin is installed, you will see a new Insights icon on the bottom left corner of your screen on the WordPress menu bar.

 

 

Step 6: Click on this Insights icon and you should get the message in the middle of your screen (alternatively select Settings).

 

 

Step 7: Click on re-authenticate your Google Analytics profile here

 

Step 8: Click Allow on the Request Permission pop that appears (remember, you must be logged into the same Google account as Google Analytics)

Step 9: Copy the code that is displayed (simply click on the code once, it should highlight blue (repeat if it isn’t highlighted), then click right to copy (or CTRL + C).

Step 10: Go back to the browser and you will see a box to paste in your code, click in the box and click right (or CTRL+ V).

Step 11: From the General Settings, select your website for the Analytics Profile from the dropdown menu.

Step 12: Hit save and THAT’S IT! It is all set up. Just one more thing, to finish this off nicely. It is a EU legal requirement on websites to notify visitors your website collects data so you need to add a cookie notification. Jump to Section 4 below to find out how to add one.

You can return to the Dashboard under the Insights icon on the left menu to see your data. I would also suggest looking at your Reports on Google Analytics too. They are in far more depth then the plugin but it will give you a clear overview too.

3. How to find your Tracking Code after your website has been added?

Step 1: Go back to your Google Analytics account. 

Step 2: Under ADMIN tab, select the Account you want, then the Property (ie website).

Step 3: Under the Property, click on Tracking Info > Tracking Code

It is a legal requirement on websites to notify visitors your website collects data so you need to add a cookie notification. Check the requirements in Section 4 for WordPress websites to help you add one to other types.

4. Setting up Cookie Acceptance Notification on your WordPress Website

WordPress is great and yes there is another plugin to solve this for you. First though, we need to set up a Privacy Policy page. If you don't know what a Privacy Policy involves, check the link to the Irish Data Protection website for further info. If you are based outside of Ireland, Google data protection privacy policy <your country> to find out the information relevant for you.

Here is an example of Privacy Policy taken from the Law Society of Ireland. You can google 'privacy policy template' to find one to suit your needs.

Step 1: Create a page, call it Privacy Policy (or something similar) and add relevant text based on the requirements of your country. This page will only appear via the cookie acceptance notification and in the footer of your website, not under a menu (unless you want to of course! This is the standard way).

Step 2: Go to the Plugins Section of your WordPress dashboard (left menu) and at the top, click on Add New.

Step 3: Search for 'Cookie' in right search box. Here are some that have been ranked highly in reviews at the time of this blog but this can change. I always suggest, only select a plugin compatible with the latest version of WordPress (provided you are using the latest version which you should be) then look at Read More on any plugin and check latest reviews, Installation, support. This always give a clear view to me how easy a plugin is to use. 

  • Cookie Notice - dFactory (in use on emercarr.com)
  • Cookie Law info - (in use on itsallaboutliving.ie)
  • EU Cookie Law - easy to use but I didn't like the display on my theme but this can still work for you.

Step 4: Install and Activate the Cookie plugin of choice. They usually appear under Settings on the bottom right or as an option on their own.

Step 5: Link the Plugin to your Privacy Policy in the 'Read More' Section by adding the Privacy Policy page to Read More either by selecting in Dropdown or adding the link depending on the plugin.

Example from Cookie Notice 

Cookie Plugin Add Privacy Policy

 

 

 

Note: For Cookie Notice, all other values should be OK at default values.

Step 6 (Optional): Finally you want to add your Privacy Policy to the Footer (this usual place but you can decide yourself) of your website. To do this, go back to your Dashboard, go to Manage Widgets on top right and click on Widgets.

Manage Widgets

 

 

 

 

Step 7: There are several ways to add links to the Footers based on your theme but this is a generic way for all themes.

<a href="insert your link here to privacy policy and keep the double quotes">Privacy Policy Test</a>

Example of mine:

<a href="http://emercarr.com/privacy-policy/">Privacy Policy Test</a>

Save and that is it. You should see this at the bottom of all your web pages. If not, hit F5 on your keyboard to reload the page.

Hope the help! Please let me know in the comments below.

Getting to Grips with Google Analytics – From the Ground Up

Understanding Google Analytics

When you are starting out there is so much confusion and trying to understand what is what, it can seem like digging into bottomless black hole trying to get the right information to get you started.

So here, I will give clear steps for WordPress users how to set up your Google Analytics code on your website in 4 easy and clear steps. For all websites, setting up your website for Google Analytics is the same but how you add to your website will be different which I will cover in another blog. So let's begin......
Q: What on earth are Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google found at analytics.google.com where you use your gmail email to sign in and add your website. This will track and help you to analyse all the visitors to your website. From this you will be able to determine better marketing strategies for your business. Kinda cool, eh!

There are numerous free tools by Google to help your website perform better. Google Analytics is purely to analyse people coming to your website and where they come from plus LOADS of data such as demographics, location, interests and behaviour plus loads more. It's purpose it to help your marketing, NOT your SEO. OK Emer, STOP, what's SEO? Don't confuse me already!

Q: OK so what is SEO?

SEO is Search Engine Optimization and relates to how your website will rank on a search by someone, ie. they go to Google (or another search engine but Google is King, let's face it) and type in something they want, hey presto the list of choices of websites appear. First website is ranked #1 based on the search. If what they are looking for is relevant to your business, well if your website is ranking well it will appear close to the top. If not, it will be buried below lots of other websites that they can choose from. There are simple rules for SEO but ultimately in my opinion, you need to have amazing content on your website for your customers, first and foremost. Content is King also! Ok I hope that gives you a quick idea of SEO but right now we are talking Google Analytics which has nothing to do with SEO. Google Analytics is a tool to help you understand where visitors to your website.

Q: So what is the fuss about Google Analytics?

Using the reports in Google Analytic, you can see tends of where your visitors are coming from and are coming from along with other very interesting data from Demographics to Interests/Behaviours bu also where your traffic is coming from regarding your social media. You could be surprised (because I have seen it happen) where you thought your target audience was can give a very different view to who actually visits your website.