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.

 

Web Hosting Service & Why I choose Hostpapa

Choosing the Right Web Hosting Service for You & Your Business

A question I often get ask, how do you choose or know what is good Web Hosting Service. For me, key is reliability and support no matter what plan you go for because at some point, things will go wrong! After a nightmare with a previous provider with a messy and out of date knowledge base and frustrating support to say the least, getting the backup you need when things go wrong is essential. First, check is their online help, do they have clear tutorials that flow together

Because I own .ie websites, limits me on my choice of wWeb Hosting Services as not providers can support .ie domains. Another point to note, some say, server location is important too with Google rankings but I have yet to see any evidence backed by Google on this.

After a lot of research on different Web Hosting Services before finally deciding on hostpapa. Rated as one of the highest for support, hostpapa supports .ie domains with the added fact the are a green company is something that very important to me because servers do have a very negative impact on the environment. Currently, I am just on the Business shared hosting plan with Hostpapa, at $12.99pm after the offers end with chat service always available and next day response on any support ticket I have submitted if something can't be resolved in the chat. It is more than adequate for my needs so definitely have no problem recommended something I use myself.

 

What is the Difference between all the plans?

For starters, shared plans are more than enough once you go to a good provider when you are starting out.

 

Shared Hosting

Think of a shared plan like a hostel, each bed is a website but everyone shares likes of the bathroom, kitchen etc. With a reputable provider and well-managed servers, this is not a problem, but if not managed and overloaded, queues appear for the services especially during peak times. Trust me, unless you have high volumes at one time reaching your website, this is more than enough starting out.

 

VPS (Virtual Private Servers) Hosting

VPS are still shared servers but if think of it as an apartment block, every account is self-contained so there is no queuing for the services. If your website is very busy and starting to slow on shared hosting, you can upgrade to VPS for a more reliable service.

 

Dedicated Server Hosting

As the name suggests, dedicated servers mean one server per business. This is for large businesses and most who would need this level will have their own servers anyway. It is like you detached mansion, has everything you could possibly need and more.

Facebook Live Stream For Business: 15 Tips for Easy Live Broadcasts

Why Use Facebook Live Stream for Business?

Facebook live stream for business is fast becoming the best way to show the person behind the business & behind the scenes. Don’t get left behind, it’s easy, I promise. One of the main blocks with businesses online, is how faceless and impersonal they have become which really can be an issue in building up customer relationships. When you walk into a shop, you will ultimately make your decision on a number of factors which includes the impression of the premises and the person who you are working with. Online, we have to rely on a website instead of a premises and use our content and knowledge to build the trust of the customer, and it’s not easy! This is why, using live streaming shows the real, unedited view of you and your business which is bar far the fastest way to building online customer relations.

So Where to Begin:

Here are my top tips to help you get started with successful Facebook Live Streams. Facebook wants Facebook Live to be successful, therefore it is the only option set to ‘Suggested’ in notifications when someone ‘likes’ your page, so make the most of it. Apart from that, going live on social media shows the face behind the business and really helps you to stand out from your competitors.

So, let’s get started, here are 15 tips to help you be well prepared for going live streaming.

1. Setup & Space:

Create a setup with adequate lighting, good WiFi connection and minimum outside distractions. Poor lighting can look creepy, you know the kind I mean? I’ve seen a lot do this on live streaming. It doesn’t have to be professional lighting either but you want to look professional on your videos, right? This is your business after all. People need to be able to see your face clearly and present yourself in a manner you would be another business person on a casual level.

2. Phone/Tablet:
  • Have your phone well charged – Live streaming is hard on power.
  • Good WiFi connection – data hungry so be careful using your mobile data plan.
  • Set phone to Do Not Disturb – If this isn’t under Sound/Notifications, try a search on your phone for it or go to Google and search ‘Do not Disturb mode plus whatever phone model you have’.
  • Turn off all App notifications. Personally, I leave my app notifications off all the time and check at specific times during the day. It really distracts our concentration to have your phone constantly notifying you.
3. App to Use:

Use Page Manager to go live on your business page to avoid mistakes going on your personal. As a business, you need to use a business (ie ‘like’ page not friend) because it is against Facebook T&Cs to use a personal profile for business and they can and do close profiles down for this. Don’t risk your business!

Note: For groups, you do need to use your personal profile but your regular Facebook Live streams should always be on your business page. You can share your regular Facebook Live Streams to your profile if you so wish.

4. Topics:

This will depend a lot on your business. Just remember, going live is about showing the face behind the business and adding value to it. You want to create relevant topics for your audience. Answer a question to a problem or interest that they may have. Invite your audience to send in topics/ideas too. This always helps with engagement and let your audience feel like part of the process. You can also get ideas for topics from likes of magazines in your business area but always only cover topics that you know the subject well, don’t waffle hoping it is right. It is better to say if you get asked a question that interesting but don’t know the answer, to be honest and say you it, tell the person it is a great question but one you need to prepare and cover it in the future. This can always happen if the question is a big one that will take you off topic. If you know the initial topic very well, this should be a rare occurrence that you are asked something you don’t know so don’t worry.

5. Preparation of a Topic:

I am a huge fan of index cards and have an ideas box which I will share in another blog. Basically, use 1 index card for a topic and when you are ready to use the topic, expand it out.

  • Even if you know a topic well, do a quick Google search on the latest info.
  • Create 3-5 key points on the index card that you want to cover.
  • Save completed cards as you can always reuse them further done the line. The beauty of live, even with the same key points (which you can always just reorder), you will give different insights into it.
6. Time to GoLive:

Everyone will tell you different things, and what are key times of the day etc but I’m a firm believer, you need do what will consistently work for you. Being consistent is key to success. You might not have many or even anyone join the first few times you go live but don’t worry. People will see the replays so just keep going.

7. Be Consistent & Prepared:

As I mentioned, being consistent is key to success, no matter what it is, not just live streaming. At the start, it is ok to jump around to find a good time or if you have a large following already, but if you trying to build an audience from scratch you need to be consistent and show up! If you don’t do it consistently, why should your audience show up. Keep to the same time, same day as often as you can. If you can’t make it on live, leave a post to let people know. Also be prepared and have at least 3 points you want to cover in the broadcast. This will help you stay on topic, I’m a huge fan of index cards for this, I use 6″ x 4″.

8. Pre-Advertise:

When you are starting out, let people know in advance when you are going live. To do this, post your topic on your Business page timeline, share into appropriate groups and if it makes sense, on your personal profile too. I find within the hour of you going live, post on my business page and about 30min before into groups works best for me but I go live at a consistent time daily, 3pm Monday to Friday. Also you need be interactive in the groups as a member before you advertise you slot so people recognise you.

9. Use a Catchy Title:

When crafting your title to go live, try different ways to word it. Ask a question will make people want to join more. How-tos work very well in general on social media so start your title with ‘Do you know How to succeed at ……’, other examples of catchy titles, ‘Are you making one of the top mistakes ….’ in comparison to ‘Here are the top mistakes…..’. Work on the emotional connection with your audience so they feel is it worth joining or watch the replay. Emojis can help your title stand out a little. It is normal to use quite a few of these on the likes of periscope but not as much so on Facebook Live. Personally, I use just 1 at the start of the title.

10. Your Voice:

Be enthusiastic! You are not reading the death notices. Speaking with a melody in your voice, be exciting BUT SLOW DOWN! You don’t want to come across as someone high on something either. Take breaths and pauses so the information can be absorbed. Get yourself in the mood by playing your favourite song. Be genuine! Don’t try to be like anyone else. I know most of us start out thinking, but I hate my voice! Trust me, this is simply because it is unfamiliar to hear yourself from a different angle. The direction of sound waves changes what we hear to what we sound like to ourselves. Only one way to get over it, PRACTICE! You have to just start somewhere.

11. Start Immediately:

After you hit go on Facebook Live you get a 3, 2, 1 countdown and then you go live. You need to start immediately with what your topic is about. Remember, even if no one is watching immediately, your replay viewers will see from the start.

12. Intros & Expertise:

After you have given a quick overview of your topic, it is a good idea to very briefly just introduce yourself and your expertise/experience relating to what you are about to talk about in your topic.

13. Stay on Topic:

Sometimes you can get asked questions that are off topic, if they can be answered in a one liner, do it or if they do relate to what you are talking about but don’t drift completely away from your original topic. You can always follow up on a subsequent day where you can expand. I always thank the person for a great question, if possible give a very brief answer but promise to follow up with the topic in another Facebook Live as that is what the question warrants. After the live session, I will PM the person and give them a bit more info if they need the advice immediately and let them know when I am going to do the live on their topic.

14. While You Are Live:

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of asking people to just share but it does depend on the relevance of your business to the friends of the people watching. As people watch on personal profiles, their friends list shouldn’t be for business (because we don’t use personal profiles for business right!) but my audience is other business owners. I do share Live broadcasts of music etc to my page as a lot of my friends will be interested.

So you want to remind people to:

  • Instead of share, ask to Invite anyone you think could benefit from the broadcast but this is totally up to you and does depend on the audience of your business.
  • Remind people to comment, even replay viewers.
  • Give some insight to what you will talk about in your next live video and a reminder when it will be.
15. When Finished:

You can always go back in and edit the title. Also, from as laptop/browser, under Videos on your Facebook page, you can create Playlists and put all your videos in suitable playlists including Facebook Live where you can keep a neat selection of your live videos. You can also edit individual videos under Video Library and set to Expire on a date or Expired (unpublish).

There lots of options in here to explore from tags to crossposting so you can have you video show on other pages that you are admin of. You need to set this up from the left menu, Videos you can cross Post then on individual videos, simply switch on which to cross post to under the tab.

Finally, you can reorder the tabs on your Page to have videos easily seen by people on the app.

Bonus:   Always keep a drink and tissues handy, you never know when you will need them. When we are talking a lot, our throat and mouth can get very dry …… trust me! Main thing, is to relax and enjoy and let everyone see how great your really are.

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.