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   Create and Build Your Very Own Web Site

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Building your own web site — whether for family fun or for profit — is easier than you may think. 

There are completely free options that are most appropriate for those who don't mind a web address that is cumbersome and who don't require the freedom of adding leading affiliate links to their site. These are somewhat limited, but appropriate for families looking for a little space on the web. One excellent choice for a free basic web site is Yahoo's GeoCities.

If you are looking for a small web site builder that is almost a no-brainer (it's easy to set up and no programming skills are required), you might want to turn to ReadyWebsites.com. Templates are provided for building a small web site that looks good and is virtually painless to create.

If you are looking for your own domain name and more designing freedom, there are ways to get your very own web site domain name and run a web site quite inexpensively. This article explores the steps for the latter option. Once your own site is up and running, you can begin submitting it to search engines and getting involved in affiliate programs that are free to set up, but that can earn you some returns.

Make it a family project:
Building a web site can be an educational experience for kids. Our favorite resource for kids who want to learn the ins and outs of web site creation is Web Monkey for Kids. Here, children will find helpful and kid-friendly lessons and tools that will help them discover how to build a site.


Obtaining Your Own Domain Name

Unless you opt to go with a free web site, getting your very own domain name might be your first step. However, many hosting companies offer domain name registration along with their hosting packages at an attractive price, so see our section below about web hosting before you jump to register your domain.

What is a domain name? A domain name identifies one (and sometimes more) IP Addresses. If you look at what appears in your browser as the URL address of this page, for example, you'll see:

http://www.edutainingkids.com/articles/howtocreatewebsite.html 

The domain name in this address is edutainingkids.com

What appears after the "dot" (in this case, "com") reveals which top level domain the name belongs to. Popular TLDs include com, edu, gov, net, ca, and so forth. 

You'll need to think up a name for your domain. This name will, of course, be very important, so you'll want to spend some time on it. Of course, many popular names are already taken. You can explore which names are available at this site:

At register.com you can search for, and register, a domain name.

 

Factors to consider when choosing a domain name:

  • An understandable and easy-to-remember name is usually best.

  • Including some of your site's important keywords--that is, words that people might put into a search engine to find your site--can be important in terms of how high your site gets "ranked" in search engine listings.

  • Your domain name establishes your online identity. Try to select a name that describes what you are setting out to do, without limiting yourself for possible future expansions.

Registering a domain name: You will need to register your domain name with a domain registrar. Originally, there was only one domain registrar, Network Solutions. Now there are many options for registering your domain name. It can be confusing, but it also means competitive prices!

Most domain name registrars charge a yearly fee for domain name registration. Many offer discounts for registering with them for multiple years. 

At register.com you can search for, and register, a domain name.

 


Getting a Web Hosting Package

Once you have a domain name, you'll need to find a web hosting service. There are plenty of hosting services available. 

Factors to consider when choosing a hosting service:

  • You'll need to find a package that provides you with enough data storage, measured in Megabytes. A standard is 50MB. 

  • Find a package that includes traffic statistics. Knowledge of your site's traffic statistics is not only interesting, it can help you improve your site.

  • Many people prefer to edit their web pages on their computer, and then upload the changes and additions to their site using an FTP program. If you're one of them, make sure the hosting package includes FTP access in their services. 

  • Find a package that supports full domain names. It's much more professional to have your own domain name, as we have mentioned above. 

 

Our top choices for inexpensive, reliable hosting packages are: 

Globat.com Best eCommerce & Forum Web Hosting Plans - 2500 MB & 75 GB of data transfer for only $7.95/mo

LunarPages.com. For $7.95/month, users get 40 GB/month bandwidth and 800 MB storage. This is an excellent deal, with more than enough storage and bandwidth than most users need, unlimited email, and loads of other features.

 

 

Building Your Site

If you don't know html, or you prefer not to play around with html code, you will want to find an html editor. You can download free html editors, such as FrontPage Express or AOL Press 2.0 (for instructions on how to download these, click here). Both are easy to use and quite sufficient for many users.

For a more professional, yet still easy-to-use, web page editing program, you can purchase Microsoft FrontPage 2002, our personal favorite. FrontPage is ideal for those people who have no desire to learn html. Those who are familiar with html code will find more versatility in the pricier but flexible Dreamweaver MX.

**A special all-in-one web site package is offered by ReadyWebsites.com. For only $8.88 a month, you get a web site without the need to know any programming.

 

Getting Your Site Listed on Search Engines

Once you've built your site to a point where you feel it's ready for some visitors, you'll want to get listed on search engines. 

Some tips for optimizing your web pages for search engines:

  • Pay close attention to keywords. Your keywords, included in your title tags, meta tags, and main content of your pages (or "copy"), should be specific and relevant.

  • Add a Title Tag to each page and use Meta Tags. Be sure to include a title for each of your pages first and foremost, and then add "description" and "keywords" meta tags (instructions below).  

  • Try to include a fair amount of text on each of your pages. Many search engines "read" your page, not just the title and meta tags. Include specific keyword phrases, not just general ones, in the text of your pages.

A good web site that will not only help you with your title and meta tags, but will submit your site to a number of search engines at once--for free--is Submit Corner.

In Front Page: Title and Meta Tags:

Composing your title tag for each page on your site is probably the most important step in optimizing your site for search engines. In FrontPage, you can quickly add a title tag to a page by right-clicking anywhere on the page, selecting "Page Properties", and typing in your tag under "Title". The tag should be approximately 50-70 characters long, including punctuation and spaces; and it should include a concise description of your page, carefully composed to include a couple of important keyword phrases.

Meta tags used to be much more important than they are today. Still, it is wise to include these tags since some search engines still use them.

In Front Page, you can also add "description" and "keywords" meta tags by right-clicking on your page, selecting "Page Properties", and then clicking on the "Custom" tag. Under "User Variables", click on the "Add" button and enter the word "description" in the name field. Under "Value", type in a description of the page of your site, incorporating important keywords. Add another Name to this section -- "keywords", and under "Value", type in a string of keywords separated by commas. These keywords can be single words and phrases, and it is often wise to add common misspellings of important keywords.

 

Affiliate Programs

Once your site is up and running, you may want to begin making some money for your site, if only to cover the monthly expenses of maintaining it. The best way to begin is by using affiliate programs.

What is an Affiliate Program? 

Many businesses on the web offer affiliate programs to other web sites. These are "pay-for-performance" programs that generally involve adding links to your site that take your visitors to the company's page where they can buy products. If your visitors make a purchase, you get a commission. Most affiliate programs are free to join, and many take a few days to approve your application to join.

An excellent way to begin looking for affiliate programs is through an affiliate marketing network. These are third-party companies who manage many different affiliate advertisers. Two of the most popular such programs are: 

LinkShare.com
Commission Junction

Some excellent individual Affiliate Programs include:

Amazon.com Amazon's Associate Program is well run and easy to use. Associates have a variety of linking options available to them, including links to individual products (such as specific titles of books, software, CDs, DVDs, and so forth), bestsellers links, banners, search boxes, and more. They pay anywhere from 2.5% to 15% commission on products sold through associate links, depending on the products.

Allposters.com sells posters and art prints. Their affiliate program is also very easy to use, and their commissions are relatively high--for most products sold through affiliate links, you receive 20-25% commission:

Add hundreds of thousands of images to your site Free!

Join the AllPosters.com Affiliates Program and get access to hundred of thousands of images for your site. AllPosters.com has images from popular movies, music groups, sports teams, fine art, and much more. Adding these images to your site will enhance your content.

Furthermore, you get paid for improving your site with poster/print images! All of the images you use will link to AllPosters.com where your site visitors can make purchases. When they buy something, AllPosters.com pays you 25% - 30% of the sale. If the visitor decides to purchase within 10 days of their last visit from your website, you'll still earn commission on the sale! Its easy to sign-up, build links, and track your sales.

Sign up today!

 

Although it may be tempting to join as many affiliate programs as possible, try to remember the age-old "quality over quantity" rule. Provide links to sites that offer products that are relevant to your site's content. Invest some time into providing links that are actually helpful for the readers of your site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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