Creating a Successful Website

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I have done a lot of research and experimentation to discover how to create a successful website. This release shares what I have learned the hard way.

I have two web sites. One has had two million page hits, the other less than 1,000. Both are in the top 10 on page one of Google for their key words. The topic of each one is a personal passion. The difference is how many other people are interested in these topics. I did a lot of research and experimentation to discover what you will be reading about in the next few minutes. My purpose is to share with you what I have learned the hard way.

If you are creating a web site to attract visitors, the best strategy is basing your site on a personal passion that many other people are interested in too. Do it for a niche market that no one else has developed a great site for yet.

Pick several of your favorite topics and think about what the "perfect" site should be like. Next, use a search engine like Google and an index like Yahoo and try out different categories, key words and phrases. As you surf, keep track of the best sites that you find for your topics. You may find several good sites that have portions of your vision. When you decide that you could do a better job on one of your chosen topics, you are ready to begin.

If you know little or nothing about creating a web site, start with Microsoft Frontpage 2002 software. Take the time to learn how to use it. Your next step is finding a hosting service for your web site. Try TopHost and HostIndex for ideas. To save money, try a host like But do not sign up with the host or register a domain name yet.

Based on your topic, select a theme for your web site. Your domain name, page titles, meta-tags, and site content should all follow the theme that you have chosen. Using a word processing program, prepare a mock up of your site content without graphics. The content of each page should be consistent with your theme, domain name, page title, page description and keyword meta-tags. If the content takes on a life of its own as you write, think about fine tuning your theme, domain name, page titles, page descriptions and key words. As you work, try to keep in mind what you thought the "perfect" site on your topic should be like.

When your pages are mostly complete, transfer them to notepad to strip out formatting and then to Frontpage. Select a graphic theme in Frontpage and set up your internal navigation links. As a test, publish your pages on your own computer to see how they will look before you publish them on the web. When you site is ready, it's time to sign up with the hosting service that you selected and have them register your domain name. In a day or two, when your domain is active, you can publish your site to the host's server using Frontpage. You're online!

OK, so now what? It's time for marketing your new site. Search engines and indexes are the most cost effective way to do it. These steps will get your site listed by hundreds of search engines and indexes. First, submit your home page URL to Google. You should resubmit to Google once a month for at least several months. Next, submit your home page URL to Inktomi using a service like for a modest fee. Inktomi has fifty partners including AOL, MSN, and HotBot.

Sign up as a member of the index and submit your own site. This should get you into the Looksmart directory and save you their submission fee. Looksmart partners include MSN, Excite, iWon, CNN and 370 ISPs. Next, submit your site to the Open Directory Project Index. It's free and has hundreds of affiliated indexes including Netscape, AOL, Google, Lycos, HotBot and DirectHit. Then, use Yahoo's free site submit option. Be very careful about what you submit to these indexes, once done, it's hard to change them.

There is more that you can do. Using a service like, you can submit information on your site to many other search engines and indexes with great precision and keep track of your progress. Tracking your search engine site rankings and visitor stats are good ways to monitor how well your site is doing. Although a bit pricey, using TopDog software you can track you site's ranking in most of the major search indexes and engines and resubmit as needed. If your hosting service does not provide visitor statistics, try a free service like HitBox. You host their banner and they provide your site’s real time stats. Put their banner at the bottom of each page.

Now, the hard part, is waiting. With a few exceptions, it will take at least a month before your site is listed. In some cases, it may take two or three months. Inktomi will be the fastest; however, many of the search engines and indexes that use the Inktomi data base may take quite a while to update. Take a look at Search Engine Watch and for more information on fine tuning your site.

Are you done yet? Nope, you just stared! Maintaining a web site over the long haul could be boring. If the topic you pick is one of your passions in life, it will be fun. Continue using the resources on the web to make your site the best that it can be.

Some things that you should not do: Banner exchanges, services that submit your site to 400,000 search engines, fancy graphics that make your pages download s-l-o-w-l-y, using the free web space from your Internet service provider or a free web site service, a site that is all ads with no content, or using copyrighted material without written permission.

Before closing, let's talk about money. Once your site is attracting visitors, one easy way to make money on the Internet is by becoming an affiliate. Try an affiliate service like Commission Junction. It provides banner ads and product links from hundreds of merchants for you to choose from. Select merchants and products that are tailored to your site and the interests of your site visitors. The payoff is that you are paid a commission each time a visitor uses a link on your site to make a purchase from a merchant. Put merchant banners at the top of each page.

Finally, make it easy for your visitors and customers to contact you while maintaining your privacy. A neat trick for your virtual business is getting a free phone number, email box and fax service from

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