The Web has sites on every possible topic-current affairs, health, gaming, technology, cooking, travel, wildlife and just about anything else one can think of. So, what should your website be about? Just like in other businesses, it is important to gauge demand in this venture as well. A niche website where people are looking for specific information and products online has more chances of success. The demand for content on any topic can be seen by checking the search volume on search engines such as Google.
Let us assume that you want to create a website on cooking. The first step will be to search for related keywords, such as "cooking" and "recipes", on Google Keyword Tool. By default, the tool shows the search volume for the main keyword as well as synonyms and different versions of the keyword. To know the search volume of the exact keyword (in the same order of words), you can set the "match type" option to "exact match". You will find that there are several related keywords with significant search volumes. For example, on Google, average monthly search volumes of "Indian vegetarian recipes" and "healthy recipes" are 10,000 and 1,65,000, respectively. This means there is a huge demand for articles on "cooking".
If you register with the Google AdWords advertising service, its keyword tool will also show you the average cost per click, or CPC, of ads for keywords. This is the average cost of ads for that keyword. Around 70% of this money will go to the website on which the ad is clicked. A high CPC means you earn more per click.
Most visitors will discover your website through search engines, primarily Google. Before you make a site, check the competition that you will face from other sites in Google search results. You can use free or paid tools, such as Traffic Travis and Market Samurai, to gauge the competition. Note keywords with decent search volumes and low competition.
The traffic volume for a specific match type is an approximation of the traffic that a keyword gets in a month on Google with that match type. To check, go to: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Broad match: Sum of the search volumes for the keyword idea, related grammatical forms, synonyms and related words. Phrase match: Search volumes for terms that include the whole phrase. Exact match: The search volume for that keyword idea.
Once you have finalised the niche and have a set of keywords for content, it is time to get a domain name (Web address). You can search for available domain names on websites of domain registrars such as GoDaddy.com and NameCheap.com. Registering a name costs Rs 100-500 per year. Look for a domain that is related to your niche and is memorable. The name should be short and brand-able. If it includes your main target keyword, search engines may give it an extra point.
If you want to create a site for Indian recipes, try a name like FreshIndianCooking.com or PureIndianCooking.com. There are various domain extensions such as .com, .org and .net. You can also register a domain name with country-specific extensions such as .in (India) and .us (US). Try to get a.com extension as it is still widely associated with the Net. Go for .net and .org only if you cannot find a suitable domain with a .com extension. Buy domains with country-specific extensions only if you intend to target people from that country.Creating Websites
After registering a domain name, it is time to buy web-hosting space and create a website. Unlimited web-hosting space can be purchased for Rs 4,000-5,000 per year. You can use web-designing softwares, such as Nvu and KompoZer, for creating sites in HTML. Alternatively, you can install a content management system (CMS)-a software for creating websites-such as WordPress on your webhosting space. WordPress is one of the most easy-touse CMSes and works well for beginners. We will discuss creating and managing a site using WordPress. The basic principles apply to all sites.
Installing WordPress takes a few clicks if your web host gives you access to cPanel, a hosting management software. cPanel will have the option of installing WordPress using Fantastico De Luxe and Quick Install. Click on one of the icons, enter the details of your site, and WordPress is ready for use. After installing WordPress, you need to customise it for your website. Go to the "Appearance" menu on the WordPress dashboard and browse through themes available under the "Install Themes" option. You can also download themes from the Internet. Get themes only from reputed sites. You also need to install plug-ins to extend WordPress' functionality. This can be done through the "Plug-in" tab in your WordPress dashboard.Adding Content
WordPress comes with dummy posts and pages that you must delete first. Posts refer to regular content which normally appears on your blog or site homepage in a chronological order. Pages do not appear in your blog posts index. So, include hyperlinks to these in your website's navigation menu or sidebar. Start by creating an "About" page, which provides information about you and your website. You can create a pseudonym for your Web identity. You can also create a page with a contact form (using plug-ins) through which your users can get in touch with you. To keep your personal email address private, create email addresses for your site through cPanel and forward the mails to your main mail address. For example, you can create email addresses firstname.lastname@example.org and contact@ mywebsite.com. Do not forget to add links to your pages in the navigation menu on your website.
After adding the initial pages, you need to add blog posts to your website. In WordPress, blog posts are organised in categories and tags. Try to keep the number of categories limited. A recipe website, for instance, can have content under "Vegetarian Recipes", "Salads", "Healthy Recipes" and "Indian Recipes" headings. Links to these can be added to the main navigation menu through the WordPress dashboard. You can add any number of tags to each blog post. While starting a website, keep some posts ready and publish one or two daily for a week. If you do not want to write, hire freelance writers through sites such as Elance.com and Freelance.com (Rs 150-500 per article). It may seem a huge cost, but after your site starts getting visitors, you will recover the money within a couple of months.Increasing Visibility
Search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, are the main source of visitors. This makes search engine optimisation (SEO) important. Search engines analyse the content of a webpage and hyperlinks from other webpages to determine its importance. Your content is shown in search results on the basis of this analysis. If a search engine considers your webpage the best match for a search term, it will appear on the top in search results. Search engines use software tools called Web spiders to discover (called crawling) and index webpages.
Search engine spiders discover new websites through links from existing webpages in its index. You can also use submission forms to inform search engines about your site, but it can take a while before it appears in search results. For faster indexation, create hyperlinks from existing websites that are frequently crawled by search engine spiders.
| The Pro-Blogger|
Harsh Agarwal is a professional blogger who started in 2008 and earned his first $100 a few months later. Agarwal, who holds an engineering degree, left his regular job at a major technology company to work as a full-time blogger. Agarwal says he earns around $7,000 (Rs 3.5 lakh) a month from his sites, shoutmeloud.com being the most popular. He spends around eight hours a day working on his websites from home.
A quick way is to share links on Twitter, which search engines crawl regularly. You can also join online forums and include a link to your site in your forum signature. Writing articles for established websites and adding your site link in the article or author description will get you backlinks and traffic. Social media, too, is an important source of traffic. Adding social media buttons will allow users to share website content. You can use a plug-in or free services such as AddThis.com and ShareThis.com to add a social media button.
You should create a Facebook page for your website and add this to your site through a widget. Creating an account with Twitter.com and sharing your content also helps. Search engines track hyperlinks (also called backlinks) from other sites to your webpages to judge the importance of your content. An easy way to get backlinks to your webpages is by leaving comments on blogs and websites. Being active on forums will also get you backlinks. Adding links to your existing webpages in new articles too will improve the visibility of your content.Monetising Websites
Once you have a website with some content and traffic, it is time to get paid for the effort. Most websites depend on advertising revenue. You can join online advertising networks such as Google AdSense, Infolinks, Kontera, BuySellAds and Chitika for placing ads on your site. Advertising networks pay you when someone clicks on ads shown on your site. Some advertisers also pay you on the basis of the number of times their ad is shown to the users.
Google AdSense, the largest advertising network, can get you $5-25 per 1,000 webpage views. You can keep track of traffic to your website through free services, such as Google Analytics and StatCounter. Information on the number of visitors and their profile, keywords bringing traffic to your site, etc, can be used to improve your website and create more user-friendly content. Affiliate programmes offer a good opportunity to tap website traffic, particularly in niches such as fashion and gadgets.
Amazon Associates is an affiliate programme of shopping portal Amazon.com. You are paid 4-15% of sales generated through your affiliate links. You can also join affiliate networks such as Commission Junction, LinkShare, ShareASale and ClickBank and promote
products of multiple entities. If you are enterprising, you can sell your own products, such as e-books, or services. Though several websites make thousands of rupees per month, the income depends on their popularity. You are unlikely to make money in the short term, but if you persist and keep adding useful content, your website can generate decent income. Create a one-year plan and keep track of costs and income. Keep learning the tricks of the trade and you can soon own a money-making website.