So you’re finally getting around to starting your own website- congrats! The thrill of having a website is one that should be celebrated. Whether it’s a business website you’re launching, a personal blog, or a passion project in the works, a website is absolutely needed if you’re looking to invest in your business or project.
Over my years of working for a website design company, I found that many newbies to the world of websites didn’t really understand what they were signing up for when they decided to start their own site. Sure! You’ll have a place to direct your customers and house all of your information. But ongoing fees, upkeep, and hard costs seemed to hang up many individuals.
When it comes to websites, some things you just can’t get around. If you want a good website, you need to be willing to invest. If you want to keep your website up to date, you’ll have to hire someone to do so or learn a few things yourself. So to prep you for this new adventure, here are 3 things I quickly learned many people don’t know about websites. But absolutely should.
1. Websites have ongoing costs
Beyond simply signing up for a do-it-yourself website (which I wouldn’t recommend) or collecting proposals from agencies or designers, there are ongoing costs many people don’t realize.
Let’s break it down into 3 categories.
Domain– Your domain is essentially your www. and it’s not just something you come up within your head and a site is suddenly there. You can think of your domain (or domains) as something that you lease. Each year, you must renew your domain to keep the website live at that address. A lot of individuals also ask about multiple domains.
“This one is similar to mine- should I purchase it, too?” Generally speaking, you don’t need to. Remember, when you hold a domain, others can’t.
So unless you’re looking to “sell” your domain to someone else in the future with a highly desirable name or you’re running a campaign in which it makes sense to list a separate domain for tracking purposes (for example, if you’re running a billboard ad, you may want a separate domain to see who visits the site), you don’t need more than one.
Hosting– Hosting is a tool that keeps your website live. Once it’s built and you’ve purchased your domain, hosting is a monthly cost that you’ll have to pay regardless of who you work with. Many website companies offer hosting, as do sites like GoDaddy and SiteGround.
If you can move your hosting in-house with your website team, I’d suggest doing so. This allows your website team to easily access records and server data if your site breaks or goes down for some reason.
Build and Design– And this is the cost many people assume encompasses all of the website fees. The build and design cost is what you pay a company to do just that- build and design your website. Before choosing the cheapest option or the one your friend who knows little about websites refers to, make sure the company you work with has a sound understanding of Google, SEO, and website architecture.
If your website isn’t built right the first time around, it’s not going to do all of the things you want it to like attract visitors, rank on Google, and bring in new leads. When in doubt, I always refer people to the team at Sparrow Websites.
2. New content is required to market your site and continue to rank
This is another point that many people don’t fully grasp. Building a website will reinforce your brand, increase your brand’s awareness, and attract new audiences, but to keep things trending in that upward course, you must be adding new, fresh content to your site.
Google loves websites that add new content to their site.
My recommendation? A blog. Answer your customers’ questions, talk about things happening in your organization, and utilize SEO to help those blog posts rank on Google.
Although a sound, well-built website will perform well for the first year or two, when your competitors are blogging, adding new content, and writing about industry trends that you’re missing out on, your site rankings will slowing start to decline. So get ahead of the curve and get to writing!
3. Upkeep is real and needs to be done the right way
Once your site is built, launched, and live, take the approach to your website that your business is always changing and your website should be, too. Businesses that don’t keep up with their website can look dated quickly. New events, blogs, news, and team members are all areas of your site that can use frequent updating.
How do you keep things updated?
You have two options- do it yourself or hire someone to help you. If you don’t have the budget to hire help, doing it in-house is definitely doable. With a few references, quick tutorials, and videos, you can become a pro pretty quickly.
But beware– if you’re not equipped with the knowledge to make the changes, don’t do them. It is well worth the investment to hire a company to help you with updates a few hours each month.
I’ve seen time and time again business owners, marketing teams, and others who try to update their websites and really hurt all of the hard work that went into making it in the first place. Just because something looks right on the website, doesn’t mean that it is.
If you don’t have a knowledge of SEO, URL structures, and other, more technical aspects of websites, trust an expert to help. By doing things yourself, you may actually be breaking things on the backend of the site that aren’t visible to you but that can hurting your rankings and site’s standing with Google.
Have other questions about websites? I’d love to hear them! Drop any comments or questions in the comments below so I can touch base on them. Above all else, understand that a website is an investment and an essential aspect of your business.
If you’re wanting to start a website but aren’t ready to roll it all out or have a large budget, consider Sparrow Website’s Launch Kits. You can learn more here but for $500, you get a structurally sound 5-page website that you can build on in the future and will begin ranking on Google.