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5. How to Build a Website using a Template
Website templates are pre-designed websites that you modify to create your own. You can pick one with the style and structure consistent with the topic of your desired website. Website building software walks you through the steps of modifying a template to create your website. The process includes the following:
Website Title
You must enter a website title for the main page. This title (also called the title meta tag) is important since it is used by search engines to rank your site. It should include key words that are likely to be used by people doing a query in a search engine to find information on your site topic but not exceed 80 characters. You can have a different title for each page within your website. The website building software may use the title for the main or home page as default for the others. You should be able to change them to be more specific to the particular page excluding key words that aren’t applicable. There is no need to use hyphens to separate the words. For example, a title for a page may be, “ground preparation for growing tomatoes”.
The description (also called the description meta tag) is also important. It is read by search engines telling them what your web page is about. It should be a short (no more than 150 characters) and concise statement covering what the site provides your site visitors. It should include your key words. The description statement is not only read by search engines but a portion of it is displayed as part of the results of a search engine query. It should make people want to click on your site for the information that they are seeking.
Select a Template
Your website hosting service may provide free website building software with free website templates. A website building software package usually has many templates. You may be able to narrow down your search for the right one by viewing a specific category of templates, e.g. gardening, sports, etc. Pick one with a style and structure consistent with your website topic and your plans for arranging content and ads. You want the website to have a professional look and feel to be as successful as possible. The design may include a picture at the top of the home page. If you are lucky, you will find one with a picture that works well. If not, it may be possible to either modify the design or create a different design with your own photos. Some software packages provide step-by-step procedures for doing this that don’t involve you actually changing the underlining programming (i.e. HTML) code.
Select Website Pages
The website building software package should allow you to select only the pages of the template that you want to be included in your website. The first page being the home page may include an index, drop down menus, and possibly an introduction to your site. This page is often the first thing that a person sees when they visit your site. It should give a good first time impression. The other pages should logically flow through the document. At the bottom of the final page is where you may want to put such things as an email address, a link to your privacy policy, etc.
Import Content
Now that you have started building your website and selected a template with the desired pages, you can start importing text from your Word document. You should be able to simply copy portions of the document and paste them into the content section of the pages. You will need to decide where you want to put your advertising ads and leave space for them. Often, they are placed along both sides of the page. To give the impression that your site is primarily intended to meet an informational need and not just advertise products, you may not want the first page to contain any ads. Photos may also be imported to enhance the verbal content. However, to keep it professional looking, you don’t want to overdo it.
Copy and Paste Ads
Advertising ads should be for products or services that relate to the content of your website. Otherwise, they will detract from the information that you are providing and give the appearance that you are primarily trying to get people to purchase products so you can make commissions. You may want to put some time into reviewing products to advertise and select those that are of high quality and a good value for the money. If you do that consistently over time, you will build up repeat customers. You will need to apply to one or more affiliate programs with appropriate products. Some companies use affiliate program networks, e.g. LinkShare, while others allow you to apply directly through their websites.  You may want to initially apply to only one or two affiliate programs since some of them will not approve your site if the traffic to it is too low. Amazon is a good one to start with and they have a variety of products.  Once approved, you will be able to browse their site for potential products to advertise. They make it simple to add links to your site. You simply click on the product and the appropriate HTML code is generated for a link to the product. Highlight the code, right mouse click and select copy putting it on your clipboard. Open the website building program and maneuver to the area that allows you to see the HTML code for a specific page. You should be able to paste the code at the bottom of the existing HTML code. Now go to the area that allows you to see the content of the page and you should see your advertising ad. All that is left is to move it to the desired location on the page. Adding Google AdSense ads work in much the same way. However, you have to be careful not to click on them yourself since they are pay-per-click ads.
Key Words
Key words (also called key words meta tag) are important in getting traffic to your website. They assist search engines in determining if your site should be a hit for a specific query and how your site should be ranked among all the hits. They should be words and phases that people are expected to include in their query when searching for information related to your website topic. Words and phases found in your website content are good candidates. There are free tools for picking key words based on past query data, e.g. Google Keyword Tool and Trellian's Free trial of their Keyword Discovery Tool. A key word phase like “growing tomatoes” may not work as well as “grow tomatoes” if people normally enter “how to grow tomatoes”. Key words are usually entered as a string of words and phases separated by commas, e.g. tomatoes, grow tomatoes, vegetables, vegetable garden. Once your site is up and running, you can always test key words by doing searches on them to see if your site comes up and where in the list of hits.
Email Address
Most website hosting services provide capability to create an email address associated with your website. You may want to take advantage of that capability. Having a separate email address just for your website allows you to manage correspondence associated with the site without cluttering up the inbox of your normal email account.
Privacy Policy Statement
Having a privacy policy statement may be an advantage. This is especially true in getting approved for some affiliate programs. It is a statement telling visitors to your site what data is collected on individuals and how it is used. Personal data is of most concern. If you have an informational website with ads posted from affiliate sites and don’t sell products yourself, you should be able to keep it simple. You can learn by reading privacy statements from other websites. Usually, the privacy policy is a link to a document that has been uploaded and is normally posted at the bottom of the last page of the website.
Launch Website
The last step is to launch your site, i.e. put it out there for people to see. This can be as simple as clicking on a launch button. Before pushing that button, you need to test to see if everything works. Remember not to click on Google AdSense ads, if your website contains them. Website building software packages provide the capability to do testing. However, if you launch your website and then discover something wrong with it, don’t worry. You simply make the correction and launch again replacing the previous version.