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      11 Secrets to Making a Successful Website

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      Whether you’re a writer looking to reach a wider audience, a boutique manufacturer needing to boost sales, or you’re someone who just wants to make money online — you’re going to need a website. And not just any website — a great website.

      Unfortunately, the World Wide Web has been saturated with sites for some years now.

      Standing out. Making your mark. It’s not easy.

      But here at DreamHost, we know a fair bit about websites and what makes them work — so here are our 11 secrets to making a successful website.

      1. Defined goals
      2. A good domain name
      3. Quality web hosting
      4. A clear description
      5. A top-notch CMS
      6. A great e-commerce platform
      7. Engaging web design
      8. SEO optimization
      9. High-quality content
      10. Using Google Analytics
      11. A site maintenance plan

      1. Define your goals

      Before you do anything else, you need to decide what you want to achieve from this website.

      • Is it going to be an e-commerce website that you use to sell products?
      • Are you looking to promote a service?
      • Do you want to make money via affiliate links?
      • Are you simply after a platform to share your thoughts and ideas?

      It can be hard to change the direction of an established website. Make sure you know what type of website you want to create and what you need to get out of it.

      2. Choose a good domain

      Picking a good domain name is easier said than done. It’s also seriously important since it’s tricky to change it once you’ve started establishing your site and brand. (Yes, you can migrate to a new domain, but that comes with all sorts of complications.)

      So what is a good domain? What does a good domain look like?

      • It is your brand name or includes your brand name.
      • It’s memorable.
      • It’s easy to spell.
      • It’s short (ideally under 14 characters; but the shorter, the better).
      • It’s free of numbers, hyphens, or other unusual characters.
      • It has a recognized, trustworthy extension (.com is the ideal).

      It can also be a good idea to choose an SEO-friendly domain that includes one of your most important keywords.

      3. Get secure, quality web hosting with good tech support

      It can be tempting to skimp on web hosting and choose the cheapest service you can find. Don’t do this.

      A cheap web host can cost you in other ways: excessive downtime, slow site speeds, limited or non-existent support.

      It’s not worth it.

      If you’re serious about making your website a success, invest in quality web hosting you can rely on. You won’t go wrong with DreamHost web hosting.

      4. Include a clear description of your business

      This is something a lot of companies get wrong. They know their industry and their business, inside and out. That’s great. But it often means they forget how to describe it to people that don’t.

      Ideally, you should be able to sum up what you do in a couple of sentences. This summary should be displayed prominently on your homepage. And anyone should be able to read it and understand it.

      If you have any doubts, ask someone who knows nothing about what you do what they think. Better yet, enlist the help of a professional copywriter.

      5. Use a top-notch content management system

      A content management system (CMS) is where you’ll manage your website’s pages and content. The right one can make this quick, easy, and fun. The wrong one can be the source of endless headaches and can even limit what you’re able to do.

      Good content management systems allow you to build pages and posts on a site with no prior knowledge of coding. They cut down the barrier to entry and enable anyone to create their own site.

      But how do you know which is the right one for you?

      The following questions will help you decide:

      • Do I want a basic website with no frills?
      • Do I want to be able to build the website in the future to have more features?
      • What’s my budget?
      • Will I want to add the ability for a website visitor to buy products in the future?
      • Am I happy to pay ongoing costs, or do I just want to pay a one-off fee?
      • Do I need to integrate with other parts of my business (such as a lead generation tool or a payment platform)?
      • Is it SEO-friendly?
      • Will it scale with my business?
      • Can I use a website builder to make the design process easier?

      Depending on what you want to use the CMS for, you may have other questions, but these basic ones should set you off on finding the right content management system for your needs.

      6. Choose a great e-commerce platform

      If you know that you’ll want to sell products on your site, you need to know what e-commerce platform you need to choose. You can choose from many platforms, but not all of them are built to scale or fit for your purposes. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

      If you’re running a business website, you need to make sure that the platform you choose is reliable and sturdy. You don’t want to deal with customer complaints because you chose a platform that can’t deliver.

      Before selecting a platform, ask yourself the following:

      • Is it SEO-friendly? While there are many cheap and easy-to-set-up e-commerce platforms, not all of them are particularly SEO-friendly.
      • Is it mobile-friendly? We live in a mobile-first world, and if that platform is even a little bit clunky, you’re going to be losing out on revenue.
      • Is it a trusted and secure platform? One of the most important considerations for customers is that their details will be safe when purchasing. Your platform needs to be fully secure, and it needs to communicate that to potential customers.
      • Will it scale? We all have high hopes for our businesses, and while not all succeed, a fair few do. When choosing an e-commerce platform, ensure that it will scale with your online business.
      • How do the systems work? One of the critical areas to investigate is how well the platform deals with product and order management. You need it to be swift so that you aren’t wasting time on the back end, and you can get on with delivering the best service to your customers.

      Your Online Store Deserves WooCommerce Hosting

      Sell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world’s biggest e-commerce platform.

      7. Create a beautiful, engaging, accessible website design

      When you imagine a design that matches usability, one company usually springs to mind: Apple. They have managed to combine both of these into a wildly successful business.

      Users appreciate good design, and when it’s combined with solid usability, you have a winner. A site that people want to revisit. A site that people want to buy from.

      Google has always said that you need to create websites with the end-user in mind — and it’s more true today than it’s ever been.

      Here are a few tips for creating sites that ooze design quality.

      • Know your target audience and design accordingly — what features would they want, and how design-savvy are they?
      • Don’t skimp on cost. With design, you get what you pay for. Don’t try to cut corners. Use a professional, experienced designer (like team of pros at DreamHost).
      • Look at the competition. Find some sites in your niche that perform well and study them. Google will rank sites based on niches, and design is crucial. If your competitors’ websites are winning with simplistic colors and designs, take notice. Then make yours better.

      8. Optimize for search engines

      One of the simplest, fastest ways to help make your site successful is to optimize it for search engines. While search engines might be smart — and every day they get better at understanding the meaning and context of web pages, their content, and users’ intent — they still need us to help them along.

      In most cases, the first step to optimizing for search engines is keyword research. This will help you identify the sort of keywords you should be targeting through optimization.

      Popular keyword research tools include:

      If you want to take a more sophisticated approach to keyword research, try Semrush. It’s a great tool for advanced digital marketers, and it’s accessible to people with less experience too. We love it so much, we’ve set up a free 14-day PRO trial for our readers!


      Semrush’s keyword research section works similarly to most other keyword research tools; however, in addition to keyword suggestions, search volume, and difficulty scores, you also get global volume data, keyword variations, and questions linked to your starting keyword. You also get insights into the current state of the SERPs.

      How to Choose Which Keywords to Target

      The right keywords to target can generally be determined by three things:

      1. Search volume
      2. Difficulty/competitiveness
      3. Relevance

      Ideally, you want to target keywords that lots of people are searching for (how many searches you can realistically expect this to be will depend on your industry), that have low competition (which increases the odds that you’ll be able to rank), and that, of course, are relevant to your site!

      How to Optimize for Target Keywords

      The main places for including your target keywords are:

      The title tag

      This forms part of the snippet of information that appears in the search results. For example, this is the title tag for the DreamHost homepage:

      <H> tags

      H tags are header tags. You might know them as H1s, H2s, H3s, and so on. They are used to help organize the information on a page, particularly in terms of hierarchy.

      While search engines use all the text on a page for ranking, H tags have extra weight behind them — particularly the H1 tag. Include keywords in them where you can (but never, ever be spammy about it!).

      On-page content

      Search engines use all of a page’s content when determining its subject matter and what it should rank for. It goes without saying that keywords should be included here. Just be tactical about how you do it.

      Use words and phrases naturally. Use permutations where possible. Consider entities. And most importantly of all, write for users, not search engines.

      If you need more help with optimizing your website, consider adding SEO toolkit to your hosting plan for $4.99/month. It’ll help you improve your search engine rankings and drive more customers to your site with its suite of DIY tools, helpful analytics, and a step-by-step SEO plan.

      9. Create high-quality content

      It’s hardly a secret that websites with high-quality content have a better chance of performing well than those with poor-quality content.

      Great content should be informative, well written, and easy to understand. It should be formatted in a way that guides the user through the copy.

      But “create high-quality content” sounds somewhat subjective, doesn’t it?

      It’s not quite as subjective as you might think. Here are some ways you can ensure you’re writing high-quality content for your niche.

      • Invest in good writers — as with many points in this guide, cutting corners won’t help your website succeed in the long run. Our SEO marketing service can help.
      • Have experts write your content — Google has been working towards making sure only the best and most accurate content reaches the top of the search results. Middle-of-the-road content isn’t going to cut it for much longer.
      • Conduct deep research — you need to find out what your customers want, not what you think they want. Many websites miss this point entirely. If you don’t satisfy your users’ needs, you can’t really call your content high-quality.

      It’s not just about the words — you need to make your content sing. Make sure it appeals to different users. If it’s right for your target audience, then introduce videos, images, infographics, and charts.

      10. Track your progress with analytics

      It’s tricky, if not impossible, to know whether your site is a success if you’re not tracking your progress. While many tools allow you to track your website and even spy on the status of others, there is arguably no better website tracking tool than Google’s own Analytics.

      To get started with Google Analytics, you will need to:

      And that’s pretty much it. You can create filtered views of the data to help you hone in on specific data elements, but the above is all you need to do for Google to start gathering extremely detailed data that will enable you to assess the performance of your site and adapt your strategy accordingly.

      11. Set up a site maintenance plan

      What do you do once your site’s up and running? Should you sit back, relax, and let the visits/leads/money roll in?


      Depending on your goals, you may be able to slow down. But you can’t just forget about your website. Things will go wrong.

      Instead, implement a maintenance plan, like what we offer as part of our DreamCare service. Your maintenance plan should include a list of periodic must-dos and when you will do them. The most important will likely be:

      • Running security scans
      • Backing up your site’s data
      • Checking Webmaster Tools, primarily for any glaring errors that have gone unnoticed

      Another thing we’d advise is to run Hotjar or another tool that monitors user behavior. While you can use its findings to gain a deep understanding of your website’s user experience (UX), you can also use it periodically to pinpoint specific issues or points of contention.

      Get Our Best Tips to Boost Website Traffic

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      Your New Website Is Waiting

      As you can see, creating a successful website isn’t quick, and it isn’t particularly easy — but knowing the secrets to a successful website will help.

      Get started with these key takeaways.

      1. Define your goals. Decide exactly what you want your website to achieve.
      2. Choose a good domain name that’s relevant, memorable, short, and has a trustworthy extension.
      3. Invest in quality web hosting that’s secure, with great tech support.
      4. Describe your business clearly on your homepage, and anywhere else it’s relevant.
      5. Use a quality content management system: one that’s robust and easy to use.
      6. Choose a good e-commerce platform that can grow with your business.
      7. Create a beautiful website design that’s one step above your competitors.
      8. Optimize for search engines. Ensure they understand what your site’s about and the terms it should rank for.
      9. Create high-quality content; substandard content doesn’t rank.
      10.  Track your progress, starting with Google Analytics.
      11.  Create a site maintenance plan, including backing up data and checking Search Console.

      Ready to get started with your website? If you’re starting from scratch, we can help with our Pro Services. Our expert team can design, build, manage and market your website — everything you need to launch yourself or your brand online. Learn more about what DreamHost can do for you here.

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      Striving to Make Customers Successful is Always a Win-Win Strategy


      About the Talk

      At one of my previous companies, my customer success team and I were tasked with increasing product adoption. We worked hard to ensure that our strategy and tactics were aligned with that outcome. At the time, we believed that a greater adoption would allow customers to realize greater value from our product. “Time to first value” was an important metric. Everyone was confident that this would lead to our customers’ success and result in a higher retention. Before long, survey data started pouring in and the results were quite surprising. Our strategy had been wrong all along.

      What You’ll Learn

      • When your strategy focuses on your customers’ success, it produces a win-win partnership.
      • Your feedback is key to ensuring that providers align their plan of attack to your desired outcomes.
      • Your product is only as good as the value customers get from it.

      About the Presenter

      Danielle Fisher, Vice President of Customer Support & Success at DigitalOcean, is an award-winning Customer Success and Support Executive with more than 15 years of global experience from America to Asia, Europe, and Africa. She has a knack for creating transformational strategies centered around customers’ success. She won a number of industry awards, including the 2019 Executive of the Year Award for Excellence in Customer Service and the 2013 CS Executive of the Year Award from the International Business Awards.

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      Ready To Start an Online Business? 5 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

      Today marks the beginning of Small Business Month, a national celebration of entrepreneurs and small business owners across America. While these businesses may be small in size, their potential is anything but: giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google initially started as one- or two-person shops. Even DreamHost was started in a dorm room!

      While many people aspire to run their own businesses, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur — especially in the digital age. It takes a specific type of personality to handle the nuts and bolts that make up an online business. To help you decide if you’ve got what it takes to start your own web-based biz, we’ve compiled this list of vital entrepreneur characteristics.

      Can you handle the hustle?

      1. They’re Highly Motivated

      Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss. Not having a supervisor may sound like a huge perk, but when nobody is around to tell you what to do, it’s easy to sink into stagnation. And that’s not going to work — especially on the web. Successful business owners are people who are good at self-motivating. They know that no boss will tell them to hurry up and finish that project — they’ve just got to make it happen all by themselves.

      Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, says that while it’s easy to make excuses for why you’re not building a business, a real entrepreneur will simply go for it anyway: “There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time.”

      His tough-love approach is typical of the entrepreneurial mindset. “I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years,” he says. “I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance and start your business.”

      Plank initially began Under Armour out of his grandmother’s basement. Today, his company employs 11,000 people and earns $4 billion in yearly revenue — a small business no more! — but it would never have gotten off the ground if he hadn’t taken his role as his own boss seriously and amped up his self-motivation.

      2. They Embrace Technology

      Good entrepreneurs know that the tools of the trade are always changing, so they never get too comfortable. They know they can best serve their customers by keeping up to date with the latest solutions technology offers.

      Today successful entrepreneurs know that every business, no matter the size, needs to have an online presence. Potential customers spend more than 10 hours a day looking at screens, so a website is the best way to get eyes on your service or product. And having a website doesn’t mean having just any website; ideally, you’ll have one that loads quickly, looks equally great on desktop and mobile, and stays online with little downtime.

      DreamHost knows what small business owners need — after all, more than 90 percent of our customers are in business for themselves. For entrepreneurs who’d rather be focusing on customers than worrying about websites, our DreamPress service removes the guesswork, keeping customers’ WordPress sites automatically configured so they can focus on growing their business.

      3. They’re Focused on the Customer

      You can’t run a successful website or business if nobody is interested in buying your product or service. That’s why good entrepreneurs know that customer retention should be the crux of their operation.

      Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, initially set up his company in his garage. He says there’s never been a moment, from those one-man days until now, when he took his customers for granted. “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better,” he said.

      Perhaps that’s why Amazon has such a massive customer base today. Rather than treating buyers like a necessary evil that keeps him in business, Bezos saw them as invitees that must continuously be courted and made to feel appreciated.

      Want to More Small-Biz Tips?

      Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert advice, and exclusive deals.

      4. They Fail and Try Again

      Top entrepreneurs know that getting it wrong sometimes is simply part of the game. They’re not held back by their setbacks, but see the entrepreneurial process as a learning experience.

      Drew Houston, the CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, has declared, “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” In fact, sometimes your previous failures pave the way for your future successes. Before striking gold with Dropbox, Houston worked on a number of other startups, most of which you haven’t heard of because they never went anywhere. But those early attempts taught Houston how to run a successful company later on.

      5. They Differentiate Their Products

      The best entrepreneurs take a timeless or popular idea and find a way to make it fresh. For example, did you know there are over 117 companies that make mobile phones? But when consumers need a new phone, it’s rare they will look at every mobile device each of these 117 companies makes.

      Instead, most consumers will pick from the top three companies that have differentiated their products most effectively: Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. The success of these three mobile device companies is evidenced by each holding the top three highest portions of the industry’s market share, respectively.

      Differentiation is something Sara Blakely, the founder of the popular shapewear company Spanx, knows a lot about.

      While Spanx performs the same function as a corset or a girdle — items of clothing people have worn for centuries — Blakely put a new, sexy spin on the product. With Spanx, Blakely made shapewear comfortable, easy to put on, and impossible to detect under even the slimmest of clothing. To top it off, she differentiated her product by branding it with a fun and memorable name.

      Blakely’s ability to take an old-fashioned item of clothing and successfully differentiate it from all other shapewear helped propel her from a failing salesperson to a billionaire in just a manner of years. Blakely encourages would-be entrepreneurs to ask themselves the following questions as they start their businesses: “Why are you different? What’s important about you? Why does the customer need you?”

      You Can Do It!

      Just as with any other job, becoming self-employed requires its own set of entrepreneurial skills. Owning your own business calls for grit, determination, flexibility, and the willingness to make a business plan and brew the coffee. Starting a company is never easy, but if you see a bit of yourself in this list, you might just be ready to take the plunge.

      Do You Have What It Takes?

      You’re gonna need a website for that shiny new business. Let our DreamPress experts help you create a WordPress website today.

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