There are a lot of ways to make money online, and I will not be covering all of them in this article. This article will concentrate on informational web sites. I like informational websites as a vehicle for making money online for several reasons. They require almost no work once they are created; you turn them loose on the internet and deposit the checks as they arrive. They require very little website design expertise, and no programming to speak of, and don’t really need much in the way of graphics, so the sites are easy for me to build myself. Since I am simply providing information about a particular subject, I don’t need to interact at all with my visitors. I don’t need to provide the visitors with an email address or any way to reach me…a real blessing in my opinion.
I get to work at home…which means no commute and I hardly ever have to fill the tank of my gas guzzling SUV.
Your first task is to find a suitable subject. It is easiest to create a site about a subject that you are familiar with and enjoy. If you are lucky you fit into that category. However, most of you will probably need to do a lot of research to find out what to use as your subject. A good approach is to use one of the keyword research tools that are available online.
The keyword research tool can be used to find out what words and word phrases people are really searching for. If you choose a subject that nobody searches for then you are wasting your time. The keyword research tools provide you with everything you need to determine what to use for your web site’s topic. If you don’t make use of wordtracker or one of the other keyword tools you are probably wasting your time.
Get a domain. The domain name you choose isn’t really a major factor in getting traffic, and unless you expect lots of repeat visitors you don’t need a catchy name either. If you can find a nice short name that includes a key word or two then by all means use it. Don’t pay more than $15.00 a year for a domain name…there are lots of places to get them for much less.
Learn some basic HTML. There are plenty of tutorials out there…learn enough HTML so you can find your way around the code on your pages. Get a good web site editor such as Front Page or Dreamweaver. Even with the good editor, it will be a blessing to know some HTML.
Build your website. It’s at this point where you need to begin thinking about search engine optimization. Let’s use some common sense. The goal of the search engines is to provide a human being the best information available relating to the key words provided by that human. Search engines can examine your page, and links to your page from other sites, and links to other sites from your page. They can also examine some behaviors of the searchers as they interact with the search engine. For instance, the engine can see if a searcher lands on your page and after landing immediately jump back to the search results page to try another site. That is called a bounce, and if everybody who lands on your site after only a second or two then the search engine might get the idea that those keywords aren’t a great match for your site.
From examining your page the search engines can find out a lot more than just whether the keywords are on the site. If they see the keywords too many times, then they are likely to penalize the ranking for key word stuffing. If they see lots of miss-spelled words they are likely to penalize. The search engines know that navigation is very important and so are looking at the site navigation for clues about what kind of site they are spidering. They look for how much clutter there is, how many outbound links, ratios of images to words, the location of words in paragraphs and on the page. What elements are above the fold and what is below the fold.
Nobody really knows how the engines determine where to rank a website, but I do know that they are trying to find high quality sites for their results pages. One of the most important things to remember when building your site is to make it high quality. Write it as though your English teacher was going to grade it. Make sure your grammar and spelling are excellent. Organize your material properly and make use of your heading tags. Optimize each page with one or two keyword phrases by using key words in your title tag, meta description tag, and key words tag. First and foremost the title should be relevant to material on the page, and should read naturally to a human.
Search engines read words. They can’t see images. An engine will not give you a good ranking if there is no information for it to look at. Give the engines something to eat. Typically I would provide 400 to 500 words minimum and probably about 800 maximum per page.
Keep your navigation simple and obvious. Make it very easy for visitors to find the information they are looking for. The search engines can recognize good navigation schemes, and if you make it easier for your visitors you are less likely to bounce them off your site.
Obtain hosting for your website. Don’t use a free hosting service. For $10.00 or less per month you can find a good hosting service that provides you with plenty of memory and bandwidth. Make sure you have FTP capability, and be sure you can get help via email, IM, and Telephone. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing that your site is down, and not being able to get a response from your hosting service. Do your homework before committing to a host.
Sign up for advertising from AdSense or one of the many other advertising agencies and put ads on your site. AdSense is a very good one. Make sure your site is finished, or at least appears finished…no “under construction” signs, or AdSense will reject you.
A really excellent way of monetizing your site is by using the new 5 second audio ads. Instead of ads that take up space on your page, and that someone has to click on for you to make money, these ads play once when a visitor lands on you page, and you get paid. No clicking necessary. The ad doesn’t take up any room on your page either. The program is free; you just put the code on your page and start receiving money.
After you’ve built your site and uploaded it to the internet there is still plenty you can and should do. Write some articles and submit them to article directories. This will bring traffic and begin to establish some back links. Trade links with related sites. Stick with sites that have some relevance to yours because the engines are watching. Post in forums, and leave comments on blogs. Use a signature in your email pointing to your site. Do some off-line advertising if possible.
And finally, have patience! It takes time for you to achieve lots of organic search engine traffic. You can figure on at least a year for things to really start rolling. But once it starts it is very nice!