The Real Cost of a Website

CoinsThere are a wide variety of expectations regarding the cost of a website. Assuming you are shopping for a business website that will serve the purpose of making you money, here are some things to look for on the window-sticker.

One-time costs

  1. Competitive analysis and promotion strategy
    Business websites are built to achieve goals, and it is a good idea to figure out how those will be achieved before building your website. If you are starting an internet business, this should be part of your business plan.
  2. Web design, development and production
    Taking your vision from concept to reality, resulting in a visually appealing and functional Website.

Ongoing costs

  1. Search engine promotion
    Google doesn’t care about your new Website. You have to make it care. You have to prove it is popular and useful in the ways that Google uses to calculate those factors. It can take a lot of effort and cost to get the “free traffic” that Google, and the other search engines have to offer. Here are some typical ongoing activities that can increase your rank in your “money” SERPs (search engine results pages) :

    • Link building
      Gaining links pointing to your site.  This is difficult and other webmasters don’t want to give you a free link any more. Link exchanges are so 2003. It is still possible to gain quality links, but it requires building real relationships.
    • Citation building
      Important for local search, which is most likely where you will get your traffic. Just remember NAP (name, address and phone number) must be consistent, and start building those Yellow Pagey directory listings . Don’t bother too much with small directories. That’s so 2011.
    • Blogging
      Most normal people realize that blogging is a lame thing to do (ironic?). It is, however, the way you can offer some value in exchange for attention on the Internet. That attention is what makes Google think you are popular (or at least your website is popular), and you will be rewarded by better rankings in searches, and hopefully some targeted traffic.
    • Social Networking
      Social networking is the way you promote your blog articles. Most reasonable people see that “Tweeting” is even lamer than blogging. Google doesn’t think so though, and that’s who you are trying to please.

  1. Web hosting
    Nuts and bolts stuff – the Web Host is the server that holds the files that make up your Website. And you have to pay for that. Monthly or annually.
  2. Domain name registration
    An annual or semi-annual cost – just don’t let your credit card expire, and do keep your email updated with your registrar. If you lose the domain name, you may not get it back.
  3. CMS software updates
    If your website is built on a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, you’ll want to make sure it is updated regularly, unless you don’t mind getting hacked. Most CMSs now have one click updates, HOWEVER, you will want to test the update on a development mirror, and back-up your website before updating. Otherwise you could be looking at some downtime, when the unexpected strikes.

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