Can you set up a website for free?

There are hundreds of free hosting platforms out there, but you need to be aware of the limitations and pitfalls before you start.

It’s very rare you get something for nothing. Free hosting services often only give you the basics. You might be limited on SEO, blogs and future functionality, and you’ll only be saving yourself around £6/month.

Even if you’re really pinching pennies, it’s worth at least paying for a reputable host. The rest is time consuming and might come with a steep learning curve, but is doable if you persevere.

How much work is involved?

To have a professional website designed can cost anywhere from £400 – £2000+ depending on specifications such as functionality, complexity and the platform used. That may seem like a lot, but it is entirely reflective of the amount of expertise and work that goes into it, so should give you an idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

Make it Look Good

It seems obvious, I know. There are certain platforms that require very little, or even zero knowledge of coding to create a decent website. But if you don’t have a good eye for design you might struggle. A shoddy looking website will do more harm than good to your reputation.

Don’t forget, your website will also be advertising the FREE website host you are using so make sure you are ok with this and that it suits your brand.

Make it Easy to Use

Beyond knowing what looks good, you need an understanding of how a website should be structured, so it guides your visitors through effortlessly to the information they are looking for. Make the navigation intuitive and clear, and don’t overload it with content.

Nitty Gritty Bits

Have you ever noticed the information you get on the tab in your browser? This is the page title and is something that you need to input yourself. Ideally it should read “What you do | Who you are”

And don’t forget about your page descriptions. They’re the small paragraph of text that appears when your website comes up in a Google search. It should be a summary of the page, containing key words. How do you know what keywords to use? You need to do keyword research!

Your pages aren’t the only things that need names. Make sure all your images have relevant filenames, ALT tags, and Title tags too. Naming everything appropriately will do wonders for your SEO

But wait, there’s more!

You’re nearly there, but there are a few more things to do. Setting up an XML sitemap will make sure Google is aware of every part of your website, and any future changes you make. Now get yourself on Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. You’ll be able to keep an eye on how much traffic you’re getting and where it’s coming from.

Once your website is live, you can’t just forget about it. Is the website performing well? Are you getting sales enquiries? If not, why?

Building a website isn’t a one time thing. You need to be constantly measuring, monitoring and continually improving. Keep an eye on your Google Analytics, and try to work out what is and isn’t working for you.

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