5 Reasons to Build Your Web Site on Your Own Domain

Build your web site on your own domain for a solid foundation.

Build your business web site on your own domain -- to give it a solid foundation.

It’s safe to say that most small businesses these days know they need a web presence.

But there are a couple of mistakes that some businesses are making when they decide how to get their business online. And both mistakes are related to not having their site at their own domain name.

The first mistake is blogging with a free subdomain on a blog host like wordpress.com (or blogspot.com or another free blog provider). This is different than using WordPress to build a blog on your own domain, which is available for all EarthLink Web Hosting customers .

The second is relying entirely on Facebook.

So, what’s wrong with not having your site at a domain you own?

These are the top 5 problems with not creating a web site at your own domain…

1. Branding – We are Facebook fans at EarthLink. EarthLink and EarthLink Business have Facebook pages we’re proud of.

But if Facebook is your only online presence, you are diminishing your brand and putting it second to another company: Facebook.

As cool as it is, your Facebook page is at a Facebook.com URL. As well designed as it is, your Facebook page has a Facebook logo in the top left corner where you would expect to see your logo. We encourage you to get a business page on Facebook, but your brand also needs a place of its own to be #1. So build your website at your own branded domain.

With a blog at yoursite.wordpress.com you can avoid the issue of having another company’s logo a the top of your page (blogspot.com blogs have blogger.com logos and other blogger.com links), but the Web address will still be a wordpress.com URL. Since  your URL represents your business in many places, that’s not an ideal situation.

2. Confusion – This issue is closely related to the branding issue. When your webpage or URL is not entirely your own, it can cause some confusion. And when there is confusion online, business suffers. You especially don’t want someone thinking they may have gone to the wrong site if they end up at a wordpress.com URL – especially with phishing scams and other online security issues.

3. Control – If you don’t own it, you don’t control it. And that’s certainly the case with Facebook.com. If it were fully your page, you wouldn’t have put Facebook’s logo at the top, would you? You may be a fan of the Facebook timeline format, but many businesses aren’t, and they’re still stuck with it. Likewise, many businesses weren’t happy about changes to the tabs and other design and functionality changes Facebook has unilaterally rolled out.

It’s safe to say, Facebook will continue to change their site, which means they will continue to change your site, whether you like it or not, if Facebook.com is your only presence.

On your own domain, you decide what you want and what you don’t. On Facebook, Facebook decides.

This is a less obvious issue with a free subdomain on wordpress.com since the page looks more like your own and you can choose from a wide variety of themes and layouts.

But WordPress can still change requirements and you would either have to accept them or leave (which presents very real problems for your business). WordPress.com also runs its own ads on free subdomain sites (though you can pay to remove them).

4. Analytics – Facebook has recently released what they call Insights for business pages. Insights offer some visibility into your Likes, reach, and demographics of your audience, but it’s not nearly the amount of information and insight you can get from a full-fledged analytics program such as the free Google Analytics, or the built-in analytics available in our EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center.

WordPress.com offers more robust Stats than Facebook, but they still may not be everything you are looking for.

5. SEO – Facebook business pages and WordPress.com subdomains can both rank on search engine results pages, but each has limitations when it comes to search engine optimization or SEO.

Compared to a website on a domain you own, Facebook presents a more limited opportunity to develop content targeted to specific keywords to help your SEO. Facebook limits the number and kind of pages/tabs you can have.

Facebook also presents some challenges with Google search result sitelinks. Sitelinks are the extra links Google sometimes returns along with the link to your homepage. Ideally these are the most important pages on your website.

With your own domain website, you have some control over these links through Google Webmaster Tools. But Facebook pages sometimes appear with sitelinks under your main Facebook page that aren’t even from your page at all.

EarthLink’s Facebook page sometimes appears alongside links to unrelated pages that look from the search results like they are affiliated with us. Since we don’t control Facebook.com, we cannot exclude these links in Webmaster Tools.

With a subdomain site on WordPress.com, the biggest SEO issue comes if you want to move your site to your own domain after you’ve developed lots of SEO-enhancing links to your wordpress.com site.

WordPress.com does now offer some services to help you establish 301 redirects so you don’t lose the value of your incoming links, but it is an add-on service that you’d need to continue paying for as long as you want the redirects live (which could be…forever).

Your biggest SEO problem using either Facebook or WordPress.com would be if they went out of business (or changed their business dramatically).

It certainly doesn’t look likely, but it has happened before. Geocites was once an enormous provider of free websites. Then they disappeared. Google is still running blogger.com, but they have recently closed down many other businesses, so you never know. It is also possible that future problems with other sites on the larger blog domains could spill over and negatively impact SEO on your site.

When you own your own domain name, you own it independent of the company that hosts your site. Even if you sign up for EarthLink Web hosting and choose your business’s domain name in that sign-up process, it is your domain and will continue to be yours as long as you keep renewing your domain registration, no matter what hosting company you use.


Publish Your First Blog Post Using WordPress

In our last blog post about building a website with EarthLink Web Hosting, we showed you how easy it was to install WordPress blogging software on your domain website. WordPress blogging software makes it easy to publish your first blog post

Today we’ll walk you through the WordPress interface, to get you familiar with some basic features you’ll need to know about to publish your first blog post.

Logging in to Your WordPress Admin Dashboard

Whenever you publish or edit your blog with WordPress, you need to log in.

One way is to go the EarthLink Control Center and click on the same WordPress Installer icon you used to install WordPress. Then click the link that says Go to WordPress.

To go directly to your WordPress login screen, just enter /wp-admin after the folder you used to install WordPress. If you installed WordPress directly in your root directory, the login URL will look like this: www.YourWebSite.com/wp-admin. If it is installed in a /blog/ directory, go to www.YourWebSite.com/blog/wp-admin.

Either way, log in with the username and password you chose when you installed WordPress (there’s a link if you forgot your password).

After you log in, you’ll be in the main administration area of WordPress called the Dashboard. This is where you’ll work most of the time.

So, where to start…?

Looking at Your Default Blog

Even though you may think you haven’t published your blog yet, there is something there you should probably look at before you do anything else. Click the link at the top of the page that says Site Title (if you did not yet name your site) or the name of your website (if you did name it).

This will take you to the default of your blog, which is based on the default WordPress theme. Themes are the overall look and structure of a blog. You’ll also see some default copy (one short Hello World post), and layout (main page, one Sample Page link, side links). This is the homepage for your blog and your most recent blog posts will appear hear, newest first. Click any blog post title to see that post on its own page.

Click your browser’s back button (or the Site Admin link in the Meta section of links) to return to your Dashboard.

Changing Your Blog Theme & Appearance

Now that you’ve seen what your default blog theme looks like, you may want to change it. If so, click the arrow to the right of the Appearance tab on the left and click the Themes link.

This takes you to the Manage Themes page, which shows you your current theme and lets you manage others if you have them. To find a new theme, click the large Install Themes tab at the top of the page. There are over 1,000 free WordPress blog themes to choose from.

Use the search box at the top if you happened to know a theme you’re looking for. You can also use the checkboxes below to search for blog themes by various categories. But to start browsing top-rated blog themes, I recommend you to click the Featured link at the top. The Newest and Recently Updated categories are also worth exploring.

Each theme is described and shown in thumbnail. Click Preview to get a better look. Details will show you a star rating for the theme. When you find one you want, click the Install link. You’ll need to enter your FTP credentials to complete the installation. Then, back on the Theme page, click Activate under your new theme to activate it. Click back on the Site Title (or your site name) link at the top of the dashboard to see what your new theme looks like.

Your First Blog Post
Make a blog on your website - Create a new blog post with WordPress.
When you are ready to write your first blog post, click the arrow next to Posts at the top of the left-side navigation. Then click on Add New.

From the Add New Posts page, your job is mostly to fill in the blanks. Enter your blog post title on top, then paste your blog copy in if you’ve written it in another program, or start typing. When the Visual tab is active in the right-side of the content box, you’ll see the post as it will appear online. Click the HTML tab to see the code or to add HTML elements like links to your post. Just above the left side of the main content area there are icons you can click to add photos, video, audio or other media.

Here is an overview of the buttons available to you in the HTML mode of the new post window:

b – Inserts HTML tags around selected text to make it bold.
i – Inserts HTML tags to italicize selected text.
b-quote – Formats selected text as block quotes; this indents and separates cited text.
del – Labels selected text as deleted, displayed as strike-through.
link – Inserts a link tag around selected text. You add a URL to specify where the link goes.
ins – Label selected text as inserted into a post; usually this is underlined text.
ul – Creates an unordered list; typically a bulleted list, like the one you are reading right now.
ol – Creates an ordered, or numbered list.
li – Makes selected text a list item; used with the ul or ol tags.
code – Sets selected text in a monospaced font like Courier.
more – Use the Continue reading

How to Publish a Blog on Your Web Site

EarthLink Web Hosting gives you many easy ways to make a website for yourself or your business.

We recently showed you how to quickly build a one-page business website with our free Website builder, and followed that with a post showing you how easy it is to create a multi-page web site for your business.

Today, we show you how to install WordPress and publish a blog on your domain name website. WordPress is the #1 blogging software in the world. It is both easy to use and full of robust professional features.

Remember, all you need to get started building a website or blog with EarthLink is either web hosting service or ecommerce hosting.

Using the WordPress Installer to Create a Blog on Your Website

1. Open your browser and go to the EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center at cc.earthlink.net.
2. Sign in by entering your domain name, username, and password. Then click Login.
3. In the Build section of the Control Center, click the WordPress icon above WordPress Installer (show on the right). WordPress blog installer icon in EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center
4. On the Main Menu, select Install WordPress (that will be the only available option unless you have a previous WordPress installation).
5. Create a WordPress Administrator account by simply filling in the brief form (note: your password must contain both letters and numbers and be at least 8 characters long). You can click the Advanced Options checkbox to select a Database to manage and to create an Installation Directory for WordPress, but for this tutorial we will use the default settings without clicking Advanced Options.
6. Click the green Next button to complete the installation (you’ll see a big green checkmark to show the installation was a success).
7. You will be returned to the main menu where you can click Manage WordPress to begin creating your blog content. You will need to log in with the WordPress admin username and password you created in step 5.

We’ll write in greater detail about using the WordPress Dashboard to post to your blog and make other changes in a later post, but here are a few things to start you off:
WordPress blog dashboard - create a blog on your website
• Click the Posts menu to edit the default Hello World post with your own homepage copy and first blog post.
• Click Pages and then Add New to create additional pages on your blog.
• Click Appearance and then Install Themes (at the top of the page) to find a new blog theme (click the Featured link for some good suggestions).
• Click Settings to create your Site Name, Tagline, and other important website details.

Good luck with your WordPress blog.