How to make, host and design a good modern 2017 website

How to make, host and design a good modern 2017 website

What makes a good website?

Making, designing and hosting your own website isn't expensive and neither it's hard. That's a thing of the past and everybody who tells you otherwise is misinformed or wants your money.

Today, you can have blazing fast, hack-proof, successful and modern website that ranks high in Google Search for less than $150 and a few days. In this guide, I will show you how to create such a website with no or just a little help from a coder - there's no reason to pay hundreds of dollars to website creation companies.

Why should you believe me, you ask? Well, I've built more than 15 different websites without being a programmer. I've designed them from the ground up without having a designer training. I have been ranking with them high in Google Search because doing quality SEO is ridiculously simple (it just looks and sounds complicated). Hell, the site you're reading right now has been made for $30 and 4 hours of my time.

If you want to make, host & design a good modern blog, a company website, a gamer portfolio, games reviews site, ecommerce site, affiliate site, media site or basically 90% of sites that are out there which will be beautiful, fast, secure and will generate tons of traffic & money while spending very little time and effort on it, read on.

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What makes a good website? Here are basic rules you need to follow for 2017.

1) A modern website has to be simple, beautiful and a joy to interact with - in order to stop your visitor from leaving

Rand Fishkin, probably the biggest SEO and online marketing expert of our time says that the keyword for 2017 websites is "on-site engagement". Your site needs to be so enjoyable that the visitor will have no reason to go elsewhere before he does what you want him to do - read a set of articles, sign up for a service, click on an affiliate link.

Rand also says that a "brand engagement" will be also a major factor - your visitors need to be converted into an audience that wants to hear from you, read the stuff you write, watch your videos, consume your products.

Way to achieve engagement is great modern design and audience building. 

Design sells, just ask Apple. If your site looks beautiful, people will think you're trustworthy and of high quality. If it looks ugly, people will think you are cheap and untrustworthy - what company in today's world doesn't have a few bucks for a well-designed theme?

But design isn't all about the external beauty. The best design happens not when you can't add anything more, but when you can't remove anything further - when you achieve your results (be it a form fill, reading an article, a newsletter sign up or selling a product) with the lowest amount of visitor's effort possible.

With each click your visitor has to make, your chances of converting him from a lead into a customer get lower and lower.

Also, when you make a website that doesn't behave like your visitor expects it to behave - for example clicking on a company logo doesn't take him to a homepage but rather to a newsletter sign up form - it will make him leave, rather than interact with it.

But how to design your own website if you don't have a designer training?

An awesome free tool for designing images, buttons and other design stuff for lazy people that can't draw is Canva. Almost every image you can see on the site is created there.

To see where your visitors drop off, experience errors and ask them questions about their experience, try a free tool Hotjar (they have paid plans for bigger sites) which offers heatmaps (shows you where people click), recordings (show you how people move their mouse pointers around your site), polls & surveys.

Why yes, that's me with my music audience, thanks for asking!

2) A good modern website needs to convert its visitors to an audience

You know what else makes a good website? Regular audience. Traffic is awesome, but most of the time it's just a one-time thing. You're probably thinking "what the hell is he talking about, if a person likes my site, he will visit again, right?". Wrong.

There are so many different websites these days that until you're really remarkable, build a meaningful relationshop with the visitor or provide an essential tools for that person, he will most probably not visit again. That's why you need to convert him into an audience by getting his email - by which the visitor basically permits you to talk to him about the stuff you do.

It's like building a social media following with the difference that unlike the latter, nobody can take your email list away from you. 1 dollar invested in email marketing has a return of investment rate of $44, so ignore it at your peril.

Another problem with building your business around somebody else's platform (be it Facebook, Youtube, Instagram) is they can just take your business away from you. It happened to PewDiePie and it sure as hell will happen to you.

For building an audience from your website, use the free tool SumoMe (list building, landing pages, sharing and much more).

For getting that ROI (return of investment) of $44 for $1, use email marketing automation systems ConvertKit or GetResponse.

3) A modern website has to be fast and secure

Site load speed is one of the major factors in Google Search rankings which directly impacts the position you show up in your visitor's search results. If your site loads slowly, not only will a potential visitor have a big chance to just cancel the load and never to come there - your search rankings and therefore SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts will be sabotaged.

Walmart and Amazon saw a 1% increase in revenue for each 400 milliseconds of increased site speed. Google loses 20% of their total traffic for every additional 400 milliseconds it takes their pages to load.

For 46% of online shoppers the site speed is the biggest reason for leaving before purchasing.

These are just some of the important facts about site speed - for a complete picture check out this infographic.

This also applies to security. If your site gets hacked or infected by malware, Google will warn every visitor of this and will actively BLOCK THEM from visiting your site altogether! You can lose your traffic and business completely in just a few minutes and I'm not even talking about the problems you're asking for if by any chance you get hacked by some idiot who leaks your visitors' personal info.

That stuff is very very very expensive to remedy and you need to be on a lookout, considering cyber attacks against small and medium business owners grew by more than 200% since last year.

So, how to host your own website and keep it safe & fast? Easy answer!

  1. In order to protect your site from hackers and other cyber attacks, use a hosting focusing on speed and cyber security. WP Engine for Wordpress sites, SiteGround for others.
     
  2. Under no circumstances let your visitors upload files on your server if you don't know what you're doing! Any file uploaded could contain a script that would allow for users to be compromised or your website to become a trap for other viewers.

In other words, speed and security can make or break a good website.

4) A modern website has to be responsive and optimized for mobile

If your site isn't responsive (meaning that it automatically updates its design for different screen sizes), Google will murder your search engine rankings. Also, your visitors will want to murder you too while trying to interact with the site while on their phones and tablets. Being responsive in 2017 is a no-brainer. YOU MUST BE RESPONSIVE. There's no other way.

If you're on Wordpress, start using one of the 2 best themes that are out there - any by StudioPress or Thesis. If you're on Squarespace, you're all set. If you're on a custom-made website, kill your designer and find another one.

5) A modern website has to be full of well-written and engaging content

I'm sure you've heard it all before, but CONTENT IS KING. Well-written and engaging content is the most important factor for your Google Search rankings, because it builds authority and other sites will link to it (which is another major factor). The times when it was enough to write and spin shallow stuff every day and stuff some keywords in are gone - Google is smart enough now to see if what you're publishing is worthy of a show up in a visitor's search results or not.

Creating good content is easy actually - just write about stuff you'd like to read about. If you're a company that makes tables, write about different ways to make a table. Write about the life of your carpenters, about the different types of wood.

Must-have tool for creating content that generates direct and search traffic is SEMrush. You can also sub it out for Long Tail Pro Platinum, if you wish.

Or, use The Skyscraper Technique which guarantees a successful post with loads of backlinks from quality sites and a meteoric rise of your Search Traffic.

So, how do you achieve all of this without working 24/7 for a month or hiring 2 website creation firms from India?

- Bill Gates

If there was just one thing that described me it would be laziness. I'm probably one of the most laziest people on the planet and I get solace in the thought that the most successful inventors and entrepreneurs were lazy as hell too. You see - when you're lazy, you take the most efficient routes to your goal, which is coincidentally the best business approach and thus a perfect approach to building a website.


There are solutions for people who don't know how to code, don't have thousands of dollars on hand, are lazy but still want that perfect and successful website. These solutions have been (justly) getting awards and royal PR treatment for the last 3 years. The answer to the question is then - use them.

In the next part of the guide I cover and compare 2 of the best tools on the market for a specific stage of website building:

  • content website builders
  • ecommerce builders
  • web hosting services
  • SEO tools
  • audience building solutions

What kind of website are you building?

There are 2 basic types of websites:

  1. Ecommerce websites
  2. Content websites

Ecommerce websites are where you sell or rent things and services directly, an Internet store - like Amazon.

Content websites are where you publish things such as articles, posts, generate leads for your company, provide info about your services - like Mashable or Apple.

  1. Ecommerce website? Use Shopify or 3DCart
  2. Content website? Use Squarespace or Wordpress

I want to sell things, I want to make a modern ecommerce website.

Shopify vs 3d cart comparison review

shopify vs 3dcart

A successful ecommerce website looks good, loads fast and converts leads into customers. You might think that's easily said than done, but fortunately there are companies which worked their asses off to build solutions which do exactly that.

The two top dogs in the ecommerce solutions market are Shopify and 3DCart. Both offer an easy & simple ecommerce store creation with inventory tracking, payment gateways integration, elegant themes with almost no hassle, but there are some core differences you should consider between choosing one or another.

If you'd like to avoid 3D Cart and Shopify completely and would like to build a free ecommerce website on Wordpress instead, check out this awesome free ebook guide on building a successful Wordpress ecommerce site.


Inventory management

3D Cart

  • sell 100 products with starter plan ($19.90/mo), tiered structure with unlimited on top 2 plans

Shopify

  • sell 25 products with starter plan ($9/mo.), unlimited with higher-priced plans

This is a number of different products you can have up in your store for sale, not the number of products you are allowed to sell each month to a customer.

Shipping charges calculations

Both platforms handle this easily.


Coupons & discount codes

3D Cart

  • allowed on all plans

Shopify

  • not allowed in starter plan

Payment gateways

3D Cart

  • supports 200 gateways and methods

Shopify

  • supports 70 gateways and methods

Themes

3D Cart

  • around 30 free themes
  • premium themes cost from $99
  • small number of responsive themes

Shopify

  • hundreds of free / paid themes
  • premium themes cost from $80
  • big number of responsive themes

Apps & Add-ons

Both platforms offer hundreds of apps and add-ons that provide customization and more options for your store.


Multi-lingual capabilities

Neither solution offers complete site-wide multi-lingual capabilities, but there are built-in ways to translate stuff.


3D Cart

  • limited support for Cyrillic-based languages
  • other stuff needs to be changed in code or with 3rd party software

Shopify

  • you can translate anything in the checkout page
  • other stuff needs to be changed in the code or with 3rd party software

SEO

Both platforms offer very good options for taking care of your site's SEO, but Shopify is the clear winner here in terms of not only the possibilities, but how they stay on top of the recent SEO developments. With Shopify you can set up independent titles, image alt tags, URLS and similar stuff, while 3Dcart can get limited a bit sometimes.


Customization capabilities

It's easy and fast to customize all the basic elements like colors or fonts and more complicated stuff in HTML / CSS code with both Shopify and 3Dcart.


Blogging functionality

You need to blog. Without a regular stream of articles, your SEO options will suffer and by telling stories about your product you're basically soft-selling to anyone who's reading your post.

Creating awesome and engaging content is now one of the most successful valuable and effective methods of generating leads, engaging them and converting them into paying customers.

Both Shopify and 3DCart offer similar good ways to blog.


Setup fees and bandwith charges

0 for both services.


Monthly and transaction fees


Conclusion

Both platforms are powerful and robust, while being easy to use. Shopify on one hand offers much bigger theme variety and SEO options, but on the other hand it can get more expensive and the payment gateway options aren't ideal. 3DCart is weaker in the theme department, but 0 transaction fee and 200 different payment gateways + 100 products for sale with a starter plan sound like a good match for a beginning ecommerce store.

Me personally? I found 3Dcart easier to use and to begin with, but Shopify offers more customization options and can probably take your further.

If you're undecided, I encourage you to start a free trial for both and see which one you end up liking better - no risk involved!


I want to write and publish articles, blogs, podcasts, videos or have a standard website - I want to make my own modern website.

Squarespace vs Wordpress comparison review

The two best and laziest ways to make a good content website in 2017 are Squarespace and Wordpress.

Squarespace is an award-winning website builder that offers you less customization, but a guarantee that your site will look gorgeous, work perfectly, load fast and all of this without much work on your part. It's dirty cheap too.

Wordpress is completely free open-source website builder and offers almost infinite amount of customization possibilities, but you will have to code a bit or hire a coder for more complicated ideas, plus you'll need to buy a good theme and maybe some plugins. Plugins can be free or paid - and are the way WP handles new functionality for your site - you just install them the site can do a new thing.

Let's break down the difference between Wordpress and Squarespace website builders into a bit more detail.


Flexibility

Squarespace

All the tools you can use in SQSP are made by their in-house team, so you're guaranteed 100% compatibility and high quality. They are closely controlled, monitored and tested also in-house, so there are no worries about something breaking your site.

A small con to this is that sometimes it's not easy to integrate 3rd party apps (though I have managed to always do it in the end by using a code embed block). SQSP also offers a dedicated, 24/7 support team to assist you with any problems. This is the perfect lazy way.

Wordpress

If you're a good coder or if you hired one, WP is a strong open source platform that can be customized in any way to any goal.

It's certainly possible to go the lazy way with Wordpress - get a premium theme which is easy to set up and you're done. Or get one with a dedicated support coder bundled and let him do all the work.

If you don't go the premium theme route, you will have to utilize plugins - the free ones you might or might not get support for and the premium ones go usually with one. Just be sure to test before using them, or they might negatively impact your site's performance.


Ease of use

Squarespace

Compared to Wordpress, using SQSP is like using an iPhone vs trying to call someone using a command prompt on a 20 year old Pentium. Squarespace is a website builder for lazy people.

It's completely drag & drop so you just place content where you want to without touching a single line of code. It also has an extensive guide library to teach you how to build websites with them, so you can be a SQSP pro in minutes.

This might sound like Squarespace is for beginners, but nothing could be farther from truth. Very very large organizations and coder “celebrities” build their websites here, because it saves time, resources and sanity.

Wordpress

WP has a bit steeper learning curve than learning the Squarespace language.

If you don't buy a premium theme which changes that, WP is not a drag & drop builder, so if you want to move something somewhere else in your design, to reformat your page layout, you or your coder will have to delve in the theme CSS code. Some themes modify this functionality and add drag & drop system though, Thesis being the best out there.

On the other hand, WP can be much more powerful if you're code-proficient or have a good coder, with a result of having much more customized site than Squarespace can ever dish out.


Cost

Squarespace

If you pay annually, the price is around $12/mo., but that can change with VAT status or your currency. Check the current pricing here. 

Squarespace offers hosting, but if you buy domain somewhere else than with them, they will not host it and you need to pay for the domain hosting + emails with the existing provider. If you pay for SQSP annually though, you get a free domain to your plan, so that might be a good choice too.

All themes and features are included whether you pay monthly or annually, though you can upgrade to add more contributors, e-commerce features, etc.

Backups and security are all taken care of.

Wordpress

Wordpress is free, but you have to pay for hosting and a good theme. If you want the fastest, most secure and best hosting for Wordpress that also handles backups specifically designed for the platform, check out WP Engine.

Hosting can cost you $5 - $100 on average, but it really depends on what do you need and the theme can add another $20-$200 to your initial cost.

A backup and security plugin is recommended if not using WPengine, because errors and mistakes can happen and losing your site in a single moment doesn't feel good.

A big advantage a dedicated hosting provider has is that you can host multiple sites under one hosting at no additional charge, which is impossible with Squarespace-hosted site.


Security (Can my site get hacked?)

Squarespace

I've never head of a SQSP site being hacked, so no. That's thanks to the fact that Squarespace is a proprietory, in-house technology witch is very very hard to screw with.

Wordpress

You have 2 choices here. Either you get hosting from WPengine which protects you from all kinds of hacks with 100% guarantee of being hack-free or you invest in a premium security plugin such as Wordfence ($100/year).

Going with WP Engine is the perfect lazy way, because you get full customer support, hosting, security and all that in one and thus you don't have to deal with multiple companies. 


Design and speed

Squarespace

Themes are called templates in Squarespace world and they are extremely robust and customizable + 100% responsive. There's only around 30 of them, but as each template depends on typography, quality photos, built in Typekit fonts, custom CSS, etc to shine, each site looks completely different than the other one and still stunning.

Templates are always automatically updated and fixed by Squarespace if something's not working, so unlike Wordpress you don't have to do your research on the theme's maker to be sure he'll continue supporting it.

Speed is a little bit worse here - the system sometimes slows down noticeably when there's a big amount of content on a page and it gets worse if you go overboard with custom code.

Wordpress

There are more WP themes than there are stars in the sky. Really, the theme ecosystem is so huge it would make your head explode.

But how do you pick a theme that will be regularly updated since Wordpress changes all the time, will be fixed if something breaks, looks & performs well + is 100% responsive and mobile optimized, when there are so many choices?

It's quite simple actually - go with Thesis. They are one of the best and most respected developers when it comes to making a Wordpress theme, so you can't go wrong with them..

Their themes are built for speed, SEO optimization, enable shitload of new functions, drag n drop mode and many others - I strongly recommend getting one.


SEO

I'll let the biggest expert in SEO industry, Rand Fishkin, explain this one.

I think they’ve (Squarespace) done a solid job with SEO features and functionality. I actually consulted a bit (informally – not paid, just helping out because I want folks to provide good SEO, especially popular CMS’) with the Squarespace team, and reviewed some of their implementations. It’s good stuff, and Squarespace is a good company (good customer service, honorable folks, good about refunds, excellent with uptime, etc).
 
That said, you can certainly get more flexibility by hosting your own system. WordPress enables a lot of this, especially if you have a good developer making changes to it. Out of the box, Squarespace is friendlier on many aspects of SEO than WordPress, but with customizations, the latter can exceed the former.

So basically, going with either is a good choice, but if you're building for a SEO future, you might want to go with Wordpress.


Conclusion

Squarespace: Lazy choice

You don't get much customization options, but everything is easy to set up, maintain and thus there's not much to take care of in terms of maintenance.

Wordpress: Power choice

With WP Engine hosting and Thesis theme you can create any site you wish, if you're willing to invest a little bit more time and work.

If you're planning a long-term future for your site or need custom functionality, Wordpress is much much more scalable, flexible and probably even faster than Squarespace. 

If you just want to start as fast as possible with the least amount of investment, Squarespace is the platform for you.


Now you need hosting and a domain!

How to host your website: WP engine vs SiteGround comparison review

If you went with Squarespace - yay, you're done! They will host your site for you and you don't even have to lift a finger. If you didn't buy their annual plan, you'll have to buy a domain and host it somewhere else though. You will also need a domain for company emails, so you don't write to your readers/customers from marty.soulreaper@gmail.com.

If you chose Wordpress or another platform, you'll need both hosting AND a domain.

I've been in the website creation business for a long time and there are only 2 hosting & domain providers that me and my social circle recommend for Wordpress businesses. You've seen them mentioned before in the guide: WP Engine and SiteGround.

Both companies offer features that are essential for making a good 2017 website:

  • Perfect customer support
  • Optimized servers ( built-in caching and ability to handle large influx of traffic )
  • Fast loading speeds
  • Automatic backups
  • Security against cyber attacks
  • Automatic updates
  • Daily monitoring

The difference between them is that while WP Engine is a dedicated Managed Wordpress Hosting, SiteGround offers both Managed Wordpress Hosting and Shared Web Hosting for WP and other platforms.

Shared Web Hosting means that you're sharing the server your site is running on with other sites. This helps with the cost and thus, SWH solutions such as SiteGround are cheaper than their competition. Their downside is you can’t keep your websites on them for long periods of time, especially when you are growing. This is because as the number of live visitors to your website increases, the response time suffers, resulting in a bad user experience.

Shared hosting plans are ideal for low traffic blogs, individual freelancers, small design agencies, and businesses.

Managed Wordpress Hosting is a premium service that guarantees you the fastest speed, load time, security and user experience you can get. WP Engine exploded on the market thanks to almost fanatical approach to achieving the best results in each test and service they provide - it shows. Combined with really the best customer support I have ever experienced it makes for a unique value proposition.

Let's see which one you should choose, shall we?


Server Uptime

Your site is hosted on a server and that server needs to be working. This is referred to as “uptime” - the percentage of time the web hosting company is able to keep their servers online.

If they're not, all or some of the websites hosted there are down - which is understandably very very bad, since your website generates sales and leads and any amount of down time results in a lost revenue.

WP Engine

These guys are famous for their maniacal desire to achieve a perfect uptime record.

While 100% is not really possible, they come close at 99.9% which is pretty impressive! That's partly thanks to their No Overselling Policy which ensures they never oversell server space.
 

Siteground

All of their plans, even the cheaper ones come with a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

They also use real-time detection technology which notifies them instantly if there's any downtime and enables them to quickly fix it in combination with specialized software that automatically repairs any downtime-causing errors.

In all uptime tests that have ever been made both companies achieved 99.9% uptime, so I guess there's no real difference in this category - both providers are a great choice.


Site Speed and Server Response Time

While a page load speed depends greatly on the amount and type of content that's published on the page, server location and server response time are major influences contributing to it. You would be stupid to ignore your site speed - today's visitors are not patient and you'll lose them if the load is taking forever.

It's so important that Google includes it as one of the biggest factors when computing the search algorithm - how high (or low) to rank your site in results!

WP Engine

They have servers un US, UK and Japan, customers can choose which server they want to use. Thanks to this strategic geo-placement of servers each WP Engine customer is guaranteed strong redundancy and stability.

WP Engine also provides their services to a smaller number of customers, which positively impacts usable resources.

WP Engine runs enterprise-quality servers and, unlike some competitors, they also have enterprise-quality system administrators managing their servers. That means you get high level technology and support no matter which package you purchase.

SiteGround

SG uses a technology they call Supercacher, which uses custom computations to cache items like images and theme elements that are used repeatedly.

They have almost 10x more customers than WP Engine and slightly longer load times, but still keeping them very fast.

SG focuses more on keeping the load on their servers under industry standards, so there is plenty of power and space to accommodate both temporary bandwidth spikes as well as long-term growth. 

There really isn't a big difference again when it comes to site speed between these two. Such an intense competition, eh?


Ease of use

WP Engine

  • simple and clean design interface
  • streamlined

SiteGround

  • a bit more complicated
  • for users that like to tweak things

It's obvious that WP Engine is a premium lazy choice. Their interface is so easy to navigate that I'd almost let my grandparents manage their websites, but only almost.

SiteGround is focused on users who can find their way on their own and that's why it's cheaper.


Cost

WP Engine

Plans start at $29 and end with enterprise-level entries to accommodate large corporations at more than $249.

While the WP Engine's entry-level plan might be more expensive than other competitors' entry-level plans, WP Engine provides its customers with much bigger value thanks to their service level, quality of customer support, server uptime and speed.

It's the best choice in the world for a Wordpress site.

SiteGround

SG plans start at just a few (around $3) dollars per month which makes them one of the most affordable web hosting companies ever.

Their hosting offers are based on Linux and you can choose between shared, VPS, cloud and dedicated servers. Cloud hosting - a popular choice now - is available in US, Asia and Europe and begins around $70/mo.

Combine their low prices with the high quality of their service and you get an awesome bang for your buck.


Conclusion

If you chose Wordpress as the platform of your choice and want to go the best - and lazy - way, you should invest in WP Engine. If you're on a tight budget or building a site on another platform, SiteGround could be a smarter investment.

WP Engine also currently offers 2-months free with their annual plans for everyone, plus a 60 - days money back guarantee, which is an awesome deal.


UPDATE: WP ENGINE OFFERED MY READERS A DEAL OF 20% OFF THEIR FIRST PAYMENT. THANKS!



Ever thought about how you're going to generate traffic? SEO is the first answer.

How to do SEO on your site: SEMrush vs Long Tail Pro (Platinum) comparison review

Imagine you have a beautiful website, fast, with great design and awesome content - but no one will ever visit. No traffic, no readers, no revenue, no sales, no profits. This happens more often than you think, because many website owners don't know how to generate traffic.

To generate traffic, you can:

  1. Pay for PPC such as Google or Facebook ads
  2. Share your content on forums and social media
  3. Share your content with influencers and generate backlinks from them - IMPORTANT 
  4. Rank on Google search results that matter to you - IMPORTANT & LAZY

Your content needs to be built for SEO purposes which means that you need to know what titles to write, what keywords to use, what should your posts need to be about. If you write SEO-friendly posts and articles, people will be able to find them when they search for the related topics and keywords.

This lasts almost indefinitely and the longer you do this, the better your site performs in Google search results, so it's a long-term investment that really pays out in the long run + after a certain time it's completely passive.

When you stop paying for ads, the traffic stops. When you stop sharing your content on social media and forums, the traffic stops. But SEO works for you until you take your site down.

The most important part about SEO is keyword planning - as in “what keywords am I going to target with my posts”. If you have a site about fishing, you want to create content using keywords such as “what kind of fishing equipment to use” or “best fishing poles of 2016”.

You want to see what keywords people search for, how hard is it to rank for those keywords, what keywords your competition is using and plan your content strategy accordingly. If done right, you will get very valuable, highly targeted traffic to your website which also converts really well - almost forever.

Luckily, there are 2 tools that do exactly this and almost every website owner who does SEO optimization effectively uses: SEMrush and Long Tail Pro / Platinum.

Why should you use these paid tools and not some free keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner

  • Finding profitable keywords is much easier with paid tools, because they give you more reliable data when compared to free tools. They are often limited and Google Keyword Planner is known for its tendency to hide some of the profitable keywords where you could rank for not paying for Google Ads.
  • Doing keyword research is faster and more simple. Paid tools give hundreds of keyword ideas literally within seconds which doesn’t happen with the free tools.
  • You can also do competitor analysis with SEMrush, Long Tail Pro tools. That means you can easily find out all the keywords that are driving more traffic to your competitors, use them on your own site to get a piece of the pie, or find keywords they are not using and beat them to it.

SEMrush in action

SEMrush is a premium choice which is designed to crush your competition in every SEO regard. They provide info on just about everything SEO-related:

  • spying on your competitor’s top keywords
  • checking who and where links to your and your competitors' sites
  • accurately estimating traffic of your competitors' sites
  • performing site audits
  • fixing your website issues
  • analysing up to 5 competitors at once (for all the keywords)

It might be on a more premium side, but it's worth every penny. I have been able to increase the traffic in all the sites I've made by an average of 5000 in 30 days just by using SEMrush - it's the perfect investment. If you don't believe me, just google “SEM rush reviews” or try entering a keyword in this widget and you'll see for yourself how insanely powerful it is.

Long Tail Pro Platinum in action

Long Tail Pro Platinum is the bang for your buck choice - it's the most powerful tool to find best keywords in your area of expertise and focused on searching for long tail keywords.

Long tail keywords (long keywords comprised of at least 3 - 4 words) are the biggest SEO focus for 2017, since they offer better chances of ranking high in Google Search than short tail keywords (1 - 2 word keywords) do.

LTPP gives you a great list of profitable long tail keywords by eliminating all the short tail keywords. This helps you greatly in increasing your overall search traffic by using keywords that REALLY work. Long Tail Pro Platinum doesn't offer as many services as SEMrush does, but it's noticeably cheaper and better in keyword research.

Here's what can you do with Long Tail Pro Platinum:

  • easily identify unlimited keyword opportunities
  • test niche viability and focus on the profitable ones
  • create targeted campaigns to boost your traffic
  • search multiple keywords all at once
  • automatically find perfect domain names
  • generate up to 800 results for EVERY seed keyword you enter
  • check rankings automatically on Google, Bing, Yahoo etc

If you're starting or just don't need all the bells and whistles for your SEO goals, focus on the most important part of traffic generation - keyword research. LTP is hands-down the best tool for the job and it offers a 30-day trial for $1, so you don't have to worry about anything. Try it and see for yourself.

Which one to choose then? If I were you, I'd go with SEMrush. It's is a perfect all-round SEO tool and a great long-term investment (which is the perfect lazy way), while Long Tail Platinum is a little bit better at keyword research. You can try both of them for 30 days, so there's really no reason not to do it...and when you see the value these tools bring to you, I'm pretty sure you'll keep using them.


UPDATE: SEMrush developed a "keyword magic" tool, which is basically what Long Tail Pro Platinum does and you can use it for free until it goes out of the beta. All the more reason to get SEMrush.


The second most efficient and important way to generate traffic is through "The Skyscraper Technique"

Creating awesome content is the basis upon which you have to build the foundation of a successful website of 2017, but simply having it on your site does nothing if people don't know it's there.

The whole process consists of 2 questions then:

  1. How do I know I'm creating awesome content?
  2. How do I show my awesome content to people?

The Skyscraper technique takes care of all this and can effectively double or triple your traffic. Described in much more detail in this awesome post on Backlinko, it goes like this:

  1. Find a skyscraper - successful piece of content that already generated tons of backlinks (Use Ahrefs, BuzzSumo or Google Search)
  2. Create a piece of content about the same thing, but make it more beautiful, more precise, with more information, simply better - a higher skyscraper
  3. Send an email to top 100 sites that linked to the original skyscraper / piece of content saying that you've created a taller one.

Skyscraper outreach template by Backlinko

It's called The Skyscraper Technique because just like with the tallest skyscraper in the world, (you take the world's tallest building that already exists, slap 20 more stories on the one you're building and boom - now you're the owner of the tallest building in the world) you make it work with the best piece of content in the world.

The logic behind this technique is in the fact that if a strong website linked to a similar - and worse - content before, it will be very interested to link to an improved content, giving you traffic and the most valuable SEO currency - backlinks.

Now that you have traffic, the last part is to convert it to audience to keep it.

Yes, me again, hello

Have you ever thought about the fact that if you build a Twitter, Instagram or Facebook following, one day they just can take your customers from you? Facebook has done this 3 times already - if you don't pay for ads, a huge number of your followers won't see your posts. Instagram has done it too recently, no 100% post visibility anymore. And I'm not going into Snapchat territory here, that one's as good as dead.

Fortunately, there's one way NOBODY can take your customers / visitors / readers from you and it has been with us since the dawn of the Internet - email marketing. Don't take my word for it, check out what probably the best marketer of our time has to say about email marketing:

Permission (email) marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.

Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there’s no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.
— Seth Godin

If you build an email list, it will stay with you forever. No one will take it away from you, even if your site is hacked, even if Mark Zuckerberg wakes up one day drunk and decides to cancel his business. When done right, your email list is your most powerful weapon - just think about it. It's a list of people that WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, that WANT TO BUY FROM YOU. The best targeted audience there is, if I ever saw one.

Need another push? According to Capterra, the average return on $1 spent on email marketing is whopping $44.25! So yeah, don't think you're going to be successful without email marketing, you're very probably not.

It's stupidly easy to build an email list to boot. Just install the free tools from SumoMe and let them do their job (they have great guides on their site on how to do it really fast and lazy-style) while you focus on generating traffic through SEO with SEMrush.

Once you have some people on your list, it's time to start talking with them and there's where these groundbreaking email marketing tools for lazy and successful people come to shine. You could always use Mailchimp or Aweber, but if we're talking about the boost that's going to make your business in 2017 better than your competitors', you need to start automating your emails.

There's simply not enough time to manage emails the old way (by the way, the price you'd pay for a new high-tech email automation system is very similar to both old systems like MailChimp and Aweber).

Best automation email marketing systems of 2017 are ConvertKit and GetResponse.

ConvertKit vs GetResponse comparison review

ConvertKit is an email marketing automation system designed for bloggers, podcasters and businesses that are looking to build audiences. When you have a listening audience, that audience is very likely to buy anything you have and ConvertKit knows this. That's probably why they have “convert” in their name - they convert your visitors and readers to engaged customers.

The system offers everything you're used to with the old email marketing software like Mailchimp such as accepting leads, building email capture forms, sending campaigns, etc etc, but with much nicer and cleaner design. The kicker is their automation process which you can use to automatically segment your lists into subscribers with similar interests, plus their in-built functionality of offering an incentive to your visitors to join your newsletter.

You can set up just about any trigger for a customer to get sorted into a segment, be it buying a certain product, clicking a certain link, completing a course or responding to an email. This is really powerful, because instead of sending always sending email broadcasts to one huge list, you can send out more targeted broadcasts and/or courses that cater to a smaller subset of your subscribers, which means higher engagement, less unsubscribes and more conversions.

The price of $29 is almost the same as Aweber or Mailchimp while offering much much more, so you would do well to switch from them when possible. Their CEO does a great job explaining why should you make the switch here.

GetResponse started as a standard email service provider and has been praised as one of the best out there by such names as Neil Patel for example, but for me, they kept being quite boring. They didn't have easy to create newsletter templates and I didn't like the interface much, so I didn't bother with checking them out for the last few years.

This completely changed when they started focusing on email automation marketing. Where ConvertKit focuses on bloggers and smaller businesses, GetResponse offers a variety of options to a business of any size. Their automation process is a joy to set up, with drag and drop boxes with automatic suggestions and easy to understand graphs - I strongly recommend checking out their beautiful marketing automation page.

GetResponse is also the very first email service provider to provide a dedicated webinar marketing platform to increase your leads and email opt-in rates. Webinars are web based seminars where authors interact with their audiences to educate them about something - a blogger can teach his audience how to write, a business owner how to run a business a pro gamer how to play the game. Access to such a webinar usually needs a visitor's email address, and thus you can quickly boost your email list.

Oh, and it became also dirty cheap - you can start as low as $12.75 and I think that's the lowest price any automation email system is offering on the market right now.

Which one to choose?

If you're a blogger, podcaster, streamer or any business that needs to focus on growing its audience, go for ConvertKit. They are highly specialized in that matter and offer perfect automation for audience-building efforts, which will pay for itself in a short time. There's no free trial though.

If you don't care as much about building the audience, but want a cheaper email automation system with an option to create landing pages and webinars, go for GetResponse.

Now you're completely set for your lazy path to success with a website that has all essential requirements to be the best, fastest, most secure, most converting website on the Internet of 2017. Send me your success stories by email!

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