Should I Create a Website?

If you have some information, skills, or products that you are personally interested in and would love to share, then chances are that hundreds – or even millions – of people around the world would like you to hear about it. You should definitely create a website.

A website of your own is by far the most effective method of sharing what you have on a global scale. Better yet, a website of your own can easily be developed into a community around your interests – a place to trade ideas, take feedback  and, perhaps, make money on the things you create.

Woman sitting at computer
Create a website of your own to reach a worldwide audience

These days, a website sits right at the center of building a ‘brand’ and ‘authority’ around who you are and what you know.

If you’ve never considered yourself an ‘authority’ on anything before, don’t let that word deter you. It’s just a fancy label for “a person to go to, to find out about something”.

The bottom line is, if you create something that others want to consume, then you are already an authority in the eyes of those consumers.

What should I create a website about?

You should create a website about something you are passionately interested in. Why? Because the secret to a successful website – one which draws a large audience to it – is to keep it stocked with fresh content.

Be passionate about what you do
Be passionate about what you do

People are usually after some information or a solution when they visit a website. If you, the website owner, keep up a regular schedule of introducing new, relevant content to the site, your audience will keep coming back for more. This is how an audience is built.

However, creating content is not a trivial task. It takes time to plan, research and write articles and record videos. It takes time and money to source or develop products to sell. Without a passion for the topic or niche of your website you will soon find it a chore giving you little in return. It wont be long before you stop creating content and your audience stops coming.

Passion should be what drives you.

What Kind of Website Should I Make?

You should create a website that your audience expects to see.

It’s quite important to present your information in a design your audience can grasp in just a few seconds. This is because they will intuitively understand the type of website that they have come to and know what they can do here.  If your website is too confusing to navigate – or the design is too “way out” – then they will leave and look for another website they can use.

The kind of website to set up is quite simple: create a ‘Shopping’ website if you create and sell products; a ‘Review’ website if you promote other people’s content or products; and a ‘Blog’ website if you publish your own information about your interests or skills.

Once you decide on the kind of website to make, you can then look for a design that fits one of these basic categories. One of the reasons I recommend WordPress as a website platform is that there are thousands of different ‘themes’ (website designs) to choose from. They are easily installed, and you can try out many themes very easily to see which one works for your information and your brand.

Should start blog?

This is a question I’m often asked. The short answer is yes. Even if you are in the business of selling products rather than disseminating information, you should start a blog on your website.

A blog is an excellent way of infusing your personality into your website. It is a place where you can communicate who you are to your visitors. Blog about yourself, your company, your interests, feedback you have received, and even your future product plans. Keeping people engaged is the key. If you audience can see you care enough to reach out to them on a regular basis, they will remain loyal to you – and they will play their own part in widening the community you are building around your website.

Remember, people are more likely to buy from people and brands they can come to know and trust.

(And, by the way,  blog is also an excellent way of introducing new content to your website, even if the rest of your product site changes very little).

Of course, if you create a website to give out information or teach skills rather than selling products, a blog is a great choice. By regularly publishing content in your area of expertise, you will be achieving your goal contributing to the global community.

Just because your website is a “blog”, it doesn’t have to look like some boring list of posts. If you think about it, even a newspaper or a magazine website is a kind of blog – regularly publishing information, created by expert authors. They have simply designed the website around this information to look like a magazine.

Example of a News Blog
Example of a News Blog

These days your blog design can be a vibrant and media rich as you want it to be. Create a website with a pizzazz that reflects the content and, you, its author!

Tweaks to Facebook Comments Mean More Traffic for You

If you run a website then you should also run a Facebook Page. This is your ‘social presence’ on the world’s largest social network and should be a place where you use Facebook comments to post links to your latest content and build a community of people around what you have to offer.

Man standing on a soapbox
Use Facebook, not a soapbox, to build a community around what you have to offer

The trouble is, it’s hard to keep track of conversations on Facebook because there are no conversation ‘threads’ – posts on the Facebook timeline that are linked as a series of posts and replies. Presently, a user must scroll to the bottom of a list of Facebook comments to leave a reply and the thread of the conversation can often be lost – particularly if there are lots of comments.

“Write a reply” to Facebook Comments

It may seems like a small thing, but Facebook are testing a new comment reply system for  that could explode the use of Facebook as a discussion forums, particularly for communities built around Facebook Pages.

Facebook's Write a Reply feature
Facebook’s Write a Reply feature

Since Facebook is all about user engagement, this feature has been a long time coming.

Samantha Murphy of Mashable writes:

The move would make it much easier for users to respond to individual comments left on wall posts… as well as a prompt to “write a reply.”

The last part of her statement is important.

If this feature is released from it’s current limited testing to the wider public, then replies to comments will at last become contextual and much easier to follow. Coupled with Facebook’s invitation to “Write a reply…”, it will encourage interaction between visitors, building a stronger, more socially engaged community.

Ranked Facebook Comments

Coupled with is addition is another feature under test: moving high ranking comments at the top of the page.
You’ll already have a sense of this feature in your own Facebook news feed, where posts can be sorted by “Top stories” or “Most recent”.

Placing Facebook comments at the top of the page, of course gives them more exposure, and popular comments are a magnet for engagement.

As Samantha Murphy writes in another post:

If the test sticks, it would allow Facebook to promote more interesting and engaging content, as well as enable more conversations about posted content across the site. The concept is similar to how users on Reddit rank posts by “upvoting” and “downvoting” content.

Facebook love comments. So should you.

Understanding which threads are the most popular on your Facebook Page will also give you some great marketing insight. Knowing what your visitors are passionate about is pure gold. You should be tailoring your website content around these high ranked conversations, since these are clearly motivating engagement in your visitors.

Facebook graphics

You should also use the subject of high ranked conversations on your page as a source of ideas for producing Facebook graphics – memes that will go viral through the passion of your audience.

This will help you build an even larger community for your Facebook Page and, ultimately, more traffic for your website.

Dartyh Vader on 'SpaceBook'
Spacebook: Building a Community Across the Universe

Facebook comments from WordPress

If your website is based on the WordPress platform, you should absolutely enable Facebook comments for your website visitors.

There are a number of WordPress plugins that will enable Facebook users to leave comments on your website – comments that are also placed on their own Facebook timeline. This means their friends will also see these comments, who may be interested in visiting your website as well. This is viral social proof at its best.

Three Ways to Stop Spam Comments in WordPress

It doesn’t take long after you’ve put your shiny new WordPress website live for the spam to arrive.

You know what I’m talking about here – the seemingly endless stream of comments left about your blog posts offering to improve your virility, or your website traffic, or seem to have been written by a chimpanzee with a poor command of English.

WordPress Comment spam example
WordPress Comment spam example

You’ve been spammed my friend.

What is “Comment Spam”?

The motivation behind spam comments is the same as email spam – getting you to visit a website to buy a product or service – but the way the spammer gets you to their site is different.

Email spam is all about obtaining your valid email address, then getting you to click a link in the emails you subsequently receive.

Comment spam is not so much about getting you to click a link. Instead, the spammer is trying to get a higher ranking for their own website in search engines such as Google. They do this by placing a valid link to their website in a comment that they leave on yours. Google indexes the  link in this comment. Once the spammer’s website ranks high in Google for a particular search term, many more people are likely to visit this site than if they had received a link in a spam email.

Two men looking at a 1950's computer
Clever Computer Programmers

You’ve got to admit, it’s very clever.

How Do I stop Spam Comments ?

If you are using WordPress as your website platform, it’s very easy to stop most of the spam targeted at your website.

Here are three different approaches you can take. To slow spam comments to a trickle, you’re best to put all three techniques into action.

1. Use WordPress’ Built-in Comment tools

WordPress comes  with a few built-in tools that make leaving spam comments more difficult. These are all available in the “Discussions” dashboard, which is under “Settings” in your WordPress Admin area.

Before a comment appears

One way to make your website less attractive to spammers is to review all of the comments before you make available to the general public. This gives you an opportunity to delete spam comments before the are published, denying the spammer an opportunity to build links back to their website.

When logged in as an Administrator user, you should see two checkbox settings in the Discussions dashboard.

(1) An administrator must always approve the comment. When this option is checked, comments to your posts will not appear until you approve them. I recommended you check this box if the number of comments left on your website is a manageable number.

(2) Comment author must have a previously approved comment. This saves you a lot of time. When this option is checked, then all subsequent comments from a particular author will be approved automatically after their first comment has been approved by you. It means you do not have to worry about comments left by people you trust.

Comment Moderation

If you choose not to auto-approve comments – a necessity if you get a lot of comments – then there are two options under “Comment Moderation” that help you identify potential spam.

(1)  Hold a comment in the queue if it contains [ 2 ] or more links. As WordPress explain with this setting, a common characteristic of comment spam is a large number of hyperlinks. Setting the number of links at “2” will hold the comment from publication until you to approve it.

(2) When a comment contains any of these words… There is a large text box with this option where you can add, line-by-line, the words, website addresses, or other information that you think will be spam for your website  An obvious place to start would be to add words like “Viagra” and “make money” to this list. You should continue to add to this list as you see obvious spam words in the comment you receive. The comments containing these ‘red flag’ words wont be deleted, but are held in a moderation queue for you to approve or remove. If you do consider a comment to be spam, them add their website address to the Comment Blacklist (see below).

Comment Blacklist

This is a box that allows you to add website addresses, email addresses, etc. that a spammer has put in their comments. Having their website on your blacklist – which will probably the ONLY real piece of information in the comment –  will prevent the same spammer from attacking your website again.

Here’s a video to demonstrate the Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist tools:

2. Only allow authenticated people to comment

The tactics behind  using WordPress’ built-in comment tools deal with spam comments that have already been submitted to your website, and require you to take some sort of action to clean them up.

Things would be much easier if you could at least know that the people who are leaving comments on your website are real people and not spam robots. One of the simple way to deter all but the most sophisticated spammer is to have your visitors register and/or sign in when leaving a comment.

Registration desk sign
Registration Essential

Register on your website

WordPress allows visitors to become registered users of your website, and you can set it up so that only registered users can post comments:

  1. First go to the ‘General’ dashboard, under ‘Settings’, and check the checkbox “Anyone can register”.
  2. Next, go to the ‘Discussions’ dashboard and check the box “

From this point on, visitors can register on your website and leave comments only after logging in.

Use Facebook credentials

An alternative to requiring visitors to register on your website is to require them to use their  Facebook credentials. There are a number of free WordPress plugins you can install that will only allow visitors to leave comments after they have logged in to Facebook. Having them do so has the additional benefit of placing a link to your website on the visitor’s Facebook timeline, which will increase the exposure of your website.

WordPress and Facebook registration wont guarantee a spam-free experience, but they will deter the less sophisticated spammer, as well as spam robots, from abusing your posts.

3. Use Anti-spam plugins and services

Wordpress Plugins
WordPress Plugins

The above techniques to stop comment spam in WordPress are fare easy to set up, but they do take some time to administer, and require you to curate the comments to weed out the spam

If you have too much comment traffic to effectively manage blacklists and user registrations, or you simply prefer not to, then it’s time to increase your anti-spam arsenal by installing a WordPress plugins (or two).

A quick search for “spam” on the WordPress plugin repository turns up over 600 results. These free plugins take a large number of approaches to preventing spam – everything from sharing blacklists, to insisting your visitors solve a simple puzzle, to a statistical analysis of the comment text. Find one the suits your tastes and see how you well it works.

If you do have a little money to spend, then by far the best approach is to leave it to the professionals.

There are several online services that will filter all of the comments received on your website for spam, allowing through only those that pass their strict set of tests and trashing the rest.

The most popular anti-spam plugin is the one that is installed by the makers of WordPress themselves when you first install their software.

Akismet, from Automattic, Inc., is easy to set up and, I’ve found, extremely effective at stopping comment spam. Prices range from “free” for small personal blogs, up to US$50 per month for “Enterprise” websites. It’s US$5 per month for small non-personal websites.

Yes, you can be spam-free!

So, there are a number of straight-forward approaches to combating spam comments, and you really should be doing at least something to stop the abuse of your website. Not only will you website look better, and be a social hub of comment and discussion on your posts, but you also deny the success of one a person (or company) from using such a disruptive call for attention. Hopefully, they’ll consider spamming a waste of effort.