When it comes to building a website, one of the first decisions you have to make is whether you will be buying your domain or using a free hosted site, through WordPress.com, Blogger, and similar websites. Paying for your domain and hosting is almost always the better option. It provides much more flexibility, and you have complete control over what is (and isn’t, in the case of advertising) on your page.
However, there are times when you might consider a free website. They’re great for people who are new to running a website or beginner bloggers, who are just starting to get their feet wet with blogging and aren’t sure if they’re interested enough to commit to an actual website.
There are numerous sites run from free hosted domains. If you do decide to start your journey of website ownership through one of these sites, that doesn’t mean that you have to throw in the towel on proper search engine optimization. While you do often have fewer options for SEO customizations, you still have several ways of making sure that your site shows up in search results.
Your content can be the number one way to optimize your site. Make use of the keywords you’ve researched for your site. While most people no longer recommend a specific concentration for of keywords in your content (the old recommendation used to be approximately 3%), you want to use them around 4-5 times in a 500 word blog post or article. Any more than that might make your writing sound unnatural, and any less may not be enough to really take advantage of the force behind keyword usage.
Use keywords in your post titles, descriptions and categories. These three areas really count for your site’s SEO; any words found here will be given extra weight, especially if they are also found in your content. Use your keywords as they fit naturally; forcing them not only makes your writing awkward (and that counts, even in your titles and descriptions), but it can also make your site look “spammy”, something that search engines will count against you.
Look for plugins that allow you better SEO functionality. Even free hosted websites often come with an SEO pack plugin, either automatically built in or as an additional add-on. These plug-ins can make SEO easier, as they usually ask you for the specific keywords and descriptions you want attached to each post or page, and then put all of that information where it belongs (in the coding) to make it easiest for search engines to find and use it.
If you’re using a free hosted website, don’t forget to check forums and other websites for SEO information that relates specifically to the service you’re using. WordPress offers different SEO features than Blogger does, for example, and knowing how to get the most out of the options available to you.
Have you ever used a free-hosted website service? What steps did you take for SEO on that site?