How to Design a Website 101 - For Beginners

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Publish & Check Your Website

When publishing your website, always keep the "golden" copy on your PC, and copy it to your host server. This may be accomplished with an FTP program, or a menu item in your Web design software. In frontpage it is at Menu->File->Publish.  Once you have published your website on your host you can type the url into your browser and view it.  It is very important to make any changes or corrections to your "Golden" copy on your pc, and then re-publish. DO NOT edit content on the host server.

Check your Website on Different Browsers

Check your website out, test all the features, preferably on several of the most popular browser types, since it may look different to different users, depending on their browser type, browser version, screen size, pc or mac, etc.  Here are the top browsers listed by popularity (results taken from  browser usage stats and another source).

    Internet Explorer -   ~44%  - IE6.0 & IE7.0 are by Far the most widely used
    Firefox                       ~22%
    Netscape                    ~2%
    Safari (on the Mac)    ~2%
    Opera                          ~2%

In IE also try viewing your page with different size text (Menu->View->Textsize), or encoding.

It may also be a good idea to check your website for "code compliance."  Use the free HTML Validator Tool:  http://validator.w3.org.  Clean HTML code will most likely make your website appear consistent across the many versions of browsers now in existence (and in the future).

Meta Tags

Before you submit to the search engines, it is recommended your website be complete and functional as well as have meta tags set which accurately describe it.  These meta-tags are:

            title              - 10-60 characters
            description - 150 characters max (accurate description of your website)
            keywords   - 500 characters max (words or phrases separated by commas)

By using the max character guidelines above, and adding meta-tag words which match the content of your webpages, your website will be more friendly to the search engine robots, and hopefully will rank higher.  By violating these guidelines, search engine robots may skip your site altogether.  To get ideas for meta-tags, you might want to look at the websites of your competitors. Open their webpage in Internet Explorer and go to Menu->View->Source  and view their HTML.  I wouldn't spend alot of time worrying about meta-tag optimization however, since it doesn't carry much weight for most modern day search engines.

Search Engine Submission

There are many search engines out there, but according to  MediaPost's  Jan 2006 survey of the largest search engines with the percentage of all searches done, the top 5 dominate the market and if you can submit to all five of them, your job will be over 90% complete.

  1. Google           48%
  2. Yahoo             22%
  3. MSN Search   11%
  4. AOL               6.5%
  5. Ask                   5%

Try these free Search Engine Submission links:

www.submitexpress.com          Free submission to 20+ search engines, meta tag checker
Google                                          To do by hand
Yahoo                                            Must do by hand
AOL                                              Must do by hand - via the open directory project
Ask                                                Must do by hand

After Search Engine Submission expect to wait 1-5 weeks before all the search engines index your site.  Since the search engines are slow at indexing, your web traffic will be a slow upward trend if depending on search engines alone.  I suggest monitoring your website statistics (unique visitors, pageviews, referring source). Web stats are provided by most hosting companies.  Google Analytics is also an excellent free website stats program which I highly recommend.

Warning - submitting your website repeatedly (more than once a month) to a search engine can be regarded as spam, and get your site kicked off the search engines. Repeated submission WILL NOT make you rank higher!!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The best way to improve your rankings in Search Engines are:

  1. Have useful well organized content in your website
  2. Increase the number of quality links to your site (article submission, reciprocal links)
  3. Start a blog - brings fresh content and lots of visitors

Since Google is by far the biggest search engine it might be helpful to know a few secrets to their rankings. These tricks are really quite easy for the beginner and produce good results. You may want to install the google toolbar into your Internet Explorer browser. It will quickly show the page rank of any site you visit.

  • Google SEO rankings are based highly on the number of other websites which link to your site. Many people try and improve this by exchanging links with other websites, or posting links to their website on discussion groups (preferable ones which will generate traffic).
  • Links from pages with a high page rank are much better than links from a low page rank. They will also cause your site to be indexed more often. A single link from a PR9 site may be equal to 100 links from PR1 sites.
  • One way links to your site are better than reciprocal links, at least for google search engine.
  • Google SEO rankings put little if any weight on meta tags, they scan your content to determine keywords.
  • Google SEO will rank you much faster if you include a robots file. It tells search engine robots what files and directories to NOT index, and which robot (user-agents) to not index your site.  The file must be named robots.txt. Below is a sample of look at mine in your browser:   www.webdesigntips101.com/robots.txt  If you have alot of large files on your website such as music, video, pics, it might be a good idea to add them to the robots file so search robots wont chew up all your bandwidth by repeatedly looking at them.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /password.html
Disallow: /temp/
Disallow: /images/

 

  • Google SEO will rank you much faster if you include a sitemap file in your root directory and if you tell google about it with the google webmaster tools.  There are several file formats to describe your site map, the simplest is just a plain text file as shown below, with one line for each relevant page in your website.  Here is a sample of mine:

========== sitemap.txt =============

http://www.webdesigntips101.com/index.shtml
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/articles.shtm
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/advertising.shtm
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/choosing_a_host.shtm
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/designing_your_web.shtm
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/getting_a_domain_name.shtm
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/maintenance_tools.shtm
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/otherlinks.shtm
http://www.webdesigntips101.com/register_search.shtm

  • To get the sitemap and robot files into your webpage, if you're using Microsoft FrontPage simply put them in the directory on your pc along with the rest of your webpage files and do File->Publish.  Otherwise you can ftp them over, or if you have SSH access you can login and create the text files directly. Every time you create a new webpage on your site, make sure to add it to your sitemap also, so that the search engine spiders will find it easily.
  • For more in depth info on robots files see:  www.robotstxt.org/
  • Another great way to increase one way links is to publish articles, and post them on article directory sites. If they are well written, useful articles, they will be picked up by other sites and bring in many visitors and links to your site.  Also See:  List of Article Directory Websites
  • Another great way to increase links and visitors, is to frequent a popular blog, and make posts with your webpage as part of your signature. Preferably one in which you have some kind of expertise.

You will see many adds for SEO services, be careful, especially if they charge a fee, and promise high rankings.  Here's what Google has to say about them. www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35291

If you want more hits NOW,  see the advertising and marketing faq.  You can instantly turbo charge your marketing by using  Adwords, and get a flood of traffic in mere hours for $0.10-$10.00 per click depending on the popularity of your keywords.

Also look at these free tools for SEO

 







 

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