Creating Your First Web Site, Part 2
By Lisa Maliga
In Part 1 you learned some tips about the basics of starting your site and finding a home for it, now comes the time to properly name it and get it optimized for the search engines so that your home on the web is easy to locate.
This is one of the least expensive things about getting online as many hosting companies charge nothing or only a few dollars. But it’s also one of the most important, as yours has to be descriptive and as memorable as possible. For a family web site, simply using your last name or a combination of first and last name is fine. Domain names can also include numbers. The minimum amount of time you can purchase a domain is for one year. But for an eCommerce site [meaning a site where you intend to sell products or services], an appropriate name is essential. http://www.namecheap.com only charges $8.88 per year.
Keywords = Power
What will help drive people to your site faster than a cable connection? Keywords! These words and phrases indicate what your site is about and contain more authority than a novice can imagine. Proper keywords will feature terms and words used in the text on your home page. Each subsequent page you create will also have its own set of keywords. If you are selling products or services online, Wordtracker.com is a fee-based service that enables you to look up the latest information on what people are searching for online.
Overture.com has a fine feature where it will show you just how popular the keywords that you’ve chosen really are. This is updated on a monthly basis, but you can also find the week’s most popular keywords. http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion
What is your site all about? What words best describe your site, your products/services, your hobbies, etc.? What words would a person use to find your web site? For example, if you are building a web site to show people in the Los Angeles area the fact that you have used cars for sale, the term “preowned car” was searched 2628 times, followed by “certified preowned car” 209 times. “Used car” brings up more than 1 million searches, with “buy used car” at more than 534,000 searches in the previous month. Other terms that show up are: “used car for sale,” “used car prices,” “used car financing,” “cheap used car,” “Los Angeles used car,” “used car online” and “sell used car.” On a highly ranked site these terms will be used along with others containing variations of used car and other terms related to a used car such as a dealership, blue book, classifieds, dealership, etc. Again, thinking like a potential customer or viewer is the key to keywords.
Meta Tags Description
When you accurately describe what is on each of your web pages, this will help anyone who discovers it in a search engine. You are doing your customer a big favor and they will thank you for it by visiting your site. For that used car site, here is what you might add for the home page: “Low cost pre-owned vehicles that hold their value. Located Los Angeles, California.” This comes to only 12 words, or 82 characters including spaces. Some search engines accept up to 250 characters, others will allow far less. Keeping it within 100 characters or about 15-20 words is recommended.
Web Page Titles
Titles aren’t just for books, movies and royalty. When designing your web site you’ll be able to name each page so that online visitors will locate your home page or other pages you’ve created. What you call your web site is as important as what you name your company. Be as descriptive as possible. You probably want your stamp collection web site to have the term “stamp collecting” or “stamp collection” in the title. Perhaps you have a page that has advice for stamp collectors, so you might want to label it “Stamp Collecting Advice” or “Postage Stamp Collecting.”
The lack of understanding page titles has shown up on my journeys online. I’ve seen web sites with “New Page” or “Page 2” appear along the top of my browser as the web designer clearly didn’t fathom the benefits he or she had in naming pages.
It’s not just about having lots of links on your web site, it’s having relevant links. If you want to keep your web site within the mainstream and family-friendly, be careful where you are linking. Many search engines and directories won’t accept sites with adult themes, gambling sites, or anything advocating illegal activities, etc. Keep it clean. Oftentimes you’ll read about a site having a Google PR [PageRank] of a number from 0-10, with 10 being considered the best.
When one has reached a page rank status they will usually not welcome newcomers which is what someone with a new web site is – a 0 page rank. But all sites begin that way and here you’re learning what Google looks for when it ranks pages so your PR can start moving up. PR is determined by many factors including links coming from other sites to yours, longevity of site, quality of information and keywords found within the site, and the number of pages your site contains. In other words, Google’s search engine [or any major or minor search engine or directory] will spot a 100-page site sooner than it will a single web page.
Many web masters create a links page and add anything that comes along. That’s not always the best idea and Google doesn’t list more than 100 links per page anyway. Others will separate their links page into subjects so that a gardening web site is grouped in an appropriate category, as would a financial site being with others within the same category.