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First aid for broken links

Web authoring 101:
Recommendations for beginners

This page last updated on or about 4-23-07

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1: Get your own domain name and buy a web host package. Don't waste your time with a 'free' web site. There's lots of reasons for this. Mostly though, doing things this way reduces the chance you'll have to start from scratch again later building up traffic to your site.

2: Spend some time considering what domain name to choose-- and DON'T use specially-made domain name search gizmos to check for existing names-- because many of those are simply traps used to find out what names someone might be about to buy, so con artists can immediately buy or hold them hostage, and make people pay more for the names they want.

The safest way to check? Type your domain idea into the address box near the top of your browser window, and try going there.

3: Try to get a domain name with ".com" at the end rather than ".net" or ".org", etc., if possible. Why? Most surfers are already trained to type the ".com" at the end. Using other suffixes will surely cause you some lost traffic.

At present mainstream paid advertising revenues seem to work best for highly specialized domain names. Like "stainless-steel-needles.com" or whatever. But many-- maybe most-- web host packages will allow you to create lots of no-extra-cost subdomains for yourself. So you could exploit the specialization aspect and use a more general purpose main domain at the same time. Like"stainless-steel-needles.pats-arts-and-crafts.com". So this is another thing to consider when brainstorming up your domain name.

4: Use descriptive names for files and page titles. The filenames shouldn't be longer than around 60-70 characters. The page title inside the file HTML itself can be longer and more descriptive, if necessary.

You can use dashes between words in the filename. Like so: "http://www.jrmooneyham.com/web-authoring-101-recommendations-for-beginners.html"

These descriptive file names and page titles help search engines better categorize your site, and therefore lead surfers to you more reliably-- as well as make any contextual advertising work better too.

5: Also use descriptive file names for graphics. And be sure to do so inside image ALT tags in your HTML too. Again, this helps search engines index your content, and users to find your material.

6: All domain registrars and hosts are NOT the same! Choose the wrong registrar or host and you will suffer somewhere down the road...

7: BACK UP YOUR FILES every time you create a new one or update an old one. HAVE AT LEAST THREE SEPARATE COPIES OF ALL FILES, EACH COPY ON A DIFFERENT DISK. Today I typically have the same file on the hard disk of my main PC, the hard disk of my laptop, on a ZIP disk, AND in a USB memory stick too. The latest public drafts of my web site pages are also on a remote hosting service disk maybe 1000 miles away. Atop all this, on occasion I also archive my files onto CDs.

Why all the backups? Disasters, mistakes, and old age. Hard drives die or computers get stolen, or people accidentally format drives. Sometimes we throw away the wrong things. Homes and offices catch fire, or are flooded. Disks simply go bad over time, or get damaged or misplaced. Software and hardware is usually much more easily replaced than data files.

I've personally had to rebuild my site from utter scratch several times, due to hosts and registrars which went bad.

8: Your index.html page is the most important and powerful page on your site. It's the default page people are sent to by your server when they simply type in your domain name, with no particular page specified.

The links on your index.html page may be considered the most valuable on your whole site by search engines. So keep this in mind when you create or modify your index.html file.

9: Try to minimize using "CLICK HERE" for the title of a link to any of your pages. Instead use that page's proper title, or a suitable chunk of it. For that's called "anchor text" by the search engines, and play an important role in the traffic your page at those links get in the future.

10: Brand your pages with authorship notifications in a variety of ways, such as "A presentation of my-domain-here.com" or "A my-domain-here.com original", near the top, beneath the page title. And maybe sprinkled here and there in the main body of the page content as well.

11: If you maintain only one web log, it should be a page which is readily accessible across-the-board on-site, detailing recent updates to the site. This not only helps alert your visitors to new pages, it also helps search engines find them faster. Plus, it provides a handy record for you personally, too.

12: Spell check and punctuation-check as much of your content as you can, through each and every stage of processing! Even if you're an excellent speller, the software will still catch errors-- sometimes potentially costly or embarrassing ones.

13: Confirm page uploads worked, every time you update your site (sometimes they don't). How do you check this? By visiting the page online yourself with your browser. WARNING: If you don't first clear your browser's cache, you might not see the true status of your page in a verification visit-- as the browser might instead show you the copy it made last time you visited! And hitting the reload button won't always over-ride the cache copy, either. Yikes! Only by clearing your cache before a visit can you be sure you're seeing the true current status of your site page.

14: Pick a way to link your URLs and stick to it relentlessly. Because "www.my-domain.com" is NOT considered the same as "my-domain.com" by search engines(!) And so might hurt you traffic-wise. And use an absolute URL rather than relative URL for all your internal links in most circumstances ("http://www.jrmooneyham.com/web-authoring-101-recommendations-for-beginners.html" rather than "web-authoring-101-recommendations-for-beginners.html").

Copyright © 2005-2007 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.