The Webbie's Guide To Being Indexed On The Web

If you want to get found here's few webauthoring DO's and Dont's!

by Jon Anthony Schuck

OK, you got online. THEN YOU were blown away by the color, richness and vast breadth and depth of the virtual kingdom as well as all the entertaining web antics, flash and fancy and the lure of e-commerce. You used your credit card, had things delivered right to your door and became totally disappointed in the online marketplace. YOU COMPLAINED using email because there was no customer service number to call to wrench on somebody at the service desk and so you were IGNORED. Not to be left out when you were told: "hey 'WEBBIE' ya gotta get your own website!" -you were a good sport and went out and bought your own web-publishing software. AFTER a weekend of fun, you waited for your site to upload to a server somewhere on the net anticipating millions to rush and find you. NO ONE CAME. You spent about of week after, repeating the MANTRA: just visit my website. BUT REALITY STRUCK HARD and FAST. It was as if that little hit counter on the bottom of your beautiful and profound slashdown page had just died.

SO YOU sought advice in an all out effort to revive and resurrect that first fledgling web, with the usual frantic tome: "I too have a website BUT NOBODY comes...(to see MY masterpiece)" ... "What can I do?" Well, the long and the short of it is that it takes sweat equity to not only build a good web but to promote and maintain it. IT takes knowledge, but not just any knowledge. YOU NEED TO GAIN SOME EXPERTISE and INSIGHT as to what you are really up against here. As a website owner, nobody explained the rules when you went out and bought that $19.99 Authoring Tool with the shiny cover that said in a blaster: ...YOU TOO CAN HAVE A WEBSITE IN MINUTES WITH THOUSANDS ARRIVING IN JUST 24 HRS!!!. Then you knew what the phrase 24/7/365 really meant because you thought it a wise investment and that now you're really going' somewhere? Well, YES. I suppose if you were R. Limbaugh explaining to over 20 million listeners on a good day, that your website is coming soon at http:/rushdot blah blah NET or whatever URL was announced-YOU WOULD have thousands, if not millions, of hits in 24 hours! He (NOT YOU) was cleverly building on a base that took 12 years to build (or longer- depending on how your look at it). READ ON.

Over 5,000,000 websites GO LIVE every day. Over 20 million pages are spidered, and indexed as I write this -- so what is the chance of your site being found? First of all, a few years ago, before GOOGLE, there was actually little chance of a given site being found without some GUERILLA tactics put in place. Waiting for a search engine to find and then index your site took too long...As an amateur webmaster, you would have definitely NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE to fill the bill in terms of launching a successful web and having the time to actually promote it any time soon. You could have spent hours manually making your presence known and have little to show for all your efforts. Then came the web promotion products, you know the software you bought for $19.99 at the same local retailer, where you purchased your WEB DAZZLER tool with all the animation and gif library bonuses the year or two before. As a result of the second wave, (attack on the virtual empire) YOU FOUND nothing but a bunch of FAA! Then as the victim of such an onslaught, you sadly resigned. The page you constructed with such TLC, laid dormant. Then something happened: GOOGLE.COM.

Actually, I could write a book about web presence and the machinations of such things virtual, using my own failures and multiple downfalls as a die hard 'webbie' from which to share all my trench warfare background, for the long twisted story line. To bounce back from all of that, I could go on and on with follow up, a TRIXnTIPS Column or a chat room somewhere on a distant website, as a way to promote the book...

To survive and fall back on your mistakes is truly one of life's hidden treasures and blessings. However, most of us just quit long before we realize any benefit from endeavors that do not have an instant payoff. I WILL spare you the book and the column, as it is not forthcoming! BUT THIS ditty may provide you with something that you will be able to see results from IMMEDIATELY if you are a current website owner.

I have broken this out into THREE TIPS tips for 'webbies' maintaining a web presence of their own. I am not going to tell all on how to promote your site, I'll leave that to the experts who have spent TIME AND MONEY trying to get that message out; NO this is some totally FREE ADVICE and I am not responsible for the outcome should you try these little kernels of web wisdom out....

HERE WE GO!

TIP No. ONE ===========

Many people who do a lot of web surfing for whatever reason, maintain bookmarks or "favorites", i.e. compilations of URL files, stored in folders on their PC. These folders are collections of URLs saved while surfing the web, probably for one good MAIN REASON: people feel compelled for a return visit and do not want to commit the URL to memory at the point they arrive or leave a website so, instead, following the path of least resistance, they CLICK A BUTTON. Surfing the web is done at warp speed and in warp time. This is not the only reason, as A BOOKMARK CAN SHOW MORE THAN WHAT A HISTORY FILE CAN SHOW OVER TIME. If you are an Internet Explorer Browser User, you may know that bookmark information must be stored in an accessible/retrievable file that actually stores data (or can do) associated with the specific bookmarked site. That data has cookie information. This information/data stored in a .URL file can therefore be very useful in site promotion.

You can do a listing of all your URLs (bookmark files) by simply plugging in the .URL extension using the Windows Search feature on your desktop and VIOLA! Specifically using the search query "*.URL", you will find that ancient clickable file for that long forgotten site (in webbed space) you intended on visiting once again over 3 months ago...

Yes, you did use your browser to bookmark that wonderful 'HOW2_B_A Great Webmaster in 123 easy steps...' Site, and there IT IS again as a favorite, but you may not have organized it so well and then lost track...don't worry it's not all your fault!

Since you did not always commit the name of the site, or its domain, to memory, chances are you may never return- the domain some how never ended up as part of the name of the bookmark/favorite filename, so you never got a clue as to what the bookmark is if and when you found it, since you never took the time to organize it since it started with the name W blahblah...and so on...you never returned and this nice little site. So it happens add-infinitum-wasted time. This item which is kept in your favorites folder (Windows Explorer Users) along with your other .URL files will point you back to that nice little web you thought you would want to return to so badly but because of its name, it remains useless. So you end up with alot of "bookmarks" as files that will never be used as they were intended. That said, let me explain a little something here which is too often overlooked, both by the person that does the bookmaking, i.e. one who maintains bookmarks as files, folders, etc., using say a browser Favorites folder in MSIE 5.5, AND by the webmaster who wants their site to be bookmarked by you the 'webbie', thereby increasing the chances of a return visitation. So now you have bookmarks which when compiled just wind up getting lost, erased or?

REDUNDANT NAMING SYSTEM -a DO NOT!

So tip NUMBER ONE is about keeping folders simple and useful in your favorites directory so that you can update and use them for sorting bookmarks that are like-in-kind AND its about naming those .URL files so:

A. you can find them. B. once found they go to where you wanted them to go C. they are recognizable as such, pointing to a website you wanted to find in the first place.

SINCE YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE NAMING OF FILES, THIS JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN!

I can be of some help here too as far as the organization of your favorites. Email me at whegis@toad.net and I will send you a simple batch file that organizes your folders as portals for you automatically.

Many sites now offer instructions on how to bookmark their site and more and more you will find sites that make this a priority and as such happen automatically using scripts that run off of a featured 'BOOKMARK ME' link, found conspicuously on the homepage. The BOOKMARK ME NOW feature seen on so many sites today attests to the fact that the competition is stiff for those "eyeballs" and webmasters go to great lengths to provide you with an easy bookmark experience at their site. This is one way to DRIVE TRAFFIC

TO YOUR SITE: i.e., using the RETURN OFTEN option as a bookmark. Some go as far as putting a URL file for you in the folder of your choice on your computer and even in a unique folder which associates the folder name with the unique URL visited so that the bookmark may be retrieved. Its better to have a bookmark that you can easily find than to have just a collection of not so useful information. But this does not really solve the retrieval problem. The problem stems from what the webmaster named the file as indirectly for you by inserting the given name inside what is known as the TITLE Tag which contains the title of the website or name of the website. This is the information used by a Browser when naming a bookmark as it is saved.

OK, so what is the point here? If you are a webmaster you want to stay clear of what I call the REDUNDANT NAMING SYSTEM. This is the system everyone uses where you wind up being nice. It really what should be called the REDUNDANT WELCOME TITLE SYNDROME found in too many a web-page. I do not know the actual percentage of sites that have this problem inherent in their website's title: "WELCOME to my...whatever site" but its a lot. And for some unknown reason, there are other forms of the phrase which starts with the word "WELCOME" which end up being part of a search result somehow. STEER CLEAR OF THIS PRACTICE! What is really really bad about this phrase is REDUNDANCY in the NAMING of a particular thing and in this case you do not to be REDUNDANT in naming anything Virtual. One reason is this: BRANDING. You will store hundreds of bookmarks over time and probably there will be a lot of different sites that you will want to keep bookmarks on your computer in places other than just your favorites folder and save them for future reference there, with the intent of an eventual return to some site that the bookmark/favorite points to-if they all had the same file name referring to different brands or sites then what would be the point? Even as researchers do, you might wind up keeping them in backup folders so that they can be saved on storage devices, and transferred to new computers or distributed over a network used by those that may need to share this information. Many people even trade disks with bookmarks on them. If say 25 percent of these URLS started with the word WELCOME...they may be sorted and found by the letter "W". Therein lies the problem. If you do a search as *.url on your computer looking for some unique website by its brand it probably won't get found if its name is the same as 25% of all other sites you stored with that same name. IF your site has the same name in the homepage/website title tag as every other website WHAT IS THE POINT of having a unique URL? or brand, or domain? ..search queries for URLs done locally or even on the web at a search/index site use information from files which are usually outputted to the screen as part and parcel to the filename that is intentionally being sought or queried. IF ALL websites visited and bookmarked had WELCOME in their nice inviting TITLE TAG, which needless to say is a nice intention, then search results could ALL START WITH the letter W and contain the word Welcome in many cases. So that something unique unto itself, cannot be found, virtually speaking. This does not bode well for websites that have specific purposes, other than "welcome", to exist. You'd therefore get a list a mile long of "Welcome...tothisandthat(.)url files, and these files listed tell you nothing about the actual site query. If you are offline and you complete such a search of these "leading W" filenames and click on one, your default dialup account will be launched-along with your browser in an attempt to reach the site. You wouldn't know what that URL file points to until you reach this version of "WELCOME TO MY SITE...LADEDAH!" You could expand the listing and read long file names contained in the URL bookmark but who has time to do this?

BEING REDUNDANT IN THE RIGHT PLACES...PAYS! As a webmaster, make it easy on your visitors: give a brief accounting of your site inside the TITLE TAG tag, making the site read by all browsers as a unique name, and read as such, so that when it comes time to having your site bookmarked, it is indeed unique, one that, which when bookmarked, will contain succinct information about the sites name, NOT: "WELCOME TOthebestlittle'w'inTexas.url" or "Welcome to the best little ChiliRecipeSite on the net..." If you transfer a large amount of files with these same names from one partition to another, the copy process will be automatically halted! That is, if a file already copied exists on the destination drive and a similar file with the same first eight letters also exists somewhere on the source drive, which in fact cannot be used to overwrite the file that has already been copied, then you are apt to lose a lot  of information which is similar but not having the same file content. So file naming is important for file management.

Quickly, here are two other tips you need to be aware of where REDUNDANCY IS NEEDED for a website:

TIP No. TWO ===========

If you are a heavy internet user you'll be thankful to some webmaster out there every time you manage a .url file when tip one above becomes the naming protocol for websites BUT while using these bookmark/favorites you will be even more indebted with the following information about Naming when it comes to website promotion and your web presence. The information you code into your website's title tag becomes the "watermark" of your site. Not only do browsers strip this information to use in naming bookmarked URL files but this information can be helpful to the organization of the internet as a whole. When a bot or spider visits your new website (this can take from two weeks up to several months before this happens), it looks for validity and relevancy in the material coded at your web. Behind the scenes these little programs can be mislead, spoofed and spammed therefore making it difficult if not impossible to index your website correctly. Make sure that your title is relevant and that it contains up to date and accurate information as a name for your website and as a .URL filename in the form of a bookmark. Words used to title your site may be used in both the text body of your website (that which is rendered by the browser and seen by visitors) and as "keywords" used by search engines, as listed in what is known as the "META TAG". To see a META TAG, open up your website homepage using a common text editor, take a good look at the tags in the website header section after the tag , beginning with and before the closing tag which is used to encapsulate META information. Your Title tag can also be within this HEAD encapsulation; Inside one particular META TAG are the keywords listed for your website; the same keywords a search engine used to index and subsequently output your sites title and header information in a query results listing. The phrase can be almost anything but it has to be relevant and redundant in this case to be properly indexed. The bot may look at these keywords and compare them with words in the Title of your site and in the textbody of your site to find relevancy, and from there index your site according to this test.

Tip NO. THREE (finally) reads like this: Take a word or phrase that best describes your site and put it in three places, but do not be redundant with a meaningless word (such as welcome-already discussed here)!

for example if you want to be found by the MONIKER:

File not Found.com put the phrase "FILE NOT FOUND" in the title tag, and also that same phrase ",FILE NOT FOUND," in the keyword META TAG and have this same phrase appear often in the actual Text Body of your website.

OK now go to GOOGLE and type just this one word and see what you get: "WELCOME" w/o the quotes of course! HOPE THIS HELPS!



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About the Author

Jon, a Graduate Architect, is now a full time webmaster from Southern California living in Western Maryland at the WindyHill Group Studio, USA.



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