Web Mastering for Dummies

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"Webmaster" means many things to many people. Today's webmaster may create or produce content, administer a site or a server, or even acquire a budget and then outsource everything. If you're looking for a friendly mentor, then Webmastering For Dummies will show you where to start, how to develop strategies, and much more. This is the book the authors wished for when they were starting -- chock full of what a webmaster really needs to know.

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Overview

"Webmaster" means many things to many people. Today's webmaster may create or produce content, administer a site or a server, or even acquire a budget and then outsource everything. If you're looking for a friendly mentor, then Webmastering For Dummies will show you where to start, how to develop strategies, and much more. This is the book the authors wished for when they were starting -- chock full of what a webmaster really needs to know.

Inside, find helpful advice on how to

  • Get on track and stay there, whether you're a webmaster of all trades or one specializing in content, production, technology, or management
  • Promote your site with smarts and get big-time traffic
  • Sell your product or service on the Web, with or without your own Web site
  • Find out the six possible goals of a Web site, determine your site's goals, and measure your success
  • Understand legal bugaboos and avoid pitfalls
  • Establish and maintain a bulletproof budget and effective procedures and standards
  • Run your own server or deal effectively with an Internet service provider
  • Maximize navigation of your site through savvy architecture and solid search capabilities
  • Use databases as the backbone of your robust and dynamic Web site
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764501715
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/5/1997
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

Who You Are and What You Already Know
What This Book Covers
Part I: Who You Are and Where You Start
Part II: Building a Smashing Web Site
Part III: Under the Hood: Server, Database, and Search Engine Strategies
Part IV: Winning: Promoting and Assessing Your Site's Success
Part V: The Part of Tens
How to Use This Book
Icons Used in This Book
Off You Go

Part I: Who You Are and Where You Start

Chapter 1: What Webmasters Do and Where to Find Them
Webmaster Roles and Reasons for Being
The Webmaster as visionary
The Webmaster as evangelist
The Webmaster as business strategist
The Webmaster as manager of expectations
The Webmaster as creative implementer
The Four Types of Webmasters
The tech Webmaster
The content Webmaster
The production Webmaster
The executive Webmaster
Finding Webmasters and Finding a Job as a Webmaster
In-house staff with transferable skills
Other fields
Universities, colleges, and training programs
Where to place and find Webmaster job listings
Webmaster Guilds and Groups

Chapter 2: Your Site's Goals Define Everything Else
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
What happens when you lose focus
What you gain by setting goals and planning
What Exactly Are We Doing Here?
What is our purpose?
Who are we trying to reach?
Who are our competitors?
What resources do we have?
What expectations of success do we have?
How do we measure our success?
Writing a Mission Statement

Chapter 3: Selling on the Web
What Sells Online and What to Forget About
Hard deliverables fly
Downloadable software moves
Services sell
Information is oddly challenging
Selling Is about Trust -- Building It and Keeping It
How Online Shopping Works
Phone and mail order systems
E-mail ordering
Forms for faxing or simple online ordering
Shopping carts
Those Not-So-Identical Twins: Security and Commerce
Why this counts
Security and commerce basics
Secure Servers and You
Secure server advantages
What you need
What security "looks like"
Security and online transactions
The Deep Skinny on Transaction Systems
Handy-dandy payment systems
All about prepackaged stores
Having someone else do the selling for you
The Myriad Challenges of Fulfillment

Chapter 4: Building a Better Budget
How Often to Budget
Tips for Approaching the Budgeting Process
What Budgets Look Like
Elements of the Spreadsheet: Columns and Rows
General Types of Expenses
Infrastructure
Production
Ongoing support
Specific Activities that Inspire Budget Categories
Content development and editorial
Architecture and navigational maps
Design
Production
Reviewing and site testing
Uploading content
Marketing the site
Administration and maintenance
ROI Meets Management Buy-In

Chapter 5: Legal Bugaboos for the Lay Webmaster
Intellectual Property and Web Real Estate
The Large and Small of Copyright Law
What is a copyright?
How copyright law works
Proof of copyright
Infringement myths and realities
Public Domain and the Fair-Use Follies
A Licensing Lowdown
Work-for-Hire and What It Means
Trademark Tricks and Tips
What a trademark protects
The difference between TM and ®
Getting a trademark
Trade Dress Is Look and Feel
Clip Art, Photography, Sampling, and You
What You Buy when You Buy Original Art
Linking and the Law
Winging It through Freeware and Shareware

Part II: Planning a Smashing Web Site

Chapter 6: Creating Your Site's Framework
Pulling Together Content
Grouping Content and Activities
Identifying types of content
Doing the grouping two-step
Establishing Hierarchies Where Once There Were None
Building the hierarchy
Bunching pages into organized "types"
Drawing the site map
Structuring the Site's Directories
Some technical backstory
Mirroring the site's structure
Using a single directory
Special directories for special purposes
Mapping the directories
Database? I Don't Need a Stinking Database -- Do I?
Putting Together a Rock-Solid Design Document

Chapter 7: Beyond HTML and Son of HTML
The Basics of HTML (Just in Case)
What makes a Web page
The history of HTML in a paragraph
Listen to the rules
Looking Good in a Variety of Web Browsers
Who uses what?
Making a friendly site
Why Even Include Interactive Content?
What's interactive content, Mom?
Remember your goals?
Picking and Choosing Interactive Content
The smart money
So what are your options?
What's Involved in Implementing Interactive Content
Talking about Discussion Groups
Making e-mail your friend
Making news with newsgroups
The vice versa
Can We Chat?
Implementing Web chat
Running an IRC session
What kind of chat is right for you?

Chapter 8: Jobbing Out to a Web-Publishing Shop
Types of Shops You May Encounter
Internet presence providers
Ad agencies
Design firms and publishing shops large and small
Finding Qualified Web Shops
Judging experience
References are paramount
Judging style and substance
Plays well with others
They listen, but do they hear?
The day after: now what?
Defining the Project
What You Are Going to Pay
What drives rates
Negotiating fees
Deciphering Contracts and NDAs
Nothing is carved in stone (until it is)
Intellectual property and copyrights
Nondisclosure agreements: covering yourself
Maintaining Vendor Relationships

Chapter 9: QA, Document Control, and the Style Constables Who Love Them
Why You Need a Style Guide
The Elements of a Style Guide
Style Standards for the Site's Look and HTML
Your site's visual style
Managing style standards in HTML
Avoiding graphics pitfalls
Linking Smartly
How many links is too many links?
Linking on just the right word or phrase
More linking tips
Getting to Know and Love Editorial Standards
Why this matters
Creating your editorial style guide
Maintaining the editorial style guide
Noting Navigation, Architecture, and Directory Structures
Formalizing Legal Matters
Formatting Your Style Guide
Reviewing Processes for the Few and the Many
Alphas and betas: building prototypes
Presenting staging servers
Who reviews documents and content?

Part III: Under the Hood: Server, Database, and Search Engine Strategies

Chapter 10: Under the Hoods of a Few Good Server Options
Servers and Platforms and Software -- Oh My!
Selecting a Server Platform: NT or UNIX?
Windows NT
UNIX
All of the Best Server Software
Netscape server software
Microsoft server software
Apache server software
Running It Yourself versus Having Your ISP Run It
Running Your Own Server
Why bother?
The hardware you need
All about administration
What about connecting to the Internet?
Getting around the firewall
Keeping Your Server Running 24/7

Chapter 11: Dealing with ISPs and IPPs
ISPs and the Services They Offer
Using your existing network
Web hosting doesn't mean full-time access
Questions to ask an ISP
Types of ISPs
What IPPs Do That's Different
What Internet Service Costs
Your physical location may be important
What's the contingency plan?
Direct-access costs
Long-distance Web hosting
Leasing a server
Haggling
Server Colocation: The Best of Both Worlds
Painful Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
The bandwidth follies
Counting the clock ticks
Doing the ISP shuffle
Expanding your universe

Chapter 12: Databases for the Masses
What Exactly Is a Database?
A Good Database May Be the Backbone of Your Site
Pros and Cons of Flat File and Relational Databases
About flat file databases
About relational databases
A Light-Duty Relational Database Product: mSQL
The Big Bruisers and What They're Good For
Oracle
Microsoft SQL Server
Sybase SQL Server
Informix
Middleware: The Glue that Binds
How to Talk to Database Developers
A Few Words on Database Maintenance

Part IV: Winning: Promoting and Assessing Your Site's Success

Chapter 13: Maximum Exposure via Search Engines and Directories
What's the Big Deal about Search Engines?
Search Engines and Directories: What's the Diff?
HEAD Tags, TITLE Tags, and META Tags -- What They Mean to You
HEAD tags
TITLE tags
META tags
Search-Tool Backgrounders
AltaVista
Excite
HotBot
Infoseek
Lycos
Yahoo!
Maximizing a Web Page for All of the Popular Search Tools
Excluding Areas of Your Site from Searches

Chapter 14: Promoting Your Site
Making Your Site Worth Visiting
Giving something to people
Making your site a source
Creating Backlinks, Link Trades, and Net Alliances
Getting backlinks
Forming Net alliances
Joining link free-for-alls
Placing online classified ads
Submitting your site to awards pages
Optimizing Your Existing Promotional Budget
Putting your URL everywhere
Using your URL casually
Cashing in at trade shows
Seeing Your URL in Print
Getting into magazines and newspapers
Placing a free or cheap print ad
Posting fliers in the real world
Enticing new visitors with gifts
Talk Is Cheap
Making and using a SIG file
Participating in discussion groups
Buying Ad Space -- Why, How, and When
Banner ad basics
Impressions vs. clickthroughs
Context-sensitive and other new advertising ideas
Building a successful banner ad
Getting ad space on less-big-gun Web sites
Exchanging ads -- it's free!
Contracting to ad agencies
Sponsoring a Web site other than your own

Chapter 15: Measuring Success
Types of Success
Hits, impressions, and traffic reports
Media presence
Sales, distribution, and revenue produced
Information gathered and reported
Subjective response: "We like it!"
Measuring Traffic
Reading Log Files for the Few and the Many
How Traffic Measurements Are Calculated
Hits
Impressions
Visitors
Unique users
Clickpaths
Tracking Popularity and Clickpaths with Site-Statistic Packages
Wusage
Market Focus
NetCount
Counting Backlinks
Verifying Traffic Counts through Outside Audits
On Subjective Assessments and Feedback E-mail
Take a Look at Yourself

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 16: Ten Web Sites That'll Save Your Life
Search.com
Webmonkey
Webreference.com: The Webmaster's Reference Library
iWORLD
NCSA's Style Guide and Beginner's Guide
Web Page Design For Designers
Doctor HTML
Links for Copy Editors
FindLaw and The Cyberspace Law Center
Who's Marketing Online

Chapter 17: Ten Tools for Jazzing Up HTML
Microsoft FrontPage
BBEdit and Luckman WebEdit
XTML
Adobe Photoshop
Paint Shop Pro
GIF Construction Set and GIF Animator
Flash Animator
Jamba
Excite for Web Servers
Miscellaneous Web Gadgets

Chapter 18: Ten Types of Live Content You Can Use Today
RealMedia
Shockwave
Internet Relay Chat
Java
JavaScript
ActiveX
CU-SeeMe
Toward Push: Castanet and PointCast
VRML
Custom Programming
Index

IDG Books Worldwide Registration Card
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First Chapter

Chapter 13
Maximum Exposure via Search Engines and Directories

In This Chapter

  • Discovering search engines and directories
  • Placing the right tags in your Web pages
  • Making sure that search engines can find you
  • Maximizing your search-engine mileage
  • Excluding parts of your site from search engines

Let's face it. Even if your whiz-bang beauty of a Web site tells folks the meaning of life, if no one knows it's there, no one is going to see it. You want people to visit your site, and you want lots of people. There are a number of ways to get attention on the Web; the first is to make your site as wonderful as possible. The stronger your content, the punchier your design, and the fresher you keep the thing, the more people are going to tell their associates and the more people are going to return. But first you have to attract the attention of the first wave of those folks, and the big question is how to do this.

As Figure 13-1 shows, one of the most common ways people find out about sites is through online search tools (AltaVista, Yahoo!, and so on). You can take advantage of this by getting your site listed and by maximizing your site's standing within all of the major search engines.

You can implement a special sort of search engine on your site that will help users find their way around the site itself. (We cover that topic in a bonus chapter on the Dummies Web site at http://www.dummies.com. Look for "Search Engines for Visiting Your Site" from the link Really Useful Extras.) Here we're talking about those big bruiser search engines and directories that help people find what's on the Web. If you want to know all about getting max exposure via the search engines and directories that people use to navigate the whole Web, read on, bucko.

What's the Big Deal about Search Engines?

Finding your way around the Web can be a very big challenge -- so much so that the search-tool industry was born. Search tools, as you know, are gigantic, automatically built catalogs of Web pages. They're usually comprised of a Web crawler, spider, or robot that scours the Web for new pages; a huge database of 30 to 40 million individual Web pages all cataloged and indexed; and the search engine itself, which allows users to query the database. When a user does query the database, the results that are returned by the search tool appear in a list. The list is usually ranked by relevancy, with the Web sites that are the most relevant at the top of the list. Your goal is to create a situation that puts your site at the top of the list whenever a user searches for a site on a topic like yours.

The trick here is that relevancy is kind of, well . . . relative. You see, relevancy is generally calculated by some simple means -- like counting how many times the word or phrase that you searched appears in a given Web page, its URL, its title, and so on. This way to calculate relevancy is both a weakness of the whole search-engine business and something that you can capitalize on. You can make this bug into a feature by simply including specific tags or repeated word patterns in your page so that a specific search tool can catalog your site correctly and give it a truly relevant relevancy ranking. What's not quite so simple is that all of the search tools do things a little differently, and you want your site to shine on each tool to maximize the number of visits that you get. Later in this chapter, we show you how to tweak a Web page so that it gets a high ranking across the board. First, though, you need to take a look at search tools in general.

Search Engines and Directories: What's the Diff?

There are basically two kinds of Web search tools:

  • A directory is a large database that's filled with references to Internet sites; the organization of this database is overseen by human beings who (presumably) keep it intelligently organized and who often add some kind of categorization or editorializing (like site reviews) to the mix. Excite includes a directory among its features; Yahoo! is a directory, too, although it's more the index type of a directory.
  • A search engine differs from a directory in that it is not categorized by the hands of human beings and it offers no editorial content; instead, it is a huge database that has been compiled through the use of a Web crawler or spider that went out, got a lot of stuff, and put the stuff in the database in no particular order. (Seeming order is "imposed" when a user searches the database and the results appear in a list based on . . . dare we say it? . . . relevancy.)

Keep this in mind when trying to get your page listed with a search engine or a directory: Directories are usually only interested in listing the top (home) page of the Web site or maybe a few other selected pages that have knockout content. Search engines, on the other hand, send their web-crawling robots out to gather everything. These 'bots start with a link to your site (which may be a link that you submit to them) and follow all of the other links on that page through your site until they've indexed everything they can. Then they follow all of the links that leave your site. Although many people often find your site by following links on other pages, the corollary is that robots can also find your site more often if there are more links to it from other sites.

What a search engine really is

In actuality, a search engine is the software that conducts a search, whether that search occurs in the context of a big database of Web sites, in the context of your Web site alone, or even in the context of a database that has nothing to do with the Web. (There is a search engine in Microsoft Access and in other database programs, for example.) Use of the term search engine to refer to a tool for searching the Internet has come into play just recently. In this chapter, we use the term search engine generically to refer to all Internet search tools.

Both directories and search engines include search capabilities in their offerings, and they all work in more or less the same way -- user types topic of interest into text box, user clicks on Search button -- you know the routine. The search is executed, and the results are returned in a list that's been sorted based on criteria that were set up by the search-engine producers. (Whew!) Your goal, then, is to manipulate matters to your advantage. You can do this by cleverly using META tags, TITLE tags, and HEAD tags -- yep, that's HTML we're talking about. (The section that follows this one talks about these special tags, while Chapter 7 discusses HTML in general.)

Search Engines Watch, by Calafia Consulting, includes backgrounders and tips for most of the major search engines. There is an associated mailing list that posts announcements about major changes in the world of search sites. Visit http://searchenginewatch.com.

HEAD Tags, TITLE Tags, and META Tags -- What They Mean to You

As an Internet pro, you know that the whole web of Web pages hangs on HTML. Everything you see on a Web page is the result of HTML and therefore of HTML tags. Some tags create text, some create links, some create images -- and some convey information about the document as a whole. These are the tags that perk up the interest of search tools. Knowing how to use these tags well can help you to produce content that the search engines and directories can then correctly catalog.

HEAD tags

The HEAD tag defines a special area of the HTML document that contains information about the document. That information often includes the document's title and perhaps some other coding that describes the document. For example, in the following snippet of HTML, the head section contains the title of the Web page along with a META tag that specifies a description of the page:

<HEAD>
<TITLE>World-Class Ping-Pong for Dummies</TITLE>
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="world-class ping-pong">
</HEAD>

Most search engines pay very close attention to the contents of the head section, so you should, too.

TITLE tags

Every document on the Web has a title. That title usually appears in the title bar at the top of your Web browser window when you're looking at the document. So -- where did that title come from? The TITLE tag! The following is an example:

<TITLE>World-Class Ping-Pong for Dummies</TITLE>

Remember, the TITLE tag appears within the all-important head section of the page.

"Welcome to XYZ Home Page" is a poor title for a Web page -- it's too long, it's full of irrelevant words, and it will appear in alphabetically organized bookmark lists under W for Welcome. A better title would be short and pithy -- it would include those two words that you thought up and jotted down for this occasion.

When you're naming your page, keep in mind that the title that appears in the TITLE tag is also the title of the page in a list of hits produced by a search engine. It's also the title that the directory and index people use to refer to your page, not to mention all of the random Webmasters who link to you. So if the title is just Ping-Pong, it isn't going to stand out from the herd. However, Killer Ping-Pong Tips certainly would, because it gives some idea about the kind of content to be found on the page (Ping-Pong tips, rather than photographs or a rule book).

META tags

A META tag is a special tag that contains meta information about the page -- that is, overview information about the stuff that's contained in the page. An example of a META tag is as follows:

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="world-class ping-pong">

This META tag says that the page it is embedded in is about world-class Ping-Pong. You can specify any META tag that you like. For example, rather than specifying that the tag is a description, you may spec it as a title, as follows:

<META NAME="title" CONTENT="World-Class Ping-Pong for Dummies">

The overall, agreed-upon specs for HTML allow you to include just about any name and content descriptors in META tags, with a few exceptions. (For example, the name refresh is reserved for forcing a browser to reload the document.) Some search engines look specifically for a META tag with the name keywords, and then those search engines catalog the page based on the keywords that are included in the META tag. Such a tag would look like this:

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="ping-pong, table tennis, world-class, ping pong, tournament, champion, pingpong, book, world-class ping-pong for dummies">

Notice that this list includes ping-pong, table tennis, and ping pong. Synonyms and common misspellings are important when you're trying to get your page in circulation -- whether the intrepid searcher looking for a page like yours types ping-pong, table tennis, or ping pong in the search box, your page ostensibly should show up in the search if you use synonyms carefully. Meta tags also appear in the head section of an HTML document. Notice, too, that all of the keywords are lowercase. Some search engines exclude Ping-Pong (the correct name of the game, written with initial caps because the game is trademarked that way) if a user types ping-pong.

Now, remembering that search engines focus on the head section of a given Web page, and noting that you can use META tags in a number of ways, here's the kicker: You can embed multiple META tags in your page, directing the attention of search engines to suit your purposes. However, META tags are not the magic bullets that so many people think they are. Some search engines ignore them, and others recognize some META tags but not others.

It is better to list your keywords one time each in a META tag than it is to do the clever thing that a lot of beginning webmasters try. You may have seen a page that has a bunch of blank space (<BR> tags, actually) after the content is finished on the page. If you scroll down far enough, you see a bunch of words, sometimes not-so-cleverly hidden, that look like this:

PING-PONG TABLE TENNIS WORLD-CLASS DUMMIES BOOK WINNING STRATEGY
PING-PONG TABLE TENNIS WORLD-CLASS DUMMIES BOOK WINNING STRATEGY
PING-PONG TABLE TENNIS WORLD-CLASS DUMMIES BOOK WINNING STRATEGY
PING-PONG TABLE TENNIS WORLD-CLASS DUMMIES BOOK WINNING STRATEGY
PING-PONG TABLE TENNIS WORLD-CLASS DUMMIES BOOK WINNING STRATEGY

ad nauseam.

This may look like a good way to force your page to the top of the heap, because Ping-Pong certainly appears several times. Generally, however, a page's relevancy rating is based not only on frequency but on weight. That is, a page that mentions Ping-Pong several times within the body of a page has more weight than a page that mentions Ping-Pong only once, but some search engines discount lists of words with no context.

Search-Tool Backgrounders

To make the most of META tags and other tricks of the trade, you need to know a thing or two about the how the various search engines work. The best way to get your site indexed by the major search engines is to submit a link -- your home page, generally -- to the Add Your Site section of the search engine's Web page. But before you do, make sure that your Web page is in top shape for each of the biggie's search methods.

When you're getting ready to submit your page to the major search engines, take a few minutes to read the help files. If there's a help file about submitting the page, it's generally useful, but some Web sites include information about relevancy and META tags within their general help files as well. Infoseek, for example, offers a help file that explains how to increase your relevancy rating, while AltaVista's Add Your Site page includes many tips for Webmasters. In any case, reading the help files is often the only way to find out what ranking strategies and extra doodads the various search engines have available.

AltaVista

AltaVista, considered by many to be the premier search engine, was developed by Digital Equipment Corp. to demonstrate the company's ability to manipulate enormous databases. AltaVista, which has now completely outgrown its beginning as a relatively humble demo of technology, is actually the sum of several parts. First, a robot (called Scooter) automatically searches the Web for new pages. Then a cataloging program takes the pages that are found by Scooter, indexes them, and plops them into a database. Finally, there is the AltaVista database itself, which is filled with those cataloged Web pages. The AltaVista database has more than 30 million Web pages. Your job is to make sure that Scooter finds your Web pages and that the indexing program properly files them in that big whoppin' database.

Scooter streaks through the Web continuously, but you may have to issue an invitation to Scooter to have it stop by your site. To submit your URL to AltaVista, fill out the form at http://www.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=tmpl&v=addurl.html . After you've submitted your URL, two days may pass before Scooter visits. Then it is another two to four weeks before your pages appear in AltaVista.

Select your site's central page, and submit it to AltaVista manually. AltaVista asks that you submit only one page (generally the top or home page) to its Add-URL page. As long as all of your pages are linked to from at least one of your pages, the spider finds the rest automatically -- that's what search-engine robots do. You can have your site stricken from the database by spamming the index, that is, submitting your page multiple times in hopes of making your page show up multiple times.

AltaVista is a full-text search engine, meaning that it searches the entire contents of a Web page. Whether it's right or wrong, AltaVista uses the following criteria to determine ranking:

  • Keywords that appear near the beginning of the Web page are given more weight than those that appear toward the end of the page.
  • Keywords that repeat throughout the page are given more weight than keywords that do not repeat. What's more, if a word is repeated a number of times in the same region of the page (say the top), that document gets a higher relevancy ranking than a document that doesn't use this trick.
  • A page in which a keyword appears 20 times, for example, is given a higher relevancy ranking than a page that contains that keyword 15 times.

Note that AltaVista pays attention to your use of the description META tag -- but not to many other tags.

AltaVista ignores punctuation (ping-pong and ping pong are all the same to AltaVista) and is a little fussy about capitalization. For example, if you repeat the phrase Ping-Pong for Dummies throughout your site, and a user types ping-pong for dummies into the AltaVista Search box, that attempt shows up as a match. However, if you repeat ping-pong for dummies in the site and the user (who was obviously paying attention in high school English) types Ping-Pong for Dummies, no match occurs. Go figure.

Excite

Like AltaVista, Excite is really the sum of (a) a robot that searches the Web for new pages, (b) an indexing program, and (c) a resulting database of all the Web pages that Excite has encountered. Unlike AltaVista, and in fact unlike any other search tool on the Web, Excite uses concept searching; this basically means that it includes a thesaurus against which it compares any and all search strings. A search for Ping-Pong may turn up . . . hmmm, what's a synonym for Ping-Pong?

To submit your site to Excite, use the form found at http://www.excite.com/add_url.html. You should find your site in the database within about three weeks.

Spamming gets you nixed

Registering your Web site with many search engines is a very good idea. Registering your site many times with the same search engine is a very bad idea -- this is the search-engine version of spamming. Other forms of search-engine spamming include repeating a keyword several times in a META tag or in a Web page. Our favorite example is when Joe Schmoe gets the clever idea of placing a repeated keyword in white text on a page with a white background so that no one but the search engine can see the keyword. This, folks, is a kind of spamming, too.

When search engines come across these nasty, spammy pages, they impose penalties. Some search engines simply delete spammy pages. Others push those pages to the bottom of a relevancy ranking so that no one is likely to see them. Still others have been known to eliminate an entire domain from the search engine's database if that domain included even one spammy page!

Use the information in this chapter to increase your site's representation within search engines. Don't use it to try to trick or spam search engines -- they're on to that sort of thing.

Excite keeps most of the criteria that it uses in relevancy rankings under its hat. However, we do know this:

  • Keywords that appear in the title of a Web page are given more weight than those in the body of the page.
  • Keywords that are repeated are given more weight than those that appear only once.
  • Keywords that appear in the TITLE tag and are then repeated get even more weight.

Note that Excite penalizes spammers and does not support META tags.

A search engine for your site

Excite also provides search-engine software you can implement on your own site to help users find what they seek within your site's content. To find out more about this, visit http://www.dummies.com and link to Really Useful Extras (in the Resources & Extras category). Look for the bonus chapter,"Search Engines for Visiting Your Site."

HotBot

HotBot, by Wired Ventures, is powered by the Inktomi search engine, which was first developed by a group of computer scientists at the University of California at Berkeley as a research experiment in distributed computing.

HotBot constantly prowls the Web for new pages to add to its database. If you don't feel like waiting for it to get to your site (and with the way the Web keeps on growing, yours could be a long wait), you can submit your URL to HotBot via a form at http://www.hotbot.com/addurl.html.

HotBot uses the following criteria in determining relevancy ranking:

  • When a keyword appears in the document's title, that document appears before documents that do not have the keyword in the title.
  • When a keyword appears within the contents of a META tag, the document appears after documents that have the keyword in the title, but before documents that have the keyword only in the body of the document.
  • The rest of the documents are listed in the order in which the keyword appears in the rest of the document. The more times that the keyword appears in the document, the closer to the top of the list it appears.

HotBot ignores certain very common words such as and, or, and web. HotBot also holds a very big grudge against spamming -- especially spoofing and word stacking.

Infoseek

Infoseek, like Excite, is a combination of a search engine and a directory. The Infoseek search engine catalogs sites in a database, while the directory offers a more subject-oriented listing. The search engine is full-text, like many others.

You can submit your URL to Infoseek by using the form found at http://www.infoseek.com/AddUrl?pg=DCaddurl.html.

Infoseek uses the following criteria to determine ranking in search results:

  • The closer to the top of the page a keyword appears (including the title), the more weight that page is given.
  • The more often a keyword appears, the more weight the document is given.
  • The more unusual the keyword is, the more likely the search engine is to notice it.

For example, searching for loquacious bodacious babes makes any page that includes loquacious and the other two words bounce right to the top; documents that contain loquacious and not babes are more likely to show up than pages about babes who aren't loquacious.

Another interesting thing about Infoseek is its case-sensitive searching. As is true of AltaVista, capping excludes lowercase words. Also, if you enter two initial-capped words in a row (whether they're Bill Gates or Brown Shoes), Infoseek searches for instances of those two words as a name, including both Bill Gates and Gates, Bill. This would work in your favor for Ping-Pong but probably not for brown shoes.

Infoseek also indexes words that are used in image ALT attributes to index the page. When you place an image in your page, the ALT attributes is what people see if they're not autoloading images. This tag also shows up as a tool tip when you drag the cursor over an image in browsers like Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer (versions 3 and later).

Infoseek does support META tags, and it penalizes spammers by removing their pages from the database. You cannot submit your site to Infoseek's directory; only submissions to the search engine are accepted. However, all sites that are submitted to the search engine are potential candidates for inclusion in the directory.

Lycos

Lycos is not a full-text search engine. Instead, it uses the seemingly odd method of building its own abstracts based on the headers, titles, links, and the first few words it finds in what it considers key paragraphs on any given Web page. The abstracts are supposed to describe the page, and the searches occur against the abstracts.

Lycos ranks pages in this order:

  • Keywords in a document title get the most weight.
  • Keywords that are repeated in the first part of the document are considered next.

To make sure that your Web pages appear in Lycos, place those all important keywords in the title section. Lycos recommends then repeating the keywords near the top of the document. On the other hand, Lycos penalizes word stacking -- yet they don't tell you how much is too much. Go figure.

Lycos is unique among search engines in that it can catalog sites that require a password for entry. If yours is such a site, when you submit it to Lycos, be sure to provide a password; you may want to set up a special password for this purpose.

Yahoo!

Okay, strictly speaking, Yahoo! is not a search engine. While all the rest send some kind of crawler out to find new stuff on the Web, Yahoo! sits back and waits for Webmasters to submit their pages to Yahoo! -- and they do, in droves. Yahoo! is the granddaddy of Web indexes and a very prestigious placement. Yahoo! pays absolutely no attention to the title of your page, any special META tags, or the position of words within your page. Inclusion in Yahoo! is up to the discretion (whim, we could say) of real human beings sitting in a room in Silicon Valley.

You can submit your pages to Yahoo! by using the form found at http://add.yahoo.com/fast/add (see Figure 13-2). You have control over a title and a description that's used to describe the site -- you can enter them as you like. You can also select the exact category -- and even secondary categories -- that your site may appear in when you register. Plus, if your site has regional appeal, you can suggest that it be included in any of the Yahoo! regional directories that seem appropriate.

Think about those keywords. A real person reviews every site that's submitted to determine its worthiness, and if the description doesn't seem right, they are known to snap that site right out of their sight.

Should I submit my pages manually?

Dozens of announcement services are available (Yahoo! lists over 100) to submit your site automatically to a number of different search tools, leaving you free to handle other details of the site. Many of these search-engine submission sites, like Submit-It offer a free version of their services and a professional version for which you pay. Whether you want to pay for one of these upscale versions depends a lot on both your time and budget. Before you sign up, keep a couple of things in mind:

  • Don't worry about getting your site listed by every search tool in existence. There are plenty of search tools out there that have such a limited audience that it may not affect you at all.
  • You may want to submit your site manually to some of your favorite search tools, and to several of the big search engines, just to make sure that your site gets in there quickly and the way that you want it to appear.
  • Using more than one submission service doesn't do you much good, because there's little variation in the lists of search engines to which they submit. (The only great differences are in volume and price.)
  • When deciding where to submit your site, you may want to see if the announcement services offer lists of search tools that you can peruse for free.
  • Some search tools suffer such a backlog of submitted URLs that you'll be in queue for a long time (weeks or months!). If your site is submitted with a batch of sites from an announcement service, it may sit on the waiting list even longer.

That said, if you have more money than time to get your Web page announced to the world, you may want to consider some of these tools. Keep in mind that their offerings (and their prices) can change at any time.

  • Submit-It (http://www.submit-it.com) offers a free 20-engine service. Other services include software that you can use to submit your URLs and submission packages ranging from $60 to $400.
  • The PostMaster (http://www.netcreations.com/postmaster/) submits your site to about 400 directories for $75. The free trial version includes about 25 sites. PostMaster offers other services, such as direct mail and advertising, for more money.
  • AAA Web Site Promotions (http://websitepromote.com/) starts at $110 for 50 directories and goes to $345 for 200 directories.
  • Pointers to Pointers (http://www.homecom.com/global/pointers.html) can list your site in 50 search tools for $10.
  • Easy Submit (http://www.the-vault.com/easy-submit/) lists add-your-site links to over 100 search tools. This is still a manual process, but it's a good starting point for doing things by hand.
  • Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com/ComputersandInternet/Internet/World_Wide_Web /Announcement_Services/) lists promotional services, search-engine submission tools, and other announcement services.

Maximizing a Web Page for All of the Popular Search Tools

Obviously, you want to take into consideration all the ins and outs of getting listed and indexed correctly in all of the search engines. At best, you want your page to come up at the top of a relevancy ranking in all of the major search engines each and every time a user searches for the topic of your page. The following is a look at how to modify the HTML for a Web page to accomplish this noble task.

To start, identify a few items that describe your page and jot them down:

  • One or two words that precisely match your topic and that can appear in the page's title
  • A broader set of keywords (perhaps a dozen) that relate to the page's topic
  • A sentence that describes your page clearly and simply

With these items in hand, you're ready to make your Web page search-engine friendly. For best results, make these tweaks before you register the page with search engines. It may be a long time before they come back around to check for any changes, so you want to have all your ducks in a row the first time. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the page in your favorite HTML editor.
  2. Incorporate the two "title" words into the title section.

    These need not be the only words in the title section, but they must be there. (The title should still make sense as a title, by the way.) Imagine that your site is about the following:

    <TITLE>A Classic Camera for Classic Photography</TITLE>

  3. Repeat those two words (camera and photography in our example) in the page's text, somewhere near the top of the page.

    It also doesn't hurt to scatter them throughout the page so that they appear every few sentences.

  4. In the head section of your page, insert a META tag listing the keywords that you've developed for the page.

    For example, use this META tag in the example page about cameras:

    <META NAME="keywords" VALUE="camera, photography, photographer, photograph, print, photo, film, 35mm, view camera, single lens reflex, slr, kodak, leica, nikon, ilford, picture">

    Remember: Use lowercase letters in the keywords META tag, even for titles and proper nouns. Note the use of synonyms here -- and make sure that you throw an occasional synonym into the text of the page itself. Also, avoid word stacking -- don't say camera, camera, camera. You get penalized for it.

  5. Add a description META tag.

    The following is an example:

    <META NAME="description" VALUE="Professional photographer demonstrates classic cameras for use in fine photography.">

    Note that in the description one should not use first person references ("I") but rather third person references ("professional photographer"). This is because using a third person reference, which is ultimately more descriptive, also allows you another chance to fit a keyword (of sorts) into your HTML.

These tidbits can give a Web page extra oomph in search engines and can help users who are interested in the topic of the site go straight to it.

The Northern Webs Search Engine Tutorial is a first-person look at how one Web team learned (through frustration) the hows and whys of getting its page to show up in the major search engines. Read what they have to say at http://www.digital-cafe.com/~webmaster/set01.html.

Another Webmaster, perusing his referrer logs, was amused to find that people found his page when looking for adult videos. Read A Brief Word About Search Engines at http://manor.york.ac.uk/htdocs/search.html.

Excluding Areas of Your Site from Searches

Maybe you don't want every blasted search engine in the universe beating a path to your door and listing your site so that others can drop in. If you run a big corporate Web site, like one of the 6,000-page whoppers, you may find a visit from a search engine conducting a complete search of your site to be too CPU and I/O intensive. It could slow your site to a pitiful crawl for a while. If you feel this price is too high for the privilege of inclusion in the search engines, you can mark pages or your entire site as being off-limits.

You can exclude specific pages from indexing by a robot by placing a META tag within the document head (see "Head Tags, Title Tags, and Meta Tags -- What They Mean to You," earlier in this chapter for instructions on using META tags). The name of the META tag in this case is robots, while the possible instructions are index (or noindex) and follow (or nofollow). Index means that robots record the page's contents for use in a database or search engine. Follow means that the robot follows all of the links on that page to collect more data.

To invite a robot to index and follow this page, the tag would look like this:

<meta name="robots" content="index,follow">

To instruct a robot not to index follow the links on a page, the tag would look like this:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">

You can use any combination of these tags (index,nofollow or noindex,follow), but be sure not to use conflicting instructions (such as noindex,index).

You can also control robots by placing a special file -- called robots.txt -- in your Web server's document root directory ( which is discussed in Chapter 7). To find out, see http:// www.webcrawler.com/mak/projects/norobots.html.

Webcrawler maintains an excellent resource about robots called The Web Robots Page. It includes a FAQ, a guide to the protocol, and an archive of the Web Robots mailing list. The URL is as follows: http://info.webcrawler.com/mak/projects/robots/robots.html

Many of the files are old, but because the standard hasn't changed and isn't enforced, it's still the most helpful page around.

System administrators may be interested in perusing Webcrawler's Robots Mailing List archive or joining the list itself. The URL for the archive is http://info.webcrawler.com/mailing-lists/robots

There you have it. Now read on to find out about promoting your site.

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