Hosting

Now that you've created your site, you're ready to display it to the world. This requires a computer hooked to the Internet. There are a number of different ways to do it.

You might be able to get space for a small fee or for free from your Internet Service Provider. If you do, your web address might look something like:

http://www.your-isp-name.com/yourname/

Or you might choose to pay to get your own domain name and hosting service, in which case your web address might look like:

http://www.yourname.com/

If your school or library has a direct link to the Internet, the system administrator can help you put your files in the right place on the web server, so they will be accessible on the Internet. The system administrator will also tell you what the web address (URL) of your site will be, probably something like:

http://www.yourschool.edu or
http://www.yourschool.k12.xx.us

Free web hosting is also available from a number of advertising-driven sites (see http://webhosts.thelist.com/). One way or the other, you need to get your files on a computer (server) accessible to the Internet and you need to know your web address. Then you can tell the world who and where you are.

Push

When you write a book, the publisher prints thousands of copies of the book and distributes it to bookstores all over the country in hopes that someone will buy it. This is also true of newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, and movies - the sender blasts hundreds or thousands or millions of copies out there and hopes that somebody pays attention. The communication is complete (sender - signal - receiver) when the receiver gets the message by buying the book or watching the program. The Push method of communication is based on chance. (Junk mail is an extreme example of push; if you get a 2% response you're doing good.)

Pull

The Web works on a different principal called Pull; it is based upon demand. Your content just sits on your computer until the receiver initiates the communication by visiting the web site and pulling the signal (the web pages) from your site. So the sender is passive and the receiver is active; the communication takes place when the visitor is ready to receive. (Too bad junk mail doesn't work like that!)

The trick, of course, is getting the visitor to come to your site in the first place. And that's the purpose of search engines.

Web Addresses
Web addresses are key to communication on the Internet, the telephone company for computers. Web addresses are like telephone numbers. What good would a telephone do you if you didn't have a telephone number? The key part of the Web address is the domain name ­ in my case, wigglebits.com. Every Internet Service Provider has a copy of the Domain Name Server, the telephone book of all the Web addresses on the Internet. A company called Network Solutions, Inc. maintains the master list of all the top level domains (e.g., com, edu) on a small computer called Root Server A. Based on that information, all the Internet Service Providers on the planet can pull an updated copy of all the current domain names any time they want. Through the domain name system, a new telephone book for the Internet is created every single day.

Search Engines

Yahoo, Google, Alta Vista, Excite, Infoseek, Webcrawler, Hotbot, and Lycos are some of the search engines and catalogs on the Web today.

Search engines do two things:

  • They send little automated programs called spiders to every address they can find on the Web. The spiders send back information to the search engine that includes the web address, the title of the page, any descriptive information, and (I am not making this up) all the words that make up the page and how often they occur.
  • They put all that information together, use fancy programs to try and figure out the meaning of the web page based upon the words it contains (not an easy task!), and create a database on the Web that we can search.

Search engines are easy to use. For example, if I want a list of the web sites with information on the Chicago fire, I go to a search engine, type in the words "Chicago fire" and click Search. I get back something like this at the top of the list:

Chicago Fire Official Site

Great! So I click on it. Oops - it's the soccer team called the Chicago Fire!

That is both the glory and the hazard of search engines. The world of information is at my fingertips as long as the search engines know what I mean!

So let's try making the meaning a little clearer by typing in the words "Chicago history great fire." When I click Search, I get this at the top of the list:

The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory: Welcome

Much better. And the web address is http://www.chicagohs.org/fire/. I think this one is a good bet.

Using Search Engines To Get Found

Search engines are the way our sites get found on the Web and if we aren't found then no communication takes place since no one visits our site. So we want to get found!

This means we have to do two things:

  • Register with the major search engines
  • Feed the spider - construct our site so it shows up correctly in search engines.

Registering

It's easy to register with a search engine. Just go to it and look for a link that says something like:

How to Suggest a Site
Add a Page
Add a URL

Click on that link and follow the directions. They ask you to give them information such as the web address and a description of the site. Just fill out the form and submit it; after a while they'll send a spider to your site to collect the information they need for their search engine.

Feeding the Spider

It's up to you to construct your pages so they show up in a meaningful way in search engines so let's look at what the spider looks at when it comes.

Remember this gunk?

<HEAD>
</HEAD>

Much of what the spider looks at is in between these two bits of HTML gunk so we want to write some more gunk to help us get found.

There are two tags (bits of gunk) we need to worry about: the title tag and the meta tag.

Title Tag

A title tag looks like this:

<TITLE>Building a School Web Site - Getting Found</TITLE>

The title should be descriptive and contain words that show the meaning of your site; the more specific, the better.

Also, you should create a good title because that's what shows up in a bookmark list when a visitor bookmarks your site.

Meta Tag

The other thing the spider looks at is the meta tags, one containing a description and one containing a list of keywords.

They might look something like this:

<META NAME="DESCRIPTION" CONTENT="Building a School Web Site is a tutorial for people to want to create their own web sites.">

<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="www, web site, development, internet, tutorial, step by step, html, student, teacher">

The description often pops up as the first line under your title in the search results.

The keywords are used to figure out the meaning of the site; they help distinguish soccer sites from history sites! If you were searching for your site, what words would you enter in a search engine? Those are the words you want as the keywords in your meta tag.

Finally, the spider looks at the words on each page, especially those words at the beginning of a page.

Meta Search Engines

There are any number of individual search engines on the Web today, all indexing many of the sites on the Web. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to put them all together? That's what a meta search engine does.

Metacrawler is one such engine (http://www.metacrawler.com). You give it a search request, it searches 5 or 6 or 7 other engines for you, collects their responses, and gives them all back to you in one big list. It's handy because it saves you from doing all those searches yourself.

And there are tools like Sherlock on the Mac that do a similar thing. If you put a search request into Sherlock, it will go to all the search engines it knows about, make the request, get the response and put them all in a list for you. And if you tell it to, it can also go look at other Web resources such as online encyclopedias.

It only takes a short time to put in good titles and meta tags and to register your site with some search engines. So go ahead and do it so you can get found!

Intro | Comm | Pub | Five Easy | Web Ed | Found | Squeezing | Standards | Animate | Epilogue

 

All contents copyright (C) 1999-2007 Wanda Wigglebits. All rights reserved.