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What does a Webmaster do?


  • Webmaster Page 1
  • Webmaster Page 2
  • Webmaster Page 3
  • Webmaster and SEO {Search Engine Optimization}

Here is a break down, of some of the tasks that are done by a Webmaster to build or maintain a website:

  • Building a Web site from scratch, starting with a site map and templates.
  • Coding the site, updating existing content and adding new content.
  • Improving the site, with new content and features.
  • Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
  • Enhanced navigation, HTML links, Javascript and the use of CSS Style Sheets to enhance Links.
  • Creation of artwork, logos, animation, streaming video and Sound.
  • HTML, CSS, SSI, SSL, PHP, Ajax, Perl, JavaScript, Java, and MySQL data bases.
  • Basic Site Navigation ( checking that all links are up to date and working correctly, this site has around 1700 links. )
  • Installing Flash, Java and Javascript coding and have it MS compliant, "click to activate", coding to remove that user action.
  • Installation of pre-existing Perl scripts.( Your Server needs a cgi-bin for these, the scripts are usually written in Perl. )
  • Installation of pre-existing PHP scripts.
  • Backing up the site to CD-ROM and Harddrive.
  • Coding pages to be compatible with all or most Browsers.
  • Create Special Error docs.
  • robot.txt, htaccess, password protecting folders.
  • Upload content to server, create folders and files, chmod folders and files to the correct permissions.
  • A security note here: you should never, ever, chmod anything 777 rwxrwxrwx, r=Read w=Write x=Execute. Folders should be 755 rwx-xr-xr, images and files should be 644 rw-r-r, most software on the web is written with PHP right now and all PHP files can be chmoded to 644. If you want to get hacked chmod something 777 and you will get hacked, that gives everyone read/write and execute permissions when I say everyone I mean the Owner, the Group and the Public. If you run your own server and set it up right you can use 777, I am talking about a shared server, a Hosting Account.
  • Making sure you spell check every page. lol visitors will let you know if you did not, they keep you on your toes, which is great, I like that feedback.
  • Responding to visitors comments and concerns.
  • A .com .net .something registered in your name.
  • A Server to Host Website.

Some more complex Webmasters Tasks:

  • Specially-crafted icons. (such as logos, 3D objects, or characters)
  • Mouse-over interactive buttons and similar features.
  • Standard GIF animations.
  • Flash animation and have it MS compliant, "click to activate", coding to remove that user action.
  • Java scripting and have it MS compliant, "click to activate", coding to remove that user action.

Tasks which are time consuming and some need Special Security Features:

  • Dealing with Hackers, Spambots and Spammers.
  • Setting up and Message Board. ( These are being targeted by Spammers and Spambots with a vengeance )
  • Setting up and Securing a Guest book, these are targeted by Spammers and Spambots with a vengeance.
  • Chat Rooms, you need a Server with a lot of Bandwidth for this and is very CPU intensive, should be on a special server.
  • Setting up and Securing a contact or feedback form, again, any input form is being targeted by Spammers and Spambots.
  • Setting up and Securing a Blog with comments turned on. targeted by Spammers and Spambots.
  • Protecting email addresses. from Spammers and Spambots.
  • Making sure all Scripts are up to date with Security Patches.
  • Checking Error and Access Logs.
  • Protecting files from Hackers.
  • Setup email accounts

Tools that I use to build and maintain the Website:

  • Dreamweaver CS5 and Notepad++.
  • Adobe PhotoShop CS5.
  • Adobe Flash CS4.
  • My FTP client is CuteFTP Pro 8.
  • ScriptForest Menu Maker, for my Java Menu, compatible with all Browsers, edit 4 files and upload them to the server, all pages are updated.
  • To make my Flash Banners, I use Swish MiniMax 2.
  • Remote Hosting Service or Server, I use Branzone support is second to none and they have anti virus and a spam filter setup at the server level which really cuts down on spam and viruses getting into my email box.

As you can see from page 1, the Webmaster has a lot of Responsibilities and Tasks to do, to keep a website, interesting, functioning and secure and you thought it was easy. It takes a lot of hours, days, weeks oh heck years to develop a good website. Not saying mine is good, bad or excellent, lol, just illustrating what is involved in owning a website. I have over 800 pages that the public accesses and more 17,200 total files and 10,200 on my Arcade site, it does get to be a daunting task keeping them updated with fresh content. Plus some content is out of date, so you remove them and put in new content to replace it. I now run 3 websites Mikescomputerinfo.com, MikesComputerInfoArcade.com and NakedMetalRestorations.com my son inlaws site. I do these as a hobby to learn more about coding and for fun to keep my mind active. It is fun creating something with code and see it come to life on my computer screen. I also like problem solving and enjoy trying to figure out why something is giving errors, could just be just one missing bracket or quotation mark.
Why do I have Websites, you ask. Well, I used to watch Leo LaPort on TechTV, he had a show called Call for Help and The ScreenSavers. He kind of inspired me to give it a shot, WOW, some of my first pages, hmm, hey I was learning. Actually I did some studying online and bought many books on the subject. I also took a Total Webmaster course at the local Community College and passed with a 4. grade average : ), slaps self on back lol, I have also been doing this for the last 10 years, learning something new each and every day. I also at the same time started messing around with Computers, tearing them apart and rebuilding them. I even built 5 of my own computers from scratch. I use to do paintings, sculptures, woodworking, wrenched on cars and made gold and silver jewelry, I needed something for my creative side and feed my desire to learn new stuff, hence Computers and a Website and my Beautiful and Loving wife calls herself a Computer Widow, I like doing this, more then I like TV. I love learning new things and keeping my mind activate and alert, these do that and are relatively inexpensive, (yes Honey I know the Computers were pricey, but hey, we get a lot of entertainment from them and it was cheaper to build, then buy=savings lol). Plus, you can not really wrench on new cars anymore, woodworking tools "gone", stop the art stuff years ago. The mechanical side gets to build Computers and to open the Hood or Case and tweak it to go faster. My Creative side gets to write code and see it pop up on the screen as I look and say WoW that looks nice, there are many rewards to having a Website, especially when your visitors send you nice comments and when you are able to help a visitor fix a problem with their computer, plus, hey, you are on the Internet and the Whole World can visit your Website. pretty darn cool!
Back to the subject matter and as to why I even created these pages. Well a couple reasons for doing it. First to give regular Website Visitors an inside look, at what it takes to Publish a Website for them to use and enjoy. Secondly to give visitors a little insight into this Webmaster and to give you a better understanding of the ABCs of a Website. Would you like to have your own Website? Did I make it sound to hard and complex? It is and it isn't, if you just want a personal site, you can always register at a place like MySpace.com or Facebook, pretty easy to put up pictures, post comments and interact with friends, relatives and other people. That is a simple straight forward approach, if you have a burning desire of having a site devoted to a special interest or hobby of yours, then having your own Website is the ticket. The hardest part to starting your own site is the very first page, the index.html page, you site there and go, well what do I put on this page, hours later you are still wondering what to put on the page, lol. Then after you finally get something on the index page or home page, you realize you will have page 2,3,4 ------, and they all have to be linked together. That is the hard part of starting a website, content. You can download the Tools and a lot of them are Free, to Host a small site, you may pay around $5.00 a month, to register a .com about $10.00 to $20.00 a year. You can also get a lot of free graphics and remotely hosted things, such as Guest books, Blog's, etc, on the web, they just require you to link to their site and respect the copyright information. If on the other hand, you would like to create a Commercial Website to sell your products, then it gets a little more involved, actually a lot more involved, depending on the scope of the Website and the number and types of products you would like to sell. One good alternative for this, is a Yahoo Store or an Ebay Store, you pay a set amount each month and they provide the Traffic and all the tools needed to setup and run a Store on the Web. On to page 3 were I will discuss Webmastering some more, excited : ).

Alright, we have discussed all or most aspects of Building, Maintaining and Owning a Website. The next phase for a Webmaster is how do I make money and get clients to hire me to be the Webmaster for their Website. This is the phase I am at, how would I do this for a living, where would I find the clients, how complex of a Website would I want to Webmaster. In order to be payed to do this unfortunately you need a Diploma or Cert's to prove you know what you are doing. So for now this will remain as a hobby for me.
So what are my qualifications, well I wish I could say I went to Harvard or MIT, I did put in 2 years at La Crosse State University, passed a course in Welding at Western Wisconsin Technical College, completed the Total Webmaster course at the Community College here in town and an A+ Certification in Computer Introduction at the Mastery Level at DPEC. Plus I have read many books on HTML, PHP and Flash Action Scripting 3, written Java scripts, actually, look around my sites, it has all been done by me, except for applications like the Forum, Arcade, Guestbook, some of those I just redesigned them to fit my sites and is the best representation of my abilities and practices. Remember that this site is designed for new computer users and is enhanced for people on dailup connections, by that I mean, graphics are compressed, pages are designed to be a small in size so they load faster with a dailup connection, even my flash banners are small in size and the header and footer sections are the same on every page, that way once their Browser caches it, it does not need to load it again on the next page or any other page on the site, only the content below the Header of the page. I have also removed most of the tables on the site pages, which also helps with loading times for browsers. I am converted this site to CSS.
Next you maybe wondering what is my setup for doing this kind of work and what Operating Systems are you familiar with. Right now I'm using a Computer that has two 19" LCD monitors, has a Athlon XP 2700 cpu, Geforce FX 5600 Graphics card, 3 gig of ram, with Windows XP Home and a DVD/RW Drive. My other computer has XP Pro installed on it, with an Athlon 64 3500 CPU, Radeon X1650pro 256MB PCI Express x16 graphics card, 3 gigs DDR 400 Memory, DVD/RW Drive. I'm on a cable connection and have a USB HP Deskjet F300 ALL-in-One printer setup for use by all these computers. On other Hard Drives I have Ubuntu Linux, Windows 98. For checking pages in Browsers I use Firefox, IE, and Apples Safari.
Here is a list of Websites I have Designed and Developed:
  • MikesComputerInfo.com Hand coded.
  • MikesComputerInfoArcade.com Arcade CMS that I have redesigned.
  • NakedMetalRestorations.com I really like this one, it is a CMS, Content Management System, very complex but yet a simple system. Many large Websites use these, you have an Administration Panel that controls every aspect of the site. If you make a change it is changed site wide, it has tons of options.

What is SEO which is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It has do with your websites ranking on the Search Engines like Google and Yahoo. They have spiders that constantly crawl the web indexing pages on websites and ranking them by the number of people that go to those pages and website. The higher ranking your website has the higher up on the search pages it will be, which translates into more visitors to that page and to your website. Ideally you want to be the first link on the first page of a search result page, but being one of the first ten search results on the first page is really good and just being on the first 2 search result pages is good. Most people will look at the links on the first 2 pages of a search. How do we get a high ranking with search engines? First you need to submit your site to the Search Engines so they know where to send their spiders, be sure you are ready before you start submitting your site to all the Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, etc.
Here is a list of what helps get a good ranking.
  • Title and Keywords
  • Navigation and links
  • Content
  • Linking from other sites
Title and Keywords: At the top of your web page code are meta tags one of them is called the title, you want to give information about the content of the page, try using words that are in the first paragraph of the content on the page. For instance if the page is about a product you are selling, like jewelry/necklaces, perhaps write the title as follows, Information about my collection of hand made necklaces. If I am talking about computer hardware I try to incorporate words from the first paragraph such as How to install a Netgear Network card. These titles are sometimes included in the info that is displayed under the search results page link. But it could also be part of the first paragraph of the content of your page, if you include info from the title and the content people will get a better idea of what information is on your page.
Keywords: Keywords is another meta tag in the Header or the top of the web page, why are these important. When the spiders search your page it will look at your Title, then the Keywords, Keywords are the words used by web surfers to try and find out information about something. If they want info on a network card they may put in "install netgear network card" so if your page is about how to install a network card you would want to have keywords such as, network card,how to,netgear,linksys,instructions,install,directions, any words that a searcher may use. Again as with the title use words that are also in the content of the page. Do not put in words that do not relate to the page and the content on the page or you will get penalized. All of these have to be related and correspond to the content of that particular page and the content on that page. All of these work together in how you are ranked.
Navigation and linking: When a spider comes to your site it follows the links that are on your page, make sure you have hard coded links for the spider to follow. I have a Java Menu with all the main links included, but spiders can not follow Java links so I also have a link bar with HTML hard coded links for the spider to follow, what is the point of having the java menu then, good question, lol, I have that because of Spam Bots, they are also spiders but do not follow any rules and look for ways to spam your users and the website, like a contact form, but they can not follow java links either so I have links to my Contact Form and other imput pages in the java menu to help protect it from being spammed. You should also have a Sitemap, a page with all the pages of your site listed, except the Contact Form and any other imput pages, this is a very useful tool for the spiders, it can index your site from one page. It is also useful for your visitors to be able to see what content is on your site.
Content: This is the most important part of any page and any website, if you do not have interesting content the people who visit a page or your site will not stay long if there is nothing of interest for them to interact with. It is also the hardest thing about having a website, trying to keep fresh and updated content on your site to keep visitor coming back and to get them to put a link on their pages or to email that link to their friends. It also has a lot to do with how you are ranked by search engines. Like I have been saying the first paragraph says it all about the page, kind of wrap it all up in the first paragraph and then go into specifics with the rest of the content, peoples attention span is short so make that first paragraph interesting and include Title Words and Keywords to bring it all together, also a lot of the time some of the content from the first paragraph is included in the link description of the search result page. If you are using Affiliate links like Googles Adsense it also will dish up ads to that page using the information in the Title, Keywords and the first paragraph so be specific and interesting. The next thing is to have good content for the rest of the page, do not write over 5 paragraphs and if you need more paragraphs, divide the content it into different pages under interesting captions, now I am not perfect at this because my sites are just a hobby for me, if you have a business site stay the course it makes a difference. In the content try to write it so that it includes links to other pages on your site, make sure it is related to the subject you are writing about. Everything on a webpage should be related to the content of that page, that will help to attract visitors and your ranking.
Links from or to other sites: Link sharing use to be a good way to get your site higher up on the search pages, but it has been abused by people and Spammers so you need to be careful with linking. The best way for linking to work is to have your visitors place a link to your site/page from their website, Myspace, Facebook, forum, twitter etc. You do not need to be linked back to them, actually it is better that you are not linked back to their page. You can also join those type of places and put up links to content on your site, make absolutely sure that when you do link back to your site it has some reason for being there, such as you go to a Forum and someone ask about installing a network card, put the link to your How to install a Network card page, that is relevant and will help rank you higher. If you are talking about a product or website in some content on a page, name the product or website but try not linking to it, unless you are quoting from some content or if you are associated with that website. Do not have pages of links to other sites all over your website, the search engines will penalize you. I have 3 Link pages for specific reasons, one is a page with links to free downloads with a description for each link, I also have a Web link page to sites that may help my visitors again with descriptions, and I have a Reference Library page with links and descriptions of Help Sites. You can put rel="nofollow" in the link to let the spider know that it is not suppose to follow and index that link, that way it is only for your user and does not go against you. A lot of the Forums and such let you put a Signature on each post you make, that signature can be a link to your website, that way every time you post that signature is presented to the spiders and you should not be penalized.
Here is a very good article on Wikipedia about SEO
There is a lot of SEO information on the web some of it if used could and will get your web site banned from the Search Engines Indexes so do your research before apply different techniques. Some are using hidden links on pages, redirecting a user to one page and a spider to another different page, pages with tons of different links on it, using excessive or irrelevant keywords just to mention a few.


 


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