Monday, March 10, 2008

Building a website: The beginning

When I applied for the job of Webmaster Trends Analyst, it was still a relatively new position and Vanessa and Jonathan and I threw around a lot of ideas about what we wanted it to become, or what we could do with it. One of these ideas was to build and SEO a website from scratch, and to document the whole process as a sort of step-by-step how-to manual based on real-world experience. While I believe that the approach we take in our Help Center—giving somewhat general advice that each webmaster can interpret to fit their particular situation—is the best way for us to help the most people at once, I also know that sometimes a concrete example is really nice to see.

So, after getting psyched up by several of the sessions I saw at SMX West a couple weeks ago, I've decided to undertake a similar venture on my own.

I'll be building a website for the roller derby practice group that I skate with. I'll be documenting the steps I go through while setting up and running the site; the software and services I use; the problems I encounter; and my priorities in dealing with it all. Hopefully my experience will be particularly useful to small business owners or mom-and-pop webmasters who don't have 40 hours a week to spend on their website; I'll be doing this in my free time, which seems increasingly common among small business owners these days (many are too busy running their business to spend all day running their website).

A few disclaimers:

  • As noted in the sidebar, any opinions on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Google. While I intend to do things "by the book" (following best practices recommended by the major search engines), it would still behoove you to read each engine's documentation if you want to know their official position on things.
  • I'm not making any guarantees about how often I'll update. I may flake out. I may get busy. The best laid plans of mice and men...
  • As I said above, I'm documenting my own personal experience. What works for me may not work for you. You may choose a different web host or a different CMS; your project will probably have different requirements. I'll try to document my reasons for choosing X over Y, and you're welcome to share your own observations or reasons for choosing differently; ultimately it's up to each webmaster to make the right decisions for their own site.
  • I'm not a super expert with some of this stuff. I may get some of it wrong, or miss something along the way. You're welcome to correct me, share tips, point me in the right direction, or point out things that I still need to work on. I'm hoping it'll be a learning experience.

So let me know what you think! I'd love to know if you find this experiment helpful. You can find my website-in-progress at, and all of my posts on this topic under the tag webmastering.

Next: Registering a domain name


JLH said...

I think this is an excellent idea and I'm glad you'll be sharing your experience. I'll keep an eye on my feeds for updates, and Good Luck.

google said...

Hello Susan, I am seeking guidance and was wondering if you could guide me or answer a question. I am looking for information that would show a list of all Meta names that google's bot processes. If you don't have time I understand between google and Roller Derby :P


Susan said...

This blog post should answer most of your questions. You may also want to take a look at this one for information on what other engines support.