When setting up a new web site, there is obviously a lot of initial work, like choosing your domain name and setting up your main page, and then there are the little things that we either do not know about or which we totally forgot about. This short list highlights some of those things.
Your new domain, should have at least two email accounts setup. One is postmaster@yourdomain. All email servers are required to have a default postmaster address, so this should be the first email account you setup. The other account will usually be some sort of default contact address, like webmaster@yourdomain. This will be the address any comments or inquiries from your site will be sent to.
In cPanel, you setup email accounts from the Mail manager control panel.
Note that you do not have to publish the default contact address anywhere on your site, in fact it is recommended that you setup a Contact Page which site visitors can enter comments into a form that automatically emails the webmaster account. The reason to use a form instead of a normal mailto link, is so that this email account does not get bombarded by spam emails.
Secure Your Site
Depending on your website, you might want to maintain a certain level of privacy on your site.
The first thing to do would be to turn off Indexing for certain directories that you do not want to be listed. The default behavior of Apache is to load an index page of some sort, but if none exist, Apache will list the content of the directory. For example if you have a directory named myfiles and it does not have an index page, then if someone goes to yourdomain/myfiles/, it will list every file under this directory.
To turn off indexing, go to cPanel: Index Manager and turn off indexing for each directory you want to change. You must do this individually for each directory.
But even if you turn off indexing, search engines like Google and Yahoo can still index your site, including these directories, so you will want to setup a proper robots.txt file at the root of your public_html folder.
A simple robots.txt file like this tells all spiders to crawl your site, but to stay out of the specified directories:
User-agent: * Disallow: /cgi-bin/ Disallow: /myfiles/Filed under: Webmastering
SearchEngineWorld has a tutorial on the robots.txt file, if you are interested in customizing your settings further.
It only makes sense that once you secure your site, that you now want to make it searchable and popular with Google, Yahoo, and others, right? Although you could seriously spend your life time researching the ins and outs of the Google PageRank, let’s just cover the basics of getting your site listed.
It is best to have a well organized site, meaning you need to make sure your site can be easily navigated. If you have good page navigation or if your weblog application does that for you, you will want to make sure that all urls for your site are searchenginefriendly, for blogs and contentmanagement programs, this means enabling some kind of permalinks structure, which turns complicated numerical urls into nice word friendly urls like /all-about-skateboarding, instead of /217621382/2812/.
Then there are Meta-tags which may or may not matter for higher pageranks, but are important nonetheless if you want to describe your content in any meaningful way. To learn more about meta-tags, read this excellent tutorial.
Any decent size site needs some sort of site map page to show search engine spiders where to go, and to help vistors learn more about your site. There is no rule as to what a site map page should look like, but Apple.com’s Site Map is a good example of how to organize one.
The 404 Error Page!
A customized 404 Error page is essential if you want to redirect visitors and keep them from leaving your site. See my 404 Error Page Tutorial on how to set one up in cPanel.
Perhaps nothing makes your site more unique then the favicon. For people who bookmark your site, the favicon is that little icon that shows up in My Favorites in IE or under your Bookmarks in Firefox. Not all web sites have one, and even the implementation for it is different depending on the browser, since the favicon is not an officially recognized standard.
I tend to use the following code for it:
<link rel="icon" href="http://domain_name/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
Doing a search on Google for Favicon Tutorial should give you plenty of tutorials for doing your own. Essentially a favicon is 16×16 pixel graphics file which you can create in most graphics programs. This tutorial shows you how to do one in Photoshop.
There are many steps to starting a web site, but the most often overlooked one is the first one, namely what domain name to register for your new site. Undoubtedly, almost any single word domain name is taken by now, and two word domains are also hard to come by, so this leaves you with a three word domain. For example when I started WebKeyDesign, I had to choose an inventive three word domain name like WebKeyDesign.com, because KeyDesign and WebDesign.com were already taken, and even a less business like name, like BlueMidnite.com or .net were taken. There are of course the letter and number combination domain names like 123DesignSomethingName.com or perhaps 931DesignSomethingName.com, but these domain names are not as valued due to their complexity.
So what exactly is a good domain name?