Diary of a Webmaster
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January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008



Setting up a website for SEO - Search Engine Optimisation, Google Analytics

Designing a WebSite

December 2008

It's christmas December 2007, and after 5 days of holiday I'm starting to get itchy fingers. Need to code something. My girlfreinds been struggling with a puzzle (a griddler or nonogram) in the newspaper for a few days, and last night the newspaper was thrown accross the room in frustration, so I thought hey, I should write some code to solve that. Out comes Visual Studio , rapid application development is brought into action, and hey presto we have a reasonable puzzle solver, which completes my girlfriends puzzle, brings peace to the household and some nights sleep for me. - restless sleep, because the puzzle solver isn't 100% perfect, but it's ok for now.
I am thinking I should make this puzzle solver available on the web, so that other people can make use of it. I'll need to set up a website, so I buy a domain name griddler.co.uk - it's fairly cheap.

Getting Feedback

January 1st 2008

I upload the griddler solver. show it to a few friends. Normally the first question is - "what is a griddler?", so I write another page describing the puzzle format and how to complete them. The second question normally is "can you show me some example puzzles", so I set about writing another program to create nonogram puzzles.

High Quality Content

January 5th 2008

I now have a passable nonogram generator. It takes a black and white bitmap, shrinks it to a suitable size like 25x30 pixels, and then tries to create the nonogram. It works particularly well on things like an image from a wingdings or webdings font. I upload some of these free nonograms to the website.

SEO Techniques

January 7th 2008

I've been reading countless blogs and websites about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - the world seems obessesed with it. I'll try to bear these in mind while developing the site. The main pointers seem to be
  • Rich content
  • Well formed meta tags for Keywords and Description
  • Use alt text for image descriptions
  • Page titles should be descriptive but not too long
  • Anchor tags need descriptive link text
  • Make the site easy to navigate
  • Add a sitemap file to the website root to enable search engine spiders to index pages
  • Add a robots.txt file to the website root if there are pages you don't want to be indexed
  • Forge links and relationships with other respected websites of similar genres
  • Don't have multiple copies of pages or multiple copies of the same site at different urls
  • Don't buy links to your site, or exchange links with un-reputable websites

Harvesting Content

January 8th 2008

If i'm providing free samples on the site, and their is also a nonogram solver on the site, then I may as well harvest any puzzle definitions (and solutions) that people try to solve. So I set up some harvesting and we'll see how much it gets used. Hopefully the site will eventually become self-propogating. I'm not sure where I would stand with copyright... if I harvest and redisplay a puzzle which was originally in some book or newspaper, so I keep a track of any solved puzzles, and we can remove them if requested.

Amazon Associates

January 11th 2008

I think this site could be useful, so I've taken a look at Amazon Associates program and Google Adsense. I'm thinking that over the course of 2 years maybe they will help cover the cost of the web-hosting and domain registration. Both affiliate programs look quite useful although Google Adsense give no indication of what referal rates you may get paid - and as a member you are prevented from disclosing this after sign-up, so no one seems to disclose it on-line. The Amazon programme will pay approx 5% on any items ordered within 1 day after a direct click-through from your web-site. So I decide to spread my bets and register for both. (The Amazon Associates one takes a long while to get set up - it takes 1 month or so for the Amazon team to review your website.)

Google Analytics

January 12th 2008

I'm going to need some way of tracking visitors and site usage, so I sign up for Google Analytics. The site seems pretty much ready to go-live, (although no clearance from Amazon or Adsense yet) but it seems like a good time to submit the site to Google search.

Google Indexing

Janurary 15th 2008

The site gets it's first referals from google search - 5 today! I'm surprised how quickly Google indexes and crawls the site.

Visitor Preferences

January 25th 2008

The free nonogram samples page is hit more frequently than the nonogram solver. Maybe I should have more free puzzles? So i write a sudoku generator and add a daily free sudoku puzzle. I start to wonder if my initial choice of domain name was just too restrictive. In future I should choose a broader more generic category for a domain name... I also add the site to a few other directories - Yahoo search, Yahoo directory, Windows live search and the dmoz directory - (it seems that the google directory is based on the dmoz directory).

Getting Back-Links

January 29th 2008

Several search engine optimisation website suggest that good-quality links back to your site are one way to improve your search enginge rankings. So I ask a number of high profile puzzle sites if they would like to link exchange, and also speak to some sites who list 'free stuff'. I have some moderate success with this, including www.free-stuff.me.uk and www.puzzles.ca  
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