Search Engine Optimization

Creating a website can be a great way to showcase your skills in web design, but all of that hard work will go unnoticed if your website is hard to find in search engine results. Through Search Engine Optimization, you can make it much easier for people to see your site.

When you type in a search query into Google, Bing, or any other search engine, the results appear in a ranked order. The ones that show up on the first page are the ones which get the most traffic. There are several reasons for this.

Most websites use common keywords in the text on their site as well as in the coding. This helps their page move up in the rankings because if more people search for a certain term or word, the pages with the term or word will show up higher in the list of results. For example, if you were to search the term “pet groomers” in a search engine, that search engine will list all of the pages with that term. The higher the page is ranked, the more traffic that page gets compared to the other pages.

Keywords help you move up in the ranks, but it takes a lot more than that to become first page material. Another way to move up in the ranks is to have lots of links on other sites that come back to your page. The more links that lead to your page, the higher in the rankings it’ll go. You can link to your site on your social media accounts that already have an audience to help out with that. Another way you could get links is through commenting the link on some blogs and other sites. The problem with commenting links to your site too much is that it can look like spam. Google and other search engines sometimes filter out activity that seems like spam, so those links would not help in the rankings. Be mindful of that.

Another way to move up in the rankings is to update your site regularly. Sites that get new content often are much more likely to gain an audience because that activity alone can make your page more noticeable in search results.

Think of search engines like they’re a newspaper and your website as a story. If you want your website to be front page news, you have to put in the work and effort to get it there.

There are other ways to optimize your website for search engine rankings but these are the main three that I will be using to optimize my website. I found this video very helpful in understanding Search Engine Optimization.

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Domain Hosting & Registration

When you create your own website, one thing you will have to think of is a domain name. Do you want to pay for it or use a free domain? Which host do you want to use? Which registrar? What services do you want? All of these are important questions to ask yourself before you pick out the name you want.

Consider first whether or not the domain name you want is already taken. You can find this out by searching for it on WHOIS.net, GoDaddy.com, NameCheap.com, or NameSilo.com. These sites will let you know if the domain is available and give you prices if you want to purchase that domain.

Domain names are divided into a couple of categories. One of them is Open Top Level Domains (TDLs), which anyone can register for. These are the .com, .org, .net, .info, .biz, and .name domains. The other category is Restricted TLDs, which only certain people are allowed to register for. These include .aero, .asia, .cat, .coop, .int, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .post, .pro, .tel, .travel, .xxx, and .website. Some domains are only offered in the U.S. such as .edu, .gov, and .mil.

After you choose the name you want for your website and know that it is available, you have to choose a registrar and host. Some registrars also offer hosting while others do not. Each registrar offers different additional services as well, so pick the one that best fits what you want to do with your site. This PowerPoint presentation has information on different services that can help you decide on a registrar that works for you.

I don’t think I would want to buy my own domain name right now. I think using free domain name sites like Weebly and WordPress work well for people like me who don’t plan on owning a business one day. I can get by just using those sites to showcase my work without buying a unique domain name. The domains I’m currently using include my name, and that’s really all I need at the moment. I can’t really justify paying $1000 or more per year just because I want my website to be lindseybullard.com instead of lindseybullard.weebly.com or something along those lines.

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you research every possibility first and look into every registrar and hosting site that you think would be good. Each feature matters and could affect the future of your website in a positive or negative way.

We’re still figuring it out…

I’ve been listening to our campus radio station more often, so I’ve been hearing a lot of new music. One song in particular that has been stuck in my head is called Figuring It Out by SWMRS. I think it’s a great song to describe college students. Some of us really are still figuring everything out. It’s a fun song to just sing along to in the car on your way to work or class. Watch the music video for it here. Check out all things SWMRS on their website. Happy listening!

College Radio Day

I’ve been thinking about what I really want to do in the future. Lately I’ve been leaning more towards radio than TV, and I think it’s because I love music so much. Having a job in radio would mean I would be around music a lot more often. I know there’s much more to radio than just music, but I am eager to learn more about it moving forward through the next year or so.

I’ve recently become a part of our campus radio station, The Prowl. I got to help promote them today and I’m going to be helping them out tomorrow as well as the rest of the week in celebration of College Radio Day. Check out The Prowl on the University of South Alabama’s website to learn more information about this awesome organization. The students who run it work hard to be The Voice of Jag Nation, and they do an amazing job. I can only hope I’ll be able to fill their shoes someday.

Online Privacy and Security

It is becoming easier and easier for hackers to access private information online. There are several steps you can take to help make your online accounts and social media more private and secure. This article gives some great tips on how to stay safe on the internet.

 

One thing you can do is make sure to use new passwords for every account you have. Reusing passwords just makes it easier for someone who has hacked one of your other accounts to get into everything else you have online.

passwords

Another option is setting up Two-Factor Authentication. This means you would have to use a code to get into accounts when logging in on a new device. Usually the code is sent to your phone via text message and can only be used once. Each time you use a different device than the one you set as your trusted one, you’ll just repeat that process again. It doesn’t take long to set up and it’s a great way to keep people out of your account.

two-step-auth

A third way to stay private on the web is by using a password manager. Password managers help keep all of your passwords in one place, but they’re only accessible with a master password. You’re the only one who would be able to access it because you’d be the only one with the master password. Some password managers include Dashlane, 1Password, Keeper, and LastPass.

password-manager

It’s also good to think before you post. Once you put something on the internet, it’s basically there forever. Even if you delete things from social media, there’s a possibility that those deleted posts are backed up on that website’s server. This article has some tips on how to keep your digital footprint clean.

security

Check each of your social media accounts for privacy and security options.

In the field of communication, it is especially important to make your profiles and other online sources professional. If an employer Googles you, you don’t want a post of you doing something regrettable to be the first thing that pops up. Your potential employer won’t be impressed and it could cost you some great opportunities in the future.

People in a democratic society expect their privacy to be kept in all aspects of life, including their online lives. When that privacy is breached, it causes a shift in trust and judgement. Some might direct their distrust to the government because they believe the government should be the ones maintaining privacy for its citizens. I think that true democracy works if the people do what is in their power to prevent breaches of security as well. There might be discourse over privacy violations, but the discourse will only get worse if we do not do what is necessary to protect our own privacy online. We’ve been given the right tools, so now we just need to use them.

 

Online Learning and Web Design

There are a variety of ways to learn HTML online. For example, many websites offer free video tutorials and lessons you can take to help you learn. Out of all of the options, I think W3Schools is a great choice for beginners to learn HTML and CSS.

Image result for w3schools logo

The interactive lessons and tutorials explain everything in easy terms, which makes it perfect for beginners with little to no knowledge of HTML. W3Schools also lets you play with HTML on the site to see what effects it will make on a mock webpage. It’s fun and simple to use. This video shows you how to get started with W3Schools, so check it out!

You can take a look at some of the other options for learning HTML here as well.

For some, it might be easier to learn web design online. The web design class I am currently taking (CA 260) is a blended course, meaning it is taught partially in a classroom and partially online.

I personally like blended courses better than fully online courses. I think being able to ask my professor questions and have them help me with solutions in person is easier than having to figure it out on my own. Web design as a subject can be fairly difficult for some people to grasp without someone physically there to show them what they are doing wrong.

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) work for some students, but the majority need additional instruction from a professor in order to learn what they are meant to learn from a course. This article has more information on MOOCs, so read and judge for yourself whether or not MOOCs work.

Poetry of the day

One of my favorite writers is R. M. Drake. His work is both moving and thought provoking. Here’s a piece of his work.

rmdrake

Drake has written seven books. These titles include Spaceship, Science, Beautiful Chaos, Black Butterfly, A Brilliant Madness, Beautiful And Damned, and Broken Flowers. You can find more information about his books and even purchase a set of them here.

Somewhere over the rainbow…

I saw a rainbow on an afternoon a couple of weeks ago. It had been raining a lot that day. I find that some of the most beautiful sunsets and stars happen after a good rain.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high

There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream,

Really do come true.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high

There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream,

Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops,

Way above the chimney tops,

That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly

Birds fly over the rainbow

Why then, oh why can’t I?

Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly

Birds fly over the rainbow

Why then, oh why can’t I?

Listen to Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz here

Content Management Systems

When creating a website, one very important factor is choosing which Content Management System (CMS) to use. A content management system makes adding content and updating your website much easier. There are thousands of content management systems to choose from and each one has a number of different features that appeal to different website creators.

wordpress-development

I recommend using WordPress for any beginner because it is simple and easy to use. It only takes a few steps to install as well. First, make a config.php file with all of the information about the database, username/password, database host, etc. Then installation is just a click away.

It also has over 2,000 themes and over 28,500 plugins to choose from. You can even create your own themes. Plugins allow you to add video, audio, and other social media content directly to your site.

WordPress lets you create posts and pages simply. It looks and feels like you are just writing a document in Microsoft Word. You can even switch from the document style editor to an HTML editor which allows you to add HTML to your content.

wordpress-editor

WordPress as a CMS is much like WordPress as a blogging tool. You can create pages, posts, and content easily in the style of a Word document.

WordPress also sends its users a notification whenever an update to the CMS is available. All you have to do is click “Update Now” and it will update to the latest version. It is certainly the best CMS for people with little to no experience in website design.

Learn more information about Content Management Systems by watching this video and reading this article. Learn more about WordPress as a CMS and its features by reading these pages.