Monthly Archives: December 2003

An easy way to build a content-based website

One of the biggest stumbling blocks that people come across when starting to work online is how to actually design/build their website.  This is especially the case if you are planning a large content-based site with many, many pages.  Creating each page can be a highly time-consuming process and if you want to make even a minor change to your page template, you could end up having to amend hundreds of individual pages.

There are different options out there that will make your task easier and in the past couple of weeks, I have been using some software scripts known as Content Management Systems.  These scripts are installed on your web server (which is probably the hardest part of using them) and allow you to build and design your website via your Internet browser.  The basic layout is set though you can choose different ‘themes’ to give your site a unique look.

Where these scripts really come into their own however, is the ease in which you can add new content.  Let’s say you have written an article and you want to add it to your site.  You simply copy and paste the article into the appropriate form in your browser-based admin panel and the script automatically adds your article to your website and places the appropriate link from your ‘Articles’ section (or home page or wherever) to the new content.  Simple.

As well as articles, the scripts will handle download links, links to other websites, forums, polls etc.  You can even use them to create a membership site complete with members login capability (which funnily enough is what I am doing – more about that soon…watch this space).

Of course, such a product would save any webmaster hours of time and effort, so you would expect to pay a reasonable sum for the software, right?

Wrong! There are numerous content management systems that are completely FREE OF CHARGE.  The scripts are often released under a GNU/GPL license, which basically means you can use and adapt them at no cost whatsoever!

And don’t think that because the software is free that it is of poor quality or full of bugs.  Quite the opposite – these scripts are used by thousands and thousands of sites and are very, very well tested.

As I say, there are many free content management systems scripts available and I have listed a few of the more popular ones below.  Don’t be put off by the fact that you have to install the script on your website – this is not as hard as it sounds and it is a good learning experience.

PHP-Nuke: http://www.phpnuke.org
e107:
http://e107.org
PostNuke:
http://www.postnuke.com

Google

Anyone involved in Internet Marketing will understand the importance of the Google search engine.  It is, by far, the most popular search engine in the world and can be a great source of free traffic.  Webmasters spend weeks optimizing their websites so that they rank highly in the Google index.

BUT, the old saying, ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ holds very true when it comes to your traffic and in the last week, many website owners have been reminded of this following a change in the way in which Google ranks sites.

Thousands of sites (my own included), that have enjoyed top Google rankings for months or even years, have suddenly disappeared from the search engine for certain keywords.  It seems that Google has chosen specific keywords to target and whilst the aim of the exercise is unclear, it could well be that the days of Google being a free traffic provider are coming to an end as they try and drive more commercial websites to using their paid service – Google Adwords.

Many people are whinging and griping over the change and I can understand this.  If your business receives 95% of visitors from Google and suddenly your site is not showing up in their results, you do have a problem.  However, I take a slightly different view.  Google has been providing me with free visitors for several years now and if they want to change the way in which they run their website, then that is up to them.  They don’t owe me anything and anyway, how many offline businesses get completely free advertising to a worldwide audience?  Having a first place ranking on Google is kind of like running a television advert on the most popular channel, all day, completely free of charge!  In the offline world, it just wouldn’t happen.  Therefore, I am of the opinion that if you are getting free traffic (from anywhere, not just Google), then be grateful for it and don’t take it for granted – it might not be there forever, so enjoy it while it lasts.