CATEGORY: How-Tos

Tips For Building/Redesigning Your Website

Building and redesigning your website can be a daunting task, but it is one of the most important parts of your internet marketing strategy. Here are a few tips we thought we’d share:

Use Effective Page Titles

You want your page titles to stand out from all the others when someone performs a Google search. You also want your titles to provide useful information. A good practice is to use the format “Keywords | Business Name” for your page titles. Often times sites will just put a bunch of keywords in their page titles, which only helps it blend in with the thousand other sites using similar keywords. Keep it to a couple solid keywords with a vertical bar and then your business name to help set you apart.

Flash Isn’t as Flashy as You Think

Websites built in flash may look cool, but all this really does is make your site invisible to search engines. Nifty animations here and there are just fine, but don’t overdo it.

Search Engines Like Clean Code

There are a lot of “website builders” out there, but you have to be careful about which ones you use. Some can add a lot of unnecessary code and this is not good when it comes to SEO. WordPress is a great, free platform to build your site on and it generates much cleaner code for your site. However, you want to choose your WordPress theme wisely, some themes have cleaner code than others.

Create Stellar Content

Art touched on this in his SEO basics post, but we can’t reiterate enough how essential good content is for your website. Your content should be relevant, compelling, and there should be A LOT of it. Also make sure you spell-check and have other people read it before you publish. You can have all the content you want, but if it doesn’t make sense chances are people aren’t going to read it.

Don’t Overuse Images

Sure, people like pretty pictures and graphics, but too many images can slow down your site and wear on your user’s patience. Search engines also cannot read images; when you do use them remember to add “alt text” to your image HTML so that the search engines can pick it up.

Think About Site Navigation

It’s important to consider how site navigation affects the user experience on your website. If a user goes to a specific page, can they get back to where they were before (without hitting the “back” button ;)? Using what are called “breadcrumbs” is always a great idea. They are really helpful when it comes to SEO and especially for users navigating through your site.

Keeping these tips in mind the next time you build or redesign a website should help both you and your site visitors. Cheers!

Tip: Using nslookup to Verify the Status of Your DNS Zones

nslookup is a utility used to query Internet Domain Name Servers ( DNS Servers ). nslookup can be found on most operating systems and is fairly simple to use. This guide is designed to serve as a quick demonstration showing the most basic features of nslookup. There are many different ways to use nslookup; most of which are beyond the scope of this document. You are most welcome to read through the help menu by typing help 🙂

Lets begin by opening a command prompt or terminal and type nslookup. This will now show you nslookup followed by >. From here you will use the command ( set q= ). This tells nslookup what record type you are querying for. By default it will look at the record name and return the type and IP address associated with it. Commonly this returns the A record or CNAME record. If your looking for other records, you will place them after the = sign. For this example we are looking up the mx record for name.com ( set q=mx ).

This shows you how the mx records are currently set at the nameservers you are using. For another example lets look at txt records ( set q=txt )

If you see a result with NXDOMAIN, this means the record does not exist at the nameserver you are querying against. Most likely this either hasn’t propagated out or your non-Authoritative Nameserver does not know it exists. The best thing you can do here is check the Authoritative Nameserver and wait out the TTL if it exists there.

Lets break this down a little further. Notice the two sections?

The Non-authoritative answer represents what your current nameservers believe the record to be. The Authoritative Nameservers are responsible for managing the zones for the domain you are querying. These are the nameservers assigned at the registrar to manage DNS for the domain. In other words; if you want the absolute answer, go to these Nameservers. By default nslookup will go directly to the Nameservers your computer is configured to use.

Now that we know the Authoritative Nameservers, lets run a query and see what results we get. This can be done by using the command ( server _nameserver_).

Because this retrieves the information directly from the Authoritative Server responsible for the domain, the information represented by this request shows what other Nameservers will respond with when data is requested. Why is this important? If your not able to visit a website after making DNS changes, your Nameservers may be showing out of date information. By querying for the data from your currently set Nameservers and then from the Authoritative Nameservers, you can determine if your local Nameservers are seeing the new data.

What if the data is different?

While this question is too deep to discuss entirely here, there is one very common reason a Nameserver will hold onto old data. If the TTL has not expired, the non-authoritative Nameserver will respond with the cached result and not look up the new data until it expires. When your record is set with a TTL of 300, this means the record is good for 300 seconds from the last query. After 300 seconds of the last query, the record is marked as out of date by the non-Authoritative Nameserver and then re-verified from the Authoritative Nameserver at the time of the latest query. If you have a TTL set to 86400, the record will stay in place for 24 hours. This means updates to the domain could take up to 24 hours to fully propagate out. One thing to note here. This is per the previous TTL settings, not the new TTL settings. If you set the new TTL to 300 from 86400, the current TTL setting of 86400 will stay in place until 24 hours after the cached records timestamp. Unfortunately, sometimes the record will not update after the TTL expires and you will need to flush the DNS cache to force your computer to see an update. Use caution here and consult with your ISP or Network Administrators if you are unsure of the ramifications from this action.

If you have any questions regarding the propagation of your records, a good place to start at is with the management group for the Authoritative Nameservers. Once you verify the data is set properly at the Authoritative level, you should then go to the support group that manages the non-Authoritative Nameservers and inquire as to why the records are not showing up. As always, if you’re not sure which support to start with, it never hurts to start with your registrar ’97 they can always point you in the right direction.

Tip: Verify DNS & Route to Hostname

I came across this handy little tip last week when helping a customer who was experiencing propagation issues. By “came across” I mean our awesome system administrator, Robert, was kind enough to share it with me.

I’m sure some of us have experienced this:

You update your nameservers to point your new domain to your host, but then something’s fishy. Your site is not resolving. Or, it’s resolving for others, but not for you. What it comes down to, is your site is not working right. You’re frustrated and you don’t know whether it’s a problem with your registrar, your host, or your internet service provider (ISP).

If you find yourself in this situation, following these steps will provide enough information to help reveal any possible routing and propagation issues:

Windows

Start -> Run -> Cmd

Then, one at a time, enter these commands and hit Return:

  • nslookup yourdomain.com > c:\netcheck.txt
  • nslookup yourdomain.com 4.2.2.2 >> c:\netcheck.txt
  • pathping yourdomain.com -q 50 -w 500 -4 >> c:\netcheck.txt

This then creates a netcheck.txt file in your C: drive.

Mac

Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal

Then, one at a time, enter these commands and hit Return:

  • cd ~/Desktop/
  • dig yourdomain.com +trace > netcheck.txt
  • dig yourdomain.com @4.2.2.2 >> netcheck.txt
  • traceroute yourdomain.com >> netcheck.txt

This then creates a netcheck.txt file on your Desktop.

Now when you contact the support department of your registrar, host, or ISP you will have an incredibly useful bit of information to send them with the netcheck.txt file. If you’re not sure which support to start with, it never hurts to start with your registrar — they can always point you in the right direction.

Either way, providing the netcheck.txt file will show where the routing is breaking for your hostname and will help support determine what and where the problem is a lot quicker. And quick turnarounds make everyone involved a happy camper. 🙂

Podcast Episode #1: Support at Name.com

Length: 19:28

We’ve decided to take a stab at podcasting and we’re starting things off with an episode that gives an overview of what support is like here at Name.com. We had fun making it and it was a good learning experience. Mostly we learned that we need to keep it a little shorter, as 19 minutes even tests our own attention spans.

We hope you enjoy, and keep an eye out for more podcasts from us! They’ll be shorter, we promise. 😉

Domain Nabber Now Supports .MOBI!

We’re excited to announce that .MOBI is now one of the extensions we support with our Domain Nabber backorder service! This is just part of our continued efforts to help you get the domain names that you want.

There are a couple of different ways you can take advantage of this new feature.

If you want to pick and choose your .MOBI domains from a list of expired names that have dropped, you can check out our Domain Nabber page where you can fill out the criteria that you want.

But if you have something specific in mind, you can just do a regular search for that name and place your backorder directly from our search page.

As you can see, backorders for .MOBI run $39.95 and, as always, if you don’t get the name or you decide to cancel your order, you will receive a full refund.

Backorders Explained

*As of October 2016, backorders can only be placed on domains that have a set drop date. 

 

We recently announced some updates and improvements to our search page, and one of those was the addition of backorders to the search results. We thought it might be helpful to clarify how this works, in case you’re not familiar with our backorder service.

Choosing a Good Domain Name

You’ve decided you want to start a website, either for your business or a personal site. Now what do you do? If you guessed that finding a good domain name was at the top of the list, you’d be correct. This process can be somewhat daunting, so we’ve come up with a list of guidelines to help you pick a good domain.

Generic vs. Branding

Generic domain names are usually dictionary words with a broad range of applications, e.g., Books.com, Coffee.com, Golf.com, and so on. Generic domain names are great because they can lead to direct navigation traffic. This means that people in search of these specific things can bypass search engines entirely. These generic names are often very expensive.

But if you’re an everyday Joe looking to build your personal or company brand, choosing a domain name that matches your brand is the way to go. This not only increases your branding, but it will make it easier for your visitors to remember your name. Your brand is also what sets you apart from everybody else, so having a unique domain name that matches your brand will do the same for your website.

Just think if youtube.com went with something like streamingvideo.com. Not very memorable is it?

Hyphens Begone

In researching what others have said on this topic, I came across my new favorite domain name:

http://www.the-name-i-wanted-was-already-taken-so-i-used-a-lot-of-dashes.com/

Sure, it’s a little snarky, but it gets the point across. You want to avoid using a hyphen in your domain name if you can. It might be slightly better for SEO, but it doesn’t look very good and it can make your domain name harder to remember. It’s also harder for someone to verbally recommend your website if there are one or more hyphens in the domain name.

Keep It Short and Simple

Get creative! Try using two really good keywords; three or four if you must. Once you start using five or more keywords things can get a little ugly. Again, you want your visitors to remember your domain name, so you want it to be as easy as possible to type.

However, keeping it short doesn’t mean you should resort to acronyms, especially if those letters spell anything funky.

You also want to be conscious of using keywords that share the same first and last letter, like hattricks.com or doggroomers.com. Sometimes you may not have a choice, but be aware that those double letters can be confusing.

Embrace Alternate Extensions

Despite what some domain purists may tell you, alternate extensions are your friend. In a world where most of the good .COM domains are already registered there are plenty of other options available to you.

  • Have your own video production company? Try using companyname.tv.
  • For a personal blog or resume site you might try using .ME or .IM to add a personal touch.
  • Non-profit? You might go with a .ORG domain.
  • If your business is only based in a specific country, why not use that country’s ccTLD (.US, .MX, .CA) to represent your business?

When it comes to alternate extensions you want to try and avoid using what are called domain “hacks”. This is when you use the domain extension to complete a word in your domain name. Sure they look pretty clever, but they don’t do much for you in the “easy to remember” category. Some examples of hacks would be: aweso.me, ilovefrenchfri.es, ridiculo.us, etc. There’s a reason delicious.com switched from del.icio.us, nobody could remember where the heck the dots went!

Be Careful With Trademarks

To quote Elmer Fudd “Be vewy, vewy careful.” Trademarks are no laughing matter and if you register a trademarked name, you can bet that the lawyers will be after you.

Check Your Spelling

It’s always a good idea to double, or even triple check your domain spelling before hitting that purchase button. Sometimes you think you’re getting a steal, but upon a second glance you realize you just registered pronnight.com instead of promnight.com. Doh!

The moral of the story is to get creative with your domain name. You want something that is unique, simple, and memorable. But remember, be careful not to step on any trademarked toes and always check your spelling!

Awesome WordPress Resources to Make Your Website..Awesome!

WordPress is a thing of beauty. An open-source blogging platform that gives you complete freedom to quickly and easily create, update, and manage your website. The only downside to having that much freedom is that it can get a tad overwhelming. Below is a list of WordPress resources we’ve stumbled across in our internet travels, and we hope you find them as useful as we have.

WordPress Codex

WordPress has done a great job of putting together this extensive knowledge base that covers just about everything you can imagine in relation to WordPress.

WPBeginner

Great beginner’s guide to WordPress.

Lorelle on WordPress

Fantastic resource from one of the volunteers that helps out with WordPress support.

The Ultimate Guide To WordPress Hacks And Customizations

Great blog post featuring links to various sources that show you how to customize your site.

Theme Lab

A nice collection of free and custom themes as well as a nice general resource for WordPress.

Free Theme Layouts

A new personal favorite of mine.

WooThemes

Awesome premium themes for people with a little bit more of a budget.

Plugin Directory

If you want to add something to your site, chances are there’s already a plugin for it. Trada also has a good blog post on a few plugins to help get you started.

WordPress Hacks

A site for the slightly more seasoned WordPress user.

We Love WP

A gallery of slick looking WordPress-powered site and a nice source of inspiration.

Page.ly

If you’re self-hosting your WordPress site, Page.ly is an awesome service that takes away all of the hassle.

WordPress Publisher Blog

Helping you get the most out of WordPress.
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The list can really go on and on, but these links should be enough to help get you started. If there’s anything you’d like to add, let us know in the comments!

Check Out Our GeoDomain Tool!

Name.com GeoDomain Tool from Name.com on Vimeo.

Here’s a brief walk through of one of our nifty search tools you probably didn’t know we had. The Name.com GeoDomain tool is a great domain name suggestion tool if you’re looking to target a specific region with your website or business. Check out our video and then bring on the feedback! We’d love to hear what you think of the tool and how we might improve it.