How has your website aims changed as your site evolved? This is about my site and changes that I have made over the past years. Lessons I have learned and things I have found have worked.
About 2 years ago I got interested in the internet and world wide web and decided I wanted to build a website. At that stage I had no idea what I wanted it to be about or even how to build it. That's where the learning curve began. I started searching the web for subjects of interest using the only search engine I had found AltaVista Then the idea hit me. Build a search engine. At that stage I had no idea what was involved and started off on my merry way building a directory of websites using free web space from a free hosting company. My pages where build using nothing but html. At that stage I thought that was how all the directories worked. My mini yahoo! Started to take shape. it was at this stage that I made my first break-thru. I found a free remotely hosted site search provider and got them to offer a search of my directory wasn't I clever. My site stayed that was for the best part of 6 months before I saw the light. I realized my site was a joke. What was I playing at the whole thing was removed from the server never to return, I had found a new friend, Perl and CGI I now realized that I could run a web directory using a web based admin panel and I could also offer the search from my own hosting companies server. Now I was a real search engine with my own domain name (look out AltaVista). So I started work on the website, got it looking just the way I wanted and then "tried" to install the script I wanted to run the directory. Path to Perl? Absolute URL? I give up! Thankfully through chance I found someone who installed the script on my server in exchange for a simple link from my site. Now I had a directory and a site, I really was a search engine. Only one small problem. No searches!. But I had the perfect solution, add my sites Url to every link farm and FFA page I could find! As you can probably imagine it didn't quite work out the way they had promised it would. Then I came across an online forum specifically for webmasters and search engine optimisers called webmasterworld. This site is commonly acknowledged to be the leading source of information for the web development industry. I lurked and learned and then became a member. "Mack", and am still learning. From there I started to take serious notice of peoples opinions and advice and it began to take affect. Search engines began to spider my pages and I started to get a trickle of traffic to my site. My aim at this point was to get my site listed in as many topic specific directories as possible, as I started to try and track down that illusive page rank that everyone was talking about. From being a spammer and total newbie I now had a page rank of 5 about 9 months after becoming a member. Now I was beginning to feel as if I was getting somewhere. I also had to take a serious look at my site and decide on the best way forward. It had always been a general web directory, there was no way I could be competitive in that market, I had to try and be more specific so I changed my aim slightly by becoming a family friendly web directory. This in a way created a niche and to this day I am still concentrating on maintaining this aim. As for my site it was getting about 800 page views a day and was getting about 30 site suggestions a day so it was fun to work on. I then decided to but the .com version of the domain name and create some new content in an attempt to woe some more traffic. So I now have three domains each with their own web space associated with this site all with their own content and run independently. One domain (.co.uk) is aimed at the UK and Ireland user and has links to online services that are location specific. The .com name is aimed largely to the US user and contains content that is more targeted towards the US. The third domain is simply the site that hosts the directory. The latest Major change was the introduction of a search engine to supplement the directory. Again this was done on the usual budget (almost zero) and I feel ads real value to my site. It has taken a lot of hard work, reading up and generally experimenting but now I do belie I am stating to get somewhere, My aims are still the same and I know it can be done, I need to concentrate on giving the user what they want and not expect they to make do what I give them. I also try and make my site interactive by allowing the user to vote on search results. That gives me an impression of how well, or not I am doing. I recently hit my next goal PR6 for 2 of my homepages. I estimate that I will need PR7 to be a player in my chosen field but like a lot of things in the web-dev field, patience is the best tool available. What I do is play it like a game. I know my site will never be a leading player but I am able to do my best to ensure that the traffic I do get, gets what it comes for. Not having a lot of traffic is not an excuse for disappointing the traffic you do get. In a way I like my users to feel that they are on a more important site that they actually are. Using the words “we will get back to you,” sounds more business like that “I will get back to you”. Developing a site is a great challenge and I love doing it. With any luck the rewards will follow.