3. Don't just take from Web: give something back. I'm not a starry-eyed idealist who pines for days before Web became commercialized. But I do firmly believe that it's important for any successful site to give something back to cyberspace community. I'm not talking about money here: only effort. This can range from offering a useful service on your site to lending a hand to a newbie who is just starting up his site. If you earn a reputation as someone who's not just a money-grubber who's out to make a quick buck on Web, it'll pay you back in spades for years to come. For one thing, you'll be able to build lasting, trusting, mutually-beneficial relationships with fellow Webmasters (and I regard latter as single most important asset that I've built up in my six years on Web).
4. Don't be a bandwagon jumper. I've constantly been amazed over years at how many Webmasters will embrace latest fad, whether or not it makes sense for their sites. An example is current fad of placing a Flash animation on one's welcome page. While I've seen a number of eye-catching and interesting Flash animations, I have seen very few sites where such content made any sense. Too many Webmasters blindly embrace latest gimmick on Web, simply because they've seen it on many other sites. But fact is, unless your site specifically focuses on Flash, it doesn't make much sense to force your visitors to sit through a Flash intro every time they visit your site. For all high-tech, multimedia potential that cutting-edge Web technology promises for future, vast majority of people on Web still want one thing: information. And they want it as quickly and hassle-free as possible. And fact is, you don't need Java applets or Flash animations or multimedia plug-ins to present information (or, for that matter, to build a successful site).
In summing up, building one's site is an ongoing learning process for any Webmaster. And just as it is important to learn what to do to ensure your success, it's equally vital to learn from your mistakes and to be aware of what NOT to do, if you're going to succeed.
Marc McDonald is a former journalist and editor with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the creator of FreebieDirectory.com as well as several other popular Web sites that have received extensive media exposure from CNN's "Headline News," the BBC, Fox News, ZDTV, CBS Radio, the Washington Post, and many more. Visit the FreebieDirectory at: http://www.freebiedirectory.com and AAAScreenSavers at: http://www.aaascreensavers.com.
All hope is not lost - 404 Errors
Written by Lauri Harpf
Continued from page 1
You're now done with CGI script. Save it as "404helper.cgi", without quotes of course. However, there's still work to be done, so take a deep breath and prepare yourself for next challenge.
Editing your custom 404 page and .htaccess file ===============================================
Just having script will not be enough. In order for it to work, it has to be executed when an error is encountered. This is part where SSI's step into picture. Open up your 404 error page in a text editor and add following line into it:
Because script prints out a few rows of HTML after it has been run, best place for that line is at bottom of your 404 error page, but before
tag. After everything is safely in place, simply save file, but instead of ending it with usual ".htm" or ".html", use ".shtml". Do not forget to do this, as SSI tag might not work if you fail to use proper extension.
Finally, you will have to edit .htaccess file you created when you built your custom 404 page. If you only have " ErrorDocument 404 http://www.yourdomain.com/404page.html " in it, modify file so that it will contain following:
The new lines will enable Server Side Includes and CGI so that your script will work. Do not forget to change ErrorDocument 404 line to point to new .shtml page instead of your old .html version. After you are done, save your .htaccess file.
Upload, set permissions and launch! ===================================
Connect to your host with an FTP program and upload .shtml version of your 404 page and your new .htaccess file into your root directory. Then go to directory you've reserved for CGI programs and send 404helper.cgi file there. Make sure that you upload in ASCII, not in Binary mode! I nearly drove myself crazy by accidentally using Binary mode and then trying to figure out why script refused to work.
Everything is now uploaded and all that remains is to set permissions so that CGI program can be executed. You'll need to CHMOD 755 both CGI file and directory where it is in. The steps you need to take in order to accomplish this depend on what software you are using, but here are instructions on how to do so with WS_FTP, a popular Windows FTP program which can be downloaded from Tucows.com.
First, navigate to directory where you've uploaded CGI program. Left-click it once to highlight file, then right- click it. Select "chmod (Unix)" from menu that appears. Give Read, Write and Execute permissions to Owner and Read and Execute permissions to Group and Other. Then go into root directory and repeat same process with folder of directory where you placed CGI program.
That's it. The work is finally done and you can now enjoy luxury of receiving an E-mail report on all 404 errors, allowing you to quickly stomp out any broken links and improve quality of your site. Congratulations!
Lauri Harpf runs the A Promotion Guide website, where he offers free information about search engines, directories and other promotion methods. His site can be found at http://www.apromotionguide.com/