Creating a website, the FAQ

Essential questions about the creation and the design of a new website and the problems faced by a webmaster supplemented by a FAQ on how to design a website.

Solutions on redirection pages or site can be found in the article on redirects.

Should I use CMS?
CMS stands for "Content Management System", and it is a software or a set of scripts to dynamically create the site from a predefined format and from text files that are stored into a database.
A CMS delivers the webmaster of most management task, and allows to concentrate on the content. CMS also provide tools as tag cloud, RSS generator and various other tools. There are general CMS and other specialized blogs, wikis, faqs, and so on.... If you know nothing about HTML and you want make a serious site (there is also blogging platforms), using a CMS is necessary, provided that it is either Wordpress or Joomla. With others such as Drupal, you will have to look at the code ...
To decide between using a CMS or a static site, see Creating a website in 10 steps.
To choose a CMS, see What is a CMS and which one to choose.
Is the choice of the domain name extension important?
The extension, or TLD (Top Level Domain) may be related to a language. A site with the country extension matching the language of the site arrives in a better position for a search in this language.
For the generic extensions as com, net, org, the advantage is not obvious.
How do I know if another site steals my pages?
You can find out it from a search engine, by typing in a phrase written in a page of your site, and putting it in quotation marks.
Or even more simply, go to Copyscape and enter the URL of your site or page.
How can I get my own 404 error page for pages not found?
When the server does not find the page requested by the browser, it returns an error code 404.
We must ensure that the user is not confronted with a such error message. To do this, a special page is created that will be displayed instead of the missing page. It remains to redirect the visitor to this page ...
Note that Wordpress and other CMS have error redirection already taken into account by the system.
Create or fill a .htaccess file with the following content:
RewriteEngine on 
ErrorDocument 404 /error.html 
This file should be at the root of the site, often into the subdirectory "www". You can download the archive with a ready to use 404 file.

The domain name must not be included in the URL because it impedes search engines. In effect this replaces the 404 code by a 200 code that is for a successful load. Google will refuse your sitemap if a full URL with domain name is used to redirect errors.

Another idea is to build An intelligent 404 page The 404 page has a list of links related to the missing page that is requested by the user. This is easily done with keywords tools in Wordpress.
How to have statistics of visits?
If your host do not provides good statistics, you have a choice of solutions for integrating a statistics tool for free. Analytics in particular. The system requires to put JavaScript code in the pages. No traffic restrictions.
PhpMyVisites is a software that you install on the host, which requires PHP and MySQL. It appears to be limited in traffic, around 1500 visitors a day.
Can I have a one-letter domain name?
ICANN banned domain names in one letter. There were, however, some exceptions: I.NET, Q.COM, Q.NET, X.COM, and Z.COM.
G.COM is the latest registered, by Google.
Can we have a brand name in a domain name?
No because people could think that your site is related to the company that owns the brand, which it would not want to. It could ask you to return them the domain name. A brand name can not even be included in a longer name, if it leads to confusion.
Should I park in a domain in waiting to put the site online?
By parking I means displaying a blank page or a list of ads. In both cases it should be avoided. The page will be seen as undesirable or unnecessary by search engines and it will take a long time before it will be scanned again.
It is best to announce the site with a description of what you want to do.
What does Google in case of duplicate content?
Google answers on his blog. There are two possible cases, a page is duplicated on the same site, in this case we must simply tell Google which page to index, just put the URL in the sitemap or use the canonical tag. The other will be ignored.
The other case is when a site gets your content for display on its site or through proxies. Google takes care to find out which site is the original and which is a copy (théorically). In all cases your site will not be penalized by a duplicated page.
Note that when a site is accessible by two domain names, Google can not know which is the original! In this case you'll necessarily be penalized.
How to know the traffic of a website?
Alexa is the most known service and it is not considered the most reliable. This service advantages sites in English. Alexa does not show traffic in numbers but in position on the Web instead. Thus we see that is the most visited site. The higher is the traffic, the higher values are close to reality. As the former Trends for Websites, it can overlay graphics for several sites to compare them. And as the former Ad Planner it indicates the average number of pages viewed and the time spent on the site by a visitor.
How to create a website without HTML knowledge?
We can without dealing with the code to create a site using a template to download or simply through a web host offering a free design tool or site generator.
Creating a website without HTML or CSS knowledge.
Can I redirect my domain name on a free host?
"I acquired a domain name from a registrar. What I would like is that the domain points on my free host and is the domain name that appears in the URL field of browser. "
This is a very common question. Unfortunately this is impossible and we will explain why. Of course, the registrars can redirect a domain name through a redirect 301 or 302, or through frames. In the first case it is the target URL that appears in the bar (thus the address on free host), which is indexed by search engines, in the second case the domain name is displayed, but search engines do not follow the link.
Invisible redirection is possible only when the host takes into account the DNS management.
Can I point several domain names on the same site?
This is not a good idea, for search engines.
Your other domain names must point on different pages, and it may contain a link or 301 redirect which redirects the user to the content hosted. In both cases, search engines are aware of the redirection and this avoids they regard the two domains as attempting to trust results of searches thanks to a double indexing.
Since the canonical attribute is taken into account by search engines, providing the URL of each page is defined by the attribute, you can use several domains for a site.
Can I put a page on two different sites?
The "duplicate content", is prohibited by search engines.
You can avoid sandbox applied to duplicated pages, see the SEO FAQ to the question "how exclude a page of indexing".
How to execute PHP 5
By placing the following command in .haccess under Apache:
SetEnv PHP_VER 5
On other UNIX servers that can be:
AddType x-mapp-php5 .php
Consult the instructions of your provider to make sure that the environment variable used is the same.
How to change the extension file that the server must parse for embedded PHP code?
If we put PHP code in a page with the .html extension, how to make the server processing the PHP code? By placing a command as in the next .htaccess:
AddType application/x-httpd-php .htm .html
.htm and .html are examples. The command will do that files with these extensions are handled by the server as the files with the .php extension.
How to protect a directory by a password?
By modifying the file .htaccess. This can be done most simply by using a tool that will automatically generate the file.
How to block aspirators ?
You can insert the following code in your.htaccess file.
How to prevent a spam site to link my site?
In the .htaccess file, add the following lines:
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer ".*(domain | anotherdomain | etc. ).*" spammer=yes      
Order allow, deny 
allow from all 
deny from env=spammer
The names of the sites, domains with extensions, are placed in a list in parentheses and separated by the vertical bar.
This code combines a code to a range of domains, and the following lines give permission to all sites except the sites designated by the code of sending visitors. For the latter access is denied.
Why loading of my pages is so slow?
That may depend on various factors: an ill-conceived script, a database whose requests are slow in coming, or any other cause. You can have a diagnosis of your site with this online testing site tool.
How to know the site of an IP address?
The IP address is a number that identifies your computer in the case of a static address, or your Internet connection in the case of a dynamic address assigned by a service provider.
It's also a number that identifies an Internet site, but the domain name is associated with that number by the DNS manager (typically the host or the registrar), which allows access to the site.
Typing "my ip" on a search engine, a site will display your IP address on the homepage.
The Ripe site provides access to the database that links the domain names to IP addresses. Simply type the IP for the domain name and know its owner.
Is it better to use a relative or absolute URL to internal links?
The URL of an internal link may take three forms:
Some editors like Dreamweaver promote local roads, but this form of URL is not recommended.
The absolute path must be preferred. It refers to your site when the page is displayed on a news aggregator.
The relative path works only if the server is configured to set "/" as the root of the site (rather than the root account on the server). It is useful only to change the domain, an unlikely action.
Local paths must be avoided. Local URL are not taken into account by Analytics for statistical distribution of clicks.
Should there be a / terminal in URLs?
We can write a URL as: or
In general, if it is a directory the server redirects the first on the second. But the first can be a file, it is often the case with Wordpress.
This is not a problem for Google, when there are two different links it indexes the file and the directory. When the server redirects the URL without a trailing slash on a directory, there is no duplicate content but for the crawlers of search engines is a complication to avoid.
Therefore in the case of a directory always add the slash. More infos on To slash or not to slash by Google Webmaster Central.
Can I hide the source code of a Web page?
You can hide the source code with a frameset. In this case, when the visitor asks to see the source, it just view the frameset. But some browsers allow to see the source of the frames.
A simple trick is to put a lot of blank lines at the top of page to suggest that there is nothing to see! You can disable the right click, but this is easy to circumvent (ctrl+u). More annoying to the reader, remove line breaks so that the source does become a single line. This will discourage the lazy, but not the obstinate that will use a formatting tool.
The most effective solution would be to build the page in a JavaScript file and deny access to the directory containing the file to any user other that the site itself. But if JavaScript is disabled, the result will not be terrible. Besides, that cancels most of the techniques to hide the source.
Whichever method is used (apart from the tip of the blank lines), what is hidden from the visitors is from search engines too. The content will not be indexed.


Do I need to separate words with a dash or an underscore?
It has been announced recently by Google that an underscore is recognized as a separator in filenames or anchors.
Until now underscore character "_" did not separate words for search engines, so my_site is seen as one word, while my-site contains two words for engines. Using a dash as separator is still recommended.
For a bilingual site, do I have to create different domains, subdomains or subdirectories?
For a bilingual website, do we create different domains or subdomains or subdirectories for each language? These three solutions are suitable for different situations.

Subdomains: In this case, the less relevant is the use of subdomains. Indeed, they are seen by search engines such as different sites, then division of the PageRank. Better a site bigger than two small sites.
In fact we should use subdomains only for multiple users, each with access to own Webspace.

Country domains: Using different domains has the same drawbacks but with the advantage of the extension in relation to the language and URL clearer to the public.
The extension on language like .fr for example, gives an advantage for positioning on local search.

Subdirectories: However, having a larger site may outweigh the benefits of geolocation.
If traffic on the site is not large enough to justify multiple domain names, sub-directories are preferable.
Using a script to adapt the language to the user is in my experience, effective with the precautions listed in the article.
Do I have to add meta-tags?
Google makes use at least of the meta "robots" and sometimes it uses the meta "description". Keywords are rarely used now and not by Google.
Note that you can automatically generate metas with the freeware utility Spider SEO.
Is it a drawback, pages of big size?
Yes for a variety of reasons (search engines, load time, etc.). The recommended size would range 1000 to 20000 characters, and it is often the standard for professionals. Robots give more importance to the first part of the pages and this is a reason to shorten them.
Visitors prefer short pages when they surf for fun, but developed pages to document on a issue, in this case they are more prone to get backlinks.
How can I have a picture in front of my site in the URL bar of browsers?
This image is named a favicon. It also appears in the bookmark panel.
It's a kind of icon from Windows, named favicon.ico, with a size of 16x16 pixels or 32x32 pixels, which must be placed in the root directory.
What size should have web pages?
The size of web pages on average increases from year to year. According to the study published by the site Websiteoptimization, in 2008 the average size of pages was 312 ko.
But there are also tools for knowing the time of loading a page, including Google's Webmaster Tools. And that is what matters most.