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A hard lesson in being a DIY website builder

Posted by elisabethneary on September 6, 2012 at 8:35 PM

OK, I'll admit it.  I consider myself to be a pretty capable, self-sufficient, resourceful person.  Friends applaud when I do things like build a website (this one) in under two days flat, or paint a respectable impressionist oil painting for display over the fireplace mantel, or manage two often-grumpy teenage boys without being in a perpetual cranky mood. I have a good education and have over two decades of varied job experiences doing lots of different, interesting, complex jobs.  I can usually figure stuff out. 


About 2 weeks ago, I launched this Cultivation business (after consulting for years for various clients) and decided it would be cool to have a website to display my work.  For client projects, I work with uber-talented designers, but for my site I figured I could build it myself. (I'd built another site in the past, and for simple sites, it's fun and easy.)  


It was all fun and games until it came time to ensure my site could be "Googled."


Despite my best efforts (see below), I am absolutely stymied on how to register my website with search engines.  The 1-2-3 instructions are made to sound so simple.  Having worked with and around websites for 15 years, I'm generally not cowed by technical speak.  And yet, despite intense, crunching concentration on the instructions for more than an hour, it made absolutely no sense.  I kept thinking, "wait, maybe this isn't actually written in English."  Here's a transcript excerpt from the online chat session I had in my desperate attempt to get help. (My favorite parts are bolded):

lisaneary: OK, I think I did it correctly. That bingsiteauth.xml is in my file list.  

lisaneary: I just clicked on the verify link and here's what I got. This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown here. 077340594EF8D1008F2AE46B89E081FD.  Now what?

Angee: I would go back to Bing and ask them for more help uploading it should work.

lisaneary: What would be my DNS provider?

Angee: I'm not clear what you're asking where do you see that at?

lisaneary: it's a question that Bing asks me as part of the registration process.

Angee: Ok those are ns1.webs.com and ns2.webs.com

lisaneary: This is exactly what it says: Add CNAME (alias) record with name 5a872a226fc143f0fefe4c4afc683e03 and value verify.bing.com.So your DNS provider will resolve host 5a872a226fc143f0fefe4c4afc683e03.cultivationco.com to verify.bing.com. THIS IS HORRIBLY CONFUSING!

After doing everything I could and ultimately admitting defeat, I scheduled a lunch today with the most knowledgeable web guru I know, and asked her if she was privvy to the super-secret procedure for getting my website registered so search engines like Bing and Google will find it. Her response? "Oh, it used to be so easy, but these days it's horribly complicated. They're constantly changing their algorithms to prevent people from gaming the spiders."  


So, my question is:  With all the fabulous do-it-yourself website builder and hosting sites out there (like the one I used to build this site), how do they expect the average (albeit determined and tenacious) person to actually have their site show up on any searches?  My logical conclusion: Until the registration process is as understandable as the tools to build the sites, the Internet isn't actually as democratic as it used to be, and little guys (like me) are doomed to live in online obscurity.


 

 

 

 


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