Maybe an Old Dog can Learn New Tricks

domain names, dropdown menus, google algorithm, lets encrypt, links, secure sites -

Maybe an Old Dog can Learn New Tricks

I’m sure everyone has heard the adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While I might be considered an old dog by today’s tech savvy youth, I still look around for neat tricks to apply to my website. The world wide web was in its infancy when I bought my first domain just after the start of the millennium. Back then you could get any name you wanted. Those words with five letters or less weren’t reserved for big businesses. I could have pretty much any name I wanted.

Over the years I have bought at least a dozen domains and let many of them expire. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made though is letting the unique ones go. I bought two domains named after two of my books; and, but I left them expire. now costs almost $2,000, all because I didn’t renew it for $10 a year. I’m not sure how much costs, since the site that now owns it is only accepting offers. So my advice is don’t let domains expire (especially if they are unique and/or short), even if you don’t want it anymore, since it might be worth a fortune someday.

My main site has been renewed every year for over 20 years. I have never put too much money into it, instead using link exchanges and link pages to get traffic. The more links to your site, the better chance it would be indexed. It’s been hard keeping up with Google and their constant algorithm changes. There was once a time my ranking was pretty good. I researched how to use key words for better search results. The phrase I used was “free romance novel”. I learned that it was important to add that to the title of my site as well as putting those in the key words and description in my site’s header code. I also made sure to put the phrase in the body of the site, and it paid off. I haven’t gotten rich off my writing, but I do get a lot of traffic.

There was a time my site was on fire. Forums were all the rage, and I found, which offered their software for free. So I added a forum, which had a lot of members. I had paid access with quite a few members paying to read my stories and novels. Forums are not as popular as they once were, but I’m hoping they make a comeback. Although my original forum was shut down years ago, I’m trying again with a new one. I’m proud of how the new one looks, and in some ways it’s better than my old one.

If I had to select one thing as the most important for a website, I would choose making sure that all pages have an easy way for the visitor to navigate from one to the other. One thing I know I dislike is getting to a page and not seeing any way to go back, other than the back arrow. All sites need an easy to use menu. I found one many years ago and still use it. It’s a simple javascript file that gets called from the header of every page on my site, which seamlessly puts it at the top of every page. I’ve used it for so long that I can’t even remember where I originally found it. But doing a quick Google search resulted in finding a site that gives the best 10 free dropdown javascript menus, so be sure to give that a look.

The last thing I’ll touch on is having a secure site (https instead of http). This was something I never put much thought into. Having a secure site was for banks or online stores. I never had anything on my site that needed security, so I never cared if I had a secure site. Well, apparently, Google penalizes sites that aren’t secure, so your site is less likely to appear in searches if it’s not https. For those, like me, who don’t want to pay to make their site secure, just about all hosts offer a free solution called Let’s Encrypt. My host didn’t advertise it, probably because they wanted me to pay the extra $20 a year to buy it through them, but there should be a section where you can add your own SSL. When you click that, you should be given an option to either upload your own certificate or request a certificate through Let’s Encrypt (go to for more info). The thing to keep in mind when going secure is that your site will look messed up until you change everything on it from http to https. My forum didn’t work right until mybb support reminded me that I would need to change my site in settings from http to https. This affects everything. I had youtube videos on my site, and if it had http in that link instead of https, the video failed. The simplest way to make these changes is to go to your index file and search for http, and replace all with https. You also need to add rewrite engine code to your .htaccess file. Your host should supply this code or you can do a Google search for "rewrite engine htaccess".

So, no, it’s not as simple as just adding a certificate to your site. There are quite a few steps, but it’s a must if you want Google to index your site. Joining forum promotion sites is a great way of learning all the necessary steps to keeping your site and/or forum up to date.

This article was written by Judel. He is a member of the Forum Promotion community.

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