Whether you have a blog or a website, you definitely want to tell Google that it’s yours! How do you do that? Google Webmaster Tools.
Now that you know how to FTP to your site, it will take you about five minutes to claim your site with Google Webmaster Tools. The benefits are simple but helpful. You can easily see:
- The top Google searches that led people to you
- A complete list of external links
- All broken links that Google finds as it crawls
- The keywords that Google views as significant
In addition, Google will notify you on the Webmaster Tools dashboard of any errors that they have found while they were attempting to access your site.
To claim your site:
- Visit Google Webmaster Tools and sign in or register with your Google account.
- Click “Add a Site”
- Input your website and hit continue, you will be taken to the “Verify Ownership” screen.
- Download the provided HTML verification file.
- Log into your server via FTP (I use CoreFTP).
- Navigate your left window to where your file is downloaded, and your right window to the root of your domain. Select the file on the left, and click the right arrow to copy it to your server.
Voila! Hit the “Verify” button and your domain is now “yours” in Google’s eyes. In a few days you should be able to log in and see all of the wonderful information above! Easy peasy, right?
So you have done some research and finalized a name for your blog or website. Now what? It’s time to purchase and register domain names!
The steps to buying domain names are different depending on the registrar, but they all typically make this pretty easy for you. Choose a registrar (DreamHost, BlueHost, LiquidWeb, GoDaddy or the like), look for “registrations” or “manage domains”, and for around $10 and in around 10 minutes, you can register a domain. You do not have to register your domain with the hosting company you ultimately choose (we’ll chat about hosting in the next part of this series!). Each of my domains are registered with DreamHost, but my hosting is with LiquidWeb.
When you are registering a domain, certain information will be required so that the owner of the domain is visible in engines like Whois. Your hosting provider should have a privacy service that you can take advantage of, so that your personal information is not used for the registration. I use DreamHost to register my domains because of their free Whois privacy service.
At a minimum, register the .com and .net versions of your new domain. You likely also want to purchase common variations and misspellings of your name. You should determine which of those will be your primary site and redirect the other. So, for example, if you visit www.editandpost.net, it will redirect you to www.editandpost.com. Redirects are key because you want visitors and search engines knowing your site by only one address, to strengthen that address’s results in searches. To redirect your domain, visit the domain settings in your registrar’s panel. Redirects are likely under “hosting options”—you do not need to purchase hosting to redirect your domain.
Other options for registration are the .co.uk version of your domain, .info, .mobi, .biz, .org, etc. There are even fun choices these days like .wedding!
After you have registered your domain, our next step will be selecting a hosting provider. Then you will be ready to do some basic setup on your server and install WordPress! Aren’t you excited?
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You may have noticed in the comment sections of each Edit and Post post that some comments have photos and others have the default avatar.
WordPress by default supports photos in the form of Gravatars, or globally recognized avatars. It takes about 30 seconds to sign up for a Gravatar. If you are the owner of a WordPress.com blog, or have a WordPress blog installed on your own server and use the Akismet or Jetpack plugins, you can sign into Gravatar with your existing WordPress.com username and password. Otherwise, simply:
- Click here
- Input your email address
- Click on the link in the confirmation email
- Create a Gravatar username and password
- Import a photo of yourself and crop it as desired
- Add as many other email addresses to your account as you like
And voila, the next time you comment here (or on any other WordPress blog with avatars enabled), we will get to put a face to a name. Yay!
For those of you who have WordPress blogs already (or will be installing them soon after reading the Building Your WordPress Blog post series), include avatars in your comment section by visiting Settings -> Discussion in your WordPress dashboard and checking “Show Avatars”.
We’ve talked about the legalities and etiquette of images in your blog posts. Today, let’s chat about some of the tech tips for blog images.
High resolution images are a no-no. Not only will it kill the speed of your site to host high resolution images, but it’s also bad blogging etiquette. Use WordPress’s built-in Media resizing functionality to help you out with resizing. Under Settings -> Media you can supply a thumbnail size, a medium size (I use this for vertical images) and a large size (horizontal). As you upload photos, WordPress will automatically create copies of the image resized to each of your specified dimensions.
Because most people are viewing your site on a widescreen monitor, portrait/vertical photos should be sized to about half of the width of landscape/horizontal photos. This will help to keep the file sizes smaller, as well as keep each image within the viewable area of everyone’s screen. For aesthetic reasons, this is why many blogs choose to “pair up” verticals in their posts.
What’s in a name?
A lot actually. Search engines can’t “see” images, they simply recognize the caption (aka alt text), title, and image name and read those to index the image. Name your images something descriptive and WordPress will automatically fill in the alt text with your image name.
When deciding on a file name, put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. “Juli and Jon Wedding.jpg” likely won’t produce any search hits. But “Yellow Sunflower Bouquet.jpg” might. Your alt text will also become your default Pinterest text when a reader pins an image from your site, so choose wisely!
A helpful hint
In future posts, we’ll cover more advanced WordPress image issues, such as custom fields for image photography credits, media tagging, and the like. What other image tips and tricks do you have to share?
Some of the most common questions people encounter as they begin blogging revolve around images: how to credit them, what the copyright regulations are, and general, proper blog image etiquette.
Images and the Fair Use Doctrine
First up, the legalities: images are copyright to the photographer. Unless you are the photographer, you have received permission from the photographer, or they have licensed their work for creative commons, you are using any images you post under the US government’s doctrine of “fair use”.
You should read this short page for the complete information about fair use but to paraphrase, there are four factors at play:
- The purpose and character of the use (commercial? non-profit?)
- The nature of the work itself
- The amount used of the work as a whole
- The effect of your use upon the market value of the work
As you can see on the copyright office’s page, the entire fair use area is gray. Here are a few things that are absolutes:
- Getting approval from the owner means you are in the clear to use the image.
- A creative commons license (which many bloggers who take their own photos provide in the terms and conditions of their site) means you are clear to use the image.
- If the owner of an image asks you to take it down, take it down. Period.
- You should ALWAYS credit the owner/photographer. Even if you have permission. Even if it’s creative commons. Unless it’s your image, or a stock image that does not require crediting (aka “attribution”), this rule should be followed 100% of the time. For example, the image above is a no attribution required stock image.
- Pinterest is never the source of an image. I repeat – your image credit should never be to Pinterest. There is a photographer/blogger behind that pin who brought the amazing content to light.
Tips for Bloggers
If you are a blogger yourself, it is a great idea to have a policies or terms page on your site, telling your readers whether or not they are free to use the photos (and content) that you have posted and in what manner.
When you post images that you do not own, I think it bears repeating that you should always credit the photographer. If you found the image on a blog other than the photographer’s, you should also credit the source of the information and any sources that they have named. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and give credit where credit is due!
Bloggers and photographers, do you have tips to share on image etiquette or guidelines for usage?