Recommendations for webmaster friendly hosting services

Monday, September 14, 2009

Most of the recommendations we've made in the past are for individual webmasters running their own websites. We thought we'd offer up some best practices for websites that allow users to create their own websites or host users' data, like Blogger or Google Sites.

  • Make sure your users can verify their website in website management suites such as Google's Webmaster Tools.
    Webmaster Tools provides your users with detailed reports about their website's visibility in Google. Before we can grant your users access, we need to verify that they own their particular websites. Verifying ownership of a site in Webmaster Tools can be done using a custom HTML file, a meta tag, or seamless integration in your system via Google Services for Websites. Other website management suites such as Yahoo! Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Tools may use similar verification methods; we recommend making sure your users can access each of these suites.
  • Choose a unique directory or hostname for each user.
    Webmaster Tools verifies websites based on a single URL, but assumes that users should be able to see data for all URLs 'beneath' this URL in the site URL hierarchy. See our article on verifying subdomains and subdirectories for more information. Beyond Webmaster Tools, many automated systems on the web—such as search engines or aggregators—expect websites to be structured in this way, and by doing so you'll be making it easier for those systems to find and organize your content.
  • Set useful and descriptive page titles.
    Let users set their own titles, or automatically set the pages on your users' websites to be descriptive of the content on that page. For example, all of the user page titles should not be "Blogger: Create your free blog". Similarly, if a user's website has more than one page with different content, they should not all have the same title: "User XYZ's home page".
  • Allow the addition of tags to a page.
    Certain meta