Are you researching your family history? A great way of generating interest that may lead to further information is to create a web site of your family tree and family history information. Many of the better Genealogy Software programs provide the opportunity to do this. Alternately, submitting your GEDCOM file to the numerous (and free) genealogy sites gives your name and history a presence on the World Wide Web. Another alternative is to use a free hosting service, eg Yahoo GeoCities where you can create your own web site. However these free hosting sites often have restrictions on how much you can display and are often difficult for the first time user.
The best way to design, develop and publish your own family family tree website is to use a HTML Editor like FrontPage or one of the many (sometimes free) HTML editors available on the internet. You will need to purchase a domain name and web hosting.
The following tips will help you create a family tree web site:
Title. The correct title to your web page is critical. It helps search engines identify your page, and searchers to find your page. Something like "The History of the Jones Family in Alabama" or "The Ancestors and Family History of Robert Jones in Alabama" is far better than "My Family Tree" !.
Header. The first paragraph, or header, should contain the surnames of the principal families researched and displayed in your family tree. Again, not just a list of names, but proper sentences which include key words such as family, family tree, ancestors, genealogy and family history.
Content. Visitors and search engines are looking for quality content, particularly on the home page of your web site. Just a list of names being reviewed is not enough. Compose a few paragraphs briefly describing your family history, with links to your other pages for more detailed family information. Limit your images on the home page to occasional to one family photograph, again with links to your other photographs.
Navigation. Good websites have good navigation which allows visitors and search engines to find there way around the web site. Navigation buttons or text links must be on all pages. Particularly important is a Home link on each page.
Meta Tags. Meta Tags are essential on all web sites. Without Meta Tags web sites will be hard for searchers to find and will rank very lowly in many search engine listings. There is no point in having a web site that can not be found. Do it soon to improve your 'findability' and search engine ranking. A later article on Meta tags will help further.
The Importance of Links. If you have a family tree web site, having other genealogy web sites linking to you is a proven way of generating traffic and improving your page rank in search engines. 'Link Popularity' is measured by the number if inward links you have to your sites. Inward links should be from quality genealogy sites. A links page on your web site is essential. Links can be obtained by inviting webmasters from similar sites to exchange links with you, or by joining a link exchange site. Do not exchange links withappropriate sites eg gaming and porn! On your links page invite other web masters to contact you for an exchange. So that the search engines and visitors can find your links page, ensure that there is a link on your home page to the links page.
Contact Details. So that visitors can contact you it is important that you display your email address prominently. To avoid email harvesters show your email address as an image or use a free email account, eg hotmail.
Observing the above tips will help you build a web site that proudly represents your family tree. Later articles will cover other issues relating to family tree web site design.