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Brian Alt

Archiving Your Articles
By Brian Alt

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As your continue to publish your ezine, you'll acquire a large collection of articles, tips, or whatever you happen to publish. Rather than archive these on your website as "issues", consider creating a database of individual elements (we'll assume they're articles). In other words, break each issue down into one HTML document (Web page) per article.

This will allow you to archive your articles by topic, and even make the documents searchable as a collection. You'll first need to determine what your topic categories are appropriate for your articles, then archive each category in its own directory on your Web server.

To get an idea of what I'm talking about, check out the archives of this ezine at http// You can see the eight categories of Ezine-Tips on that page. Clicking on any of the categories will take you to the list of articles in that category, which is actually the index.html page in each category directory. The files for the articles themselves are named after the date (today's will be 09221999.html). On the category pages, articles are listed by title in reverse chronological order.

Archiving your articles in this way makes your website an easy to use and valuable tool for your visitors. But it can be made even more useful...

  1. Make these categorized directories searchable, either as a whole or individually. Simple CGI scripts that will search HTML documents for keywords are quite numerous, and usually free.

    A good starting point: The CGI Resource Index

    Some of these scripts will search page text only, while others will use Meta Tags, etc. Unless you want to add appropriate Meta Tags to each of your article pages, I'd go with a script that will just search the page text. Also, be sure to give each article page an appropriate "TITLE" tag, as the results will probably use that element as the results text for each document.

  2. If your ezine features more than one author, you might also break your articles down by author. I'm just adding this feature to Again, the articles are listed in reverse chronological order.

  3. Include article abstracts on the list of articles. These will be more obvious than the titles, and will aid your visitors in deciding whether they really want to read that article or not, before they click to the page. So of course, make the abstracts catchy and focused on the value the article provides to encourage your visitors to check them out.

The benefits of setting up a categorized and searchable archive are numerous. Mostly, your site users will find a visit to your website much more rewarding. You'll also increase page views, which if you sell advertising on your site is a good thing. Finally, you'll find that referencing old articles for your subscribers is much easier. You can say "Visit this URL", instead of "View issue #014 at blah blah and scroll down to the third article to see what I'm talking about" ;-)

Ezine-Tips for September 22, 1999

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