How to create valuable startpages

Monday, July 02, 2007

Note: The information in this post may be outdated. See our latest post about reporting spam.

In the Dutch market, the concept of so-called 'startpages' is hugely popular. In this article we will give some background information on them, and give those of you who may be startpage webmasters a few tips on how to create unique and informative startpages.

What's a startpage?

Basically, it's a webpage with a lot of links about a specific topic. The startpages are hosted on a startpage domain and each separate startpage is maintained by an individual webmaster. The links on startpages are usually ordered by categories related to the topic of the page. Besides hyperlinks, startpages often contain text, animations and pictures. Startpages are quite unique to the Dutch market, and offer a simple interface for novice users to create their own web portals, with a unique approach to user-generated content.

The whole startpage concept began in September 1998 with the launch of Startpagina.nl, which was set up to be an online linkbook for the inexperienced Internet user. Since then, Startpagina.nl has become a huge success, mainly because an enormous number of volunteers created and maintained the different startpages covering lots of interesting and diverse topics. Since Startpagina.nl emerged, lots of other startpage domains have been created, and are still being created today. The fact that there are still new startpage domains appearing and that the number of individual startpages on these domains is still increasing shows the continued popularity of startpages in the Dutch market.

Creating useful startpages

As a search engine, we love to have useful and diverse pages showing up in the search results we present to our users. We thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the best practices we've seen in creating value-added startpages.

  1. Create your startpage for users, and not for search engines. This involves making sure that all your text on the page is visible to users, and writing full sentences as descriptions instead of just keywords.
  2. Try to deliver unique, informative and on-topic content. The structure of startpages is pretty straightforward and does not leave much room for variation. However, you can make a difference. Try to find a topic you know a lot about that has not been fully covered yet. Create good categories that are related to your topic and give a relevant title to every category. Then, find links that are related to the categories on your page and label every link with an anchor text that is relevant. For example, instead of naming your links 'link1', 'link2' et cetera, you can choose names that make clear where the link is pointing to. And you can write a short description for every category.
  3. Don't create startpages out of commercial intent or for the sole purpose of exchanging links. Of course there is nothing wrong with trying to monetize your startpage, but a page with only banners and affiliate links is not the best user experience and therefore not recommended. The same goes for startpages that are created as part of a link network. For example, pages that have all links pointing to a particular website and to other startpages that are also pointing to that same website. These kind of link schemes have no added value for the user and go against the Google webmaster guidelines.

With this post, we hope to have provided potential startpage webmasters with some helpful guidelines that will help to create the type of startpages the Dutch speaking people love!

On a final note, we would like to encourage you to fill in a paid links form if you come across a startpage that is involved in buying and selling links for the purpose of search engine manipulation. To report other forms of bad behavior, you can send a spam report. We'll review each report we get and use this feedback to enhance our algorithms and improve our search results. As always, we really appreciate your feedback and your help to provide the best search experience.