Valentines day

14 February 2009

It's that time of the year again - 14th February - and we all know what that means...

Time to spend more money!

Shops really do find any reason to make us spend more.

January - New Years
February - Valentine's day
March - Mother's day
April - Easter
June - Father's daty
November - Fireworks night
December - Christmas

I'm sure there are things in the other months as well... But I can't remember!

So Valentines day is the day to:

  • Tell that one person how much you love them, buy them lots of presents (usually chocolates, teddys, flowers, pink stuff, heart shaped stuff, etc.)
  • Write them a card with a poem in
  • Take them out somewhere nice (usually an expensive meal)
  • Have a photo taken in a photo booth (just one of those random romantic things that people do)

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not having a rant about Valentines day or anything, I just think that it's a bit over-exaggerated by a lot of shops.

And at the same time, for anyone who's single, it just rubs it in there face and makes them feel lonely and un-loved.

Happy Valentines day everybody :) x

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Google Checkout Vs PayPal

12 February 2009

I decided the other day that I wanted to look into ways of selling on my website.

As I am already signed up to a lot of Google products and have no complaints about any of them I thought I'd give Google Checkout a try.

I went through the whole setup process and then put a button on a page, however, at this point I couldn't see any options to test the checkout before making it live, so I did some Google searching.

I found an article about making the test area in sandbox.google.com/checkout so I went in and had a look around.

To test the account I first had to create a new Google account, as you can't use the same Google account to sell the product and buy it. This was a lot of hassel, but I knew that the results would be good so I carried on anyway.

I tested it all and all was fine... However... I want to be selling electronic items like eBooks and applications, and for this it needs to go back to a custom thank you page so  that I can give the customer the link to download the product.

Google Checkout didn't offer this. I looked around a few websites and forums but couldn't find the answer and so I emailed Google. Here is an excerpt from there reply to me:

"Thank you for your email. I understand you'd like to redirect your buyers
to a thank you page post purchase.

Please know that Google Checkout does not provide the ability to
automatically redirect a buyer to the merchant's site after a purchase,
though this feature may be introduced at some point in the future. Please
note that the API offers a <continue-shopping-url> element that will
provide a link on the buyer receipt page. This 'continue shopping' link
will allow the buyer to return to your site should they choose to. Please
visit http://checkout.google.com/support/sell/bin/answer.py?answer=64729
for more information about the element."

So after finding out that they couldn't do it, I turned to PayPal.

I signed up for PayPal and had a look around their very large, complicated website and just got a bit baffled!

To be able to start using the service properly I need to verify my card and so I'm waiting on my verification numbers to come thorugh... And then I will share more.

In conclusion - I'd much prefer to use Google Checkout as it's quite easy to use and not too complicated, however as they can't do what I need, I have to turn to the complicated option of PayPal.

Fingers crossed that when my account is verified it will do what I need it to do.

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What is a permalink?

11 February 2009

Permalink is short for permanent link.

It is a link that isn't going to change, even when the blog entry is archived.

For example, on this blog there is 4 ways to see blog entries

  • The last 3 entries written are shown on the main blog page
  • When selecting a year it will show every entry from that year
  • When selecting a month it will show every entry from that year in that month
  • And when selecting a blog it will show just that blog along with that blog's comments and trackbacks.

Every place where the blog can be seen all have the permalink link where the blog can always be linked to.

Having a permalink ensures that search engines won't find broken links to blog entries.

Trackback links are quite similar. Trackback URLs do refer to the permalink, but going to the trackback URL won't display the blog entry.

On the trackback URL is where the ping is recieved from other websites, checks for spam and then responds to the originating website of the ping to say that either the ping was successful, or that the ping failed.

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Why allow trackbacks and comments on blog entries?

10 February 2009

Nobody joins an empty forum because no one wants to be the first to write something.

This is the same with blog comments. No one wants to be the first to comment.

So if there's a chance that people might not comment, is there any point allowing people to comment?

Well if it's a topic that someone is interested in then they will have more reason to want to comment.

Comments allow discussions and debates to occur between the blogger and blog readers. Having comments shows that the blog is being viewed and that people are interacting with it.

Having no comments on a particular blog entry does not mean that it is not being viewed though, it may just mean that people don't find it interesting, or that it's not their field of expertise.

Trackbacks on the other hand are quite different.

For starters - people viewing my blog don't necessarily have there own blog, and even if they do, it may not  have trackback functionality.

Trackbacks are not allowed on the popular blogger.com from Google and so that's a large audience that are ruled out straight away.

Even if a blog does allow trakbacks, like TypePad does, it doesn't mean that the user has it turned on. And if it is turned on it may not be a blog of interest to the reader.

Comments can be left by anyone, whereas trackbacks can only be left by a very small percentage of people.

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SEO friendly URLs

8 February 2009

When navigating around this website, you will probably notice that all the URLs are SEO friendly URLs.

By that I mean, that the links to navigate around this website have keywords in them, and tell you what page you're going to. It's not just website.com/page/193

I've used keyword rich links for a few reasons...

  1. I setup the CMS to create the links like this by replacing all the spaces with hyphens.
  2. I thought that search engines, like Google, would see the keywords in the page link and then help the search rankings.
  3. It looks neater than a number that actually doesn't mean anything.
  4. And, it gives the website user and indication of what they're going to see on the next page.

I only learnt yesterday that actually Google doesn't look at keywords after the domain name, and so adding these SEO rich words won't actually help matters.

An article I read used YouTube as the example. YouTube links hold no keywords at all, just random letters and numbers - yet YouTube pages and videos tend to always rank highly.

So is there any bebnefit for Google in us using keyword rich URLs? Yes. As you'll see on the Google results page - Google makes bold all the keywords that you're searching for. It also does this in URLs, so if you have the keyword in the URL then it will go bold and give the user a good indication.

To read more about the workings of all this, please see a useful article I found at:
www.malcolmcoles.co.uk/blog/seo-friendly-urls-myth-and-fact/

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Happy Birthday Facebook

6 February 2009

This month Facebook celebrate their 5th birthday!

I personally didn't join until about 2006, but even I have noticed significant changes since then.

Facebook is the second most trafficked PHP website, and has one of the largest MySQ databases spanning over thousands of online databases.

In the last 30 days Facebook has had over 150 million users active on the website.

The website now has over 700 employees and has over 5 offices in American states and 4 International offices.

All information taken from Facebook Factsheet
www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet

To see the evolution of the Facebook platform have a look at the photo album at
www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=87231&id=20531316728

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Simple and free search engine optimisation tools

5 February 2009

All over the Internet and in newsletters I'm always seeing annoying adverts saying submit your website to 500 websites for only $20 and silly things like that.

But did you know that having lots of links to your website isn't always a good thing?

That's right. If you have a link from the BBC's website or from Facebook, YouTube and other big well known sites - then this is really good. But having links from small insignificant websites may be seen as bad.

Small websites that don't receive many visitors and never update and just sit there really, or any spam websites (covered in adverts and not actually doing anything) having links to you makes Google think that the 2 websites offer the same kins of content - and so their website receives some of your PageRank and at the same time your website's score goes down.

I want to share with you today some excellent and free SEO tools, not to submit your website all over the Internet, and probably get penalised, but tools to find trends in activity and PageRank scores.

The only PageRank checked I've found so far is
www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

I know Google Toolbar also offers a PageRank service - but I personally don't use Google's Toolbar (one of the very few products I don't use)!

Next I will suggest Google Analytics. This requires some code being placed on your website and so you may just need a web developer to copy and paste the code in.

Once installed Google Analytics shows how many got to your site, search terms used, pages visited, how long for and where people leave your site from.

www.google.com/analytics/

Google Webmaster Tools is my next highly recomended tracking website, as this shows you any broken links within your website, any internal and external links, which pages are being crawled by Google and allows you to upload sitemaps to try and urge Google to crawl more pages.

www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

And lastly, and probably my favourite, is a tool that will access your website's code and let you know incoming and outgoing links, the relevance of your keywords, description and title tags and is an all round very helpful tool.

whois.domaintools.com/

I hope you all find these links as helpful as I do, and please do share more examples if you think they're of interest.

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Installing a Simple Press forum on WordPress

3 February 2009

Today I was asked by a client to add a forum to their website.

They currently have their website running on the WordPress CMS platform, so I started searching the WordPress plugins.

The only WordPress forum I came across was Simple Press, so I downloaded it all and installed it on the current website's web server.

I activated the plugin in the WordPress admin area and a "Forum" tab appeared in the navigation area

This I was really pleased about as I've never installed a plugin on WordPress before and didn't realise it was quite that easy.

Smile on my face I click on the tab to finish the setup process and the error comes up:

WordPress Version 2.2.2:
Your version of WordPress is not supported by Simple:Press Forum 4.0.1. WordPress version 2.5 or above is required


Agghhhhhh!

So I go searching through support forums, looking at how to upgrade WordPress, looked for other forum plugins for WordPress... And I was unsuccessful :(

In the end I left a thread on the Simple Press developers forum asking if there was a way around this problem, or whether there was an earlier version of the forum that would work on this version of WordPress.

Now I'm just awaiting the reply, which I'm hoping to be good news, otherwise that was a good 3 hours wasted.

Help me people!!!

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CSS tricks and effects

2 February 2009

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet.

These style sheets are used along-side a website so that changing the style will change the style for every web page that uses this style sheet.

Using CSS you can add great effects and make your website's look awesome.

Some CSS tutorials I found are:

Using CSS to style a form using the label elements
www.petefreitag.com/item/527.cfm

Hover any element in IE 6
blog.guidol.nl/archives/20-CSS-hover-for-any-element-in-Internet-Explorer.html

Using CSS to style your RSS feeds
www.petefreitag.com/item/208.cfm

Text decoration, spacing, transform, indent and align using CSS
www.affordable-internet-marketing.com/2007/08/more-css-decorations-css-tutorial-4/

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Why I use Firefox

1 February 2009

As Internet Explorer came as part of Windows I always used it as my web browser.

When I first heard through a friend about Firefox I thought I'd check it out and have a bit of a play.

The first thing that struck me was the tabs. Having the tabs meant that I could keep my favourite websites open rather than having lots of programs open in the task bar.

As I started website design I always found that websites I was making looked different depending on which browser they were being viewed in, and then I later found out that Internet Explorer renders a website different to Firefox, for example not using the box model, as explained at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Explorer_box_model_bug

After using Firefox a while I found out about the different addons and extensions available for it. Most of the extensions I doubt I'd ever use, but I found this list of some of the best: www.procata.com/blog/archives/2007/03/08/firefox-extensions-for-web-developers/

Other reasons why you should use Firefox
techdulla.wordpress.com/2008/11/06/why-use-firefox/
www.newcitymedia.com/brain-dump/use-firefox/
www.comscore.com/blog/2007/04/firefox_vs_internet_explorer.html

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