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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Why subscribe to RSS feeds?

30 January 2009

RSS feeds are methods of staying up to date with the latest goings on of a website.

You would most often find RSS feeds on news websites, so that you can get the latest news updates straight away, and user involvement pages such as blogs and forums, so that you know when someone comments your blog or replies to your forum post.

Subscribing to RSS feeds is easy to do, just click on the orange RSS icon (or other image that the website may offer) and then select the RSS feed reader application that you want to use.

The RSS feed readers are applications that will store lots of feeds and keep them all in chronological order for the user and will mark which ones are read/unread.

I personally use Google Reader, but other applications include Outlook, Thuderbird, Live Bookmarks, My Yahoo, Bloglines, and many more.

Within your RSS feed reader application (although I haven't tested them all) you should be able to manage your feeds by folders of interest, star your favourite items, and on Google you even have the chance to share your favourite RSS feeds with the rest of the Internet through a public sharing page, for example, my shared Google Reader page is www.google.com/reader/shared/15586057576910103121

Once all your RSS feeds are in one place you can read through them at your leisure and then click through to read more on the most interesting subjects to you.

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Other CMS platforms

29 January 2009

Today I got to try out some different CMS platforms.

WordPress I have been working with for a while now as I'm maintaining a website for a client that uses this CMS option.

At first impression I thought that it had too many options and that it was too complicated, but I soon picked it up and have no trouble at all using it.

The CMS is well known as a blogging platform, however the client who I'm maintaining the site for use it as a complete site CMS.

I've seen that there's a lot of plugins for extra WordPress CMS functionality as well.

Drupal I found very low standard compared to the others - however once again there was a lot of plugins out there for extra functionality.

CakePHP I think looks really good and I love how easy it is to change the layout of a page and how easy it is to add modules and change the content.

CakePHP I would recomend as it is so easy to use and has lots of functionality, and like the others has plenty of plugins that can be downloaded and used.

Simple CMS again (I guess it's a CMS thing!) has plenty of downloadable plugins and so matches up to all the other CMS platforms functionality wise.

Simple CMS also has a very easy to use navigation and editting of pages, but again I found a lot of it a bit complicaeted and long winded.

The most flexible CMS would have to be either CakePHP or Simple CMS.

Easy to update and maintain content would have to be WordPress, although I may be a bit biased here as I use this one the most, but it was so eay for me to pick up and it isn't overly complicated with controls I don't need.

The CMS that I feel was in a lower league than the others would be Drupal, as this CMS platform wasn't as easy to use or navigate, or even seemed as functional as the others.

Hopefully I will be testing some more CMS platform options soon...

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Social Bookmarking

27 January 2009

Many sites that I go on these days always ask if I want to share the website with my friends.

These days there's loads of networking websites to pick from, but which ones are the best to sign up to?

Facebook is, as we know, the leading social networking website. Most people I talk to these days have a Facebook profile and so I found that sharing links on Facebook is always good for driving traffic, however links on Facebook don't seem to be crawled by search engines and so from an SEO point of view this doesn't help all that much.

Delicious is again a very popular bookmarking option and also offers an online profile so people are actually able to find my favourite links if they look.

Technorati, like Delicious, has an online profile where you can view my bookmarks, and so again this helps out with links back to a website and therefore increases popularity and score through search engines.

Although my Delicious and Technorati networks are pretty non-existent I've still set them up to show my links and have links to them so that they will still be crawled by Google (and other search engines).

If there's any other favourite bookmarking options please let me know what you use and what advantage I will find in using them.

I have just started using Google bookamrking, but am yet to explore the advantages of this so far.

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