If you know me, you will know how much I despise all versions of Internet Explorer. Not only are they highly insecure browsers, but they make their own rules up as they go along.

Take today for instance.

I have been developing a new version of a website on a different domain instead of a sub-domain. I needed to get the users to update their information on the new site, so instead of directing them to the development domain, I used a frame to pull in the pages I needed on the old domain.

Every browser, including IE8, worked with this frame without a problem.

I then got a phonecall from the client who was freaking out because people were logging in then getting redirected to the homepage instead of the page that follows the login procedure.

I couldn’t replicate this at all. Until, all of a sudden, it stopped working on my version of IE8 and I could see the problem.
It was a fairly easy fix in the end. IE blocks cookies over frames, so I changed the CMS to use sessions and all was right with the world.

But once again, this episode shows why web standards are so important if development of websites is to improve.
If we are constantly having to make concessions to each browser, we will never move forward.

There is no perfect browser, but the likes of Firefox and Chrome are a lot closer to where they need to be than Internet Explorer is.

Aug 23

Sandra

1 Comment

Choosing a CMS

If you are not going to have a bespoke website built for you, or you are doing it yourself, there is a vast array of Content Management Systems out there, and a lot are free.

Popular ones you may have heard of are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

But as with everything, there are good and bad points about every CMS so it’s important to know what you need the software to do, and whether it allows for expansion later down the line.
It’s also tricky to migrate between CMS’ at a later date, so it’s better to put the work in now!

I am going through this process at the moment.
Normally I build my own bespoke systems, but as I know the functionality of the new site I’m building is fairly simple, I want to try an open source CMS solution.

If anyone has any recommendations, I’d be glad to hear about them!

I remember a time last year when Google Wave invites were THE item being begged for on Twitter – that included me!
After all, Google Wave was going to revolutionise the way we interacted with each other.

After I managed to get my invite and got to download Google Wave, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. What did it actually do?
To this day I don’t really know – admittedly, at the time I spent most of my time on Twitter and didn’t see the need for a new way of communicating, so Google Wave went on the eternal backburner in the belief that one day I would take it out of storage and give it another look.

Today the news came that Google were going to stop developing Wave due to lack of interest.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10877768
It doesn’t surprise me that much – to be honest, I think they should stick to what they’re good at, and it’s not social media type apps. Yet.
I don’t really know of anyone in the UK that uses Buzz, although I think it might be a bit more prevalent in the US, particularly among the tech people, but we Brits tend to stick to the mainstream, so Facebook, Twitter and MSN are the communication tools of choice.

Google, remember you created the number one search engine by innovating and not following the masses. But you became a giant when no-one else was creating something new. The internet is now full of innovators and maybe you should stick to what you have always done best and leave social media to others!

RIP Google Wave!

PHP is a very versatile web language and you can easily make various different useful applications.

This is a very simple random number generator that will not duplicate any of the previous numbers, which is perfect as a UK lottery number generator.

18 37 21 12 23 13

Get new numbers

This was a very quick piece of code to write and is completely random.
Give it go although we take no responsibilty for losses you may incur when playing the UK lottery with these numbers! We would however appreciate a small donation of our generator makes you a millionaire!!

There have been some major changes to Google over the last few months.
Firstly, there was the so-called Mayday update (funnily enough at the beginning of May!) which has totally changed long tail search – and not for the better. Secondly, at the beginning of June, the Caffeine rollout was finally completed.
Now, if we take Matt Cutts at his word then the caffeine update was a change in the infrastructure so shouldn’t have any impact on SERPS.

However, a personal site of mine was getting a lot of traffic through long tail search, and the Mayday update didn’t affect the site in the slightest. In fact, I saw a steady increase in traffic. On June 4th my traffic took a massive hit.

I use the website php.net to refresh my knowledge of various php functions from time to time, and I have noticed that when searching for a phrase such as “php strstr function”, the php.net site is not showing up within the first 50 results of the SERPS. There is a subdomain of pear.php.net showing up in the 2nd and 3rd spots but the standard site is not.

The www.php.net version of the site still has over 80,000 pages indexed so it’s not a case that someone’s accidentally blocked Googlebot from visiting the site.
This leads me to believe that whether this has been caused by Mayday or Caffeine, Google has an error in their algorithm. For a site as well respected as php.net to be nowhere in the SERPs is clearly wrong.

I will therefore be holding off making any changes to my own site in the hope that Google fix this very quickly.

It seems like Bing isn’t ready to do battle with Google just yet.

Bing seem to be going down the route of providing information to the user without taking them to external websites.
For example, if you were to search for “audi a3 spec”, Bing would actually show you the Audi A3 spec and just provide a link to the website it got the information from.
Obviously, this works well for the user for something that is black and white, but not when you are searching for opinions.

This is a great feature for users, but not for website owners. A lot of websites generate income from placing adverts on their site. Bing potentially removes the need for the user to visit an external website if the information is shown within Bing. Less visitors to a website means less money for website owners, and less money for website owners may mean less websites. Less websites may mean we are just left with the dross – made for adsense sites and such like.

Does this mean that Microsoft will be concentrating on getting people to pay for advertising rather than concetrating on organic search?

I applaude Microsoft for trying to find a different angle for search (although the concept is not that different from the Wolfram Alpha search engine) but I don’t think that alienating the very people that are providing the content (for free) is going to work well as a business model.

It is a well known fact that the search engine optimisation industry has a somewhat poor reputation – sometimes this is justified, but mostly it is not. I along with many other SEO professionals offer a service which is based on doing a lot of research and reading to ensure we have as many facts about improving website positions as possible.

It can get a little irksome therefore when someone takes on an SEO job without knowing what they should be doing. Yes, this will harm the SEO industry.

Many people who dabble in websites think they know what is needed to boost a website to the dizzy heights of position 1 in Google…then fail because they just do not have the required knowledge. Even worse, they can harm their website profile.
Many people will know that backlinks are an important factor for ranking in Google so they may well go out and buy links without understanding the profile of the website they have just got a link from.
Many people will have heard of keyword density and will overuse the keywords they want to rank for.
Many people will still cloak content because they don’t understand the implications of what they are doing.

Ten years ago it was easy. Choose your keywords and use them in your title and meta tags. Job done. There were far less websites on the internet as well.

Over the last few years, the number of websites being created has got to epic proportions – just look at the number of results when you perform a search! Google have had to refine the way they rank websites to try to ensure they can pick the most relevent out of the 8 million results that have beem returned. That means that there are many factors at play for ranking a website, and things are constantly evolving.
Someone who performs SEO day in and day out will obviously have a much better understanding of what works for ranking well and what doesn’t, than Joe Bloggs who does his SEO when he has a spare five minutes.

If you are serious about getting good rankings for the right keywords for your website and you don’t have the time to learn in more than just basic SEO, you really should consider an SEO professional or agency to help you. Don’t expect them to tell you their secrets because there is no manual – every website is different.

Remember, just because you bought a book on SEO last week, it was written at least a year ago – one year is a long time in SEO!
To really understand SEO takes a lot time and patience – anyone can do it if they are willing to put in the time.

As the web evolves, there is talk of Facebook expanding to become a player in search.

Is this really a possibility? I suppose it comes down to how users embrace the technology.

Currently I would imagine that if users are looking for something they will still head over to Google, while if they want to chat to their friends and be social, they will head on over to Facebook.
However, it is fairly easy to change a users’ online habits, so if it were an easy process to search the web whilst chatting to your friends, it may take off.

However, I already have concerns about the ethics of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg and am unsure how they would improve search.

Whilst Google is having trouble sticking to it’s principle of “Don’t be Evil”, it is still trying, and all the data they collect is to understand how people search and try to improve the results for every unique user.
Yes of course their main goal is to make money – but they have single handedly improved search throughout the last decade and have gradually introduced the money-making ideas off the back of their success. They have never shown a desire to release personal information about their users.

On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg has stated that he wishes that the default profile of everyone on Facebook was public, and that is how he would implement it if starting it now. He clearly has no respect for keeping data secure, and as such, I cannot help but eye Facebook with increasing disbelief at how the users are becoming a secondary factor in their pursuit of the almighty dollar.

I do think that Matt Cutts’ announcement that he has deactivated his Facebook account was done to deflect interest away from Facebooks’ third party “like” function, but I am starting to worry about my personal data being in the hands of someone I don’t trust.
If it weren’t for the fact that I like to look at the profile of one of my friends who recently died, I would decativate my own Facebook account as I don’t think it adds anything to my life.

Personally I don’t think Google has too much to worry about. They have spent years refining their search algorithms and that is why they are leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. Facebook will have to pull off a major coo that I just don’t think they are capable of.

Only time will tell!

Firstly, apologies for the lack of blog posts lately, but hopefully I will be able to sustain more entries in the future!

Today I would like to talk about the fact that Google seem to be becoming the thing they seemed to despise in the beginning, when they famously used the slogan “Don’t be evil”.

This blog post at SEOmoz shows how Google are increasingly using personalised search to give you what it considers are results more relevant to you. Now, I suppose on the face of it, it sounds like a good idea right? Who wouldn’t want to see 10 listings all relevant to the search you’ve just made?
But the truth of the matter is that personalised search results can limit your view of the web. If Google is constantly trying to second guess what you want to see returned, we are not seeing true search listings.

Signing out of your account appears to not help, and presumably, Google is now tracking IP addresses and matching them to Google accounts and that’s how they can show personalised results when logged out of your Google account.

Personally Google, I want to see the 10 best results that match the phrase I have typed in – not results based on what I’ve typed in and combine it with my search history. I find it commendable that you want to make the internet easier to use, but I would prefer to have the choice of viewing standard or personalised results.

Nov 30

Sandra

1 Comment

We all hate to get spam in our email inboxes yet it has become standard for most of us.

If you engage in email marketing, you should be aware that different people class different emails as spam.

Personally, if I get an unsolicited email advising me of a service I might not have known about, then I don’t class it as spam – unless it doesn’t have an unsubscribe link on the bottom. Those emails get reported as spam immediately as I have no way of stopping receiving unwanted emails in future. That to me is what spam actually is.

There is a train of thought that any unsolited email is spam, but I don’t necessarily hold with that idea. I would rather someone sent me an email than rang me or wasted paper sending junk mail to me.

To stop your emails being marked as spam, you need to understand your market.
Most owners of personal email addresses don’t want to hear about new services or products as they have been taught to avoid websites and email addresses they don’t trust, so are they really the people you need to target?

There is also the chance that sending emails to your customers will annoy them if you send them too often.

If too many people mark your emails as spam, spam filters will start either delivering all of your company emails to your customers’ spam folder, or mail servers will start blocking all emails from all of your email addresses. It’s a big thing to get wrong, so make sure you understand the implications before you start your email marketing campaigns.

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