Hire a Fiverr and Save Some Time

May 24, 2011

Ok, sometimes you have to know when your beat.  I have tried and tried and then had one of my guys try and failed to install the world famous one click install for WordPress on a Windows 2003 box.  We have done this before many times, but this particular box is giving us trouble.  I don’t know what I said to it to tick it off, but it won’t play ball. 

As I mention my woes to another geek at happy hour, he mentioned this site: Fiverr.  It is a site that list jobs people are willing to do for $5.  There is a “programming”, “technology”, and “programming” section which had a few people that could solve my issue.  I “ordered” a service, he fixed my issue and he received $5 (actually I gave him $20 since I spent over 8 hours of my time on this issue).

Sometimes you just need to bring in the experts and at $5, it’s not like you are hiring a plumber.

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Lesson Learned: First Link Priority

May 18, 2011

Noble Samurai posted this nice article on the First Link Priority issue.  In a nutshell, if you have two links going from one page to another, only the first one counts, the rest are ignored.

So if your first link is an image, then you are not passing along those rich anchor text keywords.  They provide a few examples on how to detect and fix the issue.  The main technique is image replacement, which we do use on the newer site.  However, to confess, it was more about “graceful degradation” and device compatibility then SEO.

You can see a violation of this rule on Rainydaygames.ca’s Action Games category page.  As you can see, the thumbnail image precedes the text link.  We could use text replacement here, but since there are quite a few images in some of the categories, we run the risk of violating another law: Show Google what you show your users.

Rainy Day Games First Link Priority Issue Example

From my readings, using the text replacement method once or twice is perfectly safe. Past that, it starts to get risking.  Instead for RDG’s categories, I would just move the image to the right side so that the link comes first in order and then the image.  The other option is to move the game title up and span across columns.

 Ah, Rainy Day Games.  She was a beauty queen back in the day. She ranked number one for most of her games, but now time as faded her.  I guess it’s time for a face lift. Scalpel here we come.

It’s going to be a big job.


Fancy an Icon?

May 10, 2011

The icon is just a file named “favicon.ico” that sits in the root of your website. It is standarized now so that all browsers will look there as the source.

A screen shot showing US-EH.com's favicon in action.

US-EH.com's favicon.ico

 
However, you can also put the icon anywhere in your site, but you have to make sure you put the path in the link tag under your header tag.

<html>
<head>

<link rel=”SHORTCUT ICONhref=”http://www.us-eh.com/favicon.ico” />

</head>

To create the ico file, I use the free online tool by favicon.cc. I just upload a logo and then edit the 16×16 grid to get it looking clean.  Download it and put it in the root and don’t forget to add the above tag to your header.


Wiebe’s Moving Update

May 6, 2011
We continue with our goal to modernize our customer’s sites with a Winnipeg Moving company, Wiebe’s.  Once again, the new site has been converted to ASP.MVC and C#.  This site was already in .Net, so it was a quick upgrade.  We also took the time to change a few bits of the copy.  We changed the more generic term “Local” and made it more concrete with “Winnipeg”.  The same for “Rural” and “Manitoba”. Finally, we redirected the old URLs to the new ones uses IIS redirects.  I will review the logs the next month to see if those old URL are still being used and if not, then remove them.
 
The next step for Wiebe’s Storage is to relook at their SEO efforts.  They have 2 to 4 competitors that are firmly planted in the market, however, they are not that far out of range.  Time to do some analysis.

Eye-Fi for Eye-Pad

April 27, 2011
Ey-Fi Direct 8GB CardWe take a lot of product shots with our Canon and then import them to the iPad using the “Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit”.  Using the iPad is a great way for the client to see the candidate shots on a large screen instead of reviewing them on a 2″ screen.  The main problem is that I always lose the bloody connector right when I need it.
 
Well, the Eye-Fi SD card has come to my rescue.  The direct feature means that my iPad can read the pictures right from my camera with the use of a Wifi router.  One less tech gear I need to carry. Sweet.

Duct Tape Marketing

April 25, 2011

One of my new favorite podcast and blog is John Jantsch’s “Duck Tap Marking”. It is a must read/listen for all those tech companies out there that have great technical skills but are short on (or dare I say scared of) marketing knowledge.  He was a guest speaker on the British “Internet Marketing” podcast episode #112, and that is what hooked me.

It’s hard to explain, but he has a very eloquent and concise way of putting things in to perspective.  He also points to tools and software that makes his life easier.


Decrypting ZIP Codes

April 22, 2011

Funwatercraft uses dealers to sell their Hydrobike parts and bikes.  To determine and manage each dealer’s territory they needed some tools built into their Ordering Processing System. 

To sum up the requirement:

  • Get a list of ZIP codes based on a “home” ZIP and a variable radius.
  • Be able to add or remove individual ZIP codes.
  • Review any conflicts (overlapping territory)
  • When a customer calls be able to enter their ZIP code and see the dealer for that area.
  • BTW, make it work in Canada too.

 To keep it priced in budget, we had to look for some free web services.  I found a lot of web sites that allow you to get a list for the US (ex.  http://www.free-zipcode-maps.com/) and a very nice site that shows the ZIP Codes visually,  Maps.Huge.Info.

I put link to those online tools in the web application for them to do some manual work, however, I still need the main function of auto populating the dealer territory with a set of postal codes.  I finally came across this free Web Service  GeoNames   http://www.geonames.org/

The service is free for light users. You can only return 500 rows and your radius can be no more then 18 Miles (30 km).  There is a premium paid service that removes these limits, however, for Funwatercraft, it is more then enough. It also works for most of the worlds.

 So, the business flow is

  • They create a new dealer record and set a radius.
  • On save, it will fetch the postal code list.
  • User can add and remove codes as they see fit using the previous mentioned web tools.

 Also, in the master search, I added code that will determine if the requested search is a ZIP Code or a Postal code and find the dealer for that code.

It’s pretty slick.  Only four hours of work.


iMockups

April 21, 2011

When dealing with visual clients, it helps to create a few wireframe mockups of the core functional pages.  A wireframe for a website is basically a rough sketch of the page elements and their spatial relationship between them.  This helps to make sure everyone is thinking the same way.  Clients can see how their ideas will play out before they commit to a more in-depth process.

When I am at a desktop, I use Visio for my wireframe mockups need.  However, I came across iMockups for the iPad by Endloop Systems inc.   Not bad at all.  I found myself sitting in the front lobby of my client’s business waiting for a delivery.  I pulled out my iPad and started to wire up another mini-application.  I was impressed.  I was able to create several screens in a 20 min. sitting on a couch.  The desktop/Visio combination is still faster, however, this iMockups app is perfect when you are away from your main computer.

My wireframe using iMockups for the iPad by Endloop Systems inc.

My first wireframe using iMockups.


J.R. Hudson’s Upgrade

April 20, 2011

We updated J.R. Hudson from old school asp to ASP.MVC in C#.  We didn’t change the style or content, however, the HTML does need to be updated from the old way of tables to the better practice of Div based layout.  Also, the Gallery effects is very basic and could enjoy the effects of jQuery

With the new MVC framework, we took advantage with a new SEO friendly URL structure.  We used the keywords “custom” and “installations” in the directories for added boost.  A couple of things are still outstanding:

  •  They need more content.
  • The images need alt and title tags
  • More back links
  • Google profile for it’s local listing

Sitemaps

April 19, 2011

Every site should have a site map.  A site map is just an xml file that lists all the unique pages that you want to be index.  You are literally telling the search engines “Hey, these are the pages that I think are the most important”.  It should sit in the root of the web site and should be called “sitemap.xml”.  You can call it anything you want, but it seems to be an industry standard.  I know WordPress.com uses the “sitemap.xml” convention.

Here is a simple peek at a two page sitemap:

 <?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>
<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance” xsi:schemaLocation=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9 http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd“>
  <url><loc>http://www.us-eh.com/</loc></url>
  <url><loc>http://www.us-eh.com/Services.asp</loc></url>
</urlset>

For sites that are less then 500 pages, you can use the free online Sitemap Generator at XML-Sitemaps.com  For sites with more then 500 page, you can use Xenu by Tilman Hausherr.  This piece of magical software will create your site maps, but it does so much more.  I will talk about its extended abilities some other time, but for now, once you get your sitemap in the root directory, you need to tell Google and Bing explicitly where to find it.

In both webmaster tools there is a place to submit a sitemap. Below is Google’s place.
Google's Sitemap submission