March 2004 - Posts
This guy makes a couple of good points which make the article worthwhile reading but what I took away was "when will we get even £1 a day rentals in the UK?". Please let it be soon :O)
.. "It depends" ;O)
That old chestnut has resurfaced but check out the article - interesting anyways!
On the Linux Vs Windows debate I always say to use what is most appropriate but I tend to stick to Windows all other things being almost equal as I am better with ASP.NET, Windows, SQL Server than I am LAMP. Using LAMP has an associated opportunity cost as I take longer with that platform. This isn't a platforms problem but a problem that exists between chair and keyboard ;O)
BBC has reported about a spammer losing his porche as part of a court-settlement - ka-ching!!. About time these guys were brought to justice! :O) Only shame is that they are taken down after making an absolute fortune off the back of the millions of mugs they have gotten to buy their products :O(
Gathering data from your customers is very important. By understanding your customers needs and behaviours you can really service them well. That said, gathering data should ideally be done with the consent of the person.
Passive gathering of generic traffic patterns is done all the time on web sites, and fair enough. It is also useful to know how many of your emails have been opened and to track click-throughs. These are common, and as far as I am concerned proper practices.
There comes a point though when this is intrusive. Spyware is definately an area of concern, I am glad Bill Gates can draw some attention to the issue and attempt a technical solution but I am afraid the ethical companies that want to put a stop to these practices probably already have good codes of conduct, nothing will stop the spammers and scammers. Also we need to be careful to not ban ethical tracking and targetting just to try and make it difficult for the bad guys. Lest we forget the EU tried to ban cookies!
Seth Godin says "have you noticed that people who want you to help them are getting a lot more insistent?". Yup, certainly have. I notice a new plague of "comment spam" asking - nay, demanding source code, emails saying "I like your stuff. Write my project for me, cheers." and "You wrote an article I once read so now you must do my work for me. I pay your wages. I own your ass."
I try my best to answer questions that I get emailed but it just isn't possible to reply to them all so I only end up answering the ones I A) Have the time to answer, which usually means B) The ones I immediately have the answer for and C) The ones that only take a few scentances to answer. Any request for code that requires me to actually write something new get ignored.
It's painfully obvious that a lot of people ask for help but what they actually mean is "I want some code for free".
Having said all that (got it off my chest finally) there are a great many nice people who I would never have met if they hadn't contacted me first. I am not one of natures natural networkers. I don't have a stuffed diary full of dates and telephone numbers, I don't really have what you would describe as a social calendar reminding me of so-and-so's birthday bash. I make friends and contacts by other people introducing theirself to me. And for that I am grateful. Once I make a friend I am very loyal but getting to that point requires a great deal of effort on the other party! What a git I am!
For anyone suffering a similar issue, here is the solution ;O)
Looks like Amazon doesn't want Europeans to gain access to the Americans secrets of good powerpoint presentations - up there with nuclear device blueprints I guess. I tried to buy and download Seth Godins Really BAD Powerpoint after reading this blog entry but it seems Amazon can't or won't sell it to me - "We're unable to sell e-books from Amazon.com to customers in the European Union.".
What's that all about then?
Yesterday I wrote a blog about search engine optimization, today there is a bit of news that reminds me about an important aspect of DIY SEO - sometimes the web is local.
In the article linked above you will see that Google has put a lot of effort into developing local geography relevance for when you use a city name in your search. People very often need to find something or someone in your area and this can help in your search engine optimisation efforts especially when you are using much-contested phrases (eg. travel and tourism sectors). Some great businesses are built on this idea in fact.
Back when I taught asp.net I made the concious decision to not do overseas (wife and small child, hassle factors, not worth it even though I really enjoy foreign travel) so it made sense to optimise for "asp.net training uk". Thanks to my >100 articles on aspalliance and my site structure I had number 1 position in google for the majority of the time (some months siliconbeach would take top spot, grrr!) but I always had number one spot for "asp.net training leeds" which was my most profitable market (I didn't charge for travel time only travel and accomodation expenses so sticking local made financial sense).
I guess this just boils down to picking your battles and thinking like a customer/visitor. Also by restricting your market you can make yourself more appealing by appearing like a specialist. I could never compete with the real experts like Steve on a global scale but I did quite well in my own pool.
There has been a thread recently on the UK asp/asp.net developers list, mswebdev.org.uk and this has prompted me to share some links and thoughts here. Online marketing is a great interest of mine, it's an area I find myself moving more and more into and away from development. Perhaps there is a list in it? Alex, Steve?
I wouldn't describe myself as an SEO but I do optimise clients web sites and have had a bit of success. Having said that I try to grab any bit of information I can about the subject (often contridictory!) and would love to share links and tips. Here is the advice I gave to the poster;
"Make sure your page titles have the priority keyphrases and they are
relevant to the page - lots of companies have page titles that say "so and
so company: key phrase" but the words at the start of the title have more
weight than those at the end plus the whole thing is diluted unless you are
optimising for the name of your company. Be careful about too many
repetitions but make sure the full phrase with all the words together is
present as someone would enter it into a search. With one of our clients
just the addition or subtraction of a single word that was already present
in the title put him on page 1 result 4 or page 2 result way down.
Encourage lots of quality relevant links into the site - use the google
toolbar to discover your page rank and the page rank of the sites you want
to link to you. Dont bother if they have a low (sub 4) page rank it will not
help. The higher the page rank the more weight it gives your site. Obviously
if you are an asp.net site then http://asp.net/ and http://aspalliance.com
are the sites to be linked from, current affairs would be
http://news.bbc.co.uk/ - you get the picture. Encourage them to use your key
phrase in the link text rather than "click here". Make sure you are in dmoz
and other important directories.
Have at least 200 words, preferably 400 words of good, relevant,
keyword-laden content per page, and use <h1>, links and alt tags with your
keyphrases in. Dont use frames or flash but if you do have good noframes
text. Text link navigation is good.
possible. Pages that use query strings lag behind those that have explicit
urls so use http url rewriting - eg. http://chrisg.com/pages/recommends.aspx
is really http://chrisg.com/?page=recommends
Keywords and description meta tags still matter for some search engines but
google uses first so many words on page usually.
Even though google has 50% of market, still make sure you are ranking well
in yahoo and msn. Usually having a google success through legitimate ethical
techniques means your site will be ok in t'others too though."
Here are some links I have found useful
Final tip - if you need to find out if your site is listed in google, and which links are listed in google by page rank, use the following search format
For example; http://www.google.com/search?q=allinurl:www.chrisg.com%20site:www.chrisg.com
One of the techy trends that made headlines and filled articles but left me cold, now one of my favourites - XML and web services.
I used to say to people "All I am hearing is blah blah blah". A solution waiting for a problem, I thought. It seems I was both right and very very wrong. I'm still not convinced by reasons to use XML as a database - traditional relational databases and SQL don't seem very broken to me, OO databases are interesting in theory but can't be arsed to look much into them. XML to me is fine for news feed data, configuration data and for "glue" between systems and representations.
And that is where we get to my point (sometimes I do have one, honest). I love the fact people can create content and services, I can strap on an interface, and voila, mucho value added pretty darned painlessly. My only gripe is the flakyness factor - my two XML and web servies dependant pages http://chrisg.com/usefultools.aspx and http://chrisg.com/news.aspx were down much of this morning because of the providers, not my site or code (apart from the distinct lack of error trapping ;O) ).
Being wrong about XML makes me wonder if I was wrong about other things. Perhaps I should have tried OS2 Warp? Maybe I should rent out the "sex in the city" box set? Hmmmm ... let's not get carried away ..