Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Spider-Friendly Navigation

Most blogs that I see are not remotely spider friendly. By that I mean the search engine spiders have to wade through a good bit of html only to find there isn't much there but the posts. Each and every blogger has to view their blog the way the spiders do, and then fine-tune things to be not only spider friendly, but also to spoon-feed the spiders what you want them to eat. How do we do that? Well, for starters use a utility that examines your blog the way a spider does.

Spider Simulators.

There are several simulators available that will do the hard work for you. They visit your URL, strip out the HTML code, and serve up the meat of your blog site the way a spider sees your site. Here are the best sites to use:

WebConfs Spider Simulator
SEOChat Spider Simulator
Webmaster Toolkit Spider Simulator

Fix Your Theme

Now that you have looked at your site using one of the simulators, you may notice that there are no meta names or descriptions listed. You may even find that the top lines are spam for your theme designer. The first thing you need to do is realize that most themes are designed for looks, not for search engines. You need to add some "meat" to your theme by way of meta descriptions and keywords. In WordPress, you will probably need to open your theme editor and use the header.php which is where most theme writers put meta information. Examine what you see closely. With Blogger, you will need to use Blogger's theme editor for the main page. For starters, try adding a line in the section of your theme for keywords. Although Google does not put much emphasis on keywords, some search engines do. A meta keyword listing would be something like [meta content="term1, term2, phrase one and two, another phrase, term3" name="keywords" /] (we used square brackets so this code will display. Replace with angle brackets).

The terms and phrases, obviously, should be something relevant to your site that you would like the search engines to pick up. Try running a simulator again and see whether the keywords are now being picked up. With the WebConfs spider simlulator you not only get the meta listing, you also get links from each of your keywords to other suggested keywords. Experiment, learn about meta and how spiders looks at your site. Fine-tune your site. You may have information in a sidebar that is being wasted. Notice where the spiders put sidebar information. Keep in mind that most spiders consider text at the top of a page to be more important than text near the bottom.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Back to Blogger?

Possibly. We're strongly considering going back to the original blog platform.

On the other hand:

"But things don't appear to have gone entirely smoothly. According to some Blogger readers, the software exited beta in the manner of an egg nog-filled guest leaving a Christmas party." --Cnet

Stay tuned. It's the war of the blog platforms. We may just run Blogger and WordPress side-by-side so everyone can judge which is better.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hitler and Copyright

Here is one of our favorite posts from the Blogger Blog archives-

Simon Waldman has a quiet little British blog he calls Word of Waldman. Recently, as he was going through some old magazines from the 1930's, he ran across an article in Homes and Gardens about Hitler and what a nice chap he was. It occurred to Simon that this would be a good blog subject. That is, how public perceptions are created by media perceptions. So, he scanned the article and made it part of his post.

In response, Homes and Gardens demanded that he take the post down. "This piece, text and photographs is still in copyright and any unauthorized reproduction is an infringement of copyright. In the circumstances I must request you to remove this article from your website. Sorry that I had to take this stance, but am sure you will appreciate the legal situation."

Simon did take it down, but sent Homes and Gardens an email: "These are interesting and important historical documents. As you are clearly aware. They should be widely available for as many people as possible to learn from them. That they can be, instantly, is one of the great beauties of the internet. I'm afraid as well, that simply getting them taken off my site is unlikely to be the end of it. These are digital files. They have been seen by thousands of people. It is incredibly easy for people to copy them and put them up on their site anywhere in the world. As of now, I have no idea how many versions there might be on the web."

Well, Simon knew how the Internet works. The corporate world apparently does not. In trying to apply a very weak and nonsensical copyright claim, Homes and Gardens insured that their embarrassing article would be seen a thousand-fold more times than if they had kept quiet. As for Simon, he is a bit bewildered by all the attention this has brought his blog. "I don't know...for a couple of years I blog away in a quiet little backwater of the blogsphere, barely registering among the Technorati, writing my all matter of things to a daily audience barely big enough to fill a minibus. Then all I do is scan in a few old magazine pages and put them up...and before you know it...global media exposure." You gotta love blogging. It can turn any of us into a journalist with something important to say. By the way, here is one of Home and Gardens "copyrighted" photos from the article. Notice how enforcing their copyright magically made everything disappear?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Moved to a WordPress platform

Blogger Blog, which is Blogger Forum's offical blog, can now be viewed at www.bloggerblog.com or www.bloggerforum.com.