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Glyn Darkin Posts

Proposal for a White Hat Stack Exchange Site

I was recently invited to put together a proposal for a new Stack Exchange site, similar to Stack Overflow, but one begin dedicated to the topic of White Hat SEO. The idea is that if the proposal gets enough discussion the guys who run the Stack Overflow will build and fund the site.

So please guys go have a look. I have already put loads of great questions up there for voting and now we just need a few followers. So if you are interested in doing SEO write and please follow the proposal and join us on the adventure.

Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: White Hat SEO

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Git Vs Mercurial on Windows

I have been using Git & Unfuddle for a small project where I am the only developer for the past 6 months. After trying a number of confusing things I finally managed to get it working and have been pretty happy until recently. Suddenly I could nope push changes up to my repository, then I could not authenticate to the repository, and then finally I could not even contact the unfuddle website. I tried reinstalling new versions of Git, then got confused again with setting up SSH keys and tunnels etc, etc, etc.

Enough was enough. Mercurial & Bitbucket to the rescue. 1 hour later I have my source checked back in to a remote repository and it has not cost me any money.

Bitbucket has the same features as Unfuddle with the same pricing plans. I should also be able to import my old git repository straight into Mercurial.

UPDATE: Bitbucket has now been take over by Atlassian, what does that mean to you and me? The free plan has unlimited private & public repositories, the only limit is 5 users to your private repositories. I dont think there is another hosted source control out there that is offering anything close.

Mercurial is incredibly simple to use form the command line, but sometime people prefer the old windows GUI. Well for those people used to Subversion with Tortoise SVN fear not, there is a windows GUI for Mercurial.

Here is a couple more links for those people who still need convincing.

Joel on Software – Distributed Version Control is here to stay

Hg init: a Mercurial tutorial

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A Proposal for a Stack Overflow site dedicated to SEO

Having been on the hunt lately for good SEO advice I have found that so much information out there is conjecture, as a developer I like quantitive  measurable rules, not qualitative suggestions. Therefore I have proposed a new Stack Overflow site dedicated to SEO. I feel that the Stack Overflow model would be fantastic for helping webmasters filter the wheat from the chaff.

So, If you like the idea, please read the proposal and give it an up vote.

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Getting a Muse site up and running check list

This page serves as a brain dump of all the resources I used to get our first Muse site up and running
The below checklist is in no particular order

*** This list will be continually updated ****

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My first attempt at a Muse

I have always been a person with to0 many ideas and not enough time, but after reading Tim Ferris’s Book “4 hour work week”, it inspired me to get the ball rolling.

So the first idea is a site called Traditional Irish Fare, it builds on “what we know” and is a website to promote and sell recipes that my wife has been working really hard to perfect, as you can tell by the name they are Traditional Irish recipes and there is enough there to cover a full Irish meal.

The major drive to get the website up and running was for St. Patrick’s day, as during the run up to the celebration “Irish Soda Bread” becomes one of the top internet search terms in Google.

We built the site in a single day. That included all the cookery and photography. We promoted the site with Google Adwords.

I was not to concerned about making a sale as we put the website live about 1 week before St. Patrick’s day, and the real purpose was to gauge interest.

What did we learn.

  1. Google Adwords are expensive
  2. SEO is so important for sustained traffic
  3. When pricing your product don’t forget the payment provider charges
  4. iPhone style pricing does not work (i.e. the barrier to purchase is to high, checkout drop out etc)
  5. Product photography is really important

Next Steps

Although we did not get that much traffic, we now have a full year to get the site ready for next St. Patrick’s day, and there is a lot we can do to improve the site offering and the final product.

  1. Get a section on the home page with more “About Us” information
  2. Add pictures for each step of each recipe
  3. Add You Tube videos of the cookery process
  4. Create an iPhone/iPad app
  5. Work really bloody hard on SEO

Update:

One of the things that I did for our first Muse was to create a site using an HTML template from Dream Templates, the template was excellent, and served its purpose for our experiment. However next time I think I would start using a blog engine similar to this one instead of building a site from scratch. Modern blogging software is so sophisticated that they can be used as complete publishing platforms. Plus if you choose a well established platform like word press the number of templates out there is just incredible. Plus, blogging about your Muse is a great way to generate marketing buzz.

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I love Redgate!!!!

I have just spent the day debugging the ASP.Net Membership provider as I had an issue where users could not log into the my test server.

Redgate have added a new addin to the ever excellent Reflector, that enables you to debug third party assemblies from within Visual Studio. How amazing is that!!

I was able to debug through the membership provider and find out where things were going wrong.

As it goes the error was due to my own stupidity, aren’t they all, but it saved me hours.

Another Red Gate tool  that has become  a permanent part of my development tool kit.

I have to mention that SQL Compare is also excellent.

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Make all URLs lowercase

We have had lots of problems on our site the trying to get the Google Analytics overlay to work. This was mainly because we had different case urls all over the place and Google’s view of a URL is case-sensitive.

Reading the Google Starter Guide they highlight the importance of one URL to reach a document and mention to avoid odd capitalization of urls

Avoid – using odd capitalization of URLs (many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better)

http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf Page 9

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H1..Hx Should we use them?

Make sure you have an H1 tag on every page of your site. On the home page it should probably be the SiteName/Brand name but for the rest of the site make appropriate to the page. I try to think of a site like a book. You only have the book name as a title once. After that the title will most likely be the chapter (Category) you are reading. And make sure you only have 1 H1 tag per page.

“Heading tags (not to be confused with the HTML tag or HTTP headers) are used to present structure on the page to users. There are six sizes of heading tags, beginning with h1, the most important, and ending with
h6, the least important.”

http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf Page 13.

Its also important to use your H2 tags to put more context on the page, but do not over use them.

Google uses the example of a news story where the H1 tag is used for the name of the site and the H2 tag is used for the topic of the story.

In an eCommerce site, for example a landing page, the H1 tag could be used for the Title of the Landing Page and the H2 tag could be used for the subsections of the page e.g New Releases, Best Sellers etc.

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Page Title Length & SEO

“Most major search engines display approximately 60 characters from a page’s title in the title of a search result”

http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/google-seo-report-card.pdf Page 4.

This leads me to two thoughts.

1. We should make our titles less than 60 character so that they look good in search results.

2. Only the Home page needs to have the Brand/Sitename as the beginning of the title. All other pages should have the Targeted keywords for that page at the beginning and the Brand/Site name at the end.

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Description meta tag use & SEO

I have been reading Google’s SEO report card and I realised that when most people talk about SEO they talk about rankings on the page. What we forget is that click through is just as important than position. Description Meta tags do not count in Google’s rank but:

“Including an informative description meta tag on your pages can influence the quality of the snippets shown in search results.”

http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/google-seo-report-card.pdf Page 8

We also need to keep in mind that Google will highlight the search term in the text (“Keyword highlighting”) when it displays the snippet. This keyword highlighting helps a user select a search result.

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