Category Archives for Basic Web Concepts

car speeding at night as a metaphor for site speed

Site Speed for Dummies – How to Get Started

You know the performance of your site matters. But everytime you venture into site speed optimization you feel like you stumbled into a land of foreign geek speak.

Unfortunately site speed is a complex topic and technical (“Configure Entity Tags” anyone?). Some changes can require a web developer to implement the changes. With this post you’ll understand better where performance problems can crop up so you can have a better conversation with your developer. We’ll also cover the low hanging fruit that you can tackle on your own as well as the tools you’ll need to get started.

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What is a WordPress theme?

WordPress basicsSometimes those of us who are immersed everyday in WordPress, SEO and Online Marketing topics forget there is a whole world out there that has barely heard of WordPress. Or if they have heard of it, they think it is only used for blogs. So today I’m going to talk about WordPress themes and what they are.

Anatomy of WordPress

To understand WordPress themes, it helps to have a basic understanding of WordPress itself. I like to think about WordPress as different components working together that not only brings you an awesome website, but one that comes with an administrative interface you can use to create new pages on your site without needing any technical know-how. If you can do Word documents, you can write pages on a WordPress web site.

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DMCA Takedown Procedure for Stolen Content

No one like having their content stolen. It’s even worse when it ends up on low quality spammy sites that drag your backlink profile down into Penguin target territory. If the website in question is scraping a significant portion of your content, like entire articles verbatim, filing a DMCA takedown compliant with Google can be effective way to get it removed.

First, attempt to contact the site owner and tell him that stealing content violates The Digital Millennium Copyright Act and you will file a DMCA takedown with Google if the content is not removed. If you don’t get a response, then file the DMCA takedown request. If it is a Google properly, such as a blogspot blog it can get completely removed, otherwise it will be removed from Google’s index. For non Google properties, select the “web search” option.

Reporting spam, such as paid links and malware is a different procedure.

Overwhelmed by Technology – Trends to Watch

Happy New Year! This is the first of a series of blog posts on trends to watch in 2011.

Overwhelmed by Technology or Do me

Last year I did a number of posts on Facebook and Google changes. The comments on my Facebook post were interesting, especially on the concept of a Facebook email account. Many just didn’t like the idea of yet another email account to manage. This sentiment echos other comments I heard, people are just overwhelmed by the technological change. If you are on any marketers’ email list, as I am, not a day doesn’t seem to go by, when you get emailed about some new earthshaking technique that you would be a fool to ignore. Witness the latest Brendon Bruchard campaign on becoming an expert, echoing many marketers out there, and many are saying to become an expert, you need to master video.

What’s kind of interesting is that the technology has really become easier. In particular wordpress makes it a lot easier to put together websites, and hand held video recorders with YouTube puts video in reach of many. What’s confusing is all the noise about HOW to use the technology effectively. Unfortunately there isn’t single right path for businesses. What may work for one may not work for another. But marketers and web consultants learn “a way” and that is what they promote as the latest, must have technique.

So what is the common reaction to the confusion? It’s “do me”. More and more, people are not willing to invest the time to learn the basics, and they are increasingly willing to hire it out. Pure education on how to market on the internet may not sell as well unless you offer a packaged service as well. Due to this trend, for my business, I’ve started offering services building optimized websites for this very reason.

Own Your Domain Name!

You wouldn’t register your DBA or LLC entity in your accountant’s or lawyer’s name .. so why, oh why, do so many businesses allow their webdesigner own their domain name?

Just a few weeks ago I had to inform one of my associates that the website she was working on, was not registered to the rightful owner, and wasn’t even hosted where she thought it was.

If you are confused about the difference between domain names and hosting, here is a quick explanation: Your domain name is your online identity and the name of your site (eg. webenso.com). “Hosting” means you are renting space for your website from a hosting company, when your browser, whether it is Firefox or Internet Explorer, accesses your website, their servers “serve” up your website pages, similar to a waiter serving you your soup.

It is possible that domain is registered with a different company than your hosting provider, which means there are two separate accounts you need to have access to … and they both should have your name as owner – not your webdesigner’s name.

For both domain names and hosting accounts, there is usually a way to specify a “technical contact”. It is perfectly fine to have your webdesigner listed as a the technical contact .. but he or she should never be listed as the owner.

You not only should have the domain name registered in your name but also you should have all the account information (username and password) for:

  • Your hosting account
  • The account where your domain is registered (if different)
  • Your admin panel if you are using a CMS (for example your admin login for wordpress)

Make sure also you have the URL you go to enter your username and password. If you don’t know whether you are hosted with godaddy or bluehost, the account details will not be that useful.

I had to work with a client whose webdesigner died and left me a forensic exercise to hack into his admin panel and database. Don’t let this happen to you!

If you do not own your domain name you may not able renew it (so your site goes dark with a domain name expiration). You will not be able to point it to a new website.

If you are interviewing a webdesigner, ask them questions about the website domain registration and registration. Be suspicious if they tell you they have to host your site on their “special” servers and set up the domain for you. Most simple business websites don’t need anything special and a hosting provider like bluehost.com provides all the tools (and more) needed.

I do register domains for my clients as some of them just don’t want to face the “technical challenge”, but I always do it in their name and set it up to bill their credit card.

If you are not sure who owns your domain, try a whois lookup.

What makes compelling web page content?

Most of the time I work with web savvy clients, but I’ve been helping a small business get online and I get consistently reminded how much I’ve taken for granted that basic web concepts are understood.

The business is a tax and accountancy firm, and so they deal a lot with various IRS publications and lists. So they sent me a six page list of various medical procedures that can be deducted on your taxes. My assumption was that I would also get a couple of introductory paragraphs (why the reader should care and how they should use the list) and that I would create a page for them with the pdf list as a resource link on the page.

Nope, they were thinking the list *was* the content and that I would just take the pdf and convert it to HTML. Putting the technical considerations aside, I had to step back and think about this. Would site visitors prefer the list in a nice downloadable pdf or would a HTML formatted list be the way to go? Obviously I would have to build in some pagination (as I explained to my clients).

To get my question across, I ended up having to explain the different file formats and user experiences when interacting with the web. How a pdf is really intended as a resource and is usually too long to fit on a web page.

I’m still not sure of the best way to go. It’s a really long list and seems more suitable for a pdf, but on the other hand more HTML content is always good for the search engines.

What is a webinar?

Webinars are so prevalent in the internet marketing and the technology industries that we sometimes forget that many people still don’t know what they are.

Let’s start with a description of it’s predecessor, the teleconference or teleseminar. I’m sure you are familiar with what a seminar is. Seminars or a conference is when you attend an in person meeting which has a speaker that talks about a particular topic. Teleseminars are very similiar except that you attend by calling a phone number and listening to the speaker. They have become very popular because the attendees avoid the cost of traveling and the presenters avoid the cost of renting a room. Another great thing about teleseminars is that they are usually recorded, so the busy person can listen to the recording later at a time of his or her choosing, although this means missing the chance to ask questions.

However, teleseminar attendee doesn’t always get the full learning experience of attending in person. You don’t see the speaker’s facial, body language and the presentation materials (such as demos and slides). Since people learn best when they receive information in multiple ways (audio and visual), some information is not absorbed as well when it is in an audio format.

Some teleseminar presenters will send out slides ahead of the meeting, which helps, but the presenter has to be very mindful of not losing his audience. The speaker must make sure the attendees are looking at the right slide and clue them in when moving to the next slide. This is where the technology of a webinar comes in as it solves this problem, syncing the visual to the audio.  So here is how webinar works:

  • You listen to the speaker talk (audio)
  • And you also watch the presentation on your computer(visual)

No need to figure out where in the presentation materials the speaker is, you just need to look at your computer screen. And the presentation can be more than just slides, you can see live demos and videos. Additionally many webinar tools allow the presenter to “point” to (with an arrow or some other symbol) the part of the slide that is being discussed, which can really help at times!

Webinars can be recorded just like teleseminars for later viewing. And if you want to listen to a webinar but you are away from your computer, you can still listen in but you will miss the visual component of the presentation.

There are a number of technologies that provide webinar capabilities. Some require no additional software to be installed, you just point your web browser to the right URL. Other webinars, when you click on a link, will automatically download the software, this may take a minute or two. Often you can listen to the audio through your computer sound card rather than calling a telephone number, a boon to folks (especially those overseas) who want to avoid long distance charges.

Webinars are becoming more and more common, so if you want to learn more about a topic it is the next best thing to attending a talk in person.