Posts

  • SEO Tips

  • Quick List of SEO Tips

    • You must get indexed by the search engines, most offer a method to submit your site, however its FAR better to simply get a linkback from another website. Let them find you naturally.
    • Keep the text between the title tags under 60 chrs – This will help you get the most out of your keywords [Google tails off titles on the serps at about 60 chrs]
    • Avoid using dynamic URLs (eg: http://www.example.com/index.php?id=123) use static looking links instead (eg: http://www.example.com/example-articles.html) — Also avoid PHP session IDs and unnecessary variables.
    • If your site has multiple (sub)domains, and they have the same content, point them to one domain.
    • Register your domains for longer than a year – spammers usually only buy domains for 1 or 2 years.
    • Larger, older sites are better, as they score high in search engines.
    • In search engines “the-word” usually registers as “the word”, so where possible use – (dash) instead of _ (underscore) in your URLs
    • Choose a domain that will be most relevant to you, either your name (product, company, business, etc) or descriptive (eg: search-engine-optimisation-example.com)
    • Dashes in URL (eg: http://www.search-engine-optimisation-example.com/the-home-page.html) — stick to no more than 4 in a URL.
    • Keep your URLs short, less than 100 chrs is best.
    • Unique description meta tags per page – less than 200 chrs, although search engines don’t rely on this, it is often displayed
    • Unique keyword meta tags per page – less than 10 words, the keywords must appear on the body text of the page, no repeats
    • Make use of the header tags (H1, H2, H3) these will help identify what the page is and push your page further to the top
    • Place your keywords in your body text near the top, try and use b (bold), strong (bold) or em (italics) on them.
    • By internet standards all images must have alt text – Describe the image using short relevant text.
    • Use keywords for your link anchor text instead of using “click here” or such.
    • External links per page should be a limited to 100 where possible.
    • Choose your domain name TLD extension carefully, .edu and .org appear to get higher status than .com due to spam.
    • Size of pages should not be larger than 100K, its preferred that you have lots of smaller pages.
    • Search engines like updated pages, such as news pages, it also like additional pages, make sure you also keep your old static pages.
    • Site consistency — although its not proven to be a factor of SEO, it does help usability.
    • Search engines like blog sites as they bare lots of content and many external links, showing trends
    • Use text instead of images where possible. If you have to use images, use alt text. – Search engines don’t read text on images.
    • Get listed in directories such as DMOZ and Yahoo, avoid link farms and FFAs.
    • Avoid using meta redirect to redirect users to other pages.
    • Avoid excessive cross-linking to sites hosted on the same IP range (C class).
    • DO NOT copy your content. Not only does this violate copyright laws, search engines penalise you.
    • Search engines find it difficult to get relevant text from Flash if any at all, avoid constructing your page with flash, unless its for presentational purposes.
    • Search engines don’t follow links in forms, image mapping, javascript links, frames, very well, if not, not at all.
    • Avoid putting your email address in text form on a page, as this will appear in search engines and generate unwanted emails
    • Avoid any “black hat” SEO methods, they don’t work in the long run, stick at the real methods and you’ll get far better results than risk your site getting banned.
    • Use correct HTML markup where possible, although this doesn’t make much of a difference to the search engines, it will help you avoid other problems.
    • Don’t use gateway pages or intro pages, they are useless and tend to disappear from search engines, not only that but the main page gets pushed down. — This is also bad for usability as visitors aren’t interested in your gateway, just your website.
    • Try and get as many backlinks from as many reliant websites as possible. Avoid bad sites. — Anchor text on your links is important here, make sure you use a relevant keyword.
    • Try and get people to stay on your site, avoid annoying the user and provide them with reasons to stick around.
    • Suggest the user bookmarks your page or create pages that would be bookmark worthy.
    • Use a stable web server, there is nothing worse than having your site down.

    Also see:

    For more help with SEO, visit #SEO at EFnet

    seo-tips.html 1143716510
  • Guide to regular expressions

  • A “regular expression” (or regex) essentially is the use of a pattern for string manipulation.

    Regular expressions are used in many scripting and programming languages as they are a very powerful tool, allowing you to match and replace strings based on the supplied pattern.

    Regular expressions aren’t always that simple, however there are things you can do to make it as easy as possible.

    Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.

    Jamie Zawinski, in comp.lang.emacs

    • If you can use native string functions instead, use them. Regular expressions should be your last port of call.
    • Don’t be lazy, TRY.
    • Read about what regular expressions actually are on Wikipedia.
    • Don’t reinvent the wheel, you may find the solution is already out there, google for it or try the Regular Expression Library.
    • Read Mastering Regular Expressions by Jeffrey Friedl. This book is not only a story, but its also a good resource for examples and reference.
    • Testing regular expressions?
      • The Regex Coach is a tool that comes highly recommended for testing your patterns.
      • Try the Regex Powertoy, it’s a fantastic AJAX based matching tool.
      • RegExR – a FREE desktop application for Mac, Linux and Windows.
      • RegexBuddy – Not free, but meant to be good.
      • For Python there’s Kodos.
      • jsregex.com
      • regexpal.com
      • Your favourite scripting language. PHP, Perl, Javascript, TCL, MRC, VBS, almost any of them!
    • Cheat Sheets make good references, there is one at RegExLib.com and ilovejackdaniels.com.
    • Regex in Javascript?
    • In PHP PCRE regex is quicker than EREG, but you should always see if you can use quicker native functions such as strncasecmp, strpbrk and stripos instead.
    • For performance reasons it is recommended that you should always try and use the native functions instead of regex, especially in PHP.
    • Stop parsing HTML with regexes and read how to parse HTML.
    • When parsing XML in PHP try xml2array, which makes use of the PHP XML functions, for HTML you can try PHP’s DOM document or DOM XML in PHP4. Also try Simple HTML DOM Parser.
    • Try getting help, if you do, tell us:
      • What goes in?
      • What do you want out?
      • Which language are you using?
      • Have you tried anything yet?

    Hope this helps!

  • Migrating from Windows to Linux

  • These days I find myself playing less and less games on my computer. This is mainly because I use my computer as a workstation, and playing games would interfere with that.

    My workstation, like most runs Microsoft Windows – Why? – Because I always have done.

    With the release of Windows Vista ever dawning, and the new Windows Genuine Advantage checks, there has never been a better time to find an alternative solution.

    Over the past few years I have had more and more dealings with Linux, and I find myself asking the same question… “What is stopping me from migrating from Windows to Linux?”, I then find myself creating all kinds of excuses why I cannot.

    I spent many months attempting to eliminate these excuses, by offering the solutions to your problems.

    My reason for sharing this with you is to make it more of a realistic possibility for everyone, not just IT gurus or geeks, but anyone.

    Why would I want to migrate?

    There are many reasons why you would want to migrate, I’m sure that the reasons to migrate out weigh the petty reasons of why you are forced to stay on windows.

    • Affordable – Not only is it that Windows costs a lot of money, but the additional software you require, such as Microsoft Office costs money too! Using Linux and Open Source software eliminates these costs, as they are freely available for download.
    • Reliable – This is the reason why a large percentage of the worlds websites run on Linux based servers, and not windows.
    • Secure – It’s not that it doesn’t have its fair share of issues, its that its not targetted in the same way as windows, meaning that there are a fraction of the problems.
    • Compatible – Anything runs on Linux. Almost.
    • Support – Linux has been very well received over the years, therefore there is much support behind any Linux related project.
    • Future – Is it really a realistic idea that people will pay for an operating system when they can get one for free that can do exactly the same things. Certainly not, therefore this is the future.
    • Choice – One of the best thing about Linux is that there is a vast choice of distributions that all offer their individual advantages. No longer are you forced to purchase an operating system from one distributor, you can simply download it free from your choice of distributors.
    • Anti-monopolisation – Microsoft have had it too easy for too long, holding a large percentage of the workstation market, give them a reason to really get competitive.
    • Privacy – By running windows and connecting to the internet, you are seriously compremising your privacy, Microsoft now checks your OS Version, System Manufacturer, System Model, Windows Product Key, the date, and most likely your IP address will be logged, as this is standard protocol when you access a server.
    • Open Source – No more closed source non-sense like the software from Microsoft.

    There are the reasons to migrate, and i’m sure you’ll agree, they are good enough reasons.

    Usually at this point you will find excuses of why you can’t migrate, usually along the lines of “My [essential software] will not run on linux”.

    I intend to look at each piece of “essential software” people use on Windows and offer either a way to run it on Linux or a compatible alternative.

    We all have them, software we use on a day-to-day basis that we’d seriously miss if they no longer existed.

    My essential software is as follows:

    • Microsoft Outlook (NOT Outlook Express) – This offers Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes and Journal, I mainly use Mail, Calendar and Contacts.
    • mIRC – An internet relay chat client that is second to none, not because of its interface, but because of its flexable scripting ability, its very useful to create an automated function to achieve a certain repetitive task. It also obviously allows me to chat to certain people and and within communities.
    • Winamp – There’s nothing better than streaming di.fm or playing mp3s from my vast collection of music.
    • Mozilla Firefox – Possibily the best browser around at the moment.
    • Outlook Express – A very simple mail client and newsgroup reader, I personally don’t use outlook express, as I use Outlook, but I imagine the usenet part is essential to some people.
    • Mozilla Thunderbiard – A reasonable alternative to Outlook Express.
    • FileZilla FTP Client – A rather good open source ftp client, an absolute must for uploading and downloading to/from an FTP server.
    • EditPlus – A really useful text editor, so much better than Notepad.
    • MSN/Live Messenger – I need to beable to communicate with my mates.
    • RealVNC – Important peice of software to allow me to access my PC from anywhere, mainly for access to mIRC and Outlook, but mainly because i’m very often out and about.
    • Photoshop – I like to have a dabble sometimes…
    • Azureus – Bit Torrents are big thing these days, you’re gonna need a good bit torrent client.
    • Microsoft Word – Everyone needs a good word processor, after all, this is why computers were made.
    • Microsoft Excel – Spreadsheets are very useful for displaying tabular data, and creating graphs.
    • Microsoft Access – I know that often people use access for their database systems, although I don’t use it myself, I know its very important to some people.
    • Nero – A great peice of software for making backups, burning images and duplication.
    • PowerDVD – Its nice to beable to play DVD’s on your PC, especially when your PC monitor is bigger than your TV
    • Audiograbber – So when I do actually buy a Music CD I like to convert it into mp3s so I can listen to it without the CD in my drive.
    • Dreamweaver – Its not that important, but its useful sometimes to have a WYSIWYG HTML editor or web authoring software.
    • Putty – The ability to connect to a server via SSH is vital as a server administrator.
    • X-Lite – A peice of SIP Voice Over IP software, very useful in this day and age, especially when people are calling you.
    • Calculator – I don’t physically have a working one, a software one is very useful.
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader – An important peice of software for reading PDF files.
    • Norton Antivirus – I left Mcafee many years ago for Norton, we all need a way to stop those little critters!
    • Kerio Personal Firewall – Godda block those unwanted connections.
    • Winzip and Winrar – Having some kind of compression and more importantly decompression utility is important.
    • Apache – I actually run a local copy of Apache with PHP, usually as part of XAMPP for local development purposes and remote file access.
    • File and Printer Sharing – Although its actually part of windows, i’d seriously miss the ability to access files across my network.

    I got this far, my next step was to look at Linux alternatives to this software, however this is where my migration plan breaks down, as I lack research on a solution to Microsoft Outlook in Linux.

  • Finding a Portal Script

  • I spent a long time today searching for a PHP based portal script either for a small community website or an ISP.

    What I am looking for as a small community is a basic version of what thisisstaffordshire.co.uk offers or similar.

    What I am looking for in an ISP community website is a basic version to what orange.co.uk (formerly wanadoo/freeserve) offers or similar.

    My theory was that something like this would exist already, after all there’s no point re-inventing the wheel, or at the very least I would be getting a feel for what was already out there.

    So I began looking in all the normal places, starting with sourceforge.net, where I found nothing decent. I then began looking on hotscripts.com where there is an entire directory just for PHP portals.

    I soon discovered that the majority were either PHP-Nuke based or PHP-Nuke like, which is NOT what I am looking for, others were basically a CMS package, not a portal.

    Eventually I came across a portal called Creative Community Portal, which looks like it would be perfect for the small community website so I take a look. I’m taking to a website called Creative Software. They are offering this script at $79.99, however I soon realised that these guys aren’t the best at web design, yet it strikes me as odd that they have quite a tidy portal script on offer, my assumption was that they had taken it from somewhere else, and so my research begins.

    I began by trying to find other sites that use the same engine by searching for the names of the images, and common strings.

    I find the following websites:

    • http://www.spioneers.org/Default.php
    • http://www.omeopatiadirisonanza.it/Default.asp
    • http://www.4so9.com/cauca/default.php
    • http://www.seniorschoice.com/kelowna/Default.php
    • http://www.mcintyreskiarea.com/Default.asp
    • http://www.clubgs.org/Default.asp
    • http://www.prodavisro.com/icoane_site/Default.asp
    • http://www.yuccavalley.com/genealogy/Default.asp
    • http://www.rincenatiarna.com/members/AccessDenied.cfm
    • http://www.mntalent.com/Default.asp
    • http://sleeping.mine.nu/parisian.org/Default.php
    • http://www.pataleo.com/Default.php
    • http://www.watersport.net/portal/Default.asp

    The first thing you should notice is that they all appear to be in different programming languages, and none of them use the same design as the one I found originally, yet they are all closely matched. I figure there must be some kind of third party code generating software being used.

    So I take a look at the HTML code of some of the sites.

    Its not long before I find this:

    So I decide to take a look at YesSoftware CodeCharge v3.0.1.6, and I believe I am onto a winner as I find that an example script bundled with the software is infact a portal! And as if that wasn’t enough I found mention on their forums of an online portal which can be downloaded from gotocode.com for free.

    The problem I found is that none of these look anything like the sites above, let alone the site I found originally. The search continues.

    I go back to looking for similar sites.

    Its not long before I find this: http://www.uksamba.org/portal/Default.php

    On this site I find more details, including a user guide, license agreement, and more importantly the name of the company that made it, UltraApps. However, when I visit their website, there’s no mention of this application. Never fear though, there’s always the web archive.

    The rabbit hole deepens.

    I soon find myself on their old website, via the web archive looking at downloading their portal script, there it is, you can download it for free. I download the PHP version and have a play around with this for quite some time. I find two problems, firstly this does not offer all the features that the Creative Software version does, and secondly it doesn’t appear to login for some strange reason.

    I go back to the UltraApps web archive, and discover there is another version, which is the Portal Enhanced Edition, which is NOT free, you must purchase this at a price of $50. I figure I have come to the end of the road with this as without paying somebody some money I’m not getting it for free, and as such UltraApps don’t appear to offer it any longer, and Creative Software doesn’t actually have the right to be selling it in the first place.

    So as I begin to close down my windows, I notice something strange on the Creative Software “demo” site, the title says: “My USA City Guide”, this strikes me as odd, as their demo is a UK version.

    After a quick search I find this demo, which appears to owned by the creators of the style/theme, yet appear to be using the UltraApps code.

    I gave this some thought, and I soon realise that this begs some questions:

    • Why does UltraApps no longer offer their portal?
    • Is there an issue with selling applications produced by YesSoftware Code Charge?
    • Does the USA City Guide have the rights to resell the UltraApps product?
    • Does Creative Software have the right to resell the USA City Guide product?

    Further more I found that the Creative Community script had some major vulnerabilities.

    And after all that I have no decent portal script for a basic small community website.

    The only half decent thing I found was called phpFoX, and by a look at the demo, its simply a clone of MySpace, which is NOT what i’m looking for. Despite the fact that it’s expensive.

  • eTicket

  • For the past few weeks I have been mostly working on eTicket.

    eTicket is an open source Support Ticket System based on osTicket.

    The reason eTicket exists is because no further development has occurred on osTicket since 2005, and unfortunately there were some major flaws found in osTicket.

    Over time, many users of osTicket reported many of the known bugs onto the osTicket Forums, this made it very easy to figure out what the problems were and how to overcome them.

    I myself had discovered some issues with osTicket and already coded some solutions. With this in mind I decided to take on osTicket as my own, and add the appropriate fixes and modifications.

    There were some restrictions with working on eTicket from osTicket, this was the database structure. This is due to the fact that I understood that one of the most important things to users was that they would want to upgrade from osTicket to eTicket, the easiest way of achieving this was to keep the database structure the same and simply changing the files.

    eTicket is now at the point where there are no known problems or bugs, the only issues that remain are features that require changes to the database structure (such as additional tables).

    I hope to continue working on eTicket indefinitely.

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