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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Web Standards, Browsers and Designing For The Future

At present, a vast majority of webmasters are designing for IE (Internet Explorer) 6, which is not as W3C standards compliant as is FireFox, Netscape, Safari and Opera.

The importance of a designer being cognizant of the fact that web browser standards are not yet fully harmonized - a web page that looks great in Internet Explorer (6) might look hideous in a Mozilla based browser like FireFox or Netscape.
I also noted that with the explosion of devices with which to serve Internet applications, compliance with W3C standards has become critical.

When the final release for IE 7 for Windows XP, Server 2003 & Vista is launched, hopefully before the end of 2006, the tables will be turned, so to speak.

Internet Explorer 7 will be more standards compliant and your HTML code will be subject to much more rigorous interpretation than is the case with IE 6, consequently some web pages that look fine in IE 6 might not look the same IE 7.

In IE 7 Microsoft has made a solemn effort to fix the browsers acquiescence to W3C standards and CSS(Cascading Style Sheets) compatibility. CSS interpretation as recommended by W3C has been improved tremendously giving designers and developers more leverage in functionality for cross-browser design.

Microsoft asserts that they are taking W3C compatibility issues seriously.

Concisely what this means is that IE 7 will tend to interpret your web page code more scrupulously than before.

Therefore, if you have been designing your pages and have not bothered to check how they render in W3C Standards Compliant browsers like FireFox, you may be in for a rude shock when IE 7 finally rolls out.
If you have not been incorporating W3C Web standards in your design strategy you may need to re-design for IE 7.

How should you go about it?

Design for "strict" browsers like FireFox first. Not only is FireFox a more standards-compliant browser but it is also the primary competitor to Internet Explorer. A contender backed by Google's marketing machine -- and therefore, is not likely do "a Netscape" on designers.

Prior and up to IE 4.x, Netscape was the leading browser in the market with almost 80% of the market, but in a bid to force the issue culminating with proprietary goofs by AOL to whom Netscape sold out, they screwed up big time with versions 4 up to 6. A bitter war of attrition with Microsoft in the late nineties did not help either.

Microsoft grabbed the opportunity and gobbled the Browser market overnight.

With version 7+ Netscape has been revived. How well it will compete with IE and FireFox remains to be seen.

I will be the first to admit that most the web pages I have built in the last several years are not always standards compliant... and so are ninety five percent of other web pages -- as I stated in my previous article, "if strict W3C standards were to be enforced in browsers, most websites would go out of business."

To design for FireFox a designer needs to combine Valid CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for "look and feel" and W3C compliant HTML for web page structure.
The combination of these two design strategies is powerful in that it elicits tremendous flexibility, ease of maintenance and opens up extensive possibilities in website design. The benefits are rewarding, and every webmaster should attempt to utilize this two pronged scheme in their design routine.

Making changes to and/or styling a site designed with CSS is much easier and more elegant than messing around with a traditional table-based design.

CSS may look intimidating to a first-timer but once you familiarize yourself with the basics you can progressively harness the power of CSS to your full benefit. In addition, most web page design tools such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage have built-in modules with which you can automatically generate CSS code, which you can then view in a plain text editor for study purposes.

To aid you in your CSS endeavor you need the following developer tools: Web Developer Extension for FireFox and the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar. Great time-saving tools for creating, understanding, and troubleshooting Web pages.
As a matter of fact, by installing some of the 1,500+ available FireFox extensions you can eliminate the need for quite a chunk of standalone desktop applications.

After designing your Web page remember to use a MarkUp Validation Service to check whether your Web page conforms to W3C recommendations. If there are errors, the validator will notify you of them and suggest corrections.

Also, remember that when designing using W3C standards guidelines a lot of code(tags) that were very valid in the "Pre-Standards" era have completely depreciated and will be ignored completely by browsers. If you ignore these errors during validation, your web pages might not render correctly.

In many instances, you may never be able to achieve 100% HTML or XHTML validation. In such cases you may want put the following DOCTYPE declaration in your document -- at the top of your web page before the tag:

DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN

A "Document Type Definition" or DTD supplies Web browsers with information about which (X)HTML specification your web page is built upon, which instructs the Browser how to render the page for viewing.

In the example captioned above a standards compliant browser will interpret your web page as an HTML 4.01 document, and because it is marked as "Transitional," it will display it in "quirks mode," meaning that the browser will forgo the strict standards mode, and display your page like it would be displayed in older "non-strict" browsers, while still supporting any tags developed after IE 4, Netscape 4 and others.

On the contrary, the following DOCTYPE declaration tells the standards compliant browsers that your web page should be displayed in strict compliance with the DOCTYPE declaration.


A complete list of recommended DTDs can be found at the W3C Website.

If you leave the DOCTYPE out, the browsers automatically switch to "quirks mode," therefore, it is important to include the DOCTYPE declaration on every web page that you build in order for it to be rendered correctly.

If your Web pages render well in FireFox at present you probably will not encounter any major problems in IE 7 other than minor adjustments here and there. However, I think a realistic designer should at least make a meaningful attempt to follow W3C guidelines for it is the correct way forward.

Do it now so that you will be ready for the and total overhauls are a time consuming and painful process. A process, which becomes much easier if your initial design incorporated structurally clean and modular (X)HTML with CSS compliance.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Blog Services Pinging Tools

So here are the Blog Services Pingback Tools

* Pingomatic - the most popular. Pings several popular services and specialized services. Create a bookmark for each ping url.
* Pingoat - Pings a huge collection of 52 blogging services, including special services and non english tracking services. You can easily select all services by selecting the category.
* King Ping - Pings multiple services - 18 in all. Easy to check and uncheck boxes. And you can also create a bookmark with your settings.
* Blogflux Pinger - Pings 32 services, including several specialized services and language specific services too.
* Feedshark - Ping, submit, & promote your blog, feed, or podcast for free to multiple services. - Just enter the rss url and it submits to all the 12 listed services. You do not need to select each service.
* BlogBlip - Just enter the blog url and it will submit to 15 popular blog tracking services.
* - pings 16 popular services. 3 are ticked, rest you have to select.
* PingQueue - Pings 16 preselected popular services in one click.
* Pong - is a free desktop ping application that notifies blog tracking web services about updated blogs and feeds. It currently supports XML-RPC protocol pings for up to fourteen services at a time.
* Ping The Empire - Pings 18 common blog tracking services.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Clíck Fraud: Six Things You Should Be Aware Of Before You Buy "Guaranteed Traffíc"

Bill was getting frustrated and desperate. He'd being trying to promote his website for months with little or no success.

Adwords didn't seem to be working. He'd devised the most fiendish ads he could think of and set them up on Google only to find that nobody clicked on them.

He had written several articles and, using an automatic article submitter, had placed them on hundreds of Article Barns across the web. There had been an increase in his Alexa Ratings, but that was it. Maybe there was a slight flurry of hits when he first placed the article, then nothing.
He'd set up a blog, made a press release announcement, and done everything except don a Shaman costume and dance around his computer.

He'd purchased ebooks on increasing his traffíc, and tried every idea he ran across. His budget was beginning to show the effects, and he had the chilling realization that if he didn't come across something that worked, he was simply going to run out of monëy and go bankrupt.

In other words, he was about to become one of the 90 per cent of the Info Marketers on the web who fail.

That was when he ran across a site that guaranteed traffíc. Little did Bill know he was about to become a victim of clíck fraud.

Clíck Fraud and Big Business

Clíck fraud has been discussed in a recent issue of Newsweek (Oct 6, 2006) as one of the most serious issues that faces online advertising. It has cast doubt on at least some of the efficacy of services such as Google Adwords to bring actual paying customers to a business website.

It began with the monitoring of clicks that appeared to be coming from outlying countries such as Botswana and Syria, and grew into the discovery of a scourge that threatens to undo the very concept of paying for clicks as a way of obtaining legitimate customers.
Whole cultures were discovered that sustained themselves by clicking on ads - "paid to read" rings consisting of hundreds of thousands of people who do nothing but clíck on sites.

Newsweek reports that Yahoo and Google claim they "filter out" clicks of dubious origin, but the credibility of pay for clíck advertising is beginning to be undermined. It's estimated that 10% to 15% of all clicks are fake. 300 to 500 million dollars of advertising revenue are being funneled into the clíck fraud industry.

The "visitors" COME FLOWING in

Bill was seriously considering paying for "guaranteed targeted visitors". For as little as $100 he could get this kind of traffíc directed to his site, and after months of frustration in building his customer base he pulled out his credít card.

And the clicks began. They started slowly and then gradually mounted. By the time they reached a thousand, Bill knew there was something wrong.

He was getting a lot of clicks, all right, but he was getting no sales. Bill knew from his experiments with Adwords that his site had a 1% "conversion rate". That is, for every 100 clicks he sold one ebook.

If he were truly getting paying customers he should be selling books, and he wasn't.
What to LOOK FOR in a "guaranteed clíck" service

So the question is, are all "guaranteed clíck" services fraudulent?

If you're down to the point of paying for a service that will send you customers, you should take a hard look at a few things:

1. How do they get their customers? They should have some reasonable explanation for how they entice 10,000 or so customers to clíck on your ad.

2. Do they allow sites with pop ups? If not, why not? Could it be their automatic clíck machine doesn't work on sites that have pop-ups?

3. Do you have the software necessary to monitor your site to determine if the clicks are coming from unique visitors? If you don't, you have no way of knowing whether or not you have 10,000 unique potential customers or 1 machine clicking your site 10,000 times.
4. Do you know what the historical conversion rate of your site is? If sales aren't tracking that conversion rate, why not?

5. Are there any complaints listed with the Better Business Bureau? (Or, if you want a report for consumers by consumers, chëck the Rip Off Report).

6. Finally, if you suspect fraud or feel you have been badly treated, email the company in question and demand your monëy back. If you don't get it, post to the BBB, or better yet, the Rip Off Report. Sites like this one will put some of these guys out of business.

As your business progresses and you are discovering that you aren't getting the traffíc you need to truly "make a go of it", you become more likely to search out quickie solutions such as "paid for traffíc."

* Thoroughly consider the credibility of claims and offers. Sleep on it before you jump in with your credít card.

* Recognize that you need an overall "system" for developing site traffíc, not a "band aid" approach. Band aid approaches usually don't work.

* Visit marketing forums and talk with people about what works and what doesn't. Get recommendations from reliable sources.

* Remember, every recommendation on a sales page is ecstatic, and the entire page is psychologically designed to sell you a product, whether it works or not.

In short, as time progresses and you aren't experiencing success, you become more vulnerable to fraud. You must take stöck of yourself and what you are willing to consider.

And be a lot more careful.

Build SEO Links & Web Traffïc With Your Content

Many website owners and SEOs (search engine optimizers) believe that trading links is the most effective way to build the hundreds of links necessary for good search-engine ranking. But there's another way to build links that deserves your attention: content distribution. A time-honored way of getting one-way inbound links to your website is to distribute content, usually articles, for other websites to publish in exchange for a backlink. Most often, the backlink is included in an "author's resource box," which is a brief "about the author" paragraph promoting the author's site.
Content distribution has usually been thought of as a website promotion strategy rather than an SEO or link-building strategy. But there are good reasons for adding content distribution to your SEO toolkit.

SEO Benefits of Distributing Content vs. Reciprocal Linking Alone

* Links come faster. You send an email with your article to a relevant website owner. That's it. No adding links to your site and then checking and re-checking for compliance. That means you can get more links from the time and resources you spend on link-building.

* Links are not always available through reciprocal linking. Many website owners simply refuse to do reciprocal linking. Content distribution is one way to reach this large segment of website owners.

* Links are one-way. Many SEO experts believe that reciprocal links may be "dampened" by the search engines; i.e., they will not help you rank as high as one-way links. Of course, reciprocal links are still valuable, there's a just a question of how valuable they really are.

* Links per page are fewer. Many SEO experts believe that the higher the number of links per page, the less SEO value each link has. When a website publishes an article, the author's backlink is often the only live link to another website on that page.
Distinct Non-SEO Benefits of Distributing Content

What makes content distribution a truly special method of link building is that it's the only method where the non-SEO benefits may even outweigh the SEO benefits:

* Website building. If you create special content for your link-building campaign, you can publish it on your site. As a general rule, the more content your site has, the more search engine traffïc it will receive. Just publish the article and get it indexed in search engines before distributing it, which should help you to outrank your republishers in search engines for that same content.

* Traffïc generation. The links in distributed content generate traffïc in the förm of highly qualified leads: people who liked what you had to say. Distributing content gets you traffïc even when it doesn't get you a link. If your article gets picked up by a large-circulation email newsletter, you will get a flood of highly qualified traffïc.

* Authority. Distributing content is the only linking campaign method that can make the recipient website and its owners appear authoritative. There are thousands of internet gurus who owe their lucrative reputations entirely to the articles they've distributed.

* Mindshare. Distributing articles is the only linking campaign method that can help you spread an idea. This makes article distribution invaluable for launching new products or services.
Drawbacks of Content Distribution

Of course, nothing good ever came easy. Any website owners who are looking for SEO magic beans will be disappointed by content distribution:

* Desired anchor text is not always available. Unfortunately, the content management systems most widely in place today make it easier for website owners to accept content as text rather than HTML. This means that many website owners simply have their content management system convert a URL into a live link, rather than taking the time to code in the anchor text. Still, an experienced content distributor can usually find ways around this problem to make sure that many if not most of the links use anchor text.
* Results are variable. Content distribution is not quite as sure a thing as reciprocal linking. The site that publishes your article has to like not only your site, but also your article. This is especially true for the passively-generated links that come from content clearinghouse websites. But results can vary the other way, too: an article that catches on will yield more links than you ever could have gotten through the same investmënt in reciprocal linking. In order to minimize the risk of content not catching on with website owners, you should make sure your content is high-quality, and also plan for a large content distribution campaign: the more content you try, the more likely you are to find a wïnner.

* Requires significant investmënt. You need high-quality content, expertise in content distribution, and quite a few work-hours to distribute the content and track the results. Of course, the cost has to be weighed against the cost of reciprocal linking, which is also significant. These costs can be mitigated by outsourcing the entire process from soup to nuts to a content distribution specialist. Costs of outsourcing content distribution compare favorably with costs of outsourcing reciprocal link building.

* Requires special expertise. There are numerous newbie pitfalls to distributing content, from improperly formatting articles to writing a bad introductory email to accompany content submissions. You generally have to have done numerous campaigns to truly get the feel for it. Again, this requirement has to be weighed against the real-world requirement of special expertise in other link campaign methods. Again, this drawback can be mitigated by outsourcing your project to a specialist.

In short, there are benefits to both reciprocal linking and content distribution. All things being equal, you should use both. Still, content distribution is the only one method that carries substantial non-SEO benefits as well. Plus, a professionally managed content distribution campaign may even yield greater SEO results than reciprocal linking would for the same investmënt.

You owe it to yourself or your clients to add content distribution to your SEO-toolkit--before the owner of the next highest-ranking site finds out about it.