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July 8, 2012

Automatically Generating Rich Snippets For Recipes

I've been blogging on and off about my experiences and progress with dieting over on my diet blog.

One of the things that I've also been doing is sharing recipes for the various things I've been eating.

In order to display them "sanely" I opted for a WordPress plugin called "Easy Recipe" mainly for the display. I wasn't as concerned with the rich snippets and microformat stuff that it also can handle I just wanted recipes to show up clearly.

Here's one for chicken with olives

What's interesting, however, is how it displays in Google search:

Not incredibly exciting, but that will depend on how much data you provide.

Running the recipes through Google's rich snippet tool shows how well it works.

The tool is also handy to check if your site is setup with the "author" attribute for your posts, which you can do via Yoast's SEO plugin

Of course my dieting blog isn't all about recipes and doesn't get that much traffic anyway, but it's still nice to see how using a simple plugin can help with Google and other search engine's understanding what the content is about.

 

 

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July 7, 2012

Website Traffic And Hacks

A couple of months ago one of the sites I run was hacked via a nasty hole in a plugin that it was using. It took quite a bit of work to find the source of the issue and resolve it once and for all.

Once the hole had been plugged properly the traffic levels returned to normal.

But it's only when you have a reasonable amount of data that you can really see how much impact this kind of issue actually can have on a site's traffic.

Here's what a longer period looks like:

Unfortunately other sites that I run have had issues over the last few months. Some were defaced, others had nasty junk inserted - the list goes on and on.

The key lesson to be learnt from all this is to keep a close eye on your Google Analytics (or whatever you are using)

If you see a dip in traffic overnight it might be caused by Google changing their search algorithms, but it could just as easily be due to something hijacking your traffic or inserting some junk into your site's code.

If you're using WordPress make sure to remove any themes or plugins that you aren't using. If they're not installed they can't be compromised.

Keep an eye on Google Webmaster Tools and make sure all your sites are registered there (I discovered that one of mine wasn't which made removing it from their "bad" list that bit harder)

Keep your WordPress (and other CMS) software installs up to date. Make sure that the themes you are using are up to date as well - a lot of them won't "tell you" when an update has been released, so you'll need to check manually.

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November 1, 2010

Blekko And ScoutJet Revealed

A post on Mashable earlier this evening revealed the launch of a new search engine - Blekko.

I've no idea how well Blekko will do, but its method of displaying results is quite novel:

blekko search results display

But forget the display of the results for a moment. Let's have a quick look at how you search.

In Google and most other search engines you simply shove in a keyword (or two) and hit enter.
If you're a more advanced user you might play around with various operators to refine your results or add certain keywords to the query to tune it more finely.

With Blekko this concept is pushed to the front.

So if you wanted to do a search on say "linux" but only wanted to get back results from blogs you can use what they're calling a "slashtag", so your search query would be:

linux /blogs

Which is quite an elegant way of doing it. Of course there's a lot more to it than simply choosing the type of source. You can also use the slashtag to narrow your query.

It'll even suggest relevant ones for you:

blekko search suggestionsYou can read more about how to use the tags on the help pages of the site.

Since I run several sites I was curious to see how long the search engine had been indexing them. A quick scan of my raw logs shows that they've been actively crawling since at least May 2009:
38.108.180.46 - - [27/May/2009:09:25:32 +0100] "GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.1" 200 - "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; ScoutJet; +http://www.scoutjet.com/)"

Which leads us to the name of their bot - ScoutJet.

Not only do they give you the UserAgent, but they also give you the IP ranges that it comes from, which is vaguely useful if it misbehaves. Though I can't imagine that it will based on its previous activity. (Unlike VoilaBot!)

So what about the search results display?

If you look at the screenshot above you'll notice that each result is accompanied by a number of links. This is where it gets really fascinating if you're doing SEO. You can get a LOT of information about both your own sites and those of your competitors. While this information is incredibly powerful I can also see some potential for abuse. Of course if all this information is available to everyone then it is a level playing field so to speak ..

I'll be playing around with Blekko more in the future, as it definitely has an interesting angle on search.

I suspect the tech blogs will be talking a lot about it in the coming days...

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January 30, 2010

Carlow Business Directory Now Live

carlow-biz-logo.pngI'd have to be the first one to admit it. I have an annoying habit of registering domains then forgetting about them or simply not having the time / energy to do anything meaningful with them.

So I love it when I'm actually able to get something up and running on a domain that is functional and hopefully of some use. Emphasis on hopefully!

A few months ago I picked up carlow.biz. It was available, though it was registered a few times in the past to other people.

So with the aid of Forbairt Media's graphic skills, the new Carlow business directory is now live.

Yes - it's still a work in progress (the design is still being tweaked), but if you're based in Carlow and have a site that should be included please submit it! It won't cost you anything.

For the SEO types ...

All the links are clean, direct links.

And of course it's hosted by Blacknight.

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October 21, 2009

Bing + Twitter Combined

Bing is the "new kid" when it comes to search engines. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't used it much, partially because I'm happy enough with Google and partially because Bing keeps getting confused about my location. (Some of the time it think I'm in the UK, other times it knows I'm in Ireland)

In any case Bing (Microsoft) have done some kind of deal with Twitter to offer more of a "realtime" search experience.

The new Twitter service on Bing was launched in the last couple of hours, so it's brand new.

What's cool about it is that gives you tweets + links.

So a search for "ireland" will give you the latest "tweets" (messages posted on Twitter) followed by the most recent links associated with the keyword. So if you post a link to something cool on Twitter it should be picked up almost instantly and "ranked" against the rest of the community.

Danny Sullivan has posted in more detail over on SearchEngineLand. Hopefully Bing / Twitter won't be swamped by the spammy junk that can get sent onto Twitter by automated scripts...

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October 5, 2009

SEO Tweaks For JobberBase

Paul from Blackdog was chatting to me earlier today about Jobberbase, so I naturally asked him if he'd managed to hack around its rather annoying "200 status" issue on "pages not found" ie. ones that should return a HTTP response of "404".

I've been using the software for the last few months on two free job sites that I setup - freelancejobs.ie and technicaljobs.ie.

Not only did he share the information with me, but he's made it available to the public here - cool!

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March 29, 2009

Firefox Plugins To Make Things Easier

I use Firefox both in work and at home, so I'm used to using it on both OSX and Linux (Ubuntu). Since so much of what I do is either centred around email or web based systems, my usage of my browser and a few other tools, is quite important to me. Things that make my life that little bit easier are always welcome.

So which addons do I currently have installed:

  • Google toolbar - shows a site's pagerank and gives you access to a few other handy little tools
  • Zemanta - a handy tool for bloggers which allows you to easily access images and links based on your post's content. You can also use it to easily link to products on Amazon
  • Mozbar - direct access to the Seomoz tools
  • Delicious - probably the addon I use most. I spend a lot of my time bookmarking sites, so doing it via a web service like Delicious makes sense
  • Alexa sparky - gives you access to Alexa data on any site you're viewing
  • Ebay toolbar - if you use ebay as much as I do then this makes it a lot easier to track your current bids (I was trying the AIR desktop, but it was annoying)
  • Blacknight domain search - allows you to search for available domains directly from within Firefox

Which Firefox tools / addons are you using?

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February 12, 2009

SEOMoz Super Discount

SEOmoz are doing a special $1 pro membership deal, but it looks like it will be ending soon.

Go here to signup and use the coupon code: SUCCESS09

I signed up a few days ago and have been playing around with some of their SEO tools - definitely worth more than a dollar!

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February 2, 2009

A New and Bizarre Approach To The Internet and Online Marketing

The internet is a weird and wonderful place.

This evening let's look at the "weird" and possibly even "bizarre".

As regulars readers probably know, I run several websites apart from my day job (I really should put "day" in inverted commas, as it's never really been 9 to 5), including IWF, which is a discussion forum for Irish internet professionals.

Users of the forum discuss topics that they're interested in and, naturally, link to websites they've come across.

(Last time I checked there weren't any laws against linking to websites, but maybe I was mistaken... I'm just not so sure anymore.)

Maybe I don't know anything about how the internet works, or anything about internet marketing or SEO, but I heard this rumour, now it was just a rumour, that links to websites were quite important. Maybe I just misheard it.

In any case I received an email earlier this evening from the owner of a website that someone had linked to demanding that the link be removed as it was against their linking policy and breached their copyright terms (I'm not linking to them directly, as that would be against their rules)

Am I alone in thinking that this is decidedly odd for a company that sells online marketing and SEO services?

UPDATE: The link I provided earlier was redirected to another person's website, so I have removed it.

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December 16, 2008

Cross Browser Testing Makes Sense

Trying to get sites to display identically across multiple browsers and multiple operating systems is awkward. This site probably doesn't display particularly well on all browsers, but I'm not a professional web designer / developer, so you'll have to excuse me. It's also not a corporate / business website trying to sell products or services to the public.

Screenclick, however, is a business website.

Earlier this evening I decided to visit it on my Mac using Firefox. Apart from the really annoying splash page, which doesn't do anything useful, the main page does not load correctly in Firefox 3 on the Mac:
screenclick-firefox-mac.png

Now if you open the same page in Safari you seem something totally different:
screenclick-safari.pngWhy?

Seemingly somebody decided to use Microsoft's Silverlight, but didn't bother to do a simple plugin check that would either prompt the user to install the plugin or gracefully degrade.

I won't be able to view their site on my Linux desktop either, as Silverlight isn't available for Linux (there is a port, but last time I checked there wasn't a native Debian / Ubuntu version available)

UPDATE: I've now moved to my Ubuntu Linux desktop and this is what I get:

The wonderfully helpful splash page (do they honestly expect me to continue browsing after seeing that?)

screenclick ubuntu linux

and the inner page (for some odd reason it's actually telling me that I need Silverlight now, whereas it wasn't on my Mac!)

screenclick-ubuntu-mainpage.png

PS: For a slightly different view on the Screenclick site check out Hugh's post
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