Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

Web management

5 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 13, 2010)

Consistency: Key to a Better User Experience

I’m a big fan of consistency. It’s an essential factor in having a successful web presence. This UX Booth article covers a number of ways in which your site should be consistent.

A beginner’s guide to blogging for business

Some sensible advice here from Kevin. A useful post to send to a manager/executive when the blog discussion comes up. (or at least to read before talking to them.)

The Social Media Bubble

Whether you agree with the article or not, I find it always refreshing to see buzz-topics being subjected to a bit of economic theory. Some good points about relationships; particularly that many online social relationships are one-sided and lack mutual investment in the relationship.

Step away from your site, I dare you

With the changing way the search engines are looking at how serve the searchers, website owners have to change with them. Universal or Blended Search, together with social media, has changed the game.

How Accessible is Your Website? 8 Tools to Analyze Your Website’s Level of Accessibility

Useful collection of resources; some validating tools, some monitoring & finally some Twitter accounts to follow – 8 Tools to Analyze Your Website’s Level of Accessibility

For your reading pleasure… (week 7, 2010)

Study: Ages of social network users

Compiled using estimated data dragged out of Google Ad Planner rather than a survey of actual users. Nevertheless it’s an interesting post and although the specific figures should be used with care, general comparisons and trends can be noted.

3 Models That Will Guide Your Brand Into The Social Media Landscape

Another article to file in your collection of resources. Johan has produced a thoughtful guide which is seriously useful for any organisation thinking of diving in to social media.

Social Media Optimization: SMO is the New SEO – Part 1

The term SMO is popping up increasingly often as thought-leaders and search-gurus start to learn, realise, and understand how to tweak your social media efforts.

Using a Pre-Launch Checklist for your Website

Our web-world would be a better place if more web project managers made better use of check-lists. This checklist by Smashing Magazine is a resource to bookmark and build upon.

Google’s Enterprise and Mobile Plans: Killer Buzz or Buzzkill?

A look into Google Buzz and it’s possible uses within businesses. Google needs to get Buzz launched for Google Apps before anything serious can happen though.

Custom variables are frosting on your web analytics cake

Some good ideas and recommendations as to what you could measure using custom variables within Google Analytics.

Who cares what language you use?

Your web site is written in Swedish, but hosted in Germany, and uses a international TLD. How do you tell all the search engines what they need to know about the language and targeted country for you site?

Unfortunately, as you probably guessed, All the major search engines deal with this issue slightly differently. Which means you, as a web manager, need to keep your fingers crossed even if you do follow the appropriate web standards.

Google

Google ignores, for ranking purposes, most of the meta data tags on a web page, including the language meta tag. At the time of writing, Google only takes note of 7 specific meta tags.

If you have a country-neutral top level domain (such as .com) then you need to geo-target your website within Google webmaster tools.

Bing

In contrast to Google, Bing does use a number of meta tags when indexing pages.
One of those tags is the Content-language meta tag. Without a Content-language meta tag, Bing presumes that the geo-located IP address of your web-host provider is the country you are targeting your site towards. So if your site is hosted in a different country, you need the language meta tag to correct this.

Yahoo

Yahoo isn’t as straight talking as Google and Bing. They say they do look at the Content-language meta tag, but that they don’t always trust it. Which isn’t the most concrete answer to the question: How to Correct the Default Language Which Yahoo! Search Detects for Your Site.

Web standards

The best you can do as a web manager is to make sure that all of your pages follow three web standards: Doctype, <html> lang attribute, and the content-language meta tag. If all your pages make correct use of these components of your markup, then not only do you help certain search engines correctly assess the language of your content, but you also make your site more accessable to visitors using screen readers.

Doctype

Some people get confused about the doctype declaration at the very start of your markup. You should never change the language of the doctype to reflext the content of your page. The language indicated in the doctype declaration is always the language the DTD is written in.

Lang attribute

Setting the lang attribute of the <html> tag in your markup is important from an accessability and web standards viewpoint. It is, for example, the lang attribute that ensures that screen readers read your content in the correct language.

Remember to always add the lang attribute to any tags that surround content in your markup that differs in language from the language that you declared in the <html> tag.

Content-language Meta tag

Finnally, the language meta tag which Bing uses and Yahoo kind of uses. Make sure you place the meta tag in the <head> section of your page. Make sure you choose the correct ISO region and language combination.

Here is an example in XHTML for British English.

<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en-gb" />

is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

Redirect 301 cheat sheet

Inspired by Jesper Åström’s series of redirect articles, and because taking care of redirects is important, I thought I’d share the cheat sheet I keep in my personal wiki. Similar information is available elsewhere, but it’s worth repeating.

As a LAMP-boy, some of these redirect methods (such as coldfusion and IIS) I haven’t used or checked recently – so double check that they are correct before doing any serious redirect work!

301 redirect with.htaccess for a single URL

RewriteEngine On
Redirect 301 /old/old.html http://new-url.com/new.html

IIS Redirect

  1. In internet services manager, right click on the file or folder you wish to redirect
  2. Select the radio titled “a redirection to a URL”.
  3. Enter the redirection page
  4. Check “The exact url entered above” and the “A permanent redirection for this resource”
  5. Click on ‘Apply’

ColdFusion Redirect

<.cfheader statuscode="301" statustext="Moved permanently">
<.cfheader name="Location" value="http://new-url.com">

PHP Redirect

<?
Header( "HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently" );
Header( "Location: http://new-url.com" );
?>

ASP Redirect

<%@ Language=VBScript %>
<%
Response.Status="301 Moved Permanently";
Response.AddHeader("Location","http://new-url.com/");
%>

ASP .NET Redirect

<script runat="server">
private void Page_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
Response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";
Response.AddHeader("Location","http://new-url.com");
}
</script>

JSP Redirect

<%
response.setStatus(301);
response.setHeader("Location", "http://www.new-url.com/");
response.setHeader("Connection", "close");
%>

CGI PERL Redirect

$q = new CGI;
print $q->redirect("http://www.new-url.com/");

Ruby on Rails Redirect

def old_action
headers["Status"] = "301 Moved Permanently"
redirect_to "http://www.new-url.com/"
end

Keywords meta tag is not completely useless

Despite Google confirming that they do not use the keywords metatag for ranking purposes, the keyword meta tag is not completely without it’s uses.

When you optimise the content of a page for a given set of keywords then that is an investment you have made, and the resultant set of keywords is an asset. The keywords meta tag is a simple way of safe-guarding that asset over time.

More often than not, web pages are optimised when they are initially published. Subsequent edits and updates are unlikely to include a recheck against the original set of keywords especially given the web publishing models many organisations use. This means that the original investment has been at best devalued and at worst wasted.

My recommendation is to keep entering the keywords into the keyword meta tag that the page has been optimised for – not because Google cares about it – but so that editors can be educated to always check their content changes against that list, and to update the list when the page has been re-optimised.

By utilising the tag in this was, we increase the return on the original investment that was made in optimising, and increase the chance that future edits will also be on target & keep the original keywords in mind.

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