Archive for the_time('F Y')

AMD & ATI to merge
25 July 2006 in Business | Comments (2)

AMD + ATI to merge

It’s now official, AMD & ATI are to merge (as much as a 5.4 billion dollar transaction is a “merger”). The deal is still subject to approval by ATI shareholders, court approval and regulatory approval however this deal has been in the wind for the last few months.

For more information about the deal check out the AMD page about the deal (which is exactly the same as the ATI page). Also there is a slashdot story about the merger.

Following the announcement Intel revoked ATI’s license to make motherboard chipsets etc for Intel chips.

- JD

Search: How to improve your site position, part I
24 July 2006 in Google & Search Technology | Comments (0)

Search Series

The challenge
Now that your site has been indexed and is appearing in search engine results you’re finding you are not rating very well. You might be the 10th result, the 20th or the last. You ideally want to be the #1 result for the search terms you deem as important to your organisation.

A solution?
You know a wee bit about how search engines work and think that perhaps you could manipulate your position with a few clever tricks. You know that search engines examine the words on the page and the meta tags. Two very common manipulation tactics that I’ve witnessed are:

  • Keyword Stuffing: This is where your title contains about 50 keywords, so does your description and keyword meta tags.
  • Invisible Text: This is where you place certain terms in your page but set the font colour to match the colour of the background, effectively making the text invisible. If you notice a large blank space at the bottom of pages and select that region you usually find this type of trick in use and see text gets selected.

What a lot of people who use these tricks don’t realise is that they are widely known about and the big three search engines can identify web pages using these techniques. When you’re identified as somebody who uses these tricks you’ll often find that your search position slowly slips because you’re getting penalised for trying to manipulate your position.

There are many other ways that people try to use to increase their position however these two seem to be the most common.

The real solution
The first thing to do is ensure that you are not utilising the techniques listed above. Following that, some ways to make your content work harder at getting you a good position are:

  • Use HTML elements for headings and important content. For example, rather than using <span class=”heading1″> around a heading use <h1>as search engines can identify these tags as meaning the content within them is a heading. This is important because normally the terms in a heading give a strong indication of what the content is about. So if you’re a hotel, having a heading with “The best hotel in Wellington” would result in those terms being weighted more highly than if they appeared in the general content of your site.
  • Ensure that the content on your website has a good rate of change. It’s not uncommon for search engines to penalise websites that never change their content or websites that change their content constantly. Having a policy to update 20% of your site content every six months is useful for ensuring your site feels fresh with web users as well as letting the search engines know your site is being updated.
  • Use meta tags intelligently. Each meta tag has a specific purpose so if you are setting the Description meta field don’t fill it with 500 keyword terms that are comma delimited. That isn’t a description, a description is a sentence or two about the page. You should ensure that you use the terms that are important to you that are relevant to that page in all fields however. In this example, our Hotel home page may have:
    • Title: hotel_name – The best hotel in Wellington, New Zealand
    • Description: Welcome to the website of hotel_name, the best hotel in Wellington.
    • Keywords: best, hotel, wellington, New Zealand, hotel_name, north island
      These are all just examples but it shows how the meta fields should be used. It is important to remember not to put too much content in your meta tags, they are supposed to be short.
  • Update your meta data. A common occurrence is that a content manager changes the body content of a webpage but forgets to update the meta data. This is especially important for Intranet search engines that place much more emphasis on meta tags.
  • Don’t use broken HTML. This point item isn’t the most important but you should make sure that your website contains valid HTML. While browsers and search indexers usually handle some broken HTML gracefully I have read several times that some search engines will penalise slightly if HTML isn’t valid (mostly because it doesn’t show much “care” in your website and if you do not care about your site why should others?)

There are many more ways to ensure that your content will work well with search engines which I will go into with future posts on the topic.

Always an exception to the rule
Wow, the second post and I’m already regretting using the word “Always” because the really isn’t an exception to this rule. You should never try and be “clever” in trying to change your search position. It never pays to try and fool the search engines. If you apply the tips listed here you should find that over time your search position closes in on that valuable #1 spot.

- JD

Search: How to get your site indexed faster
18 July 2006 in Google & Intergen & Search Technology | Comments (6)

Search Series

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting about common challenges that people face with website search (both with public search engines like Google, and website search such as SharePoint search). If you have any questions about a topic or would like to see an entry about a specific challenge you have then please leave a comment :)

The challenge
It’s the usual story, somebody has spent a lot of money on a website and they want to start seeing a return on that investment as soon as possible. There is nothing wrong with that, I’d be concerned if I was building a website for somebody who doesn’t want to see a return. The challenges arise when a site goes live and it is expected that the site is indexed by the major search engines in a matter of minutes of that go-live. So how do we get a website indexed by search engines as quickly as possible?

A solution?
Back in the 1990′s it was common practice to need to submit your website to search engine for it to index you. Some started following links and automatically found sites however this was usually seen as not a priority compared to manually submitted sites. The view that this practice is still the best is strong with some and they see site submission as the best way of getting their site indexed fast.

These days it’s not uncommon to see sites offering to submit your site to more than 1000 search engines for a small fee of $500 or more. Some people would see that as value for money without realising it’s almost a complete waste of time.

The real solution
Modern search engines don’t prioritise on submitted sites. They don’t see them as valuable and for good reason – would you trust a website that was brand new or one that has been around for a significant period of time with many links to it? I’ve read many accounts (and see this in practice) where a site can be manually submitted to a search engine and not appear in search results for several weeks. Yet, when another website that is mildly popular links to that same site they’re in search results within days.

One way to get links to your site early is to allow a case study of the site development to be posted on the vendors website. I’ll go into more ways to help build your link collection legitimately in future search posts.

When considering the value of paying somebody to submit your website to hundreds of search engines, remember that 95% of your search result referrals will be coming from the big 3: Google, Yahoo, MSN Search. I would never advise on the use of such submission tools because, frankly, they’re a waste of time in terms of return on investment.

Always an exception to the rule
It is important to note that I’m not advocating never submitting yourself to an index manually. There are specific industry sites, directories and community sites that are related to your business and submitting to these sites is important for visibility within your industry sector. Automated tools won’t even know that these sites exist or that they’re more important to you than a mass spamming to various indexes around the world.

– JD

Click this link!
18 July 2006 in Blogging | Comments (0)

Vote for my blog as the best .net blog in New Zealand :)

I didn’t take part this last year and thought I should give it a whirl since I was automatically included :)
Cheers and thanks for the vote,

- JD

FireFox 2.0 Beta 1 is available
11 July 2006 in Tools | Comments (1)

This week saw the first beta of FireFox 2.0 is out. It has several enhancements over 1.5 including:

  • Spell checking on form fields (my favourite feature!)
  • Session restore (close the browser with tabs open and they’ll be restored when you open again)
  • “Undo Tab Close” for the times when you accidentally close a tab
  • New search (similar to Internet Explorer 7.0)

Overall I just like the spell checking – something I’m sure will come as an extension in IE 7.0 (perhaps as part of the Live Toolbar?)

I’m really looking forward to this second round of competition in the browser space – we’re going to see some cool stuff coming out. I’m not quite sure I’m sold enough to move off IE 7.0 though. The future is bright :)

Download the Windows installer for FireFox here.

- JD

Free WinForms Control Library
8 July 2006 in .Net & Code | Comments (1)

Component Factory Logo

From time to time I enjoy doing WinForms development and quite often I find myself frustrated with some of the controls that come “out of the box”. Normally I end up overriding controls or, worse yet, writing them from scratch. Because of this I often keep an eye out of control libraries. There are some fantastic libraries out there but I thought I’d share the Component Factory suite which is free for both personal and corporate use.

Check out the Component Factory homepage for more details.

– JD

Want a free 19″ LCD Monitor?
5 July 2006 in Intergen | Comments (1)

Intergen, the company I work for, is looking for more people to join our team. It’s never easy deciding to make a move but to help sweeten the deal Intergen have a promotion that if you apply and we employ you before the 31st of August you’ll receive a free 19″ LCD monitor. That’s not the only reason you should look to apply to work with us, we also offer:

  • Working with cutting edge technology (Office 2007 suite, .Net Framework 3.0 and more)
  • Free fizzy drinks (seriously we order so many flavours and the volume is crazy)
  • Opportunities to work with a variety of clients
  • Free cell phone + $100 of credit per month
  • Free international travel insurance
  • Personal access to our supplier pricing for computer gear
  • Chill-out zone with xbox, dart board, couches etc
  • …and more :)

We also have some of the best people in the industry (MVPs, Microsoft Regional Director etc) so you’ll be working alongside some of the best minds in the industry.

For a complete list of positions check out our available positions page. Don’t forget, Intergen also operates out of Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch so location shouldn’t be a big problem :)

So, now that you’ve decided you would like to apply, what should you do? Email me at john-danielt@intergen.co.nz with your CV and cover letter and I’ll pass them on.

And if you’re not sold yet? Email me any questions you have if you want to know a bit more or, if you live in Wellington, I’m happy to come and have a coffee with you :)

– JD

Vista Beta 2 problem
3 July 2006 in Windows | Comments (0)

As a heads up to anyone else that uses Acronis Disk Director (ADD), it can cause issues with Vista Beta 2.

I created a new partition and formatted it using ADD only to find after using Vista for 20 minutes it was complaining that I needed to run chkdsk to fix file system errors. I ended up assuming the drive was busted and did another setup on another physical disk only to have the same problem.

After a bit of searching people have found that using ADD to do the filesystem manipulation causes the problem. Apparently you can still create the partition using ADD but make sure you do the format using the Vista Setup. I’ll validate this tonight or tomorrow (you never know, maybe all my drives are broken).

– JD