Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What a Con!+

Con 1 - The BNP Doctor

It's election time for the EEC parliament and today I got a mailshot promoting the British National Party. On it there's a picture of a doctor with the following quite next to it:
    "I'm voting BNP because I see what immigration has done to the NHS. As a Doctor I want to see an end to 'health tourists' and to make sure British nurses are employed and paid fairly."

"I'm sure Ive seen that doctor before," I thought and looked up 'doctor' in Google Images. Sure enough there he was as the second picture found. Now it's just vaguely possible that this doctor in the picture supports the BNP but if so why is he also a member of the New Hampshire Prostate Cancer Coalition on the other side of the Atlantic?

The BNP have used a stock image from iStockphoto.com on their leaflet. The cynic in me believes they probably couldn't find a doctor willing to make such a stupid quote since the UK National Health Service would collapse if it were not for all the immigrant doctors and nurses it employs. If they could find a doctor to support them then I could understand his/her reluctance to allow their picture to be used on a BNP promotion - it would be career suicide!

Now maybe it's naive of me to expect honesty and openness from a politician but this sort of thing on a leaflet isn't likely to get my vote. One last word of advice for the BNP - learn the rules of grammar regarding capitalisation of words such as 'Doctor'. It's not a name or in this case a title or sentence beginning.

Con 2 - Sky Satellite Box 'Protection' deal

Every couple of weeks I get a phone call or mailshot from Sky telling me that the Sky satellite box I have is now out of warranty and that I can take out a protection plan for just £6.45 per month or £77.50 per year. A good deal? Maybe not!

In the UK we have a little thing called 'The sale & Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002' which states we have the right to choose repair, replacement, partial or full refund, or compensation if a fault appears within 6 years (5 years+ in Scotland)and it is reasonable for goods to last that long. That 1 year warranty that 'has expired' has no legal standing! I find a Sky box will fail in it's first 2-3 months or will just keep on working.

Of course the Sky Protection policy does cover your box against accidental damage - but doesn't household contents insurance cover that too? All in all, Sky just seem to want us to pay an extra £77.50 for nothing at all and that makes it Con 2 in my list.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How to get your web pages noticed

Many brilliant web pages go unnoticed because search engines simply have not 'discovered them' or your page is listed hopelessly far down the search results. So what can you do about it? Here's my recommendations.

First the content - Obviously it has to be something other people want to read! Once you've produced it however; rather than a huge single page you need to break your content down into at least 4 pages produced using a template so that they have a similar appearance and common links to each other. Promote each page as follows:
  • Make sure each page has a suitable descriptive title which a user might search for - NOT 'Home page', 'Welcome' or the like. For example in my tutorial about creating a Java animated waterfall I produced pages titled 'Creating a Java animated Waterfall (Lake Applet)', 'Getting waterfall speed and source image right', 'Putting the Java Waterfall together' and 'A Java Animated Waterfall'
  • Give each page headings and sub headings using the <h1>,<h2> or <h3> tags. If the <h1> tag isn't the correct style for your page remember you can change it locally using CSS.
    (e.g. instead of using <h1>[Your Page Title]</h1> you can use <h1 style="font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:28px">[Your Page Title]</h1>
  • Meta tags, in the header of your page, are not as important as they used to be but are still worth adding.
    You need a <meta name="description" content="[Put a short description of the page here]"> Make sure the description includes any keywords a user might search for.
    You need a <meta name="keywords" content="[Put a comma separated list of keywords on the page here]"> Make sure your page mentions each keyword used at least twice. More is better but avoid meaningless repetition which might get your pages blocked!
  • Install Google Analytics on your site. http://www.google.com/analytics/
  • Create and submit an xml sitemap to Google Webmaster Central. There's a shareware download available for a program which will do this all for you - 'A1 Sitemap generator' at http://www.microsystools.com/products/sitemap-generator/. Use it to generate an xml sitemap and “robots.txt” file. Upload these and 'ping' Google and other search engines to tell them about it. You can use A1 Sitemap Generator free for 30 days without restrictions. ($49 if you wish to continue using it)
  • Link to the site from any other websites you own.
  • Get someone to visit the site and tag it with Stumble Upon / Digg and other such social bookmarking sites. Since this will probably be a 'new discovery' they should add a comment on it. If you can't get a friend to do this then visit it yourself - preferably NOT from your own computer - try one at a local library.
  • Find a forum relevant to your site and post there, put the URL in a link. Submit the page to Stumble Upon / Digg etc.
  • Set up an account with Blogspot (owned by Google). Make a post about your site's content and include a link to your site. Yes - you're right - I just did it and here's another link to a free genealogy HTML pedigree template page I produced also.