MobilePress

I have been updating the site once again and added MobilePress a great plugin which renders your WordPress blog on mobile handsets.

The plugin allows specific themes for specific devices / mobile browsers, such as iPhone, Opera Mini, Windows CE Mobile and other generic handset browsers.

The plugin also allows WordPress theme developers to create custom mobile themes for WordPress blogs using the MobilePress plugin. Therefore, theme designers can create specific iPhone themes or generic themes. Think of MobilePress as an enabler for WordPress on mobile.

Understand Title Page Format to Captivate Your Target Audience

photo by insightimaging

Page Titles vs Headlines

Human perspective

For potential readers, your headline is the first and perhaps only impression you will make. Without a compelling headline it is likely that most people will not even read the rest of your article.

Search engine’s perspective

Most search engines place more weight on the page title then any other on-page element. By not understanding how to best utilise the page title may be missing out on a great deal of search traffic and hindering your rankings for desired keywords.

Achieving balance

Many purists believe you should always write your headlines with the reader in mind, and not worry at all about search engines. While I agree with that idealistically, for the smaller players it is simply not realistic or feasible to be able to discount or not optimize for search traffic.

This post is not about how to write a good headline, but how to write a well optimised page title to make the most of search results. It is important to understand both the human and search aspect of headlines to maximise your conversion rate, for further reading on how to write compelling headlines checkout this post.

Why is the Page Title so Important?

When writing your page title consider the following points to get the most out of your headlines:

  • The page title is the first thing visitors will see and the link they will click in SERPS to arrive at your site
  • When people link to you, they will often use the title as the anchor text. This is why you want to ensure it is keyword rich, so that you will rank higher in search results for those keywords
  • For non-competitive terms, a page title alone can land score you top results. Chris and I conducted an experiment for a phrase ‘free blank resume’ with almost 1000 daily searches. With no content and just a link, Superuser achieved the 1st rank in google au search results.
  • Think ‘what sets me apart?‘ Ranking on the first page is an achievement, but remember you are still competing against 9 other results. Your goal is to give search engines and readers an idea of what your page is about. To set yourself apart consider using the following techniques:
    • Use clear language
    • Have a call to action
    • Ask a question
  • Endeavour to have keywords in the title but still be relevant, captivating and differentiate yourself from the competition
  • Ensure your brand is in the title

What Makes a Bad Title?

The worst thing you can do is have no page title at all, however you should also avoid the following:

  • Using salutations or home page
    • Welcome is currently indexed 30 million times, Home over 15 million
  • Having the same title as your homepage
  • Using untitled
  • writing exclusively for search engines

Researching Page Titles

Another great strategy is to do some keyword research on the topic you are writing about before you post. There are many great free tools such as the Google keyword tool.

For example I changed the original headline I wrote for this post after doing a quick keyword search on the term ‘page title’. As you can see in the below picture while September was a bad month, there is an average search volume of 2900 for an exact match on ‘title page format’. Not bad considering I was originally going to have ‘Page Titles’ and no mention of the word ‘format’.

Final Thoughts

There is no such thing as a perfect title but by following the above guidelines you can ensure you don’t negate plenty of organic search traffic while still hooking in your readers with a compelling headline. Above all think ‘attention conservation‘, sure do as much as you can to accommodate the search engines but ensure you balance this with a headline that will intrigue and not confuse your potential visitor.

Happy hunting!

photo by insightimaging

Online Blender 3D Design Course

blender-plain
Neil Hirsig has developed an online course to offer students an introduction to the world of computer generated 3-D modeling and animation.

As an introductory course, it provides a basic understanding of the skills and techniques employed by 3-D designers in a wide range of applications. In this online course we will explore basic mesh modeling, applying textures and materials to 3-D objects, lighting, animation and rendering. This course should provide a good basis for further independent study in architectural, engineering and theatrical modeling and game design.

The sequence of Learning Units are a suggested path of learning Blender but you are welcome to use this material in any way that suits your purposes.

Anyone interested in participating can email nhirsig@tufts.ed

Example of student work

Chris: An amazing thing about the resources on the site is copyright.

Copyright Notice
All material on this site may be freely distributed without restriction


MobilizeThis 2008

2008-mobilizethis-ppt-flyer-1-728
MobilizeThis 2008 is being held next week, from the 22nd-24th Oct. It is a yearly event which provides a snapshot of a cross-sectorial range of contributions to discussion involving the practical and constructive use of ICT’s in the education and related industries.

This year it is being held at Charles Darwin University

The purpose of MobilizeThis 2008 is to bring educators, e-learning technologists, managers, tech-heads and cross-sector organisation representatives together in a program that fosters conversations, workshops and online experiences to inform practical examples of employing ICT’s in an open and global context.

Chris will be presenting this year his theme being; A Brief History of Free Software and Free Network Services, take a look at the website for further information on the scheduled events.

Open Source sculpt tool in Second Life – Open Loft

Open Loft is an Open Source sculpting tool for use in Second Life. It consists of a series of scripts and objects that enable you to create sculpted prims in world.

It is available free from Xstreet SL and it is Open Source, so can be modified and redistributed under the terms of the GPLv3.

The creator Falados Kapuskas has developed several Open Source tools and scripts for translations, animations, building and more. All of the items are available free and are all on the Xstreet SL website.

5 Principles for Buying Effective Links

Are you looking to grow your blog or website? If so, you probably realize the key to rankings and traffic are links – but which links, and how do you get them?

There are many techniques people use to get links these days, such as being popular, building relationships and link-baiting. Unfortunately most of these are either difficult, time consuming or both.

Ahh link building, perhaps the hardest, most frustrating and unavoidable part of SEO. Why? Because ultimately, it’s still the trump card for higher rankings.

For the smaller players and those starting out, that doesn’t leave many options. Most people are worried about purchasing links, and rightly so. Buying links without the REL=NOFOLLOW attribute is against Google’s terms of service and can technically be considered Blackhat SEO. But does this stop people doing it? No of course not, it just forces people to be more creative and use techniques that are considered legitimate.

Why are links so important?

Targeted Traffic

Links from your industry or websites with similar subject matter as yours drive relevant traffic likely to be interested in your website and products you offer. Targeted traffic is going to have a higher chance at conversion and thus, is more valuable to your website.

Higher Rankings

The major search engines are continually changing and updating their algorithms but one thing that hasn’t changed for a long time – and doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon – is the fact that link popularity is the top factor in search engine rankings.

In crude terms, when returning search results Google considers three major factors:

  1. The number of links to your website
  2. The authority and relevance of the linking websites
  3. The anchor text used to link to you

Ok, so you don’t have to be an SEO Guru to know that links are required to rank, but how then, do you acquire quality one-way links to your website?

Natural Links Versus Paid

Buying links is tricky business, under Google’s terms of service paid links should have a nofollow attribute and thus, not increase your rankings. Google wants search results to be a natural indication of popularity on the internet. The argument being, if you have quality content then people will naturally link to it.

But what if you want a bit of a head start? As a webmaster many factors – such as domain age – are out of your control, that is where SEO and link building comes in.

Disclaimer

It is important to understand that buying links without the nofollow attribute can end with you losing trust with search engines or you being removed from Google’s index. If you do wish to purchase links it’s advisable to err on the side of caution or do so with the help of an experienced SEO consultant.

The 5 Principles

Principle #1 – Relevancy Over PageRank

Buying links exclusively from high PR sites is note recommended. Yes they will have a greater affect on your PR but you should consider these factors:

  • Having a disproportionate amount of high PR links without as many links from lower ranking sites looks unnatural and may raise flags with Google
  • Relevant links are more likely to reach your target market, bringing you targeted traffic
  • Relevant links are becoming more valuable as new search algorithms are giving them more importance

Avoid sites that sell off-topic links as they are most likely to have their site removed from the Google index, rendering your link useless.

Principle #2 – Link Consistently To Your Main Homepage

A good ranking strategy is to ensure all your links point to the same location, usually your homepage.

When linking back to your site use a consistent URL. Check if your site features WWW in the URL i.e. http://www.mysite.com or http://mysite.com . If your site does not have WWW in the URL it doesn’t matter in terms of SEO but make sure that you consistently link back to your URL.

By mixing your URLs you run the risks of the links not counting towards your ranking.

Principle #3 – Vary Your Anchor Text

Anchor text is the words used to link to your site. By linking with your targeted keywords you will be increasing your rank for those particular keywords, which is why you should never use text such as “click here” but rather “cheap online furniture” or words relating to your site.

A common mistake SEOs make is after doing their keyword research, finding a very effective longtail keyword such as “connoisseur oak furniture” and using this for all incoming links. This is ineffective because search engines will see this as unnatural and reduce ranking accordingly.

A much better strategy is to mix incoming links with your core and longtail keywords. Having natural appearing links will yield the best long-term results.

Principle #4 – Buy from different networks

Back when people first figured out that links were the key to ranking some SEOs started hosting many websites on the one server or using one domain to make many sub domains and build link-farms.

Search engines soon figured this out and discounted the value of these links. As a general rule of thumb aim for one quality link from a site and look for further links from sites hosted on different IP ranges.

Principle #5 – Avoid Paid Link Sites

Not only do most search engines not count links from link-farms but some will even reduce trust for having too many incoming links from “bad neighborhood” sites.

By having too many links from unrelated websites you run the risk of being flagged for buying links or worse, being reported by one of your competitors for spamming. A better strategy would be sounding out small to medium blogs and approaching them on an individual basis.

These are just 5 of the many principles for effective link building strategies. Don’t forget that links are probably the single most important factor in determining your natural ranking success. A well implemented will help position you at the top of search engine results and link reputation is likely to continue being the primary factor for top rankings in the foreseeable future.

Photo by DarwinBell

Cloud computing trap

Cloud-computing-concept_nobg
Richard Stallman has spoken out about cloud computing and what he believes is a trap aimed at forcing people to buy into proprietary systems.

Cloud computing is basically where you store data online or run your servers via remote. Millions of people now upload personal data such as emails, photographs and, increasingly, their work, to sites owned by companies such as Google.

Stallman sees cloud computing as nothing more than a sales ploy;

“It’s stupidity. It’s worse than stupidity: it’s a marketing hype campaign,”

“One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control,” he said. “It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software.”

                                                                                                                     The Guardian
If we choose to store data online we have to accept that we could lose it at anytime, either through a mistake, hacking or some other disaster.
Insightful and thought provoking stuff from Stallman.

Free Open Source Software comes to UK schools

EDU_OSDC_BYU_520x292_FINALIt is great to hear that at least one Open Source company has now made it onto Becta’s official list of suppliers to the UK education sector. 

As usual it’s all about money. The Open Source community has always advocated that schools in the UK adopted Free Open Source Software (FOSS) on the grounds that there were considerable cost savings to be had which would directly benefit schools and the taxpayer alike.

As long ago as 2005 a report from Becta strongly supported this assertion. However this was a time when huge amounts of a cash-rich Government’s money were being poured into developing school ICT and value for money was not really on the agenda. As a result the incumbent proprietary vendors enjoyed a feeding frenzy and Open Source solutions were ignored. Indeed it was impossible, despite persistent lobbying, to get an Open Source company on the official school suppliers list. As I said, how times change. If we revisit school’s ICT finances 2008 we see a different picture.                         

                                                                                                     Sirius

As Becta suggested two years ago, the current UK ICT structure requires a level of funding which is unsustainable, adopting Free Open Source Software could directly benefit schools and tax payers alike.

Microblogging @ Jokaydia Unconference

I have to say a big thank you to Henny Zimer in Second Life aka Jeff Agamenoni. I presented a Microblogging session earlier as part of the Jokaydia Unconference. If you missed it then you missed out! Well done chaps, it was a really interesting session.

The Jokaydia Unconference has all but drawn to a close for today, with an informal get together to round off the evening, followed by tomorrows scheduled events.

Microblogging session
Microblogging session

Images cc-by-sa  ty teachandlearn

Magento Install Guide and Case Study

Ahh Magento, released on the 31st of March it is already widely considered by many to be the new rising star of Ecommerce. Developed by Varien, Magento is open source and boasts many powerful features as well as a slick and modern design.

Some of the general features include:
• An excellent backend (see demo site admin/123123)
• SEO and keyword options
• Checkout and shipping
• Analytics and reporting
• Customer accounts
• Order management
• Shipping
• Coupons
• Catalog and product browsing
• Newsletter and email management

This post is a walk through of an installation for a live and functioning UK-based online furniture site. With no coding skills the process was a bit of a learning curve but manageable, with almost 400 products the most time consuming aspect was definitely building the catalogue.

Install Guide

  1. Download the zip or tar file, upload it to your host and decompress. Decompressing can be done via the file manager in your hosts Cpanel or within your FTP client. Do not decompress the files locally on your computer before uploading as there are about 8000 files
  2. Create a MYSQL database with a user/pass that you will need to input to Magento later
  3. Make the following writable (777) by your web server: magento/var/.htaccess – single file magento/app/etc – directory
    magento/var – directory
    magento/media – directory and all the directories under
  4. Browse to the location that you uploaded the files. http://www.yoursite.com/magento/install/ If you do not want the Magento folder in your URL path simply upload the files to your root directory. You can change the access in your FTP program, usually right clicking on the desired file/folder and selecting ‘change permission’; ensure these are set to 777 which is basically full permission
  5. Follow the install wizard – this process is relatively straightforward, you will need to enter your MYSQL details and change some file permissions. There are options for custom installation but most default settings should be guessed for you
  6. Finished! Now goto http://www.example.com/magento/admin to access the backend and start uploading your products

Conclusion

In the end, the person I set this site up for was very happy with the finished product and now has a fully functional open source Ecommerce website. For me, the most challenging aspect was the lack of a WYSIWYG editor, though this is rumored to be added in a future release.

In case you plan on giving it a blast, some of the major lessons I learnt during the process were:

  • Install the sample data – this helps so much to learn how static-pages are created and gives you a great head start on a sexy front page
  • Resize all product pictures – pics with a high resolution (2000 x 2000) will not display properly
  • Decide on your shipping price and if you are going to have different shipping prices BEFORE uploading and creating all your products
  • Make sure you spend enough time learning the product creation process and understand the implications of all the different features
  • Decide what products you want to be ‘related products’ or ‘upsells’

The next step for Furniture Depo is a Google Adwords PPC campaign in order to bring some instant traffic to the site before investing in expensive and long-term organic SEO. If there is enough interest I will post a follow up of the progress and success of the site.

Overall I found Magento to be a powerful and feature-rich software suite. For those wishing to sell only a couple of products it might be overkill as it can take a while to learn and configure. However if you’re willing to invest the time, Magento has many features to help you stay ahead of the game and the polished feel really goes a long way to reassuring your customers that you are indeed a genuine Ecommerce business.

This post was by Jack, creator and author of Nubtub