Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Against Open Source

Let me be clear. When I need a solution, I often times look for something free on the internet. And I'm more than happy to share my feeble knowledge with just about anyone that will listen. However, there are some things that I think of as my own ideas and my own creative rights. These I don't like to just give away.

I was reading the other day about how Computer vendors are able to provide a better value to their customer by using OpenSource software. As a nerd, this makes sense to me. However, OpenSource software in general is more difficult to use and doesn't have a good support base. The open source software is what has family members asking me to help them work on their computers. The strange thing is, I'm a Microsoft person. I don't use hardly anything that's open source. I would rather pay for my stuff and know that I have a base to go back to for support and bug fixes. I understand that Open Source code is freely available and has the ability to be maintained by a lot of people, but it also has the ability to be screwed up by a lot of people and there are many versions available with no good way to keep bug fixes and patches up to date.

I am against using open source software unless you know what you are doing, which is why I think it's a bad idea for computer vendors to add it to PCs. Let's face it, if you don't know what you are doing, the software being thrown at you better work pretty well. And many of the computers today are sold to people who just need something to get them onto the internet. If the person is savvy enough to know how to use the open source software that exists, he will also know where to go get it and what he wants. This stuff doesn't need to be thrown at him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Blogging for SEO

I've been supporting blogging as a way to improve a sites search engine rankings. Although this will provide one more site that links to your main site, that is not enough by itself. What is really needed is a blog that is specific. You must stick to a topic or a very small range of topics in order to find people that are interested in that topic. In general a daily diary will not generate any traffic.

My other blog is just that. A random collection of thoughts that I have and things that I do. If you read it, you will learn more and more about me and what I do and think over time, but unless your goal is to find out about me, then you will not enjoy the blog very much.

A buisniness blog needs to be well defined and consistent. If you are a construction company, then writing about your successes and interesting things that you have done will be great. This will allow a customer that wants to know about your past construction efforts to find out about what you have done. In the spirit of blogs, you should write about both your successes and failures. I know that nobody wants to brag about their failures, but putting them out there for customers to see will let them know that you are aware of them and are learning from them. Nobody is perfect, don't portray yourself to be either.

At the end of the day, your goal is to provide a site that is updated regularly, with focused information about your company and products. People looking for these things will find your blog and read it regularly. Any clicks through to your site from there should be a higher percentage sale than just people who find you through a Google search. Search Engine rankings are nice, but until a person sees your site they don't have a clue if it's even related to what they were searching for. That's why you want to use a blog to get repeat business.

Be honest on your blog, those customers that you are selling to now, are also the ones you will be blogging about tomorrow, they can help or hurt you.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Traffic vs. Rankings

I'm an SEO specialist. I don't like to call myself an expert, because without being able to see the underlying algorithm, I can only guess at what will help.

One of the biggest boosts to rankings right now appears to be one way links to your site. In the past link exchanges were how we were able to get others to link to our site. Now, if we link to them and they link to us, it's not as helpful if they link to us. There's a few things I can think that we could use to get around this issue, but being that I'm a white hat (read "do no evil") type of SEO Specialist, I tend to avoid these thoughts of how to fake the Search Engines out so I am really just trading links. That's not useful to me. I want to be ranked higher in search engines, but more importantly, I want more traffic to my site.

An SEO campaign can take months to pay off dividends of getting to the first page of Google, and even then, it's not guaranteed that sales will go up. It sounds like I'm arguing myself out of existence. I'm not. I'm a solid believer in a two-pronged attack. Work on the SEO, but also try to generate more traffic now. The easiest way for generating traffic seems to be blogging. I recommend searching for blogs that are covering topics similar to what your site covers. Post comments to their posts and include a link back to your site. Most blogs will not count this link as a link to your site so it won't help your rankings at all, but anyone who reads the other blog may click on it to find out more about you, and find your site interesting. Find as many blogs as you can to post to. If there are some that you read regularly already related to your field then these are a good starting point. You never know when someone else reading you comment will decide that your site is interesting enough to blog about.

Just the other day, I wrote a post about the new Google toolbar. My page loads tripled because of it. I was shocked to find that just writing about google tripled my page loads. I investigated and found that the Google blog has a section of links at the bottom that shows recent links to that article. There I was, linking to the google post. In a matter of just 20 minutes writing up a post I was able to more than triple the traffic to my site. I've read many times about someone who has a neat new online game or service that doesn't work after a popular blogger links to them saying how cool it is. A site that gets linked to by a popular blog can actually be rendered helpless by the amount of additional traffic that it gets. That's why it's always important to have good, up to date content. And get your site and name out onto the web as an expert. The more places that you are known, the more likely that you will be the answer to the question not yet asked.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Processor Improvements

Computer Processors have gone from being single core to dual core processors, with quite a bit of hoopla, and they have gone from being 32 bit to 64 bit with just as much hoopla.

So what? There aren't any applications that take advantage of the additional features of processors to work faster. Mainly the OS itself needs to be written to use these features, and Linux is definitely leading the way here. Their open source model works well allowing geeks to help get the OS upgraded faster. The only problem is that the OS itself does not allow the common user an easy way to work.

Thus the majority of us, running Windows, will not get to take advantage of the Processor upgrades for a while. Unfortunately, at the same time, Microsoft is not just improving it's OS to use these new features, it's actually increasing the size of the OS, so the speed improvements will be completely offset by the OS additions.

I would like to see 2 or 3 major upgrades to the OS free between each new release. These are not patches, these should be actual upgrades to take advantage of new technology and to improve the speed of the OS itself.