Speed Tip – Selecting Text

On the subject of how to get things done as quickly as possible, here is the first Speed Tip.

Increase Speed while copying text

The web is full of tedious work, from having to manually input eight thousand products into a database to converting a site into a new format. Yes, it is totally impossible to work on the Internet and not end up having to do some extremely tedious work at one time or another.

Take today for an example: I had 70 straight HTML pages that I was converting into a PHP-included layout where the page’s title, meta description and meta keywords were all variables. So I had to go to the page source, copy the title, go to my new page, and paste the title… go to the page source, copy the meta tag… etc., etc., etc.

While selecting text (the “<title>” for example), you normally have to go the start the line (right after “<title>”), drag to the end of the line (right before “</title>” and then copy.

Heres the Speed Trick
If you double click on the first word, it will automatically select that entire word. If you hold down that second click, you can drag to the last word, and select each word at a time (; not each letter at a time). This way you only need to go to the first word and drag to the last word to make your selection.

“Whoa.. big whoop… save twenty pixels of mouse movement….” No, it’s better than that, you don’t have to waste time trying to get right to the front of the word. It gives you a much larger target, and thus it takes less time to “aim.”

-Ashton Sanders

Website Developers – Speed

WiaF MascotRegardless of your profession, your speed and ability to get things done quickly will make or break you. This is especially the case in the field of website design and development where almost everyone has a story of working with a “really slow” website designer, web master, etc.

At Websites in a Flash, I always am working on improving my speed no matter what the project.

“But you get paid by the hour. Who cares how long you take?” – Lazy

An sloppy and unethical business man will have this opinion, but a website designer who’s goal is to create high-quality, professional websites on or before the targeted completion date won’t care.

I feel that speed is one of the most important factor (seconded only by quality). That is why I call my business Websites in a Flash!

-Keep it moving
-Ashton Sanders

FavIcon – Image in the Address Bar

What is a FavIcon?

A FavIcon is the image that appears in the left side of your address bar for certain sites. For example, here are the FavIcons for Websitesinaflash.com, Blogger.com and Google.com:

It is actually a very simple process thanks to HTMLkit.com. All you need to do is make a square image that you would like to become your FavIcon, and upload it to this site. They’ll give you a zip file with the FavIcon in it, and you can upload it to the root of your site. WALA! Here’s the site:

http://www.htmlkit.com/services/favicon/

-Ashton Sanders

How Do Search Engines Think? SEO Basics

Search Engine Optimization is fairly easy to understand. All you need to do is put your self in a Search Engines Shoes.

Let’s start with Google’s Mission:

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

-http://www.google.com/corporate/

Nice and Simple. But it gives you a good understanding of what you are working with and helps us to realize some very basic truths about Search Engines.

Search Engines Truth:

Search Engines want to find useful, informative sites for every search term.

Duh… And they do that by using robots (or bots) that are programmed to “index” websites and decide how useful/informative they are. So our job as Search Engine Optimizers is to make it obvious to search engines that your site is useful and informative. Here are some basics to Search Engine Optimization:

Use Valid Code: The search engine bots don’t have eyes, so they can’t see your website, but they can read the code that makes your website, and they do know how to read valid HTML. But if your code isn’t valid, the bot can get confused and ignore parts of your site.

Content is King: Anyone can make a site that says, “Hello World!” Search engines don’t value sites that don’t have any content. You need to have relevant content on your website. If your site is about fixing Race Cars, but you never say race cars on your site, don’t be surprised when you never find your site under the search term “race cars.”

Don’t Hide Text: An old search engine “cheat” was to have white text on a white background. This would allow you to have lots of keyword heavy content on your site without actually having to bug your visitors with the large amount of text. This will damage your rankings much more than it will help.

Basic Principles: Google recommends that you don’t do anything solely for search engines, which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get your site search engine optimized, but rather, don’t waste time and money trying to develop tricks to deceive the search engines. Just make a good, quality site that people will find informative and useful.

Links:If someone likes your site enough, they’ll link to it. Duh. So if your site is extremely useful, and a lot of people like it, you’ll have a lot of links to it. The number of links you have to your site is one of the biggest things that the search engines will judge your site on.

That’s a nice overview of how search engines think, and the basics of search engine optimization.

-Use it wisely
-Ashton Sanders

.htaccess – AddHandler

There is a very common problem when trying to upgrade sites made by “newbie” website developers or when you realize that html isn’t the only language on the internet, and you need to upgrade your site.

Problem:

You have a site where every page has a *.html or *.htm extension, and you want to add a dynamic, server-side programming language like PHP.

Solution #1:

Go through your entire site, and change every file name to a *.php extension. Then go through every page and correct all of the hyper links. Then do testing on your entire site to ensure that you haven’t missed any links. Also, if you know anything about search engine optimization and websites, you’ll know you need to create 301 redirects from your old pages to your new so that you don’t lose any Rankings you may have gained. Then you have more testing to do to make sure all of your 301 redirects work….

Solution #2

Add this one line of Code into your .htaccess:

AddHandler x-httpd-php5 .php .htm .html

That’s all it takes to add PHP to my html files?

Yep, that’s it. That little line of code has saved me hundreds of hours of work, and I’m sure it’s not as commonly known as it should be.

-Spread the Wealth
-Ashton Sanders

Internet Scams

WiaF MascotWhy do people have to be jerks? Why do people feel it is okay to rip of their neighbors? Why do people have to be so stupid?

Those are some philosophic questions that won’t necessarily be answered in this blog post… but I might get around to it. =)

About a week ago, I started working with a new client. (Lets say her name was Jan.) We got together, and talked about pricing and domain names, etc. We found and bought a domain name, but my client decided that it would be best to wait 1 week before we actually would start putting together her website design.

(NOTE: There was nothing on her website. Nothing, Zilch, Nada, ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY NOTHING!)

Before the week is up, Jan calls to tell me that she received an offer from “Google” to place her site on the top of the search engines for a cheap monthly fee. She had agreed and “Google” faxed her a contract to sign and send back. Luckily for her, she called me. Here is what the contract said:

Terms & Conditions

Guarantees
Your site will be found as promised (on the first page for: real estate agent polson, properties for sale polson, real estate for sale polson, home for sale polson, mls listings polson) within 3-5 business days upon account verification. In the event that you are not found on the first page, we will correct the placement within 2 business days and provide a pro-rated credit to compensate you for the time your site was not found as promised. *Company Name* reserves the right to modify search terms at any time to enhance overall campaign performances.

Credit Card / Checking Authorization
I understand that this contract is for a minimum period of 12 months and that *Company Name* is authorized to debit my credit card or checking account monthly during the term for the price of $119.00. After 12 months, the authorization will continue on a month by month basis, unless the customer noted above sends a cancellation by fax to *Company Name* International at 1-866-***-****.

Cancellation Policy
All fees paid prior to cancellation are non-refundable.

If you wish to discuss your account with a *Company Name* Representative, peease contact *Company Name* at 1-866-***-****. the event of default of this contract (10 days past due), I will be responsible for the full amount of this agreement.

Wow! They can get my site so good that it will appear on the first page? No… It’s called Google Adwords, and the price per click for those keywords are like 5 cents! And NOBODY searches those keywords.

If you type in “real estate agent polson” (the first keyword they mentioned) into the Overture Keyword Selector Tool it will tell you that it “doesn’t have any suggestions for those keywords.” In other words, so few people search that term, it doesn’t have statistics on it.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?

You pay $120 bucks a month to hire a company to start a Google Adwords campaign at 5 cents a click on keywords that nobody searches…

There is only one word for businesses like that: Assholes.

You are not providing any sort of service; you’re just pretending to provide a service. You are a teenage prick who thinks that taking advantage of ignorant people is an honest means of making a living…

-Grow Up
-Ashton Sanders

CSS Zen Garden

What is CSS Zen Garden?

It’s a great idea, thats what it is. It’s the ultimate Test of a CSS Designer. They have one basic HTML file, that is free to download, but you’re not allowed to change it. The only thing you are allowed to change is the css (which is all you need), and people create the coolest designs using only CSS!

Introduction to Cascading Style Sheets

HTML is very functional, and you can do a lot with it, but there are two large down sides to it. It’s purposes is solely for formatting, and it clogs up your HTML documents with a lot of code. Adding a Cascading Style Sheet to your website not only makes it way easier to format( and change at a later date). It also simplifies to the code like nothing else.

I recently did a Search Engine Optimization on a site called: Clear Lake Guide Service. The previous website used about 100 lines of code for the header… Using CSS, I cut that down to 20 lines of code. It keeps the Search Engines happy, and the website designers happy.

So needless to say, you can do almost anything with CSS!

Now back to CSS Zen Garden:

Zen Garden takes submission from website Designers from all over the world. And every design looks like a completely different website, even thought the XHTML is EXACTLT the same as all of the others! Right now they are getting close to 1000 submissions! If I have a free hour, I’ll throw one together as well.

“CSS makes the internet spin a little bit lighter.”
-Ashton Sanders

Google Webmaster Tools

Yet another reason why Google is awesome: Webmaster Tools

Webmaster tools is the greatest tool for anyone wanting to get their sites up in the search engines. Search Engine Optimizers who don’t know about this tool, aren’t really search engine optimizers.

You prove to them that you own your website in one of two ways: 1) uploading an .html document to the server with a certain name like Google2903ncvd90nk30.html or 2) add a meta tag to your home page with a similar random name. After that, Google will get you all the information that they have about your site!

The program will tell you all of the crawl errors that the Google bot has while crawling your site! So if your site has gone through a couple redesigns or upgrades, I guarantee there are pages that used to exist that Google can’t find. And everyone of those pages create a 404 error for the Google bot – which, by the way, is not good. But you’ll never know unless you get this tool and find out!

Its got endless tools like that. It has a robot.txt analysis page that will tell you if you have any problems with your robot.txt.

It will tell you how your pages are ranked by Google. It will tell you like 50% of your pages have medium page rank and the other 50% has low page rank. It will also tell you how many links you have directed to your website, and where they are coming from.

Google Webtools also has a place for you to submit your website’s site maps! (Get gsite crawler to create your sitemaps… It makes it as easy as pie.)

And I barely scratched the surface on all of the different tools available to you through webmaster tools.

Check it out
-Ashton Sanders