I’ve decided to shut down my experimental SEO keyword graphing tool to focus on other activities. Sorry if you came here looking for it but it is no more. I wish I could suggest a good alternative to you but AFAIK there still isn’t a tool that can take a keyword, expand it and then produce a graph showing you all the related terms and how you should think about planning your web site pages.
If anyone wants to buy the domain seokeywordsearch.com let me know before I let it go as it will probably get snapped up by some domain squatter.
Anyone buying a domain who is concerned about competitors or domain name squatters sneaking in should consider:
1. The homophones (i.e. same pronounciation) for the prefix (if any), root and suffix (if any) of the domain name (e.g. fone and phone)
2. The plural form or singular form for nouns (e.g. -tune and -tunes)
3. Other tenses of verbs (e.g. -stack and -stacking (gerund) or -stacked (past participle))
3. The hyphenated form for compound words
I’ve paid 3x for a plural version of a domain that someone grabbed after I’d just bought the singular form. Unfortunately consumers tended towards the plural form when recalling the name which made the purchase necessary. That’s another strategy domain squatters may use against you when you purchase a domain name – they see the registration change, know that the name is worth something to someone and so they immediately grab the plural form.
A good domain name finding tool would include phonetic and morphological tools to help you find domains where all relevant forms are available (startup idea for someone).
Last week I received a spam email. The interesting thing about it was that it was sent to an email address that I used for only one purpose: signing up to a local startup’s service. By using a unique email address for every site (and a catch-all to funnel them into one email box) I can track each email that I hand out. I hadn’t even used that particular site since signing up and there was no recent email to or from them in my inbox.
But since I received spam on that email address I can conclude one of three things:
1) My own computer has been compromised – unlikely since I would likely receive spam on all my email addresses if that were so.
2) Someone at that startup sold the customer database to someone else
3) That startup has had their security compromised and someone has stolen their customer database.
And so to the question:
What measures do you put in place in your startup to protected your customer database? Do you seed your customer database with fake names and emails so you can track how it is being used?
Seeding customer lists to track usage has been standard operating procedure for direct mailing lists for decades. Any list that you rent to mail to will have seeds in it that the list owner uses to track each mailing to ensure that it has been paid for.
As a startup, if you aren’t seeding your customer database in this way, you should be.
In a previous post I provided a utility called LinkChecker that is a web site crawler and link checker. The idea behind LinkChecker is that you can include it in your continuous integration scripts and thus check your web site either regularly or after every deployment and unlike a simple ping check this one will fail if you’ve broken any links within your site or have seo issues. It will also break just once for every site change and then be fixed the next time you run it. This feature means that in a continuous integration system like TeamCity you can get an email or other alert each time your site (or perhaps your competitor’s site) changes.
As promised in that post, a new version is now available. There’s many improvements under the covers but one obvious new feature is the ability to dump all the text content of a site into a text file. Simply append -dump filename.txt to the command line and you’ll get a complete text dump of any site. The dump includes page titles and all visible text on the page (it excludes embedded script and css automatically). It also excludes any element with an ID or CLASS that includes one of the words “footer”, “header”, “sidebar”, “feedback” so you don’t get lots of duplicate header and footer information in the dump. I plan to make this more extensible in future to allow other words to be added to the ignore list.
One technique you can use with this new ‘dump’ option is to dump a copy of your site after each deployment and then check it into source control. Now if there’s every any need to go back to see when a particular word or paragraph was changed on your site you have a complete record. You could for example use this to maintain a text copy of your WordPress blog, or perhaps to keep an eye on someone else’s blog or Facebook page to see when they added or removed a particular story.
Download the new version here:- LinkCheck <-- Requires Windows XP or later with .NET4 installed, unzip and run
Please consult the original article for more information.
LinkCheck is free, it doesn’t make any call backs, doesn’t use any personal data, use at your own risk. If you like it please make a link to this blog from your own blog or post a link to Twitter, thanks!
When shooting video, whether for your family or for your startup here’s a list of steps you should consider:-
1. Get a good HD camcorder
Even the cheap lightweight ones do a great job these days. I use a Canon HF100 for most of my video. You can get better camcorders but they tend to be larger and heavier. There’s a lot of truth to the saying “the best camera is the one you have with you”. Having one small enough to carry in your pocket may make the difference between capturing the moment or not.
2. Get a tripod and use it
Use a tripod, (or if you don’t have one with you, a fence, rock or column) to brace against. This will make a significant difference to how professional your video looks. Holding the background motionless will also improve the overall video quality of your movie when it’s displayed on the web because video compression codecs work best when there’s less motion. Codecs allocate information carrying bits to the parts of the image that need them most. A stationary background doesn’t need many bits to represent it. That leaves more bits available to encode the subject in more detail.
3. Never walk with your camcorder while it is recording
Unless you are deliberately trying to create a nausea inducing, Blair Witch -like project stand still. Shoot, hit stop, walk to new location, hit start.
4. Shoot from multiple angles
Before the show begins at your school performance, or during applause, shoot some audience footage. You can splice this in to the show to make the video more interesting. Having some “b-roll” footage like this is also useful to replace any bad bits of video from the performance as a whole. For example, in the middle of the show you leave the camcorder running to capture audio but you move the tripod to the other side. You can use your b-roll footage to replace the video but leave the audio from the original track.
5. Never pan or zoom
Panning is useful only for landscape shots and to look good it needs to be done using a tripod with a smooth panning action (fluid head). In nearly all other situations panning is bad and unprofessional. The same holds for zooming. Don’t use the zoom feature on your camcorder while it is running unless you can do it very smoothly so it’s barely perceptible.
6. Treat your video camera like a still camera
This encompasses some of the previous points. You want to set up a shot, shoot it, and then stop the camcorder before moving to a new position, zoom level or direction.
7. Audio is 75% of video
As a rule of thumb some professionals say that the audio is 75% of the experience you are delivering. The human brain can extrapolate and interpolate images really well to make sense of even the most jumbled video, but if your audio is not clear, if you can’t hear your child on stage delivering their speech, your video is worthless. So before investing in a bigger camcorder consider getting a better microphone for the one you have. At the very least, find somewhere to stand where you can minimize the background noise, away from the A/C units, away from that noisy person who won’t stop talking, …
8. Get some light on the subject
Get people outside where there’s lots of natural light, or get them to stand under a light to improve the quality of your video. Even a couple of garage-style halogen lights can make a huge difference when shooting indoors. But don’t ever point them directly at the subject, bounce them off a ceiling instead to get a more diffuse and natural light without harsh shadows.
9. Use your video to tell a story
Begin with a wide, establishing shot so the audience can identify the location. Shoot a clip of the city sign as you drive in, shoot a clip of the venue from the road. Next shoot some medium shots: the stage, the audience, … And finally shoot lots of close up shots.
10. Do it twice!
If you get the chance, for example, the school play is held twice, two nights in a row, attend both and shoot both. Maybe shoot one as close ups and the other as a medium shot to capture the whole stage. Now you can edit them together to create a much more interesting video.
11. Avoid moving backgrounds
A stationary background with a tripod mounted camera will produce the best looking compressed video output. Filming with the sea behind your subject for extended periods of time is rarely a good idea.
12. Avoid using lots of different effects and transitions in your edited video
There’s a saying amongst video professionals: “transitions are for people who don’t know how to cut”. There’s a lot of truth to that. But, if you really must use transitions, use them sparingly and pick just one and use it consistently through your video. Transitions can be used to good effect to show that something is happening in the story you are trying to tell, e.g. the move from one location to another.
Finding a good, short, memorable domain name is tough, not because there’s a shortage of short phrases in the English language but because there are so many domain squatters sitting on millions of suitable domain names.
Two services I’ve used that work quite well are:-
This is a local startup with a very simple one-page site that helps find available short domain names.
This one shows domain names that have recently been cancelled and a therefore available without having to pay any premium. At some point someone thought these names were worth having so occasionally there’s an interesting one there.
First there was Continuous Integration, then there was Continuous Deployment, now there’s Continuous Testing.
Testing can (and should) be integrated throughout your web site development process: automated unit-testing on developer’s machines, automated unit testing during the continuous integration builds and then further automated testing after your continuous deployment process has deployed the site to a server.
Sadly, once deployed, most sites get only a cursory test through a service like Monastic that pings one or more URLs on your site to check that the site is still alive.
BUT, how do you know if your site is still working from a user’s perspective or from an SEO perspective? Serious bugs can creep in from seemingly small changes that aren’t in code but are in the markup to a site, these are often not tested by any of the aforementioned tests. For example, a designer editing HTML markup for your site could accidentally break the sign up link off the main entry page, or the page you had carefully crafted to be SEO optimized around a specific set of keywords could accidentally lose one of those words and thus loses rank in search engines causing your traffic to go down. Would you even know if this has happened?
Based on a small test I ran on some local startup web sites, the answer appears to be ‘no’. These sites often had broken links and poorly crafted titles (from an SEO perspective). Of course they could have used any of the many SEO services that can check your site to see if it has broken links or poorly crafted titles and descriptions (e.g. seomoz.com), but that’s often a manual process and there’s no way to link such tests into your existing continuous integration process.
What would be nice would be if you could include a ‘Continuous Link and SEO test’ on your Continuous Integration Server. This test could be triggered after each deployment and it could also run as a scheduled task, say every hour, to check that your web site is up and that all public pages are behaving correctly from a links and SEO perspective. It would also be nice if there was some way to get a quick report after each deployment confirming what actually changed on the site: pages added, pages removed, links added, links removed.
This is what my latest utility ‘LinkCheck2′ does. It’s a Window command line application that produces a report, and it will set an error code if it finds anything amiss. You can run it from the command line for a one off report or call it from your continuous integration server. The error code can be used by most CI servers to send you an alert. If you are using the changes feature you’ll get an alert when something changes and then on the next run it will automatically clear.
LinkCheck2 also includes the ability to define a ‘link contract’ on your site. This is a meta tag you add to a page to say ‘this page must link to these other pages’. LinkCheck2 will verify that this contract has been met and that none of your critical site links have been dropped by accident when someone was editing the markup.
At the moment LinkCheck2 checks all links and performs a small number of SEO tests (mostly around the length of titles). If there is interest in this tool I may expand the SEO capabilities, please send me your feedback and requests.
Use of LinkChecker.exe is subject to a license agreement: in a nutshell: commercial use is permitted, redistribution is not. Please contact me for details.
Here are your hosting options:-
Dedicated server in colo facility: Highest up-front cost, you need to be operations person too, Lowest latency, best performance per $, entire machine is yours so blazingly fast when lightly loaded, can run virtual servers, cannot scale up or down rapidly based on demand. Typically given 5+ IP addresses so you have lots of flexibility in hosting multiple sites on the server.
Dedicated server rented: No up-front cost, higher cost per month than dedicated, easier to upgrade to new hardware. Someone else’s problem when it breaks. Typically come with a single IP address.
Virtual Servers: Can add new server instances / environments easily. You can run these on your own server or rent them from someone else. Great for load balancing to get the most out of your hardware. Typically somewhat limited in how much RAM you get.
Cloud Servers: Just like having a virtual server but you can scale up or down easily to add new instances. Highest cost per CPU cycle. You get what you pay for but no more – even if the server you are on has spare CPU cycles you are typically limited to the fraction you are paying for. Shared network, virtual disk, … means it will never be as fast as a dedicated server.
In the end after trying cloud servers, virtual servers and dedicated servers I went with the first option: dedicated high performance servers with SSD drives in them hosted in a colo-facility. This setup outperform all the other options significantly providing lower latency (better response times) and the ability to run multiple virtual server instances on them for complete isolation between services, and in the long run it will be cheaper also. Later when we need to scale up or down based on time of day we will probably combine this approach with some extra cloud servers but at the quietest times of day I would expect to have no cloud instances running.
First, they try to fix one of the key reasons people opt out of email: they are still interested but they want less email.
Then they give you the option to really just quit completely.
Then they give you the option to change your email address.
It really looks like they have done their homework, presenting these in the order that most likely applied whilst also trying to keep you as a recipient.
Anyone implementing email notifications for their startup should also take a look at CAN-SPAM.