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Webstractions - Web Development & Design News

Commentary on new events and information concerning web development, design practices, search engines, SEO, tools, news story headlines and what's new at WebStractions.

I am not impressed easily by plugins in general, simply because there are just too many of them. But Lucia's NoOldSpamLinks Plugin for WordPress will get my award for Best Plugin of the year when it comes to be. The NoOldSpamLinks Plugin is in its infancy right now and a lot of work needs to be done to it still, but what I have seen so far is all good.

The premise behind NoOldSpamLinks is it will enable you to 'grandfather out' links to a domain that you have already posted about. Add the link to your NoOldSpamLinks list and everywhere that link appears in your posts will auto-magically change to NoFollow. Future enhancements of the plugin will account for any links in your Dofollow comment area as well.

Why would you want this plugin?
Simple. Imagine, if you will, a nice lady's blog GrannyMay. GrannyMay blogs about the retirement years and how to be financially well off when the time comes. She is a very hip senior citizen babe and knows her stuff, you have been blogging about her enthusiastically for years. Plus she has legs up to here, Chuck!

Then one day GrannyMay dies. It is sad and the blogging world mourns the loss. What is even sadder is that XXXpRoN.com just bought her domain for $1251.69 at auction, what a steal! GrannyMay has a PR6 site with hundreds of thousands of backlinks. Now everyone is linked to a hoochy-coochy site catering to Grandma fetishes. We always fantasized about GrannyMay, but this is just plain sick and you spend the rest of the day speaking to Ralph on the white telephone.

That is okay, you have NoOldSpamLinks handy and get rid of your attachment to GrannyMay by Nofollowing the links. At least in the eyes of Google, they will not be considered. It may take Google a little time to come around, but rest easy that it is taken care of --- the drastic change at GrannyMay will spur them to reassess those backlinks.

Keep an eye on the progress of this plugin. Drop by Lucia's blog, install the plugin and give him some feedback.

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This is a simple test post for the Nofollow hack I wrote.

The testing is now complete, and I can announce that I have fixed the problem with unquoted Blogger variable tags. Pretty simple.

Will post the solution later this evening. Thanx for you patience on this matter.

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While nofollow is firmly entrenched into virtually every blogging platform, there are other forces at work that continue to hammer away at the now delicate interlinking structures of blogs. Interlinking, which made blogs a formidable search engine ranking powerhouse in the past is now headed toward the endangered species list with the latest method of wrongly advised SEO madness --- PageRank leakage damming.

Whether you call it link hoarding or PR dilution, PageRank leak theories have been around for years. There have not been any solid provable studies on the effects of external links in regards to PR leakage and its relationship to how that may affect your ranking in organic search engine results. PR leaking has always been an over-hyped link baiting topic used by SEO-types who just want what you want --- more links.

The leakage theory is too overly simplistic in nature. Even the gullible find it easy to understand and that is what makes it an easy sell. As most of us know, it is more complex than that. Many variables go into the making of a search engine algorithm and the actual engineers behind the programming are not going to reveal how it works.

The latest breed of WordPress plugin allows you to set up a post or page that will hold a set of links to external websites. The linking data is conveniently maintained in the WP database. Possible uses for this plugin could be for lengthy lists of categories, archived posts, etc. But it is being promoted as the Blogroll Page Plugin. Say what?

The Blogroll Page is another erosional approach to undermine blog interlinking and some are tacking on the added value of PR leak reduction to sell it. I have no doubt that this plugin will become popular over-night due to some responses I have seen.

I don't want to be an alarmist, but if Nofollow was to fluorocarbons then Blogroll Pages are the cow flatulence that will further decay the interlinking ozone layer. Interinking is what made blogs work. When people start to over-analyze and question every link on their pages in this manner it tends to lead to paranoia. This will become problematic for not only their blog, but also to their intricate interlinking structure.

In an effort to improve the blog in the name of the almighty PageRank, they are in effect biting the hands that feed them --- the Blogroll members. And of course reciprocity will be the name of game when that hand returns the favor and stops linking back. They may even drop you from their "favorite reading" list as well if they see a trend of link hoarding out of you.

The premise behind blogs is simple. Link, and you will be linked in kind or more aptly --- United we stand, divided we fall.





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over 305 free themed fonts available at TypenowFrom TypeNow, 305 Free Themed fonts. Font categories include popular movies (Lord of the Rings), television shows (Battlestar Gallactica), websites (Yahoo ... no Google here though), music bands (Pink Floyd) or singers (Lenny Kravitz). Only 20 or so are available for Macintosh.

Sweet resource.





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In a seperate issue that is not related to the China firewall problem, the Greater Los Angeles area is experiencing a breakdown in communications with the Blogspot.com domain. Of course, blog maintenance via Blogger.com is not affected.

This problem, ongoing for a week now, seems to affect multiple ISP's (Earthlink, AT&T, Covad) regardless of what browser you are using. Blogger has not identified the problem and are asking you to contact your ISP's enmasse to have them work on it. Why Blogspot is not contacting them on their behalf is curious. Seems to me this would be easier to do, rather than explain how to do it via Google Groups to non-technical blogspotters.

Due to massive outcries on this subject, a single Google Help Group thread has been stickied, in which I posted a troubleshooting method to help Blogger (or Earthlink, Covad, AT&T) find where the break down is occurring in communications via a Trace Route ping.

See the third entry from the top in Can't get to my Blogger page thread for instructions. I would like to know what your results were if you try this.



UPDATE 6/14/2007: A response from Covad via email was posted by Double J in the Google Groups thread:

Please include the following line in all replies.
Tracking number: CTxxxxxxxx_xxxxxxxxxx

Dear James,

Thank you for your email.

We were experiencing a slight routing issue that was causing many
of our customers to be unable to access certain sites. This seems
to have been rectified. If you are still experiencing difficulties,
please contact our Inbound Tech Support Team at 1-888-642-6823,
option 6.

Thank you for choosing Covad,
Noelle
Covad.net Technical Support
1-888-642-6823, opt 6 24hours/7days a week

Since Covad is the upstream provider for Earthlink, AOL and AT&T, this stands to reason. This falls into my line of thinking when I suggested using a Trace to isolate where the breakdown in communication was.

So far, I have not seen if their efforts have been fruitful. I do not see anymore activity in the thread yet, so that is a good sign.

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Normally this type of information would be published on my Tips 4 Blogspot blog, but given the circumstances of a much larger problem, it needs to be posted here. There is a problem in China when attempting to view blogs that are hosted on the blogspot.com domain.



The Great Firewall of China problem is ongoing. It only applies to the viewing of blogs at Blogspot, but apparantly does not affect the maintenance of those blogs. Blog maintenance is handled via the blogger.com domain.



Blogspot.com is not the only domain affected in China, Wikipedia and Google (intermittently) is blocked as well. You can check if your domain is blocked with a real-time tool at greatfirewallofchina.org, which has a test server stationed inside of China. However, the tool may report sites as being blocked when there may be a technical reason, such as unavailability.
The censorship methods used by the Chinese government are becoming more sophisticated, more refined and more extensive every year, involving an increasing number of local as well as foreign parties in their system.



According to state media, by the end of 2006 there were 20.8 million bloggers in China. Blogging, which implies venting your own opinions, has become immensely popular in China. In order to control the phenomenon the government wants blog users to register under their real name.
It is puzzling why the Chinese will let their people create and maintain a blog anonymously, but block them from viewing that blog. Be that as it may, a resourceful Chinese individual created a loophole, www.adoptablog.org, in which you can adopt a Chinese blog to help keep these bloggers online - anonymously.



Bypassing the Chinese firewall is being approached from within and outside China by academics, security experts and hackers. Western academics came up with some promising ways to circumvent the firewall, but it may be a matter of time before the Chinese Government will counter those measures. Plus there is the question of whether or not the average Chinese citizen has the technical expertise to find a method (tunneling, anonymous networks, ignoring reset protocols) and apply it.



For now anyway, it appears that China's children should be seen and not heard.



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Instructional videos on the Internet have never been stimulating enough to hold my interest. Until now.

For your perusal, a very thorough How-To video on registering a domain thru GoDaddy. Watch for the promotion code to receive 10% off of your purchase. You are guaranteed not to learn anything here -- unless you are comatose of course.



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Ngeblog 0.2 is an interesting PHP class that can be used to manage Blogger posts via the Google Data API (gdata). It can authenticate a user (or users) with seperate classes using the Zend_Gdata process, submit new posts, update or delete a given post, retrieve posts, and has multiple blog support.



Eris RistemenaEris Ristemena, from Indonesia, was nominated for a PHP Classes Innovation Award in October 2006. Voting caught him the third place prize, being beat out by a Another CAPTCHA Project (why?) and Subversion::Dynamix. He received any book of choice by O'Reilly. Incidently, Eris' blog uses WordPress.



One usage possibility is an online post entry form, similuar to Blogger. Except you could add in the extra bells and whistles such as Trackback Pinging and Technorati Tags. It would also be nice to plug in the original article's Url into the field for Blogger Link and auto-discover the actual Trackback Url.



I will be playing around with this a little bit. Emphasis on the word "play".







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John Chow's brag of how he retook the number one spot back has a lot of people congratulating him for the achievement. He offers no detailed information except for a cryptic hint that Google webmaster tools is your friend and that you should get to know it very well. Hovering over the link he provided, suggested that it may be a problem in that Sitemap area.

It soon became clear that John's Sitemap was part of the problem. It was in conflict with his robots.txt file. Skitzzo of SEO Refugee discovered the differences between a cached version (saved here also) of the file and the now drastically altered version.

Examination of the old robot file disallowed Googlebot for his archived monthlies, feeds, trackbacks, files ending with extensions of .php and .xhtml and any pages with a question mark (?).

What prompted the change in the first place? Jez found another article of John's on how to get your pages out of Google's supplemental index. At the time of the post, he had 1,790 supplemental results. After a robot file tweak, he has managed to remove 10 of those pages from the index. Good job John!

More importanty, his robots.txt tweak had another nasty side effect. Not only were pages being removed from the supplemental index, he was losing regular indexed pages as well. John had 3,190 pages in the index total. His robots.txt file effectively wiped out 340 (non-supplemental)  pages and is now down to 2,840. Excellent job John!

But, John does not mention the robots.txt change in his post. Nor is there an update to the supplemental index post. Instead, he is trying to milk his secret for everything it is worth. And in John's case, he is looking for more money.
I was going to use this post to explain exactly what I did to restore my number one ranking. However, after reading Kumiko’s comments in my Taipei 101 to number 1 post, I’ve decided against it. I think everyone will agree that this kind of information is extremely valuable - some “SEO Guru” tried to take me for $4,000 by saying he knew the answer (which I highly doubt since he made no guarantee).
Whether this change in the robot file was the reason for John's return to number one or if it was just the Google update process taking few days to settle down is not an issue. People will probably be debating this for weeks to come.

What is an issue is that John seems to think that he is onto something, I genuinely believe that. But I also know that John knows of how dangerous his supplemental index post is and is afraid to admit it. Meanwhile that supplemental post is wrecking Google results for everyone who hangs on John's every word -- John is not only evil, he is an egotistical bastard who obviously does not care about his readership. Grade-A job John!

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This may be the list to end most lists, Software Developer's 100 Freebie CSS Resources will aid the novice and professional CSS designers. If you are looking to design your site, but lack certain bits of knowledge to attain a goal -- then turn to this guide and find the site that will.

The guide is broken down into specific areas of CSS development. Starting with the basics of CSS, tutorials and tools to construct your site, then moving on to code libraries, browser bugs, galleries, articles and templates for devine inspiration. It is pretty much all here folks. A one page reference guide that will definitely clean out your bookmarked favorites.

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Starting with the primitives in CSS Tinderbox to the full blown OpenWeb Designs, there are many CSS design concepts to view and demo; multi-column, fixed width, fluid. As well as a little CSS magic with rounded corners, gradient backgrounds and Web 2.0 look and feel.



CSS Template : Slight Amnesia v1.0 by pogy366I liked the look of pogy366's fixed width template Slight Amnesia. Very clean and simple. He came up with this by "flinging code around with no real objective or vision." His main goal was to focus on overall accessibility and browser text-resizing being as painless as possible.

Another style of of pogy's, Tree Hugger, features a single main column with three sub-columns underneath. I am seeing this type of layout pop-up more and more nowadays. It is based on one of CSS Tinderbox's fixed width box templates.

CSS Template : Bright Side of LifeThe Bright Side of Life looks familiar to me. It is a three column fixed width design which is blog template ready. Most of the CSS styling is here, comments boxes, comment form, more, yada yada. Nice tweak on the top with a tabbed navigation bar and the contrasting background image makes the page seem to jump out at you.

With over 2300 designs to browse, you could spend hours here. Fortunately they have a half-way decent method of narrowing your viewing selection down by contrast, primary and secondary colors and document validity type. The category search is pretty useless with only 'business' and 'fun' as your only choices. Still it is a nice place to flip through.

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To my surprise, I noticed a John Chow article I posted sitting on page one of the results for a "John Chow" search at Google. This got me to thinking about how that one post out of 2,140,000 results made it up this high.



This will be more of an analysis than a proof. I have a PR0 blog and really not much going for it in terms of a large readership base. Heck, I do not even use a John Chow label/tag to promote his name with internal linking.



Examining the external links for the article sheds some light:

  • A reference from a "John, I told you so" article I posted. His last name, Chow, does not appear anywhere in the post. I do reference two of John's posts though, this is a case of "you are what you link to". In this case, it is John Chow.

  • Dawud's explanation of why John Chow's billing for DoFollow disappoints him. In this well articulated article, Dawud gave me the a strong anchor text link of simply John Chow. He references several other Chow related articles, but my link is the only one with his name in it. Very sweet Dawud!
  • The nofollow proponent Blog Rumble post entitled Do Not Follow Me Please. was a loss of respect opinion. The link from here refrenced my blog name only, and was misspelled to boot ---Websubtractions. Gotta love that one! Still there were several "you are what you link" references.
  • Proaffiliate's post was simple. They linked to me in both the Title and Body of the post, of which the only thing in the Body was just the link. Kewl! The title of the post was WebStractions: John Chow offers "paid" DoFollow links. That pretty much says it all.
  • Last, but not least, Andy Beard's DoFollow | No Nofollow - Highs & Lows espoused John's Dofollow approach as one of the lowliest of the lows and likened him as a modern-day Internet version of Ghengis Kahn. Andy's link text did not include Chow's name, but there was plenty of Chow references before and after it. This is Chow by association, I guess, and is still giving many click-through action from his readers. Thanks again Andy.
You may have noticed a couple of references to "you are what you link" in there. I firmly believe that in absence of strong keywords in your link text, you will still get a benefit from what you are linking to. A mere link to any John Chow page will return you a relationship with, at the least, his name. Since most of the linking posts to my article did not have Chow's name in the link text. The articles themselves, however, were about Chow and that relation was passed onto me and Dawud's strong keytext and a power link from Andy added some punch.



None of this, however, explains the hows and whys of the high placement in the search results. It is safe to say that there should have been more authoritative blogs than mine to garner this position. Here is a list of various opponent reviews of John Chow from the Top 100.
  • Scott Jangro's John Chow’s Dangerous Advice concerning Affiliate click fraud
  • Arpit Jacob's John Chow Gets Kicked Out of Google which has a stance pretty much like mine in regards to artificially induced links (paid or otherwise)
  • The IMDB on the actor John Chow which has nothing bad to say, but it doesn't have anything good. This has nothing to do with this John either. Just threw it in there to spread my John Chow relationship out.
  • Josh Dorkin's beef on how John Chow Crashed my Browser again which oddly happens when he has 5-10 tabs open in Firefox. My suggestion is to install NoScript and AdBlock -- but reading his blog via a Reader is probably the safest .
  • Somebody at Turk Hit Box saying that John Chow still needs to learn how to improve his Blog SEO. My question is WHY? With over 5500 readers reported by Feedburner, who needs Search Engines.
  • Jim Kukral's John Chow is Killing his Blog by trying to hard to make money. And none of that seems to be sinking in with some of those 5500+ readers of his.
The rest of the Top 100 are all supportive raves and/or paid reviews. Lot of support for John,with very little negative feedback.



It was kind of odd that my article was the only one concerning the Pay-To-DoFollow links controversy. Would have thought there would be at least a couple of others in there.



While I do not think that ranking for John Chow in the results is one of my goals in life, it is comforting to know that at least one dissenting view of one of his particularly dangerous money making tips is showing up.







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Poor John is scratching his head over his latest revelation that his keyterm for "Make Money Online" went from the number one slot to being buried on page three. Tsk, tsk. I will buy you a beer for that one though!



I did warn people of Google's intent of cracking down on paid links and highlighted the fact of fucking with their NoFollow brainchild by offering them up as Pay To Dofollow (PTD) links may be a disaster in the making.



Google's latest in a series of algo updates, has cracked down even tighter on paid links from publishers. It appears that they are punishing them even further with ranking reductions. The easy to spot targets for rank reduction would be sections such as sidebars and footers. Ferreting out dofollow links buried inside a sea of nofollow's is without any stretch of the imagination very doable -- or at least raise a red flag.



Being so close to the main content of the page (the blog post), PTD's may require a little more tweaking on Google's part. Whether or not this was one of the factors in John's reduction is hard to say. However, there are obvious and numerous link candidates on his pages to warrant the flaccid nature of his evidently limper ranking impotency.



I would also like to mention to all of the people who where suckered into PayPal-ing for a PTD from John -- this is not a one way street. Google may be waiting for the light to change before proceding through the intersection to slap you with a penalty as well. Hopefully you will have noticed that the light has changed and not get T-boned by Google in the process.









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