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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Hard Drive Full – Check your backups

It seems as if the gremlins are really out to pull the wool over my eyes. One month it’s because my C drive was full of .sst files created by Google Earth, and this time it's my external drive. This is a 500Gb Seagate drive that I use for downloads, backups of my laptop and websites, and so on. I checked the drive with Explorer a couple of days ago (Windows 7 Home edition) and found that there was only 35Gbs of free space on the drive. The last time I recall checking there was far more. I ran JdiskReport and WinDirStat on the drive and each told me that only 119Gb was being used. Where was the discrepancy? 

It took me a while to work it out, some research through Google, unhiding my hidden files and so on. Then I realized what it was – there, in a folder named USER-PC. My laptop is set to backup every Sunday evening – and there were backups going back about 19 months, each measuring as much as 10Gbs. Deleting all but the latest three of the backup sets solved the problem. There is still a bit of a discrepancy between Explorer and other programs – apparently this could be due to the method Explorer uses to calculate used disk space – I have no intention of going into that.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Google Penguin 2.0 – Its implications for your Website Content

At the time of writing it is just 2 weeks since the release of Google’s Penguin 2.0 algorithm, and already many websites are feeling the pinch of the new code. In Google’s Matt Cutts’s own words, the algorithm penalizes websites that show questionable SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, link building and the deliberate use of duplicate content. This is bad news for many website owners. So-called Black Hat webmasters have been paying for inward links to their websites in order to trick search engines, and in particular the Google algorithm, into assessing that the website is more informative and trustworthy than it really is. These are the sort of links that Google wants to penalize.

The websites that will benefit from this new algorithm are those publishers who focus on providing high quality and authoritative content. This algorithm and future tweaks expected later this year will penalize bad content, including mis-spelling, bad grammar and low quality writing. Such bad content is particularly evident in a country like South Africa, where there are no less than eleven official languages. As an example, much of the content found in South African websites has been written by individuals for whom English is not their first language. In addition many webmasters have outsourced content to countries such as India and the Philippines in order to save a few dollars. In consequence many websites ending in are found to have exceptionally bad content.

Webmasters who suspect that their website hits may be suffering from penguinitis should have their content checked, and if necessary re-written by a professional - one that has an excellent command of the English language.

So, what can you do to ensure that your website succeeds online?  How do you ensure that your website is one of authority and will not be penalized by Google? All of the content on your website should be quality – invest in a real writer to rewrite your website content in such a way that it is written for its live, real readers – not written for search engines. Your content should be written by a content marketing specialist with a view to making it an authority on your product. Invest in features such as blogs, videos, infographics, and news that are both relevant and will benefit your customers. Don’t be satisfied with a simple 5-page website – invest in adding relevant and beneficial content in the form of articles, and do this on a regular basis.

Make sure that you retain control of your website so that you can edit its content at any time. Use Google+. Every time new content is published by Google+ authorship it is immediately indexed by Google and stands a better chance in Google searches. Publish links to new content on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Develop relevant inbound links from germane and quality sites and from high-quality writers. Ensure that your writers have an excellent command of the English language. Above all, let Google know that your website is an authority on its subject, and be aware that if you don’t publish content on your website, penguin 2.0 will penalize it.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Why Google ?

Research into ways that computers could 'talk' to one another goes back to the early 1960s, and the first two nodes of what was to become ARPANET were connected in October 1969, when UCLA's School of Engineering and Applied Science was linked up with SRI International of Menlo Park, California. Further nodes were added in the following years. It wasn't until 1982 that Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized, and another 4 years until access to supercomputers was provided. Since then the Internet has expanded exponentially, and today there are more than 2.4 billion users, 46.4 million active websites and more than 1 trillion web pages, a formidable figure that increases by more than a billion pages every day! So why Google?

As of October 2011 Google's share of searches was 65% in the US and 82% worldwide. In contrast Bing and Yahoo together took 26% in the US and a little over 10% worldwide. It is because of these figures that website owners do what they can to attract Google searches to them. There are a number of ways of doing this optimization, and this niche of the IT industry has given birth to a new profession, Search Engine Optimization.

Graphic representation of the Internet
Google carries out its Internet searches by using algorithms. These algorithms are upgraded or rewritten from time to time so as to make the results of searches more logical or appropriate. Webmasters attract search engines such as Google to their websites by a number of means. These include keywords, the careful wording of the page's title and description, and regular updates of relevant content. Browsing through some websites, especially in countries where there are more than one official language, or where content has been outsourced to such a country, shows excessive use of keywords, frequent bad spelling and appalling grammar. These are some of the points that Google's latest algorithms will penalize. 

My next blog will examine the implications of Google's latest algorithm update - Penguin 2.0 and how you can ensure that your website is not penalized by the code.  Click on the Internet above to see the services that I offer - I am a one man show, and I need the work!