Thursday, January 31, 2008

Free Web tools - new & old

Sadly, my favorite seo tool is not longer free. The Cool-CEO tool is now part of a subscription service. So I'm collecting some new free tools. For domain info such as DNS numbers, traceroute, ping, lookup, whois, and even email validation (what is that? Does it do SPF lookups (spam policy framework lookups?)

http://network-tools.com/

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Education on Educational Forums

Wow, Turbine on V7 forum really knows his stuff. I've been looking for some advice on forums so I emailed him this.

1. I've been trying to tightly link some blogs and forums. My idea is that articles would go into the blog but the discussion could be in a forum. Have you seen any good examples of how to do this? I'm thinking that web home school or homeschool online could be used to stimulate discussion.

2. Along the same lines, I have a newsletter which invites feedback with a link to a thread starting with the same topic in my forum. This has some success. Specifically, the thread gets huge numbers of views but I don't seem to have found topics that alot of people want to comment on. My most successful is: "Why did you start homeschooling"

3. Take a look at my forum. One of it's purposes is SEO (not the links on the bottom). Other is to show that we have a vibrant community and a third if for member support. Does it look like it's well-implemented? Any obvious ideas for my homeschooling forum?

4. I had some people develop a site for me using joomla. We launched this month. Along with my long list of other complaints is that the forum uses Fireboard. Any experience in that area? Spelling forum.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Margo Foster - the lesson

Margo Foster taught me something. No, I'm not thinking about self defense and how reckless or courageous or tough I want to be. I already know where I stand on that spectrum (want to hear me crow like rooster? Cackle like a hen? Did you know that I believe not in kung fu but ning fast. As in RunNing Fast).

I blogged about Margo Foster of Lighthouse Points adventure on my karate blog since she trained in the same system that I did and her story was remarkable.

I just looked at my traffic pattern for that blog and her story produced traffic. In fact my traffic doubled. Now, is it traffic that is likely to convert into regular readers? Is my blog interesting enough to retain readers? I'm trying.

And I'm taking a writing course on blogging to take me down the right path.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

My dad always would say: "Use the right tool for the right job". It would drive him nuts when he caught me using a screw driver to dig a small hole in the wood - "Use a chisel". Or sometimes when I'd use the wrench to hit something instead of getting up and getting a hammer. I particularly remember his delight in taking out a pair of 18" clamps to hold some glued parts together until they dried properly. My instinct would have been to hold the parts until my hands grew tired and hope that was long enough for it to stick (it rarely was).

So, I was thinking of Dad in yesterdays product planning meeting. It turns out that in my tiny company, we are trying to use the right tool for each job:

Moodle - We are using this LMS (learning management system) to put up our own science courses with text, flash, multiple choice questions, student records, etc
phpbb - We have a homeschool parents forum built around this simple effective tool.
Blogger - This blog and my karate blog are built around blogger. Easy to get started with and with some add-ons (feedburner & HaloScan for trackbacks), it's more than adequate.
Wordpress - I was convinced by a number of people that wordpress would be great for a web home schooling blog since it was better for SEO & multi-authors. The jury is still out on this.
Joomla - This content management system - CMS - was chosen as the best way to handle the administration on the coolest spelling website ever that we've now built. At the moment, frankly, we think we really goofed on the choice. The implementation has been painful requiring more rework than development and at the end, the user interface is less than elegant. sigh. Should we rebuild?
Drupple - We want a full featured community for our students which is private and has all sorts of moderating capabilities. I keep asking why we can't use joomla or moodle or a php forum or some blog extensions. The answer seems to be that if we did, it would stink. Sigh.
Typepad pro - Next week, we launch our first course teaching blogging as literature. The first blogging course focused on storytelling. We need to be able to have a group of blogs under one private account and some group discussion capabilities. Our "writing sensei" selected Typepad Pro for the blogging and we're using Google Groups for the discussions.

We are also looking at a few live webinar technologies and surprise, none of our current technologies seem to have that integrated within them either....Three names that have popped up are Wimba, Centra, & Elluminate. Why not Microsoft Meeting?

Of course, our main sites are in .net or flash or php with lots of untemplated html, some javascript and java, and includes and iframes.....One part of our system (a part that we don't control) still uses Microsoft Agent (long sigh).

My point: There was a reason that my dad was great around the house....his collection of tools, his organization, and his determination to do things right. And we're trying to put together great systems. So many specific jobs, many technologies. Soldier on...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

silly silly silly seo salespeople

I went on a rant for no paticular reason this morning but it's got me to thinking about an interesting test. I'm trying to see whether my post on silly silly silly salespeople
Heh, wait a day and then google: "silly silly silly seo salespeople" and you'll find that we just got to the top of Google for it! Want to pay me $3K to do the same for your site? That'll be $3K monthly please. (Yes, I built the google link right in so that I don't have to keep typing it - who is a lazy boy?...And a technical note: I put the google link in without the quotes)

Now, I have met and worked with a number of very diligent thorough seo professionals but, and here's where I get cynical, to grow their business, they need to keep having the senior guys doing the selling and new junior guys doing the work.

Bottom line: they wanted to do my seo work in a very mechanical way by people who had not been in on any of the meetings when we discussed the trade-offs and nuances of what I wanted with my site. Wouldn't have mattered since the new guys were not rocket-scientists and didn't have the experience to appreciate the issues anyway.

In short, my experience with seo is that I can do it alot better in house by spendng a day-week on it. Two hours of reading on the web, six hours of prostituting myself for links. Heh, I meant positioning my site for links. sorry. I guess I should lay off the strong coffee in the morning.

The other choice is to find firms just starting that are trying to establish their reputation or sole practioners that are not caught in the "need to grow and build profitability dyanamic" where you can get value for money. Also, my advice would be to think really long term.

What will I find:
1. Maybe the RSS feed wins
2. Maybe this post wins but I've not resubmitted it twice since I made too many typos the first time.
3. Since this is a silly silly post, I've backdated is to that my much better post: "Use the right tools for the right job" stays front and center (Am I the only want who would like a sticky option on blogger?) BTW - the term "the right tools for the right job" is pretty competitive. I'm not even in top 30 for google on it. Whereas I'm about to reign on "silly silly silly seo salespeople"
4. When I backdate a post, does it go out on the rss feed? Do the ping services only look at the most recent post? Anybody know?
And so what? Well, it will prove nothing per se but it will keep me thinking