W3C Cheatsheet

W3C LogoAn easily overlooked, but important part of SEO is creating compliant markup (HTML) that can be read easily by search engines – and of course browsers. I’ve recently come across this W3C cheatsheet that provides a rather handy searchable quick reference to W3C compliant markup:

http://www.w3.org/2009/cheatsheet/

As summarised by W3C:

The W3C Cheat Sheet is an open source tool freely available for Web developers. It provides quick access to useful information from a variety of specifications published by W3C, the leading international Web standards community.

On a similar subject, don’t forget to have a read through my page about HTML for SEO.

SQLOLEDB Connection Strings

This post is a little off track, but after spending quite some time trying to figure a technical problem out, I thought it might help out another lost soul, so I’m posting under Technical Architecture.

If you need to use an OLE style connection string to connect to a SQL Server database (for example, you’re using pre-written code that relies on that provider type), but you’re having trouble connecting, you can use the SQL Native Client Provider instead.

So rather than:

Provider=SQLOLEDB;Server=myhost;Database=mydatabase;Persist Security Info=False;User ID=xxxx;Password=yyyy

you can use:

Provider=SQLNCLI;Server=myhost;Database=mydatabase;Persist Security Info=False;User ID=xxxx;Password=yyyy

Bear in mind, the provider should match your version of Native Client, so in my case (I’m running SQL Server 2008 R2), it’s actually SQLNCLI10, as per:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms130822.aspx

If you can, avoid SQLOLEDB altogether and use SQLClient.

Hope that helps someone.

WordPress 3.0

It’s been a while since I posted anything, due to various other commitments, so I’ll ease myself back in slowly with a short, not particularly SEO related post.

WordPress 3.0 is out and has a number of nice new features – I’ve upgraded 2 websites automatically (one from 2.91, one from 2.92 on different hosts) without any problems so far. It’s worth checking out the official blog entry and the video below about v3 from WordPress:

To summarise some of the new key features:

  • multiple site functionality added (WordPress MU has been merged)
  • big improvements to menus, custom post types & taxonomies exposed via new APIs – this makes WordPress a more serious CMS contender, no longer just a fancy blogging engine
  • there’s a new default theme called ‘Twenty Ten’ with some nice artwork out of the box
  • lots of bug fixes
  • upgrades (to themes, plugins, etc) all bundled together
  • generate short URLs automatically
  • a new slightly lighter looking admin area

If you already have an existing blog, it’s worth upgrading for the bug fixes and upgrades, but you’ll really stand to gain most from the custom post types (for example, it can now handle products) and multi-site features if you’re starting afresh. So if you’ve been meaning to start blogging for a while, now’s a good time to go for it…

New Google Webmaster Tools data great for SEO

Google Webmaster tools is useful for checking that your site is being indexed properly, looking at back-links and identifying 404’s, but the top ranking search stats have never been particularly useful. A recent upgrade has seen a graph and table of ranking and click through stats added, which is actually very handy.

Google Analytics additional data graph

Google Analytics additional data

It shows how successful particular pages are at achieving impressions and perhaps more importantly, the conversion rate. This allows you to optimise 2 areas:

1) If a given page is not appearing as high up or for as many impressions as you would expect for a given keyword/phrase, you can fine tune the page content and get very specific feedback about how that page is performing as a result for the keyword in question.

2) By experimenting with your page title and meta description, you can attempt to make a given page more appealing for users under a keyword or phrase that’s proving more popular than you first thought and perhaps you didn’t optimise for in the first instance.