Here are the most recent bookmarks that I have saved to Ma.gnolia.
Archives for January 2009
Here are the most recent bookmarks that I have saved to Ma.gnolia.
“Many of the vectors featured here would be useful for particular styles of design and specific types of websites. “
In my morning feed-scanning I came across Mihaela Lica’s SitePoint article touting how Twitter can impact SEO. Part of me wishes I had skipped it, but I read it and feel the need to review and correct what I believe is a faulty premise.
To make a long story short: although Twitter is a social media tool meant to create community and relationships, it does have an SEO value. For example, Twitter can affect positively your Alexa rankings by sending visitors to your pages. Usage data is a sign of quality for Google and all the other search engines. If you can make people come to your site via Twitter, then this is an SEO advantage you cannot afford to miss.
Mihaela Lica – Twitter’s Little Known SEO Value Emphasis from the original
I’m going to disassemble the article’s foundation here, but I want to note that I’m not writing this to skewer Mihaela, she took the time to write the article in order to help others, which I appreciate. Very few people give of themselves and I applaud the fact that she is contributing to our community.
The article attempts to make a case that Twitter helps SEO, even though the search engines don’t follow links in Tweets. The path follows the line of, if you tweet and include a link, someone will follow that link back to your site, which will increase your traffic and eventually Alexa and maybe Google will notice.
The exact same logic applies to those guys hired to hold furniture signs at intersections: give them a sign with a URL, and someone may visit the URL, your traffic will go up and if you’re lucky the big G in the sky will notice and bump your site up a notch.
The inclusion of Ask.com as a way to justify the argument isn’t valid. It’s not that you should ignore Ask.com – it’s whether the time and effort to focus on Twitter for SEO in the hopes of benefiting from Ask.com’s notice will be worth trading the opportunity cost of focusing elsewhere. If you’re expending effort to gain a small bump in a service that holds less than 2.5% of the market share, you’re wasting your time. Odds are good that that small bump isn’t the least bit noticeable.
SEO is not the be all and end all – it is a tool in your marketing efforts (whether you’re a giant brand or a lone blogger, you have a brand). Twitter can also be a tool in those efforts, but all too many people don’t understand how to use it properly, much less the expectations they should have and the ramifications of their efforts, both good and bad.
Twitter and Marketing
So, now that we’ve determined that you really don’t want that guy holding the furniture sign on the corner to be in charge of your advertising, let’s talk about who should be engaging your audience and prospects.
Simply put: you.
Want to use Twitter as a good Marketing tool? One that will have an impact? Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
- You or someone as passionate about your work needs to be the voice behind each tweet. It matters
- Tweet with the same level of excitement you have when you’re explaining what you do at a party to someone who actually appears to care. If you aren’t excited about talking about your company, blog or product, then why the hell are you trying to market it? Seriously – you’re in or you’re out. Half-assed attempts are quickly ignored on Twitter or even worse publicly ridiculed.
- People expect you to communicate – posting links to your own blog or site without any other content is a quick way to fail. Twitter users expect a conversation – follow your fans back and reply to their questions, praise and anger
- Promote other people and services that you use and like. Tell me when you’ve had a good experience with a company or been ignored. Provide value by being a good citizen within our community. You’ll quickly find that others will do the same for you.
- When you have news – real news – post about it. You added a blog post, hey cool, lemme know. A New product release? Sweet, I’d love to hear about it. But don’t spam me with it. Reruns suck.
- Like a marketing campaign, your effort will take time
- Find a good URL shortener that will give you click-through metrics. I use Tr.im and have heard great things about BudURL. Then use that service for all of your links. You aren’t getting SEO love no matter what, but at least this way you’ll get some data.
- Once you have metrics, take a look at what people actually found interesting and post more about that.
Disagree or Have More to Add?
Speak up in the comments or hit me back on Twitter: @BaldMan.
Nicholas Jitkoff, who created one of my most used Mac utilities, Quicksilver, now works for Google, which has just released Google Quick Search. I and many other devoted users lamented Nick’s decision to stop development on his popular app. Now we know why he took that step and more importantly have hope that something better than Quicksilver is on the horizon. Lifehacker has provided a nice writeup of the current capabilities, but if you’re in the mood to just grab it and give it a whirl, you can download it on Google Code.
Google Quick Search already contains a lot of the QS functionality, but uses Spotlight for its indexing, which should provide a significant increase in search speed while reducing the processor requirements. Hopefully, by offloading the search indexing to Spotlight, privacy advocates don’t need to worry about Google synchronizing the index of every file to their servers, but I haven’t seen word one way or the other as of yet.
Google Quick Search is young, but promising, and I truly hope it will pick up the Quicksilver banner and advance it.
Here are the most recent bookmarks that I have saved to Ma.gnolia.
Ringlight allows you to
* Serve files directly from your computer
* Have no restricutions on file size, format, or duration
* Instantly publish anything on your computer to the web
* Never wait on an upload again
My buddy Christian recently asked me about my personal password creation algorithm, which is something I’ve mentioned a few times (including once or twice at a Refresh Austin meeting). After doing a quick walk through with Christian over IM, it seemed appropriate for me to write it up in a more legible format so others can benefit.
It all comes down to this: you want a memorable, but complex password to use on the Web. Ideally it isn’t the same on every site you access to ensure that one compromised Web site doesn’t leave every one of your other accounts open to nefarious evildoers.
Short & Sweet
This post is longer than I anticipated, so here’s the bit-sized version.
- Start with a memorable phrase.
- Strip spaces, substitute a few characters (‘e’ becomes 3) and play with letter case. You will use this base to create the same foundation for each site’s password.
- Use part of the domain to modify the base, creating a unique password. This example uses the first and last letter from www.amazon.com. Ignore subdomains (‘www’) altogether. Every site will use this same pattern (first and last letter, no subdomain) to fill out it’s password.
- Add some complexity. In this case we add a number (’22’) and a dash at the beginning and a question mark at the end. This becomes a part of the base for all passwords, just like the initial phrase.
- Examples from different domains: www.microsoft.com, www.facebook.com and store.apple.com.
I recommend you read the full post as I give other examples and provide a couple of usage tips throughout.
There are a few simple steps to achieve these goals.
Start With a Phrase
For this first example, we’ll use the title of a seminal jazz album, Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue“.
Formatting and Substitutions
Let’s begin by removing the the spaces as most login systems won’t accept them in your passwords. We now have
KindofBlue. Next, we’ll do some simple substitutions of numbers for letters (the capital “O” in “of” becomes a zero and the ‘e’ in “Blue” becomes a three) and play with capitalization, which results in
kind0fBlu3. This isn’t that complex, and the number-for-letter substitutions is easily recognized (and broken), but it should be easy for you to remember.
Making it Unique per Site
This is where it gets more interesting and more secure – we’re going to take a bit of the Web site to use in our password. In this example, let’s take the first letter and last letters of the domain and insert ’em at the beginning and the end of our password. So for www.amazon.com the password is
akind0fBlu3n. For the Apple Store (http://store.apple.com/us) it is
akind0fBlu3e. You’ll notice that while they are similar (the only difference is the last letter), they are different, so if someone learns your Amazon password, they can’t get into your Apple account unless they deduce the overall pattern.
You should only use the main part of the URL (amazon.com, apple.com). Ignore subdomains (“www.”, “store.”) as you will likely only have one account on a domain, but the domain may have several subdomains. This keeps life much more simple for you.
Rounding it Off
I like to add a couple of extra touches to make my password a bit more complex and to make it more difficult for someone to recognize that there could be a human-readable pattern. Continuing with our example, we’ll add a number (22) and a dash at the beginning and a question mark at the end, which generates
22-akind0fBlu3n? for Amazon. These latest additions don’t change from domain to domain, so you don’t need to memorize a bunch of different patterns. For example, the password for Microsoft’s site would be
A note: Some login systems don’t allow punctuation, so it’s handy to stick it at the end or at a specific spot. For a domain that won’t let me use the dash or question mark, I know to delete the third character and the last character of my normal pattern resulting in
22akind0fBlu3n for Amazon.
The sample I used above is pretty simple, and easy to recognize as a word or phrase. A better pattern would be to use a sentence or phrase and take the first few letters of each word as your base and/or shortening words. Sticking to our musical theme, here are a couple of ideas:
“Dance Me to the End of Love” by Leonard Cohen
We could take the first two letters of each word:
dametothenoflo which with some substitution and additions becomes
9+adam3tothenofl0n! for Amazon and
9+mdam3tothenofl0t! for Microsoft.
“Little Red Corvette” by Prince
We can get a bit more creative here and substitute “Lil” for “Little” and only use the first three letters of “Corvette”:
LilRedCor. As before, finishing out the pattern could result in
00=aLilredcorn! for Amazon.
Of course you don’t have to choose the first and last letters from the domain, you could choose the second and third (assuming the domain is longer than two letters) or you could take the first letter and put it at the end and take the last letter and put it at the beginning.
A Couple of Notes
I didn’t come up with the idea, and I no longer recall where I first learned of it, so while I have adopted it wholeheartedly, someone smarter than me deserves credit for it.
This is not foolproof and I am not a security expert. Following this pattern means your password is not truly random and someone who has access to your account on one system and is clever enough, could determine how it works and get into other systems. That said, it is at least more secure than not using a system like this.
I recommend creating and using a few of these patterns to reduce the risk that breaking one will allow somebody to access every account you have on the Web. For truly important sites (your bank account, anywhere that stores your credit card numbers), you should go with a random password generator paired with a secure password manager, like my personal favorite 1Password (Mac only, I’m afraid).
So, how can we improve this practice and how do we ensure that this is something that non-technical people can use to be a bit safer online?
Twitter makes it easy for me to keep up with my dear friends here in town and those flung about the globe. I can stay on top of ever-moving trends, learning about them in minutes if not seconds. Twitter connects me when I’m ready to be connected and allows me to reach out when I feel the need. Those capabilities alone makes it an invaluable part of my day, but there’s an unsung benefit to embracing Twitter: memory improvement. Specifically improving my ability to remember people I’ve met.
In my day-to-day life, I’m involved in projects and groups of different sizes and to different degrees. I do my damnedest to remember names, faces and details about the people I meet, but that’s not an easy task by any stretch. Refresh Austin alone has over 400 members and I’ve met a sizable portion of ’em. Add the other amazing colleagues and friends I’ve met through events like SXSW Interactive and the Geek Austin parties and it quickly becomes overwhelming to remember, and more importantly quickly recall a name when I bump into someone that I’ve met once or twice.
Twitter changed that with a constant stream of updates.
Each tweet contains a face, a name and something that was of at least slight interest to that person. Those components reinforce the neural pathways associated with each person in my cranium, making it easier to remember them later. I may have to take one more mental hop to unite the real world face and name for those people who adopt an avatar and/or a nickname within Twitter, but that’s still a lot more than I had five years ago.
Twitter reinforces my real-world connections with those relationships that are the most tenuous as a byproduct of my having fun using it.
Now that is cool.
Looking for me on Twitter? I’m @BaldMan.