Category: Press Releases

SEO, Part I: White Hat vs Black Hat

Today we’ll take a brief intermission from HTML5 to start our discussion of Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO. SEO is the art of getting your website highly ranked in search engines, in order to increase traffic. Getting 50% or better clickthrough from users requires being one of the first seven results; in this series, we’ll discuss how to do that.

SEO is generally broken down into two types, white hat and black hat. White hat techniques are search-engine approved methods of improving your site’s rating; black hat techniques are likely to lead to a brief improvement, followed by a quick ban. In general, black hat techniques are those that increase traffic to your site but create a poor user experience, and are often considered unethical. Today we’ll discuss black hat techniques so that you can be aware of them. Again, you should NOT use these methods to increase traffic; the search engines have ways to detect them and will penalize your site.

Keyword spam
One popular technique is to place a number of keywords on the page such that the search engine will see them but users will not. Usually this is done by setting the words to be the same color as the page background or a very small font size, although there are a number of other methods. Spammers use either keywords that are related to the page (to artificially increase it’s rating) or unrelated (to suck in people for whom the page is not useful). Search engines hate this. As a general rule of thumb, don’t do anything to make the page look different for humans and computers (but there are exceptions – we’ll cover one in part III).

Cloaking
Cloaking is when, rather than display the page differently to users and search engines, the webmaster actually shows them different pages using methods such as javascript redirects and 100% frame.


Doorway pages
A doorway page is when the main page appears to direct the user into one of a number of other pages based on some criteria, but every destination is actually the same. For example, the main page may contain a link to another page of the site for each state, but the pages do not actually contain any state-specific information; the point is just to get users to load more advertisements. Again, search engines consider this to be spam; you shouldn’t have duplicate pages on your site. The term is also used for pages what are created to be visible only to search engines.


Computer-generated pages
You’ve probably seen webpages that seemed to be on-topic, but when you read them they were poorly written and didn’t make a lot of sense. Often these pages are computer-generated, pulling content from various sources. Not only do these pages tend to be fairly worthless to the user, they’re a strong spam signal for the search engine.
This isn’t even close to being a comprehensive list, but hopefully you’re getting the idea: don’t try to trick the search engines. Next time: Google-approved SEO.

HTML5, Part II: What Features Does My Browser Support?

Last week we dived right in to our discussion of  HTML5 with a quick tutorial on how to embed video, but we also mentioned that modern browsers support a subset of the new markup – no browser is yet 100% HTML5 compatible. So how can you tell (aside from running around looking up references) which features are supported?

When your computer downloads a webpage, it starts by creating the Domain Object Model (DOM), which is a collection of objects representing all elements on the page. If a browser supports a particular element or feature in HTML5, its DOM will contain that information. While you can check for each element you need individually, MIT has provided a javascript library that detects support automatically. After downloading it, you’ll need to include the following element inside the page head:

<script src=”modernizr.min.js”></script>

 

The script runs automatically when the page loads and creates an object called Modernizr that you can test to see which features it detects by checking the truth value of the appropriate boolean.  For example, to check whether the browser supports HTML5 Audio, you could use a line in your javascript saying:

if (Modernizr.audio) {

The website contains sample usage for each of the items it checks. Additionally, it helps keep things from breaking in Internet Explorer. By using Modernizr, you can serve the appropriate HTML5 code to modern browsers, while providing other content that will make sense to older browers.

Remember last week when we talked about  putting three different <source> tags inside a <video> element? Another option would be to use Modernizr to check what type of video the browser is capable of playing:

if (Modernizr.video) { // Does the browser support HTML5 video?

if (Modernizr.video.ogg) {

//play Ogg Theora video / Vorbis audio in an Ogg container
} else if (Modernizr.video.h264){

// play H.264 video / AAC audio in an MP4 container

}

}

Now that we’ve seen how to figure out what features the user’s browser supports, let’s get back to things that most browsers do. Next up, something every modern browser (even IE 8) supports: local storage!

Web 2.0, Part IV: HTML 5

If you’ve been reading this series, chances are you’re familiar with HTML. You may also be familiar with XHTML. For a while, it looked as if XHTML might replace HTML, but XHTML2 has been killed and HTML5, along with XHTML5, has arrived. Had enough acronyms yet?

Last October, the last call went out for comments on the HTML5 working draft, which means that the standard is essentially done. The major browsers at least partially support it, which means you should be taking advantage of the new capabilities offered. So what’s new in HTML5?

First off, we continue the separation of content from style; tags such as <font> and <center> have been dropped in favor of cascading style sheets.  We’ll be talking about CSS in the near future, but what it does is allow you to write your content without worrying about how it will look, then create a file that defines the look of all the pages that include that file. Aside from promoting better design practices, this makes updating pages a lot easier as the look and feel of the entire website can be altered by changing one file! The following elements are not in HTML5 as they represent functionality better handled by CSS; that is, they are presentational only. Browsers will still support the tags to be backwards compatible with previous versions of HTML, but HTML5 documents should not use them: <basefont>, <big>, <center>, <font>, <s>, <strike>, <tt>, <u>. Additionally, any attributes related to presentation (such as align, bgcolor, etc) should not be used in HTML5 as their functionality is better handled by CSS.

Other tags that have been removed include <frame>,<frameset>, <noframes>, <acronym>, <applet>, <dir>, and <isindex>.

HTML5 supports the following new tags: (notice that many of these replace the generic <div> tags to allow cleaner markup)

  • <article> represents content that is independent from the rest of the page; for example, this could be a single article on a blog
  • <aside> tells you something that’s only slightly related to the rest of the page
  • <audio> adds an audio file
  • <canvas> is for rendering dynamic bitmap graphics
  • <command> is for a command the user can invoke
  • <datalist> specifies options for an input field and can be used for autocompletion
  • <details> allows the user to request additional information
  • <embed> is used for plugin content
  • <figure> combines the various elements of some piece of content, such as a graphic and its associated
  • <figcaption>
  • <footer> is exactly what you would expect
  • <header> is a group of navigational aids
  • <hgroup> is a section header
  • <mark> is used around a section of text that is highlighted for reference purposes
  • <meter> represents a measurement
  • <nav>, of course, is your navigation tool
  • <progress> represents completion of a task
  • <section> is a generic section marker, which can be combined with h1-h6 to indicate structure.
  • <summary> is what you’d expect, and can be combined with the details tag
  • <time> gives a date and/or time
  • <video> adds a video file

After we finish the overview and start our HTML5 series, we’ll cover some of these tags in detail. Here are a few other changes to be aware of:

  • The <a> tag can now be used without an href attribute, as a placeholder link
  • The <b> tag now represents text that should be distinct from the surrounding text without implying any additional importance.
  • <cite> is now used only for titles
  • <i> now represents text in a different mood or voice from the surrounding text
  • <strong> now represents important test

Ready to get started? Start your new documents with <!doctyle html>and you’re good to go!


According to my statistics, a fair number of people are reading these posts, but I haven’t gotten much feedback aside from spam. If you have anything in particular you’d like me to write about, please comment on this post and let me know; I’ll certainly take it into consideration!

Web 2.0, Part III: Can You Digg It?

Surfing the Internet, you’ve probably seen the buttons suggesting that you Digg the content you’re currently viewing.  So what is this Digg stuff anyway?

Digg is a social news site that was founded in late 2004; it allows people to promote articles they feel are newsworthy. Users vote to either digg or bury an article; high-scoring articles make it to the front page, after which the site owner hopes he bought a strong enough server to handle the traffic. (See also: Slashdot effect)

So if you’re trying to get lots of people to your site, getting dugg can be the way to do it. How does that happen?

First off, of course, you need good content; your site needs to be something people will want to share, something they can point their friends to and say “hey, this is interesting”. After that, you have two options. You can go to digg.com and digg your own stories, hoping people will see them and digg them as well. Or you can add a digg button to your site, allowing the people who are already reading it to give the page their vote of approval by clicking the icon.

Either way, don’t be spammy. While it’s fine to dig your own site (and is specifically allowed), it won’t be successful unless you have something people actually want to read, and if you’re the first to digg a page you’ll need to take the time to write a good description as well. But if you’ve got great content that your users are enthusiastic about, providing a digg button helps them to share your site with others.

Exciting New Things on the Horizon….

New Location!
We have finally setup shop at our new location in Aurora, Colorado.  Super excited and looking forward to working with such a fine community.

14891 E. Centrepoint Dr.
Aurora, CO. 80012

New Digits!
Starting Monday June 14th we will have a brand new office line to get a hold of us. One more way to better serve you :)

Payment Options Now Available!
One Ear Productions now accepts the following as payment for all invoices:

  • Cash
  • Check
  • PayPal – NEW!
  • Google Checkout – NEW!

If you want to use PayPal or Google Checkout, please let us know at time of service so that we can properly bill you.

Moonlight Designs Line Coming Soon!
Starting June 15th Moonlight Designs Studio will be creating a line of custom designs for all special events occasions in our lives.  The line will be called Moonlight Designs respectively, and we are super stoked.  While creating items of stationaries, cards, and award programs, it came to our attention that we absolutely enjoyed it and wanted to start a series of them.  Now don’t get us wrong as we will still create custom designs for you, our wonderful clients!

The line will include (but not be limited to):

  • Stationary
  • Invitations (for all events)
  • Clothing
  • Cards (Congrats, Wedding, Anniversaries etc.)
  • many more….

Until next time, have a wonderful day!

Promoting Your Business on the Web

You have the name, you got your cards and now you need a website?  Yes, now everything is now shifting to the internet and has been for a few years.  Utilizing the internet as a marketing avenue for your company is important.  Not only will it allow your company to reach a larger audience, but it will allow you to reach out to your clients in several different ways, and here are just some of the benefits…

Internet Bandwagon?
So you have cards to promote, what more do you need?  Well for one most potential customers are now “Google-ing” instead of looking though a yellow phone book.  Rather than calling they are viewing company website’s to better research the topic or services that they are after as websites tend to be more in-depth than a phone call.  But you cannot just throw a site up into cyber space, you need the company to be branded, have the same look/feel  on all marketing materials where it be cards, print collateral and finally a website, all should be branded the same so that customers  do not get confused or think that the company is not legit .

Social Connection?
Although the internet has been around for a few decades, only in the 1990s did it explode onto more local mainstream homes, than in the 2000s we get introduced to “Social Networks” mySpace, Facebook, Digg and many others. At first glance many saw these as “tween” sites where teens/ young adults join and connect but then the dynamics changed and in the past three years there has been a growing trend for Celebrities’  to “connect” with their fans.   Another step in the social network trend was the introduction to Twitter, a simple 140 character limit to “tweet”.  Twitter grew unexpectedly and is still going strong.

Soon after they started to grew in popularity did business start to use social networks as a “tool” to connect with their customers, clients and of course fans.  Nowadays most businesses have a Facebook page, a twitter accounts to stay up to date and promote their business to viewers.