Shameless Plug: Blog de Purée

Figured I would give my good friend Paul at work a little link juice – although based upon comparing his Technorati rating to mine it might actually hurt him (he’s way more popular, but I’m still single and can take advantage of all the blog groupies so it’s a trade off).

Anyways, his site is called Blog de Purée and, like mine, topic hops a bit. He does have a lot of unique insight into the tech and web 2.0 world. Not only because he works with me and can harness my vast volume of knowledge (laugh track goes here) but because he has worked for several other web companies.

Some good deep reads:

  1. Online rating systems can be manipulated by crowd-hacking
  2. Can an online brand support gated or average content?
  3. Helium member writes about being a member and earning money on the website
  4. WordPress as a content management system for niche communities
  5. Social networking is no fish story on Angler’s Web site

Paul is a funny guy who I enjoy working with immensely both for his good attitude and irreverent sense of humor – which comes across in some of his writing. Definitely check out his blog.

Random Tidbit: So posting a link to my friend’s site isn’t random enough? Ok, how about a wiki composed of video game wikis? Pretty cool stuff.

Book Review: The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band

I’ll admit it, I didn’t know that much about Motley Crue. I only have one album – which I believe is a greatest hits they put out a few years ago – and I was (relatively) young during their glory days. But a friend passed this on to me and I figured that since I liked the Jim Morrison book I bought so much I’d give it a read.

The book was quite simply awesome. It’s amazing that they did all that and are still alive to talk about it. From overdoses and car accidents to prison terms and insane groupies – they lived the rock star dream.

I thought the way the book was set up was kind of interesting as well. They keep switching view points between the members of the band and key members of their entourage. So every chapter is in a different tone from the last and many times explains events from multiple aspects.

I thought the key thing that I took away from it all that was even though they had made millions of dollars, sold millions of records and lived a life of excess – deep down they still felt like the goofy kids they were in high school (in some cases, Nikki Six sticks out the most as he admits this several times).

Makes you feel a little better knowing that even rock stars can be insecure.

Random Tidbit: Some interesting thoughts on Silicon Valley.

SEO: Linking Strategies from Outside Sources

This is something I drafted up for a discussion on our boards at work and figured I’d pilfer as content. If I’m going to do the work anyways, might as well get some content for my site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tricky subject but one of the most widely accepted processes is having numerous, quality links from outside sites builds trust in a page and domain, helping both page and domain to gain value in rankings for the keywords associated.

There are a few widely accepted facts (since there are no certainties in SEO) I’ve discovered and seen in action that follow in (relative) order of importance (and not comprehensive):

  1. Deep links are better. Using a blog example a link to a post is better than a link to category page. A link to a category page is better than a link to the blog’s homepage. Why? Because each link gives a little “link juice” (value that search engines associate with a page) from the referring site. Typically the more broad a page the stronger it’s natural link juice. Basically your home page naturally has more link juice than a new oist on “Why kittens are cute.” This is because of the way web page hierarchies are setup (it’s too long to go into detail here) so the “link juice” passed from the referring site will make a bigger impact on an post (which has very little “link juice”) than the home page (which already has a lot of “link juice” both from internal and external links). Think of it like this – you have an ounce of real juice to share. Your home page is a swimming pool, a category page is a kiddie pool, and an post is a cup. In which one would you see the biggest impact? The cup.
  2. Niche links are better. An article about “Why kittens are cute” will get more “link juice” from a site about (and recognized as being an expert – ranking in search engines – for) animals (good), cats (better) or kittens (best) rather than a site about golf. Why? Because search engines (SEs) give more value to links from perceived experts in the niche. If you were buying a computer and one friend you had was a computer programmer and the other was a ditch digger in whose opinion would you place more value? Probably the computer programmer – same thing with SEs.
  3. Links from sites with greater site age and trust are better. Trust is built through many ways, but basically it’s a catch 22: if other sites trust you (link to you) for keywords, you are trusted for those keywords (and can then pass on that trust). Site age refers to how long a site has been indexed in the search engine – the longer it’s been indexed the more trust. Google especially weights in site age and trust more than any other SE. Trust is also built in part (it seems) by how often your site is updated. Sites that have been stagnant for a long time (months, years) gradually lose trust to more recently updated sites under the impression that the information goes state and/or becomes dated on updated sites over time. This can be offset if others sites are regularly linking in to the site. Example: on a certain keyword a site that has been updated recently and regularly gets lots of incoming links is better than a stagnant site with lots of fresh incoming links or an updated site with few fresh incoming links which are both better than a stagnant site with few fresh incoming links.
  4. Links with keyword built text are better. This does not mean make a link that says “cats, kittens, animals, ….” etc. SEs can pick up on that and call it “keyword stuffing.” This does mean that a link to the kitten article is more valuable if the link text (the words between the opening <a href=”..”> and closing </a> tags) says something like “an article about why kittens are cute” than “kittens” or “cats”.
  5. Links with titles are better. The anchor tag (<a>) has an attribute called “title” in which you can put further keywords. This is especially good for links that are auto generated. A good example is “read more” links you see sometimes on blogs that link to the whole post. This can also be used to make a normal part of a sentence a link but still get the keyword effect. Example: … Check out this <a href=”” title=”Why kittens are cute”>great article about cute kittens</a>.

Some of those are basic and more for beginners (my intended audience when I crafted it) but there is still some value for the intermediate SEO out there.

Conclusion: there’s more to SEO than to simply have a lot of sites link to you. One good site (a trusted authority in your niche) is worth dozens, hundreds or even thousands of links from smaller sites, blogs and web directories.

Random Tidbits: Sticking with the SEO theme I found 2 great items on SEOmoz (view source for an example of title tag use on that link – not that SEOmoz is going to get a lot of link juice from the likes of me).

  1. Matt Cutts on Nofollow, Links-Per-Page and the Value of Directories – Matt spreads some knowledge on several hot button SEO topics including use of nofollow, which is sometimes misunderstood. Matt works for Google (SEOmoz calls him their “spam guru”) and is one of the best sources to understand Google.
  2. SEOmoz’s SEO Expert quiz – test your SEO mettle in 75 questions. See if you can beat my horrible impressive 55%. Seriously, the best part is at the end it shows you the correct answers along with a brief description. Unfortunately, you can’t save that page to keep that information – unless you print it as a PDF to your computer.

Retro Gaming

So I’ve been on a sort of 3 month hiatus this summer – don’t judge me. Between work, life, riding my motorcycle, my niece and various other distractions I was just not able to concentrate on providing any quality content or new templates. I figured nothing was better than doing something halfway.

I did have a thought the other day, as I try to get back into the swing of things, about video games. I read several gaming magazines and of course most of the discussion lately has been about the next generation systems and the slow dying of the last generation systems. An idea spawned in my head that I’m sure someone must have thought of before but if not I figured I’d take credit.

A big push lately has been for retro gaming – bringing back SNES, Sega Genesis, etc games to XBox Live and the Playstation equivalent as well as smaller new games that come out in these formats rather than as a full retail release – Geometry Wars comes to mind. My thought was that many people can’t afford the next generation systems – especially considering to take full advantage of them you must also have an HD television – but they do have the last generation. I’m thinking specifically the Playstation 2 and XBox – both robust, powerful systems.

Would it not make sense then for a newer and/or smaller developer to put out titles for these systems? It would seem that the cost of development and publishing would be much lower. Even better would be if that after the parent companies considered the life cycle of the system to be over that they would open this avenue by providing free or low cost development and publishing kits.

They would lose some money because as I envision it they would not be taking in a royalty with these games. However, they would be supporting an audience that probably wouldn’t affect their sales any. My theory is those that can afford the next generation would and wouldn’t buy these games.  Those that can’t afford the next generation wouldn’t and, therefore, would not be giving them any money anyways.

This would also enable people to create their own video games, thus going back to the roots of garage development – a few friends trying to make an original, cool intellectual property.

I’m pretty sure Sony and Microsoft would never go for it, but it seemed like a cool idea to me. It’s very disappointing that I can no longer get any new titles for my XBox. Even when a new graphics/processor chip or new operating system comes out my computer still is able to play many (though of course not all) of the new games coming out. You would hope that consoles would work similar – I seem to remember hearing about people having kits to make SNES games. I suppose that in our profit driven world that’s simply too much to ask for.

Random Tidbit: Don’t know why I never visited this site before, but since I hadn’t thought of it until now, maybe you feel the same.

My Uncle

I’ve had these thoughts for almost 2 weeks now.  Ever since I heard my uncle has passed away.  The last time I saw him was over a year and a half ago.  He was very sick at the time and from what he told me and what I saw I didn’t think I’d see him again.  I was right in that, but wrong in that he would live so long.

My uncle was a deacon, a father, a husband, a brother and above all else a good man.  I didn’t know him as well as I wish I had, especially considering the fact that he was my Godfather and my father’s big brother.  But from what I do know about him I know that I respected him a great deal, that he had a great sense of humor that could make you laugh at the oddest times at the oddest things, and that if when I die if they say I was half the man he was then I can consider my life worthwhile.

My uncle wanted his 4 brothers to be among his pallbearers but my father suffered a stroke a few years ago and was not able to.  I was given the honor of taking his place.  At the reception afterwards, my aunt thanked me for what I had done and I was too overwhelmed at the time to correct her – that I should have thanked her for letting me pay my respects to him and honor him in that way.

When my father had his stroke, I prepared myself mentally because for awhile, it looked like he would not survive.  I was lucky in that God saw fit to grant me more time with him.  After many years of bad blood between us we had just recently, at the time, started to make amends.  The passing of my uncle led me to think of the fact that soon my parents might follow.  I wish I could say I am a strong enough man that the thought didn’t scare me to my core – but I can’t.

My uncle was a man of faith and his faith in the face of cancer strengthened my faith.  I hope that he knows that.