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Quartz Mountain Weblog


Quartz Mountain Weblog
Tips for web site owners, including advice for marketing your site, optimizing for search engines, and advertising online.
Articles: 1, 2

Articles

Top 3 Mistakes of Rookie Web Designers
2007-07-09 07:01:00
Everyone makes mistakes, and web designers are no exception. However, there some web design goofs that are frequently made by designers who are just starting out - so consistently that most web designers will admit to committing some or all of these at some point early in our careers. We aren't talking about the real amateur problems, like cheesy animated GIFs, loud backgrounds, and horrible font choices. Here we're looking at mistakes that you might see from professionals who get paid good money for their work. And it often looks good. But even a site that looks great to the untrained eye can conceal problems beneath the surface (and invisible to the client). 1) Insufficient Browser Compatibility Testing Everyone in the world doesn't use the same combination of web browser and operating system as you do. Rook ie web designers might check their design in one or two browsers, but few do any extensive testing on the full range of browsers and even fewer test on multiple operati...
More About: Web Design , Designers , Web Designer , Stakes
Ruffled Feathers on the Top 100
2007-04-30 12:38:00
I admit it. Until a few weeks ago, Tuesday nights found me repeatedly dialing the toll-free number for American Idol, voting for Sanjaya. A terrible singer, perhaps, but thousands of American TV viewers delighting in keeping him around week after week. And really, there was no harm in it - the more talented singers on the show will no doubt be signed to recording contracts, regardless of who wins or loses. The Technorati Favorites list works in much the same way. Being listed doesn't make you a successful blogger, and the best bloggers will find success whether they're on the list or not. Still, the recent appearance of a few "Sanjayas" on the Top 100 list seems to be ruffling the feathers of some A-list bloggers. Maki Making Trouble Maki at Dosh Dosh started things off earlier this month when he offered to exchange favorites with anyone who was interested. It turned out that many bloggers were interested. A few weeks later, and the Top 100 list has been invaded by a wh...
More About: Feathers , Feather , Feat
Ruffled Feathers on the Top 100
2007-04-30 12:38:00
I admit it. Until a few weeks ago, Tuesday nights found me repeatedly dialing the toll-free number for American Idol, voting for Sanjaya. A terrible singer, perhaps, but thousands of American TV viewers delighting in keeping him around week after week. And really, there was no harm in it - the more talented singers on the show will no doubt be signed to recording contracts, regardless of who wins or loses. The Technorati Favorites list works in much the same way. Being listed doesn't make you a successful blogger, and the best bloggers will find success whether they're on the list or not. Still, the recent appearance of a few "Sanjayas" on the Top 100 list seems to be ruffling the feathers of some A-list bloggers. Maki Making Trouble Maki at Dosh Dosh started things off earlier this month when he offered to exchange favorites with anyone who was interested. It turned out that many bloggers were interested. A few weeks later, and the Top 100 list has been invaded by a wh...
More About: Hers , Feathers , Feather , Feat
I Took It, So Should You
2007-04-24 20:05:00
Just a quick note to all the web designers and developers out there: Head on over to A List Apart and take their 2007 Web Design Survey. You'll help generate some useful data about our industry, and also have a chance to win event tickets, an iPod, or other swag. If you're like me, you've probably spent hours reading ALA's articles over the years, so a 10 minute survey doesn't seem like much to ask. (Found via Essential Keystrokes, who got it from Working Solo.)
I Took It, So Should You
2007-04-24 20:05:00
Just a quick note to all the web designers and developers out there: Head on over to A List Apart and take their 2007 Web Design Survey. You'll help generate some useful data about our industry, and also have a chance to win event tickets, an iPod, or other swag. If you're like me, you've probably spent hours reading ALA's articles over the years, so a 10 minute survey doesn't seem like much to ask. (Found via Essential Keystrokes, who got it from Working Solo.)
More About: Should
Train, Keep on Rolling
2007-04-24 06:20:00
I was invited aboard the Technorati Train by Char at Essential Keystrokes. (Char blogs about design and marketing, and she's written some great stuff, be sure to check her out.) If you haven't seen this meme making the rounds, the idea is to build your number of "favorites" on Technorati and discover some new blogs in the process. I'm usually a bit hesitant to jump on the latest blog meme, but I find this one appealling for a few reasons: It brings some attention to Technorati, a site which I use and like, but seems lately to have fallen by the wayside as Google has jumped into blog search and MyBlogLog has rolled out better community features. This widespread "gaming" of the Technorati's Top Favorited Blogs list will hopefully nudge them into improving their community features instead of wasting their developers talents on yet another Digg clone. The rules for participating are below, but first, a brief introduction to the 3 blogs I'm tagging:...
More About: Blogging , Roll , Keep
Train, Keep on Rolling
2007-04-24 06:20:00
I was invited aboard the Technorati Train by Char at Essential Keystrokes. (Char blogs about design and marketing, and she's written some great stuff, be sure to check her out.) If you haven't seen this meme making the rounds, the idea is to build your number of "favorites" on Technorati and discover some new blogs in the process. I'm usually a bit hesitant to jump on the latest blog meme, but I find this one appealling for a few reasons: It brings some attention to Technorati, a site which I use and like, but seems lately to have fallen by the wayside as Google has jumped into blog search and MyBlogLog has rolled out better community features. This widespread "gaming" of the Technorati's Top Favorited Blogs list will hopefully nudge them into improving their community features instead of wasting their developers talents on yet another Digg clone. The rules for participating are below, but first, a brief introduction to the 3 blogs I'm tagging:...
More About: Blogging , Rolling , TRAI
Paid Links - Don't Ask, Don't Sell
2007-04-17 10:55:00
Following Matt Cutts' recent announcement that Google will allow users to report paid links, Andy Beard has taken the bold step of submitting his own content to Google's webspam team, in the hope of getting some official statement out of Google. I certainly hope he gets a response, but it seems unlikely. The disturbing truth is that the only noise out of Google about paid links comes from Matt Cutts' "personal" blog postings. And Matt's stance on the need for machine-readable disclosure of paid links seems to contradict everything Google has ever said about building sites for people, rather than for search engines. There's obviously a considerable gray area regarding what constitutes a paid link, and Andy's post does a good job of listing many cases where a link may be motivated (directly or indirectly) by financial gain. If Google is serious about identifying and penalizing "paid links," and would prefer that webmasters avoid them, it would seem that the...
More About: Links , Link , Paid , Sell
Paid Links - Don't Ask, Don't Sell
2007-04-17 10:55:00
Following Matt Cutts' recent announcement that Google will allow users to report paid links, Andy Beard has taken the bold step of submitting his own content to Google's webspam team, in the hope of getting some official statement out of Google. I certainly hope he gets a response, but it seems unlikely. The disturbing truth is that the only noise out of Google about paid links comes from Matt Cutts' "personal" blog postings. And Matt's stance on the need for machine-readable disclosure of paid links seems to contradict everything Google has ever said about building sites for people, rather than for search engines. There's obviously a considerable gray area regarding what constitutes a paid link, and Andy's post does a good job of listing many cases where a link may be motivated (directly or indirectly) by financial gain. If Google is serious about identifying and penalizing "paid links," and would prefer that webmasters avoid them, it would seem that the...
More About: Links , Paid , Sell
Anchor Text Matters
2007-04-10 23:19:00
How much thought do you give to the anchor text used on your blog or web site? I'm not talking about the anchor text of your incoming links, but the anchor text you use in every post to link out to your fellow bloggers. All of us are guilty, from time to time, of being lazy with our anchor text. Using descriptive words in your links can actually have many benefits for your readers, your peers, and the search engines. When your anchor text accurately describes the resource you're linking to: Your readers gain a better idea of what they'll see when they follow the link. The sites you link to may get better search engine rankings (and thus more targeted traffic) for the keywords used in your links. Search engines can use your anchor text to better understand what the site or page you link to is really about. Still, many of us construct our links with less descriptive text such as names (of people and companies), post titles, and generic terms. For example, it's ...
More About: Blogging , Text , Matters
Anchor Text Matters
2007-04-10 23:19:00
How much thought do you give to the anchor text used on your blog or web site? I'm not talking about the anchor text of your incoming links, but the anchor text you use in every post to link out to your fellow bloggers. All of us are guilty, from time to time, of being lazy with our anchor text. Using descriptive words in your links can actually have many benefits for your readers, your peers, and the search engines. When your anchor text accurately describes the resource you're linking to: Your readers gain a better idea of what they'll see when they follow the link. The sites you link to may get better search engine rankings (and thus more targeted traffic) for the keywords used in your links. Search engines can use your anchor text to better understand what the site or page you link to is really about. Still, many of us construct our links with less descriptive text such as names (of people and companies), post titles, and generic terms. For example, it's ...
More About: Matter , Text , Matt , Matters
Top Commentators (kinda) Works
2007-04-06 08:48:00
It's been one month since I added the top commentators links to the sidebar, and it clearly impacted the number of comments on this blog. Despite my less-than-prolific output lately (only 3 posts in the month of March), there were 3 times as many comments in the past month as in any previous month. There's no doubt in my mind that the top commentators contributed to the increase. Why? 14 visitors found this blog via a search for the phrase "top commentators", about half of these immediately left one or more comments. 6 visitors left multiple comments in quick succession (usually exactly the number needed to get a link in the sidebar) So if you want to increase the number of comments on your own blog, adding links to the top commentators is definitely worthwhile. If you're more interested in rewarding your existing audience and don't want folks commenting just for the links, I suggest titling your links with something other than "top commentators" a...
More About: Blogging , Works , Kinda , Comm , Commentators
Top Commentators (kinda) Works
2007-04-06 08:48:00
It's been one month since I added the top commentators links to the sidebar, and it clearly impacted the number of comments on this blog. Despite my less-than-prolific output lately (only 3 posts in the month of March), there were 3 times as many comments in the past month as in any previous month. There's no doubt in my mind that the top commentators contributed to the increase. Why? 14 visitors found this blog via a search for the phrase "top commentators", about half of these immediately left one or more comments. 6 visitors left multiple comments in quick succession (usually exactly the number needed to get a link in the sidebar) So if you want to increase the number of comments on your own blog, adding links to the top commentators is definitely worthwhile. If you're more interested in rewarding your existing audience and don't want folks commenting just for the links, I suggest titling your links with something other than "top commentators" a...
More About: Men , Work , Works , Kinda , Menta
Oops! Learning from the Mistakes of Others
2007-04-02 19:47:00
It's great to learn from your mistakes, but it's even better when you can learn from the mistakes of others. Here (in no particular order) are 47 posts from bloggers who share their blogging mistakes, and what they've done to correct them: I Almost Ruined Everything by Annie Mr. Frisky Retreats with his Tail Between his Legs by Rory My Biggest Blogging Mistake is not Updating Often Enough by Julian Lack of Persistence by Blake The Ad King by Jason The Biggest Blogging Mistake I did was not Blogging by Francesco Copying, Mimicking, Duplication by Paper Bull Don't Ignore the Basics of SEO by Simonne Lack of Predictability on Your Posts by Roberto 5 Things I Regret About March by Bill Should've Gone WP Yesterday! by Jimbo DYH isn't perfect? by Cory O'Brien Not Commenting Enough on other People's Blogs by Somu Why Blogs and Blogging Will Ruin your Self Discipline by Dave Don't Underestimate the Commitment by Andrew ...
More About: Learning , The Mist , Earning , Stakes
Oops! Learning from the Mistakes of Others
2007-04-02 19:47:00
It's great to learn from your mistakes, but it's even better when you can learn from the mistakes of others. Here (in no particular order) are 47 posts from bloggers who share their blogging mistakes, and what they've done to correct them: I Almost Ruined Everything by Annie Mr. Frisky Retreats with his Tail Between his Legs by Rory My Biggest Blogging Mistake is not Updating Often Enough by Julian Lack of Persistence by Blake The Ad King by Jason The Biggest Blogging Mistake I did was not Blogging by Francesco Copying, Mimicking, Duplication by Paper Bull Don't Ignore the Basics of SEO by Simonne Lack of Predictability on Your Posts by Roberto 5 Things I Regret About March by Bill Should've Gone WP Yesterday! by Jimbo DYH isn't perfect? by Cory O'Brien Not Commenting Enough on other People's Blogs by Somu Why Blogs and Blogging Will Ruin your Self Discipline by Dave Don't Underestimate the Commitment by Andrew ...
More About: Other , Others , Take , Earn , Learning
The Need for Feeds
2007-04-02 05:27:00
One of my earliest blogging mistakes was underestimating the importance of RSS feeds, both for readers and for my own sanity. I'd never used a feed reader, and I didn't know anyone who had. Having never subscribed to a feed myself, I did nothing to promote my own feed - it was practically invisible. Fortunately I soon saw the light.  Building a base of feed subscribers can have many benefits: Visitors who subscribe are making a commitment to read your future posts. Subscribers aren't just passive readers - they're taking action to subscribe and they're likely to take action in the future to comment or link to your posts. Subscribers are less impacted by your posting frequency - they get your latest as soon as you post it, and they're not checking back daily to see if you've posted anything new. Make your feed address a prominent part of your blog, and offer email subscriptions as well for those who haven't discovered RSS (FeedBurner makes this easy). Als...
More About: Blogging
The Need for Feeds
2007-04-02 05:27:00
One of my earliest blogging mistakes was underestimating the importance of RSS feeds, both for readers and for my own sanity. I'd never used a feed reader, and I didn't know anyone who had. Having never subscribed to a feed myself, I did nothing to promote my own feed - it was practically invisible. Fortunately I soon saw the light.  Building a base of feed subscribers can have many benefits: Visitors who subscribe are making a commitment to read your future posts. Subscribers aren't just passive readers - they're taking action to subscribe and they're likely to take action in the future to comment or link to your posts. Subscribers are less impacted by your posting frequency - they get your latest as soon as you post it, and they're not checking back daily to see if you've posted anything new. Make your feed address a prominent part of your blog, and offer email subscriptions as well for those who haven't discovered RSS (Feed Burner makes this easy). Als...
More About: The N , Need
You Don't Need a Professional Web Designer
2007-03-10 02:29:00
At least according to BusinessWeek. They're running an article called No Geeks Required, all about how small business owners can realize big savings by designing their own websites. They claim that "a variety of services make it easy for the tech-impaired and time-challenged to get a site up and running," and then go on to profile 3 business owners who've had success with these services. It's interesting that BusinessWeek neglected to link to any of the self-made sites that they profile, and I took the time to track them down and have a look. Normally, I don't use this space to critique anyone else's work. But since the creators of these sites are not professional designers, and they're claiming in an widely read magazine that my profession is unnecessary and overpriced, I'm going to consider them fair game. Lets take a look. Wow! Imports According to the article, the owner of Wow! Imports used a do-it-yourself service at Register.com to create her site. "I...
More About: Web Design , Designer , Web Designer , Professional , Fess
You Don't Need a Professional Web Designer
2007-03-10 02:29:00
At least according to BusinessWeek. They're running an article called No Geeks Required, all about how small business owners can realize big savings by designing their own websites. They claim that "a variety of services make it easy for the tech-impaired and time-challenged to get a site up and running," and then go on to profile 3 business owners who've had success with these services. It's interesting that BusinessWeek neglected to link to any of the self-made sites that they profile, and I took the time to track them down and have a look. Normally, I don't use this space to critique anyone else's work. But since the creators of these sites are not professional designers, and they're claiming in an widely read magazine that my profession is unnecessary and overpriced, I'm going to consider them fair game. Lets take a look. Wow! Imports According to the article, the owner of Wow! Imports used a do-it-yourself service at Register.com to create her site. "I...
More About: Web Design , Design , Profession , Desi , Prof
Link Blog and Top Commentators for Drupal
2007-03-09 22:38:00
I want to point out a few new features added to this blog in the past few days. Link Blog The first is the addition of a link blog. I track hundreds of feeds everyday, so of course I see a lot of great posts that I never get a chance to blog about. From now on, the best of these posts will go into the link blog. You can see the most recent additions in the sidebar under the heading "Great Posts Elsewhere". Clicking the "more" link under those posts will take you to an archive of all links (I just started this, so there's no much in the archive yet). There's also a feed available if anyone's interested. Notice I didn't go the usual route of creating a shared feed through Google Reader, although that's certainly the easiest way to create a link blog. Google Reader is great, but I prefer to use an offline reader. Also, if I used Google's javascript widget to publish those links here, it wouldn't pass any link love. I'm only linking to posts that really de...
More About: Drupal , Men , Menta
Link Blog and Top Commentators for Drupal
2007-03-09 22:38:00
I want to point out a few new features added to this blog in the past few days. Link Blog The first is the addition of a link blog. I track hundreds of feeds everyday, so of course I see a lot of great posts that I never get a chance to blog about. From now on, the best of these posts will go into the link blog. You can see the most recent additions in the sidebar under the heading "Great Posts Elsewhere". Clicking the "more" link under those posts will take you to an archive of all links (I just started this, so there's no much in the archive yet). There's also a feed available if anyone's interested. Notice I didn't go the usual route of creating a shared feed through Google Reader, although that's certainly the easiest way to create a link blog. Google Reader is great, but I prefer to use an offline reader. Also, if I used Google's javascript widget to publish those links here, it wouldn't pass any link love. I'm only linking to posts that really de...
More About: Drupal , Comm , Commentators
Site Upgrade
2007-03-02 10:15:02
I've just finished upgrading this site to the latest version of Drupal (5.1). Feed subscriber's may have seen some duplicate posts come through; sorry about that. No major changes to the design, just a few minor tweaks. Comments now display MyBlogLog or Gravatar avatars when available, and the captchas are gone from the comment form in favor of running everything through Askimet. If anyone notices anything that's not working right, please let me know.
More About: Site
MyBlogLog Apologizes
2007-02-25 22:12:02
UPDATE - MyBlog Log has apologized and reinstated Shoemoney's account. A lot of people I respect immensely have written in to tell me that I screwed up, and after a point, it becomes impossible to avoid the truth.  We banned Shoemoney originally to keep him from updating his list of User IDs on Wednesday night, which I think was the right thing to do.  But after fixing the exploit, I should have unbanned him and thanked him for finding it.  But I didn't.  I screwed up. The MyBlogLog widget has returned to the sidebar. ***Original post follows*** Since Yahoo acquired MyBlogLog, they've done a superb job of angering and alienating their early supporters. A month ago, Yahoo's Jeremy Zawodny called Andy Beal a spammer on his personal blog (and later publicly apologized). Over the next few weeks, MyBlogLog saw a marked increase in real spammers exploiting weaknesses in MBL's system, including a recent rash of unwanted co-author requests. But things start...
More About: Apologize , Polo , Logi
Making Article Marketing Work
2007-02-22 22:11:01
I just happened across a post by Matt Jones, who's asking if Article Market ing is a Waste of Time. Matt submitted 20 articles to a couple of popular article directories and was less than impressed with the results (2 incoming links from low trust sites). Submitting to free article sites is one of the most commonly mentioned ways of building links and traffic for your web site, and I've even heard it touted as a means of search engine optimization. I think it's a complete waste of time. Who Republishes Articles? Think about the type of links you're going to get by submitting to article directories. Do any of the reputable sites you read post this type of content? The reality is that sites republishing free articles are generally of very low quality. Sites that regularly publish quality, original content aren't going to water down their pages with this sort of duplicate content. Instead, your article is going to end up on Made for Adsense sites with a lot of other republished co...
More About: Article Marketing , Work
Performancing.com - RIP?
2007-02-15 22:05:01
A few weeks back I wrote about a series of blog posts by Perform ancing.com's leaders that aired the company's dirty laundry and revealed the turmoil following their failed acquisition. Today, Shoemoney pointed out that Performancing.com seemed to have gone offline. With no indication of what's happened, and several comments from Shoemoney readers indicating the site was still available in some parts of the world, I did a bit more digging, and it appears that this is indeed more than a temporary glitch.According to historical domain information, the Performancing.com domain was transferred on February 9 from Nick Wilson at Communicontent ApS to Mark Saunders at SplashPress Media.  SplashPress Media lists a fairly large portfolio of blogs and other sites on their web site, but there's no mention of Performancing yet. No word on whether Performancing has been acquired by SplashPress, or if it's just the domain name.  Performancing recently made efforts to rebrand their b...
More About: Form
Choosing a Domain Name
2007-02-10 22:00:02
Selecting a domain name is one of the first things most people do when starting a new web site. It's an important decision, but it's often made in haste and with little forethought. SEOmoz recently posted a list of 12 rules for choosing your domain name that should be read by anyone who's registering a domain name for their business. The basic rules covered in the article are: Brainstorm 5 Top Keywords Make the Doma in Unique Only Choose Dot-Com Available Domains Make it Easy to Type Make it Easy to Remember Keep the Name as Short as Possible Create and Fulfill Expectations Avoid Copyright Infringement Set Yourself Apart with a Brand Reject Hyphens and Numbers Don't Follow the Latest Trends Use an Ajax Domain Selection Tool One thing I might add, which goes hand-in-hand with numbers 4 and 5 in the list, is "make it easy to say". When you're talking face to face or over the phone with your customers, you want a domain name that can be easily transmitted ve...
More About: Domain Name , Main
Sometimes "free" is worth every penny
2007-02-03 15:58:01
The Consumerist reports on a recent complaint from a Lyco's customer who lost 2 years worth of her personal email. The customer in question hadn't logged into her free account for 30 days, which is grounds for deletion according to Lyco's terms of service, and found that Lyco's customer service was anything but helpful.I'm not suprised to find so many people drawn to the free email services that are available everywhere on the internet.  We all love a bargain, and most of these services are extremely easy to set up, even for those with little internet experience. Few people consider the drawbacks until disaster strikes. And once their email has been lost, they're shocked to receive subpar customer service for a service that hasn't cost them a penny.With so many online services offered for free, it's easy to forget that the rules of the real world also apply to the internet. You get what you pay for. If you just need a personal email account for occasional correspondence...
More About: Time , Free , Worth , Times , Ever
ROI of Business Blogs
2007-01-27 03:52:01
Forrester Research has released a new report on The ROI Of Blog ging, available to anyone with $379 burning a hole in their pocket. For those of us who don't want to spend that kind of cash on a 15 page report, Forrester blogger Charlene Li provides a summary and excerpt. While the value of business blogging is widely accepted, it can be difficult to quantify that value, and Forrester's aim here is to provide businesses with a method for measuring the value of their blogging efforts. Some potential benefits mentioned in the summary are increased brand visibility, increased sales efficiency, and savings on customer insight. Charlene reveals some interesting details on this last benefit, regarding the value of customer insight in their case study of General Motor's FastLane blog: FastLane has about 100 people commenting on the blog each month, which is equivalent to gaining customer insight on products and brands from a traditional focus group. We estimated that the value of this...
More About: Business , Blogs , Ness , Logs
When Business Blogging Goes Wrong
2007-01-26 03:51:02
I recently wrote about the benefits of maintaining a blog for your business, and how it can help improve communication with your customers. Occasionally, the power to speak directly to your customer base can backfire, reflecting badly on your business and airing your dirty laundry for the world to see. Blog tool provider Performancing provides us with an example of how business blogging can go horribly wrong. Performancing has been through a tumultuous period of late, having experienced a failed merger, the demise of their blog statistics service, and the departure of CEO Nick Wilson. All of these events were handled with grace and professionalism on their company blog. But this week, things turned ugly. On Monday, new CEO Chris Garrett surprised Performancing users with the announcement that the company's advertising service, Performancing Partners, was closing down due to financing issues. I'm sad to tell you that Partners has to close. While I have every faith it could have wo...
More About: Business , Blogging , When , Ness
Humanizing Your Business with a Blog
2007-01-12 15:42:04
When Apple announced their new iPhone yesterday, bloggers and tech sites across the internet rushed heap praise on the long anticipated gadget. The name "iPhone" has been attached to so many internet rumors about Apple's top-secret project that few ever considered who owned the actual trademark.  The Press Release Cisco announced in a press release earlier today that they have filed a lawsuit against Apple for trademark infringement. The lawsuit, in itself, isn't terribly interesting; a company infringes on your trademark, you have to protect it. But suing Apple while they're still basking in the afterglow of their triumphant product announcement was bound to leave Cisco looking like the bad guy. And Cisco's press release, while stating the relevant facts well enough, does little to alter the impression that Cisco is just a big, bad corporation looking to rain on Apple's parade. The Blog Post But take a look at this blog post from Cisco general counsel Mark Cha...
More About: Business , Human , With , Your
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