Category Archives: Web Stuff

CSS In 24 Hours

Although some of my friends might not believe it, I’m not an uber computer geek by any means. I learn what I need to learn, then go about my business until it’s time to learn something else.

Back in 2003, when I needed to learn HTML pretty quickly, I used a program called PageTutor. The fact that I learned HTML in just about 3 hours is proof enough for me to recommend it to people even now if you need to learn it. However, when it came time to learn CSS (cascading stylesheets), I found PageTutor couldn’t quite get me there.

So, I went to my favorite bookstore, Barnes and Noble, and went through all the books there on CSS. And the one I came home with was a champ. It’s called CSS In 24 Hours, and this was just the book I needed to help me get over the hump.

Not only was it quick and easy to use, but he gives you the different codes to use with each step, and you can go online and download templates and other information to help you see what’s going on. The chapters are broken into “hours”, hence the title, but you know I went through it faster than 24 hours. The best thing about a book is that you can go back and look at things over and over if you need to, and with this book, finding everything is simple and easy. Of course, I will make a confession, that being that I never make any websites based on CSS alone. One day I will, but so far, since I’ve noticed how websites with total CSS seem to not always have the same formatting from browser to browser, sometimes even within versions of the same browser, I’ve decided to stick with the

attribute to at least keep the basic format stable.

Anyway, I recommend CSS In 24 Hours for anyone who needs to learn CSS in a hurry, and without much hassle.

CSS In 24 Hours
by Kynn Bartlett



Credibility, Article Writing, And Marketing Products

A few posts ago, I wrote about Lynn Terry and some of her tips on making money online. Well, a month ago, I had the opportunity to participate in one of her weekly marketing sessions, and I got to ask her a couple of questions during that time.

The first question was what she thought about writing articles to put on article marketing sites. The second question was what how she felt in advertising products that one hasn’t really used. She gave me some interesting answers, and I’d like to talk about those answers.

On the first question, she answered that she thought writing articles and posting them at article marketing sites was a great idea. She felt that the traffic one could get from one of those sites could be important traffic; that you’d get links from those sites; and, if someone else decided to pick up one of your articles for repost, with the caveat that they give you attribution, your articles have a chance to give you a lot of publicity in other ways, possibly driving traffic to your site.

I’ve given this one a lot of thought, and though I don’t disagree with her assessment on the topic, I decided that I would check my own statistics on this one. I couldn’t do it for this blog, though, so I did it for my business website. For that site, I have about 20 articles posted in various places, but on two specific sites I’ve got maybe 16 articles posted. Maybe it takes more than that, but hey, it’s a sample. What I see doesn’t give me much encouragement to post any articles to any of these sites. Checking Google Analytics over a 60 day period, my site shows that I haven’t driven a single person to my site via any of these sites. And, before anyone asks, yes, one of those sites is Ezine Articles. Now, some of those articles have been picked up and are in other places on the web (it’s amazing where you’ll find your stuff on the internet), and I’ve verified that none of those places has driven any traffic to my site in the last 60 days either. Now, I’m not going to claim that this is overly scientific, but it’s not quite a catalyst in making me think that article marketing is going to help me much. I’m not saying not to do it; I’m just saying I don’t see it working for me.

On the second question, she said that one doesn’t have to use everything that they market, but that it helps with credibility if you’re writing about products that you’ve at least used some of them or have tested some of them, or that you know something about the people you’re pushing at least some of the time. On this one, I wholeheartedly agree. Building credibility is a big deal; as a matter of fact, my new friend Dennis Edell of Direct Web Sales Marketing also just addressed this issue ((though Dennis won’t believe this, I hadn’t read the article until just now, but I’d seen that he had written an article on it via CommentLuv). And, since he’s linking to another article, it’s obviously a subject many people are thinking about, and works well with my post on sales, to a degree.

I decided to take a look back at some of my posts, things I’ve recommended, items I have on my sidebars, to see how balanced I’ve been. When I first started this blog, I wrote posts on affiliate ads that I was marketing via Commission Junction, which shares most of the bottom ads I put on this blog with the Google Affiliate Network. I talked about Ultra Diamonds with “CJ”, but I’ve never bought a product from them. I also talked about and posted links to the Harry Potter series of books and movies, which I have read and seen all the movies for. Not quite balanced, but it was the first month.

As time has gone by, I’ve gotten more into talking about things I’ve given some type of thought to, and have fully participated in them. The last five products I’ve endorsed, not including the latest, Startup Rebel, which I just started looking at a day or so ago, are eHealth Insurance, Tweet My Blog, Recover My Data, Error Doctor, and FreeCreditReport.com, I’ve used or still use four of those, with the only one I don’t use being eHealth Insurance, but since that was more about an opinion on why people should have health insurance if they don’t, I don’t count that one against me.

And, as a further extension, with the ads I have on the side, which I’m not going to list here again, not including the Text Link Ads (which I may still remove at the end of the month), I’ve used or read every link that’s over there (at the top, since, by this time, we’ve gone down the list a little bit), especially the book I wrote, Embrace The Lead (run over and buy that one now! :-)), and of course Joel’s book, which has helped my website and Adsense revenue jump almost 400%.

As for the individual ads I put at the end of each post, I’m not going to claim that I’ve used or purchased most of them, because it wouldn’t be true. I have visited every website that I put up, though, just to see what it’s like, something I like to do before I decide to market them unless I’m already familiar with the product or company. And, of course, everyone’s familiar with Adsense. Goodness, as I’ve gone back through some pages of my blog to research this post, I realize I haven’t really spent a lot of time marketing as much as reviewing things and giving my opinion; that’s somewhat enlightening to me, so I’ve learned something about myself writing this post.

Anyway, I believe I’ve shown some balance in my recommendations of products through my blog, actually leaning more towards someone who has used, or at least tried, many of the things I talk about. Now, does that boost my credibility? I think so, but only you, the reader, can tell me so for sure. I feel fairly secure in what I’ve written about on this blog, and how I write this blog as honestly as possible, and in my own way addressed the issue I’ve been discussing with another online friend Rich regarding a post he directed me to regarding his belief that if one accepted ads on their site that it would make them less likely to speak their minds honestly. He may be right in general; at least, in my mind, he’s not right as it pertains to me. By the way, he writes some pretty good and heady stuff, so check him out.

So, there you go. How credible am I to you? Trust me, I care. How credible are you to your readers? I hope that, many decades down the line, that I remember how I felt when writing this post, and how I felt while writing this blog. Can one be too old to dream? I hope not, but if so, well, then take this little bitty video with you on that subject (y’all do remember that I’ve said before how much I love the Muppets, right?):

Muppet Show Season Three


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What Will You Do To Get More Traffic?

A few years ago, I did something that I couldn’t conceive of doing again, but I figured it was worth a shot. I paid a company for traffic. It said it would be targeted traffic, and though I wondered how they would know, since I had a feeling they wouldn’t even be able to determine what my traffic would be, I went ahead and paid for it.

I've Been Out Walkin'
Thomas Hawk via Compfight

I believe it was around $13 for a guaranteed 10,000 visits, which sounded good to me. After I paid my money, the company wrote and said that I’d purchased during a special period, and that I’d earned another 5,000 visits.

I tracked the traffic for the month, and I didn’t quite get to 15,000; as a matter of fact, I didn’t get to 10,000 visitors for the money. I did get an increase, though, of about 8,000, and I figured that wasn’t bad.

However, I didn’t get any business from it. No one called to ask any questions. No one purchased any products. No one booked me for any speaking engagements.

This was back before Google Analytics, so I didn’t even get a sense of which pages anyone was visiting when they came to the site. Truthfully, I’m not even sure there were actual visitors. My ISP reports traffic statistics that say I’m averaging over 18,000 hits a month, but Google Analytics doesn’t come anywhere close to that number. My thinking is that most of it comes from a source that kind of “pings” your site, like the search engines do, only this is more deliberate, to throw off your stats.

I don’t remember the name of that company, and I’d pretty much forgotten about it until the last couple of days. The first one is that I came across a website that now does what that one did back in the day. It’s called Get Web Traffic Here, and for as little as $14.34 a month (I wonder how they came to that figure), you can get upwards of 200 visitors a day of “targeted” traffic. The best package, price-wise, will run you $154.95 for 2,500 visitors a day, plus a bonus of some kind.

It all sounds good, as far as getting visitors, but is it effective?

Well, if you research online and read articles on the subject, it would seem so, but everyone writing the articles has a vested interest in your possibly buying from them. Nope, can’t quite trust that, can we? One guy did make an interesting point, that being that if you purchase the traffic and make some sales, it may help build your confidence up and motivate you to try harder. That would be a more compelling argument if it had worked for me on my other sites a few years ago. Just a couple of sales would have gotten me there, I believe.

As I said, the big question on this is just how targeted the traffic can be. One example I read was a travel site looking for traffic geared towards that industry. What the article said is that companies often just purchase old domains that get some type of traffic, and then point those visitors your way. But they’re not as targeted as you might hope they would be, because, based on the numbers, it would be inconceivable for some businesses to be able to attain the type of traffic numbers for that particular field. So, some niches will work better than others.

Of course, there are some other ways to do it for free. Ben Pei of Make Money Online had this particular post that gave a list of free traffic exchanges, which was a pretty nice list, but to tell you the truth I’m not into that either. I’ve done it a few times, where you sign up with a site and basically trade visits. You visit so many pages and build up points, then people will visit your site. However, if you’re not interested in their stuff and they’re not interested in yours, then you’ve wasted your time and theirs; it’s not targeted traffic once again. Still, give it a look and see what else is there, because you might find something you like.

So then, what else do we do for more traffic? Blog commenting seems to be working fairly well lately for me, as well as mentioning my new posts on Twitter. I couldn’t tell you if I’m getting any new traffic from Facebook, and based on the fact that you have to “friend” people before they can view your site, I’d doubt it’s getting me far.

There is always commenting on forums to see if that drives more traffic, but that takes time. I also had a brief interaction with Lynn Terry (man, she’s real people; gotta love her!), getting her thoughts on article writing to drive traffic, and she says that, plus good SEO for your site, would work very well.

And, of course, there’s always your own bits of advertising through services like Adwords or purchasing other advertising. Link exchanges are always good, as well as getting listed on someone else’s blogroll if you’re writing a blog, which of course I am here.

For a website, something you might want to think about is SiteSell’s Value-Exchange program. Basically, you go in, give information about your site with your keywords, and if they approve your site, then they’ll send you webpages from time to that that seem to be a match for your site, and you get the opportunity to review them to see if you believe they’re a match, and then you can choose to contact them, whereas they’ll also get a chance to take a look back at you. Of course, you have to have a valid links page, and in my mind, if your links pages are hidden and hard to find, I’m not exchanging with you because it’s inherently unfair. But the program itself is great, and it’s free.

So, what am I going to do? I think, for now, that I’m not going to pay for more traffic, but I’m going to continue my posting on other blogs and getting back into forums, which I was doing a lot for awhile, but I’ve gotten out of it lately. I’ve enjoyed commenting on blogs, though, and having people come by for a visit is invigorating in its own way. I’m also thinking about starting two more pages on this site, which might help bring more traffic to the site eventually. Stay tuned for that, though; I don’t want to give it away just yet. 🙂
 

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Trying To Code Across All Browser Platforms

I’ve finally gone and done it; I changed the theme on my business blog, and if you’re so inclined you can take at look at it here.

I love the new theme, but of course it has some issues, just like many other sites do. One of the worst things about coding is that, sometimes, it doesn’t work across all browser platforms. Firefox is my browser of choice, and it looks perfect in Firefox; there’s nothing I can do to make it look bad. However, in IE7, I noticed that if one changes the size of the font, it suddenly doesn’t look right. I had to reduce my settings so it would fit properly, and that shouldn’t occur. It also looks bad in Opera, no matter what I do there.

The problem is with CSS, cascading stylesheets, which are great for allowing you to make changes to a bunch of webpages all at once, but sometimes is bad because not all browsers will view it properly. There’s also sometimes problems with PHP, which many people use to create dynamic sites or programs to be used on a website. Right now, for instance, some of the gaming programs on Facebook aren’t working properly in Firefox, and the programmers know it, as they’ve put out the message asking people to use IE instead.

This is a major gripe for programmers, and one of the reasons why many of us who create websites will never fully give up HTML. For all this noise people want to pass through in saying that CSS is a cleaner way to code and will allow search engines to go through your site easier, the other side of the equation is that if the sites look like they were put together by a child then who’s going to stick around to see that the code looks good? There’s one site I manage that was totally created in CSS, and it seems that every time there’s a new browser upgrade of some kind I have to go in and change something in the code to get the site to center again. Frankly it’s irritating, and makes me want to get all of the top guys for each of these browsers together and go an old Three Stooges slap on them. Heck, since I’m talking about it:

In general, I know we’re supposed to be coding for IE first, since it’s still the most prominent browser in the world, but we don’t have to like it.


20% off GoDaddy.com Custom Web Site Design

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“Compete” Rank; I’m Not Impressed

I was going about my business, checking my business site, and decided I wanted to compare it to some other sites that do some of the same types of functions I do in my main business. Google Rankings is my preferred tool because I can compare search terms against each other to see where we all rank for those terms.

After doing that for a few sites, I realized that, on my main site, something had caught my eye. So I went back to my site, and at the bottom I noticed something called “Compete” that I really hadn’t paid much attention to before, even though it shows up right next to this tracking for Alexa. No, I don’t have the Alexa toolbar; I use a Firefox plugin called SearchStatus, which tells me my Google page rank, my Alexa rank, and this Compete Rank.

The thing is, on my business site, which is ranked nicely, it said I didn’t have any Compete rank at all; that didn’t sound quite right, but at the same time, I didn’t know what it was. So I went to the site, and I see it’s a lot like Alexa. I decided to do a comparison of my site with a couple other sites that are in the same industry as mine. What it came up with was disturbing. It showed that, in the year between last July and this July, I only had 714 visitors. Since I know that’s not accurate, nowhere close to accurate, I’m pretty much discounting it. However, it also said people find my site through the search term “backing an animal into a corner“; what the heck is that? It did say that it didn’t have much information on any of the sites, and recommended that I load its toolbar; that’s the same thing Alexa asks for.

Most SEO people discount Alexa because it’s rankings seem to be skewed towards people who download and use their toolbar. It would seem to be the same thing for Compete. But I at least have an Alexa ranking; one would hope so, after 6 years on the web and all the optimizing I’ve done on the site. To not even be included in Compete rank, well, that’s almost insulting. I did learn, through research, that it only compares U.S. companies against each other; that makes me feel even worse.

No, I’m not going to be loading toolbars just to get rankings. I loaded Google Toolbar because I use Google, but I also know it had no effect on my page rank. I will continue to use SearchStatus, mainly because it doesn’t hurt to see figures of any kind, but I won’t be thinking much about Compete any time soon. By the way, this blog even has a rank, and I only started it in December; sheesh! Compete seems more incomplete to me.

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