Hold tight whilst I make a few changes here

I’m just starting to update the presentation of the blog, so it may look slightly ropey for a couple of days. Hopefully won’t be too long.

As a quick aside, there is a strong rumour apparently that Google are looking to buy up Godaddy. Which would be fantastic for me, I’d love to integrate my Google web tools with my Godaddy accounts, so I’m crossing my fingers. Apparently the rumours have backing in the fact that the owner of Godaddy hasn’t said anything about it, whereas normally he has an opinion and quote to offer on every topic going.

Testing my blog’s development

I’m picking up on the post from Lorelle on her Lorelle on WordPress blog about testing your blogs development. She lists a set of links you can test your blog on, and see what sort of results are returned. So without further ado:
Live Google PageRankResults
An average pagerank of 2.7, which considering that when I started the blog a few months back, pagerank was essentially 0, is not bad going. Pagerank is one measure I would like to test on again in 6 months time and see where I stand then.

Visual PageRankResults
This is a good tool, shows the pagerank of every single link on a page. I note that I don’t seem to be quoting many major sites in terms of links in a post generally, if I was wanting to live by pagerank alone, I should have more links, and to higher ranking sites. I know that is by no means the only path to improving pagerank, but this tool does highlight the relative merit of your links.

Google Cache Tool
This checks to see what internal links have been cached by google, having read through the front page of the blog. According to this, 3 out of 7 have. Not sure if I would need to get the rest cached, but it is caching the main url of the site, which is what I would want.

Spider ViewResults
Okay, as a topic I’ve discussed several times on here, I checked Ubuntu as a keyword on the site. This showed that I’ve mentioned it 18 times on the front page as it stands.

3 results here. I’ve found personally that Alexa is a bit sniffy in some senses, as they profess to only be interested in the top 100,000 websites, rather than providing information beyond this. Also, their ratings depend in part on users installing spyware, which isn’t really the ideal way forwards.

Search Position CheckerResults
I know from a little while ago that one of my most successful posts on this blog was a simple little explanation of how to install realplayer on Ubuntu. I was getting at one point 20 hits a day direct from google for the post. So I used this tool to search for the keywords ubuntu realplay edgy, and see where I am ranked. It shows no results for google, which suggests it may be a bit borked, as a manual search shows I am #2 for that search on google. It does show me as 5th on MSN and 11th on Excite.

Link Popularity CheckerResults
Important to remember here that I am only searching on graemehunter.co.uk, not www.graemehunter.co.uk, which does get very different results. Note that google shows no results at all for the www version. I use google sitemaps to submit the version without the www, but have been meaning for a while to sort out with www. This underlines it needs doing, and that each can be treated very differently by search engines. At least 3 search engines there see over 100 results with the www.

Keyword Analysis ToolResults
This shows the frequency of words throughout a page. So for the front page of here, as I had guessed previously, Ubuntu was the most regular, followed by WordPress and product. Again, if I was targeting a particular audience, I would want to up this count in certain areas.

Google Webmasters Site Status Test
This confirms that I am included in the Google index, and that I was last indexed on the 9th February. I can get a lot more detail once I log into the Google webmaster tools, and I may well do this as a seperate exercise to blog on here soon, going through the results and seeing what they show.

So there are a good range of tools here to check how search engines view your site. Do note by the way that the results I have referred to will change once I publish this post.

Google Sitemap Generator for WordPress

I’ve been meaning for a while to submit the sitemaps for my domains to Google’s Webmaster Central site. Having a sitemap for the googlebot to read improves how your site is crawled, and means only the pages you want are submitted. It has recently also become a format recognised by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, which has resulted in the sitemaps.org site.

Anyway, I looked into how to generate a sitemap, and to be honest it is a bit of a pain for WordPress users. It seemed like the best way to do it would be to just submit an RSS feed. However, the standard location for your feed isn’t liked by Google, and I didn’t want to move mine. The other methods seemed like too much work as well. So I looked for a WordPress-based solution, and found Arne Brachold’s Google Sitemap Generator for WordPress plugin.

Very easy to setup and run, all the instructions are there, and only took a few minutes to set up, run, and submit to Google. Perfect tool for the job. It will even ping Google about any changes to your site structure. I’m now getting to read through what Google makes of my site, and for starters get on with fixing a few broken links I didn’t know about.

Google results a bad influence?

I’ve got a little project on the go at the moment to list all the software I’ve got on all of my machines. I’m using del.icio.us to store the homepages of each item of software, and tagging them with a label for each machine the software is on, and the version number installed. The logic behind this is that if I need to reinstall a machine, I have a checklist prepared for what needs to be installed, and the links to get the downloadable software all in one place. It is a bit of work, but I’m doing it over a few nights, and am getting there.

As I do this, I am searching a lot on Google, and what I notice there disturbs me a little. When I look up VNC or VLC for instance, the first results are paid-for links to sites other than the homepage, but which are offering the software I am after. The first unpaid link is the proper homepage. Now, I know this is how Google works, and being aware of this, I know not to use the paid-for links. How many people don’t? For a relatively low cost, you can hijack the link to a popular piece of software, and if you are somewhat more unscrupulous, have the opportunity to sell "free" software, or even to provide spyware and all sorts of things. These links just shouldn’t be the first results, as they could cause all sorts of issues for Google’s users. Google probably doesn’t mind much as it gets the clickthrough revenue, but it just isn’t very helpful.