MiniBar, the monthly London tech meetup, has organised a series of really useful (...and free) workshops covering their most often requested topics of SEO, analytics, social media, online marketing and more.
Daniel Sim, CEO of Plug in SEO, will be presenting the SEO workshop in London on March 10th. It's going to be a practical session looking at how to get more visitors to your website using tried and tested optimisations. And, don't worry, it'll be really simple with an interactive discussion about your business.
Better register fast as spaces are sure to go quickly.
Image by Earl - What I Saw 2.0 via Flickr
Customers of Plug in SEO aren't just in London, UK, so we'll post video of the search engine optimisation and analytics workshop here on the blog. Subscribe so you don't miss it.
Would you like a workshop in your town? Ask us, provide biscuits, and you never know...
Create more compelling posts and boost SEO by tagging and links
- Free Firefox extension, IE plugin plus others
- Enterprise edition available ($1,200/month)
- Directly embed relevant copyright-cleared images
- Related link, tag and blog post suggestions
|Functionality||4/5||effortless incorporation of suggestions into post|
|Interface||5/5||clear and consistent, comfortably sits alongside blog post creation|
|Value||5/5||a free productivity aid, doesn't distract from creating quality content|
|Support||4/5||open support forum with reactive company reps|
Producing original and engaging blog content is great for SEO, but it takes precious time. Zemanta finds related images, web and blog links, and tags for your post. With the Zemanta Firefox extension (other browsers are available) incorporating these suggestions in your article requires a single click.
Under the bonnet Zemanta uses its semantic API to determine what your text is about and then finds content falling into the same categorizations. What differentiates them from other semantic engines is that they have a powerful API with a useful, real-world application built on top.
The realisation of a completely semantic web may be some way off, but it's Zemanta that's a great example of companies making practical application of semantic technologies. Promising also is their freely available (up to 10,000 calls/day) API.
Google Image Search doesn't cut the mustard for serious bloggers. Once you've spent an hour and found a fantastic image, more often than not you don't have the copyright to post it. Zemanta on the other hand is purpose built- only showing images available under re-use licenses.
Good blog articles aren't dead-ends. Once the reader has engaged with your post they'll often want to go on and find out some more. With the related blog post and link suggestions you can pepper links throughout with a single click.
The technology that powers Zemanta is powerful, but thankfully none of the wiring is exposed when you just want to write your blog. Flowing alongside your post composition pane are the image, link, post and tag suggestions, updating as you compose.
It does take up a good chunk of screen real estate and the option to collapse would be welcome. That said, the Blogger interface is quite spartan and Zemanta isn't an unwelcome intrusion.
Semantic similarity is hard and Zemanta makes sense of texts better than most. However, for short articles (1-2 paragraphs) and product or technology specific pieces it does struggle to generate quality suggestions.
It appears to want a main theme which if it can't find then the relevancy suffers dramatically. A search box is provided, but the opportunity to coach or coax Zemanta in the right direction when it goes haywire would be immensely useful.
For a medium to long blog post the image and blog suggestions are numerous. The number of tags and web suggestions stay around ten. Being able to request more is missing.
Better blog posts
Image by Peter Čuhalev via Flickr
Quite simply Zemanta will help you to create better blog posts. Better for your readers and better for SEO. It does this with minimal intrusion and a good understanding of relevancy.
Free, powerful and flexible URL rewriting on Microsoft IIS
- Open source
- Supports Apache mod-rewrite syntax
- ISAPI filter
- Single DLL and configuration file
Rewriting URLs to benefit search engine rankings has long been practised. For data-driven sites such as an e-commerce store, URLs like example.com/product.aspx?id=5367 can be rewritten to example.com/lily-allen/album/its-not-me-its-you. Human readable and clearer to spiders what constitutes a single page and what that page is about (as URL parameters often double as session handling or filtering values).
Google and Yahoo! search engines now do an adequate (but not perfect) job of untangling URL parameters. They even offer webmasters a tool to prompt them to ignore specific items. Still, however, Google's SEO guidelines encourage unique, hackable and readable URLs. A clear and understandable URL additionally provides another hook to encourage a click on your listing.
Rewriting on Apache and IIS
Apache first supported rewriting with mod_rewrite some time ago. There's not much that this module can't do; for a long time to the envy of the IIS tribe. That's why several 3rd party solutions such as the commercial Helicon ISAPI Rewrite, the delightfully named port80 PageXchanger and many others emerged to fill the void.
Now IIS 7 supports URL rewriting. Sort of. Undoubtedly Microsoft will enhance its functionality, but the current release is woefully limited. Thankfully there's a very capable, free and open source ISAPI filter for IIS URL rewriting from Ionic: IIRF.
Installation & Usage
Watch the technical walkthrough showing how to install URL rewriting on IIS. Installation is simple provided you have access to install ISAPI filters on your web server. Most shared hosts don't support this for good reason: you can do some serious damage with a poorly written or malicious filter. Fear not- URLRewriter.net provides a basic alternative.
The single IIRF DLL installs as an ISAPI filter, you edit the configuration file and that's it. There's a thorough readme with usage examples and documentation of every feature. The walkthrough video below shows its installation on Windows Server 2008 with IIS7 on an ASP.NET 2.0 e-commerce site.
URLs for SEO
Often overlooked is the fact that installing rewriting is a small part of the battle toward search engine friendly URLs. Here's a checklist of other things you may need to do to get maximum benefit, or even avoid harming your SEO:
- Make sure postbacks work on your ASP.NET site
- Permanent redirect incoming requests for the old data-driven URL to the optimised one
- Change internal links to the new URLs
- Build a URL from fields in your database, unavailable by simply rearranging the data-driven URL
- Make sure URLs cannot be hijacked by inserting poison words or appearing like duplicate content