About the Previous SEO Article

Posted on August 23rd, 2007 in Search Engines by jed

Ok, so I have a little confession to make. Today I was talking with a really smart guy who knows his search engine stuff, and he happened to catch a glimpse of my web site while we were poking around on a browser. Of course, being very observant, he immediately keyed in on the Search Engine Optimization article and said he wanted to read it. Now, keep in mind that this guy knows search engine inner workings, and about a bazillion other things better than I know, say, the back of my hand. So I was immediately apprehensive about him reading my article. Especially considering the fact that I kind of twisted the truth around a bit while writing it.

So here is the deal: the stuff in the SEO article is what I would currently consider to be the “best” way to optimize your site for search engines. By “best”, I mean the most likely to get you lasting long term results, provide value to the internet and to the rest of the community, and avoid potential issues if/when Google decides to change the rules. I’ve come to this conclusion based on a moderate-to-fair understanding of how search engines work, along with reading a huge pile of other SEO articles that are all probably made up. Having good content is key, and I am confident that if you have good content, your site will win over the long term. Now with that said, I have to note that the actual technical details of getting a high ranking in Google and other search engines do not precisely align with the way I have articulated things previously. If you want to talk about the topic further, I’d be happy to entertain a discussion about it, feel free to contact me.

Pie Chart about Lies and Truth

Oh yea, and don’t ask about statistics, especially ones in a shiny Pie Chart with rounded corners. As a reasonably intelligent human, you should consider all statistics you see anywhere to be completely made up and purely for demonstration purposes, especially if they are on the Internet. Always ask for the source if someone is quoting statistics to you, and try to keep in mind that usually, statistics and other things like black and white statements and hyperbole are solely for the purpose of making a point.

Search Engine Optimation (SEO) Simplified

Posted on August 17th, 2007 in Search Engines by jed

I recently had a friend ask me about submitting his employer’s site to search engines so that he could get indexed and ranked as high as possible. While there are hundreds of sites I could have pointed him to (I’ll like a bunch of my favorites at the end of this post), I’ve distilled all the tips I’ve ever read down to three simple rules, in order of importance (I’ll elaborate on them further below). The following is mostly just clipped from the email I sent him, with a few minor edits:

  1. Put good, reasonably well written, useful content on your site.
  2. Have popular sites link to you.
  3. Link to popular sites.

SEO Importance Pie Chart

  1. Put good, reasonably well written, useful content on your site. This is by FAR the most important thing you can do to get a good search engine ranking (seriously, this probably 90% of it). If you do a google search for “printing services”, you will notice that all the top sites (that aren’t ads) have something in common on their home pages: lots of words that say meaningful stuff. And not pictures of words, actual words. I notice that your site has a lot of pictures of words, but if I look at the source there isn’t much there that describes what you do. You’ve gotta say, in actual text on the page: what you do, why you are special or different than everyone else, and why someone should continue to look at your site and/or purchasesomething from you. And all that has to be in grammatically correct sentences that make sense and aren’t hidden using special tricks with CSS or JavaScript.If you really want to one-up everyone else, you could also provide some meaningful content on your site that helps people even if they don’t buy your services. For example, if you have a site that is a print shop, create some pages that have free useful articles and tips. Some examples I can think of are:
    • things to look out for when shopping around for a print house
    • questions to ask your printer before purchasing
    • tips to save money on printing costs
    • tips to really make an impact with what you are printing
    • the truth about paper quality
    • you get the idea
  2. Have popular sites link to you. This counts for about 8% of the remaining 10. While the best way would be for popular sites to decide they like you so much that they spontaneously decide to link to you, but there are some places where you can get links “for free” to help things get started. Submit the your content to digg, del.icio.us, reddit, blinklist, stumbleupon, reddit, furl, and every other “social” news/bookmark service you can find. Have all the employees at your company go home and vote up your content from there (make sure they do it from home and not the office, cause it will be obviously bogus if 50 diggs come from 1 IP address).
  3. Link to popular sites. Link to other sites that have good and popular content. This accounts for about 1.5% of your rank (with the final .5% being miscellaneous other stuff that isn’t worth bothering with). Don’t get too tricky with the linking though, cause if you are obviously trying to artificially inflate your pagerank google will squash you off the face of the Internet. And don’t for a second think you are smarter than they are and won’t get caught, or that they are too big and you are too small. There are a bazillion worker bees at google and they are all smarter than you and I put together. In addition to that, they have super smart robots that have already started taking over the world.

That is about all I have to say on the subject at the moment, but here are a few links to get you started on researching it more for yourself (I’m only putting a few links here now, will add more later when I’m back at my home computer with all my bookmarks).

Faraday Cage (Part 2)

Posted on August 10th, 2007 in Interop by jed

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this Article, this year at the InteropLabs we built a walk-in Faraday cage so that we could have an environment to test VoIP over Wi-Fi in that was a little cleaner than the show floor (which had well over 400 SSIDs viewable at any given moment!).

Completed Faraday Cage on Interop Show Floor

Completed Walk-In Faraday Cage at Interop Las Vegas 2007

I learned a lot about RF and Wi-Fi, which I’ll be reporting on in the third and final part of this article, but here I want to detail the construction of the cage.

We started with a large aluminum frame that we had the onsite construction people build. If I could have had my way, I probably would have just used two-by-fours, but because it was on the show floor and such, we had to let the pros do it, and we weren’t about to start getting picky about the materials for the frame. We also had them cut a plywood floor for us, so once we got the screen down we could set the plywood on it and not have to worry about people tearing it up.

While they were building the frame and the rest of the show floor was getting prepped, I went to the local Lowe’s Home Improvement store and went looking for the aluminum screen we had decided to use for the build. Many people have asked me why aluminum instead of something like copper or brass, and the answer is basically because it is cheaper, more available, and the reports I was able to glean off the web suggested that an additional layer of cheap stuff was going to be far more effective than a single layer of expensive stuff (although two layers of expensive stuff would be nice, but I’ll give you tips on what to build your own out of in part three of this article). I was prepared to spend two hundred dollars to buy two 48 inch by 100 foot rolls (I had calculated the surface area of the frame to be int he neighborhood of 375 sq. feet, so this should give me enough to do a double layer all around). Amazingly, Lowe’s happened to have them on clearance that week, and I got the two rolls for $25 each! What a score. In retrospect, I should have purchased four rolls.

We also purchased a rivet tool to secure the screen to itself with, because the guys on the team thought my idea to just use zip ties was bogus (and it was, so I’m pretty glad they called me on it). Along with the rivet tool and rivets, we had to purchase washers to go on each side of the rivet. Annoyingly, even though they sell the rivets in boxes of 100, the washers were all sold in boxes of 20, so we had to buy 30 boxes to go with the three boxes of rivets we purchased! [If someone from the Arrow Fastener Company ever reads this, take note: sell washers in packs that are twice as large as the rivets.]

Then we started wrapping and riveting. It was slow going, but thanks to the help of the guys on the team (and some borrowed help form the NAC team), we were able to make reasonably quick progress.

Once we got the whole cage wrapped, it was time for a smoke test. I fired up AP Grapher on my laptop and checked outside the cage to see what I could see. 389 SSIDs showed up within 20 seconds of scanning! Talk about a noisy RF environment. I zeroed in on one that I knew was in our rack about 6 feet from the cage, and stepped in to measure the signal. -10dB. Buh. That sucks.

But we didn’t let the less than stellar results get us down. We kept on riveting and sealing up the places where the screen met and would likely allow waves in, and then added a second layer on top of the first and did some more.

After many more hours, we were ready to test again. This time we were able to see about a -35 to -40 dB. Now this was at least decent. Amazingly, we could still get quite reasonable Wi-Fi signal from nearby APs, but at least we were able to filter out the vast majority of the junk on the floor.

Oh yea, remember that whole thing about grounding in the last article? Well, we had the electricians at the show bring us a nice massive ground connection from the nearest electrical box, and we hooked it to the cage with some very nicer copper wire that Wej brought. Unfortunately, when we tested it, it didn’t seem to make a bit of difference. After multiple tests with the multimeter to make sure we were getting a decent electrical connection, Jerry put forth the theory that we were simply too far from the earth for the ground to be effective, and that the impedance of our ground connection was simply too much to get the 2.4Ghz waves from where we were to the actual earth. I’ll write a little more on this topic later in Part 3. We left all the ground wires connected though, cause they looked cool.