25 December 2011

Checking your blog for broken links with Xenu's Link Sleuth

As your blog fills up with posts, there is a high probability that the external off-blog links you refer to might become outdated overtime. Also, if you use third-party services to store your images, software, or other reference files, might become broken. Therefore, it is a good idea once awhile to perform blog maintenance and restore the links functionality. However, checking manually one-by-one might be a tiresome and time-consuming procedure. Today, we would like to present a free portable utility, which is going to help you performing the task.

Xenu's Link Sleuth checks Web sites for broken links. Link verification is done on "normal" links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. It displays a continuously updated list of URLs which you can sort by different criteria. A report can be produced at any time.

Additional features:

  • Simple, no-frills user-interface
  • Can re-check broken links (useful for temporary network errors)
  • Simple report format, can also be e-mailed
  • Executable file smaller than 1MB
  • Supports SSL websites ("https:// ")
  • Partial testing of ftp, gopher and mail URLs
  • Detects and reports redirected URLs
  • Site Map

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System requirements:

Microsoft Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista/7, WININET.DLL required (included with Internet Explorer).

How to make utility portable (optional):

Download the ZIP package and extract. Extract the installer to a folder of your choice with Universal Extractor. Delete $PLUGINSDIR folder. Launch Xenu.exe.

Direct Download Link (latest release 1.3.8): http://home.snafu.de/tilman/XENU.ZIP

11 December 2011

Free Blogs Pinger - For Multiple Sites to Multiple Services

Several years ago, I have presented the rating list for the free multi-site online pinging services. While it is a good solution, I still find it somehow limited. Most of these services do not accept multiple blogs entrance at the same time, and in almost all services, the list of the links for your blogs to get submitted, is hard coded and cannot be changed.

For me, the ideal solution would be a simple script, when I can add as many blogs as I need, and I can ping all these blogs at the same time to the customer-made list of the sites, I will compile myself.

Today, I would like to present such a script to you, but with one catch. The software does NOT have English interface (at least, I could not find one). The software is in Russian, and since its operation is absolutely simple and straightforward, with my basic translation (I speak Russian fluently), you will be able to use it “as is”.

The software is portable, and does not need to be installed to the hard drive. Actually, it is one executable file with one two windows. In one, you post list of your blogs, in another, there is a preset list of services to ping to, which you can change as you like. Good thing, that after software is closed, all settings are saved in you user files (so, correcting myself, it is not cleanly portable, which is good in a way as when you reopen it next time, the last used listing is automatically loaded, so you do not have to input your custom URLs and pinger leads again).

The software is called PingXpert, and its translated screenshot is below:

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Again, operation is simple: in the top window add all your blogs, in the bottom is pre-populated list of services, which you can edit as you wish. Click right button on the bottom and wait. The response code for each service will show, how successful the ping was. If it has reached the target, the code is 200.

Website (in Russian, you can use Google translator if you wish): http://www.pingxpert.com/

Please share with me if you are aware on any similar script with English interface.

30 November 2011

4 Free Ways to Download Facebook Photos and Albums

Facebook is a Worldwide Social Networking Leader. It has multiple built-in capabilities for convenient communication and virtual sharing of your life events. In this post, we would like to present several software utilities to help with one of the tasks associated with Facebook, and particularly downloading images and complete albums from the friend’s profiles. All the reviewed utilities are free for use.

  1. FotoBounce

FotoBounce offers one of the most convenient and comprehensive ways to download pictures from Facebook and manage them easily on your computer. FotoBounce is offered both for Windows or Mac platform. It works locally from your computer and provides simple way of downloading pictures.

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Fotobounce utilizes advanced face detection and recognition technology to automatically detect faces when photos are found or imported. As faces are detected by Fotobounce and tagged by the user, this “trains” Fotobounce to learn who people are and helps automate the tagging process. The process is similar to the Picasa Web Album as to this feature.

While this post focuses on photos downloading, you can enjoy other features of FotoBounce like uploading photos to Facebook gallery and Flickr. Photos are uploaded directly from Fotobounce – with tags and descriptions intact. There’s no need to spend additional time painstakingly re-tagging photos and no browser-based transfers or third-party software is required.

Fotobounce Viewer is a separate product that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.  The Viewer makes it easy to browse photos and share them on the go from any platform and practically any mobile device.  A version will be available soon for the iPhone (iPad and iPod) and the BlackBerry Playbook.  For devices not supported by the Fotobounce Viewer, users can use Fotobounce Mobile.  

Photos or albums can be sent to Twitter from Fotobounce. Fotobounce is the only solution in the industry that allows an entire album to be attached to a single tweet.

Direct Download Page: http://fotobounce.com/download/

  1. Bloom

Bloom is another multi platform desktop app that let you upload your photos and videos easily and efficiently to Facebook, and, what is important for the matter of this post, download albums and view your friends' photos.

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Main features include ability to download albums or individual pictures from Facebook

Website and Downloading Page: http://antaki.ca/bloom/

  1. PhotoGrabber

PhotoGrabber is very simple desktop application which allows you to download Facebook Photo albums to your computer with no technical knowledge. It is available for Windows and Mac platforms.

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  1. Pick & Zip

Pick&Zip is not a software utility, but totally free online tool allowing you to download photos from Facebook in a single ZIP or PDF file. In this case, you do not have to download any software on your computer to use this web application.

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To start using this service, you just have to log in with Facebook credentials. Pick& Zip allows you to download your own pics for backup purposes, tagged photos of you (even if they were not uploaded by you), and also, the albums of your friends. When you login with your Facebook login credentials, you can see all your friends on the left side as a list. When you click on any of your friend’s name, all the albums of that person are listed. You can download a particular photo or the entire album.

20 November 2011

4 Free Services to Unfollow Inactive Followers: Twitter Tips and Tricks

  1. ManageFlitter

Formerly known as ManageTwitter, ManageFlitter is considered by many as one of the best application for unfollowing Twitter users. It is a very simple, bur features-rich and powerful, tool to unfollow on Twitter. This app may take a couple of minutes to load if you have multiple followers, but it allows you to quickly unfollow lots of people in few steps.  It loads all the people who you are following, and points out on the people who are not following you back, giving you an easy opportunity to select uses you would like to stop following. Click the "Unfollow" button, and the request will be instantly filled. This is also the only application that gives you the option to unfollow people who are inactive, haven't tweeted in a while, or have not posted a profile picture.

At the top of each page is a nifty ordering tool. This tool allows you to rearrange the people in the list below. It's a fast way to find out which accounts you follow have the most followers. Maybe you'd like to find the people who haven't tweeted for the longest time. You can do this by ordering based on their last tweet time.

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  1. JustUnfollow

JustUnfollow makes it easy to unfollow those who are not following you back on Twitter. It displays 50 of your non-followers at a time and lets you decide whom you would like to un-follow and whom you would prefer keep following. It uses Twitter oath for authentication so your password won’t get leaked in the process; signing in process requires using your Twitter account.

Note that free accounts can unfollow up to 50 users in a day. If you are searching for a bulk unfollow twitter app then you should know bulk unfollows aren't allowed by twitter. You get to check and unfollow only those users that you want to.

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  1. The Unfollow App

As the service name suggests, The Unfollow App offers you to clean up your Twitter directory by un-following those who are inactive and do not follow you back. The application recommends you these profiles and even gives you the detailed information of all the connected users in your social network. Therefore, the Unfollow App makes it easy for you to make informative decision on whom to follow and unfollow on Twitter.

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  1. Twit Cleaner

Twit Cleaner is helpful because it analyzes the Twitter users you follow and presents you with a (free) report highlighting those who you may want to unfollow for one reason or another. The application is especially useful if you like to keep the Tweeter account as clean as possible, removing not just inactive uses, but may be active as well, whose activity does not meet your desired requirements to your Twitter profile page.

This application allows you to analyse the people you follow in details, locating time wasters, spammers, the boring posters, bots etc., providing you with smart recommendations on how to improve your own Twitter presence.

10 November 2011

Free Online Wordpress Theme Generator

If you plan to start a new Wordpress blog, or you are going to refresh design for your existing blog, you may be looking for the nice template, which may fit your format, color scheme, design, and structure. No problem, if you have knowledge and experience on the web development, and you can make template for your blog exactly as you want. If you are not proficient on web design, or you have no time or interest in doing that yourself, there are multiple readymade templates on the Web, both free and commercial. But any template you find has limited set of the adjustments and changes you can make, so it is quite possible that your blog appearance will look similar to thousands other blogs, using the same template.

In this post, I would like to present free online services from Lubith.com, offering Wordpress themes creator.

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Main Features

  • Intuitive interface. Move and resize the theme elements just by dragging the two knobs.
  • No code required. You can design, edit and use your theme without needing to write a single line of code.
  • Every theme is being kept on server for 7 days after your last save and then it will be erased. So, you can get back and make adjustments to the theme you have initially generated.
  • You cannot work on several themes in parallel. If you reset the theme, the previous layout will be lost.

Installing your Theme in WordPress

  • From WordPress admin panel, go to the Appearance ->Themes.
  • Click the Install Themes tab (at the top).
  • Click the Upload link.
  • Browse for the zip file downloaded from Lubith and click Install Now button.
  • Click the Activate theme link to activate the theme.

01 November 2011

Dynamic Views Templates Enhancement in Blogger Blogs

Back in June, we presented the Blogger enhancement allowing your blog visitors to see your blog differently through new and refreshed Blog appearance through Dynamic Views. Encouraged by a positive feedback from blogs’ owners and blogs’ visitors, Blogger recently extended these feature capabilities.  

In brief, the Dynamic templates are new templates designs, which were made available to apply to Blogger blogs. In comparison with the standard templates as were used for your blog before by default, these dynamic templates are quite advance aesthetically, giving a new look and new feel to your website. Built with the latest in web technology (AJAX, HTML5 and CSS3), Dynamic Views offer a unique browsing experience that will inspire your readers to explore your blog in new ways. The interactive layouts make it easier for readers to enjoy and discover your posts, loading 40 percent faster than traditional templates and bringing older entries to the surface so they seem fresh again.

You may choose from seven various Dynamic Views Templates that display text and photos differently. For example, if you have lots of photos on your blog, you may prefer Flipcard or Snapshot. If your blog is more text-heavy, then Classic, Sidebar Timeslide may be preferable. Here’s a quick description of each of the new views, along with links to some of our favorite blogs where you can check each of them out in action.

  • Classic: A modern twist on a traditional template, with infinite scrolling and images that load as you go
  • Flipcard: Your photos are tiled across the page and flip to reveal the post title
  • Magazine: A clean, elegant editorial style layout 
  • Mosaic: A mosaic mix of different sized images and text
  • Sidebar: An email inbox-like view with a reading page for quick scrolling and browsing
  • Snapshot: An interactive pinboard of your posts 
  • Timeslide: A horizontal view of your posts by time period

On top of adding two more templates to the initial offering, Blogger invested time and resources to their customization. Now, you can choose which view should be shown to your blog readers by default and enhance the preferred view with several options, like uploading a header image, changing background, or customizing the colors and fonts.

Adding a Dynamic View to your blog is as easy as changing your template. Log in to Blogger, click on the Template tab on your dashboard, and select whichever view you want to set as your default.

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Note that readers can still choose to navigate your blog in a different view by selecting from the pulldown in the upper left of the screen.

While adding most of the widgets available for the normal templates, are still not embeddable, it is the forward-looking development direction for the Blogger team. Adsense widget, however, can be already seen on some templates.

Sources and Additional Information:

23 October 2011

Boostpost - Easy Social Network Ranking Integration

Promotion is important for every blog or website, except for the cases, when blogs are created for personal needs or very limited private purposes. And for most bloggers spreading a word is essential for the site popularity and profitability. There are many ways and approaches, and involving the steady rising trend of the social media is one of the most promising among them.

So, so main question is what is the most efficient way of distributing your publications, and there is no the one and the best answer. In this post, we will review the free services from BoostPost – one of the easiest ways to add social network ranking buttons to your blog or website. With one simple button or widget, your page gains the integration of over 50 social network buttons. The visual presentation is a uniform, organized view of how your post ranks among those networks. A button and widget can be easily embedded in blog postings for multiple blogging platforms.

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Boostpost helps to:
  • Enhance internet posts via the presentation of valued reader statistics.
  • Promote posts to new audiences all over the world.
  • Give active readers new opportunities to "break the story".

 The list of the social networks is compiled from the most popular services, including Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and Reddit, but also have some, which you may even not ever used or even heard. Does not matter, as your visitor may be using these services, unknown to you, and they will submit your post there, gaining additional exposure to the group, you never reached before.

If you participate in the Google Adsense revenue program, you may even add one more channel of income. If you provide your Google Adsense Client ID in your button or widget code, you are entitled to get revenues share from the ads posted on your boostpage.

15 October 2011

Missing Link between Facebook and Twitter

Most of the modern time bloggers recognize the value of the social networks to promote their blog post, sharing the related information on the multiple sites and creating additional web links to your blog, which plays positive role for your site ranking.

Among the two leading applications in the social networking are Twitter and Facebook. Free web service Natter will save you time by linking your two accounts in these communities. As you register to the Natter account, all your tweets will be monitored by the Natter service and instantly posted to Facebook. The same way, your every comment posted on Facebook, will be automatically reposted to Twitter in real time. So you can follow your Facebook right from your favorite Twitter client.

Main Features:

  • Post tweets to your Facebook profile.
  • Post Facebook comments back to Twitter.
  • Only post tweets containing a hashtag (e.g. #fb) to Facebook.
  • Finds and displays links in your tweets as a Facebook post.
  • Translates twitter names to their real world counterparts.

30 September 2011

Free Real-time Website Tracking with Google Analytics

Google Analytics has been the leader of web analytics software and services for a while already, but there was one area where they suffered from the competition: real time statistics. It is an exceptionally useful tool for those who participate in the Google AdSense context advertising program, and need to measure the instant effect of the new posts, interface changes, new program launches on their sites.

Until recently, you were not able to see how many visitors are visiting your site at that particular moment, what pages they were visiting, where they were coming from and so on. Yesterday, September 29, Google announced adding new features to Analytics, including real time tracking.

Through their own words:
The web is getting faster, and not just the speed of the pages, but also the speed of change. Before, it was fine to build a website and modify it only when new products were launched. All of us avid Analytics users know that’s just not good enough. We need to be constantly on the lookout for problems and opportunities.

Currently, Google Analytics does a great job analyzing past performance. Today we’re very excited to bring real time data to Google Analytics with the launch of Google Analytics Real-Time: a set of new reports that show what’s happening on your site as it happens.

You’ll find the Real-Time reports only in the new version of Google Analytics. If you’re not already using the new version, you can start by clicking the “New Version” link in the top right of Google Analytics. Real-Time reports are in the Dashboards tab (though they will move to the Home tab in the updated interface next week). You will have access to Real-Time reports if you are an Administrator on your Analytics account, or if you have access to a profile without profile filters. Real-Time does not support profile filters.

Note that while the features were enabled for multiple users already, everybody will have eventually the access to Real-Time in coming weeks. If you can’t wait, you can sign up for early access through the following link: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/realtimeanalytics/.

Real-Time Analytics allows you to instantly track the efficacy of social media campaigns. By tagging links that you share on Facebook and Twitter with tags related to your marketing campaign, you can track the exact impact of those links. If you need to know how to do that, here's the link.

While the free real-time stats for Google Analytics remain free for its users, this week it also introduced Google Analytics Premium, its first paid offering for larger websites. While Google's free offering tops out its data collection at 10 million website visitors per month, its new paid plan offers more data collection, additional modeling tools and service support. When Google called this service "Premium", it wasn't kidding. The service costs $150,000 per year--far out of the reach of most small and midsize businesses (SMB), according to Forrester analyst Joseph Stanhope. But for the large businesses it should be an extremely robust tool. One feature alone--downloadable unsampled reports--sounds temptingly like it would let you download your own data about your Web properties from Google. The 24-hour live technical support is attractive--especially to the less tech-savvy at larger corporations who may miss out on key data with the current Google Analytics.

Sources and Additional Information:

22 September 2011

Editorial Calendar Plugin for WordPress from StressLimit

If you are serious professional blogger, using WordPress as a blogging platform, you may want to look on the free feature offered by StressLimit. Planning ahead will bring your blogging to the next level of professionalism and improve your rating among the readers. Eventually, that will help to improve your blog visibility in search engines, bring more visitors, and improve your profitability.

Why Use an Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is the foundation of strategic blogging; it lets you do the planning that it takes to get the most audience reach from your blog content.
  • An editorial calendar lets you plan ahead;
  • An editorial calendar adds structure to your creativity;
  • You can take a great concept further by serializing content;
  • You can be proactive and capitalize on search trends.
Main Features

  • See all of your posts and when they’ll be posted.
  • Drag and drop to change your post dates.
  • Quickedit post titles, contents, and times.
  • Publish posts or manage drafts.
  • Easily see the status of your posts.
  • Manage posts from multiple authors.

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29 August 2011

3 Free chat widgets for Blogger Blog

If you are interesting in adding high level of interactivity to your Blogger Blog, you may consider embedding one of the free chat widgets to your web pages. That will give your visitors an opportunity to discuss in real time the blog content, share ideas, and provide instant comments.

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While there are multiple services offering their products to the blog publishers, we will review just few selected.

  1. Chatroll (http://chatroll.com/)
Chatroll allows adding chat room to your blogger blog with great ease, in matter of minutes. First, go to Chatroll, enter your community’s name in the “Name Your Live Community…” box and click “Create”. Choose a name that fits your blog, and this name will serve as a title for your chat box. It is recommended to invest some time in writing an attractive and detailed description for your chat room purposes, so that people can easily find your new Chatroll community. Detailed instructions on how to embed your new chat room into your Blogger blog are provided here.

Free plan allows chatting in your chat room for up to 10 users simultaneously. Any time, you can upgrade your plan to the payable more features-rich plans, and even utilize the income sharing moneymaking opportunities, offered by the service developers.

  1. Shoutmix (http://www.shoutmix.com/main/index.php)
Shoutmix is one of the most popular on the market services, adding live chat capabilities to your blog. You will be able to get instant feedback and great user interaction with this shoutbox chat widget. As with most of the chat room widgets, you will have to register your shoutbox widget first. Detailed instructions on how to embed your new chat room into your Blogger blog are provided here.

Basic free account gives you comprehensive set of features and capabilities to start with, like supporting up to 100 users and storing 150 posts in your shoutbox. You can always upgrade to the Premium account, which will cost you $2/month for more capabilities.

  1. Freeshoutbox (http://www.freeshoutbox.net/)
If you prefer service which is totally free with no free and paid plans, as in most other offerings, you may take a look at Freeshoutbox.net. Integration is fast and simple, and you have multiple (more than 200) templates to choose from in order to match the shoutbox design to your blog structure. Detailed instructions on how to embed your new chat room into your Blogger blog are provided here.

Service is free, with unlimited bandwidth and auto-refresh rate 6/minute, but you will get unobtrusive advertising at the bottom of the widget.

20 August 2011

Adding music to Blogger – an easy way!

There are multiple solutions for those, who would like to add music collection to the Blogger blog. If you have the music and entertainment related resources, most likely, you already have the more or less professional solution, while you keep the audio files on your own or web based server, and you broadcast them through the embedded audio player. However, for those who need to illustrate the post with the music collection occasionally, the presented solution might be quite handy.

iLike is a social music discovery service and the dominant music application on the Facebook and Google platforms, which is now a subsidiary of MySpace since 2009. For our purposes, iLike.com allows creating a playlist of chosen songs and adding music to Blogger, Typepad, or, in fact, any web site, for free. For Blogger, you don't even need to mess with the HTML code - you create a playlist and then hit the Add to Blogger button.

What is iLike.com?

iLike.com is a free service that lets you create playlists of songs you want and share them with friends. Additionally, you can download free MP3 song files from new artists, learn about concerts, watch videos uploaded by artists and much more. The community run web site lets you follow changing music tastes and access popular songs.

How to create a playlist of songs and add it to your blog?

Though there is a glaring orange signup button when you go to iLike homepage, you actually don't need to register for an account just to create a playlist of songs. Point your browser to embeddable playlist page (http://www.ilike.com/playlist/create_embedded).

You can now start creating the playlist - follow the five steps outlined in the image below.

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  • Step 1: Enter a name for the playlist - this can be anything you want. A descriptive name is recommended.
  • Step 2: Search for a song by either entering an artist or the song name in the search field.
  • Step 3: Search results will be listed. I recommend trying to locate a song by its name because if the search is performed on the artist's name, only 10 results will be displayed and the song you are looking for might not be shown. Click on the "Add" button to include the song in the playlist.
  • Step 4: Organize your playlist. You can also reorder the song listing by either entering a new order number or using the conveniently provided arrow buttons. To delete a song from the list simply hit the "Delete" (the one with the cross) button.
  • Step 5: Click on the large "Done" button when you are satisfied with the playlist and are ready to add it to blogger.

The next page shows you how the playlist is going to look on a web page - on Blogger, as we shall see, the playlist is added as a widget which you can place at different positions on the web page. You also get the direct link (the URL) of you playlist on iLike.com website. With a single click you can also put the list on your Facebook profile page or tweet it on Twitter (where else?). You don't need to fiddle around with the HTML code if you just want to include the playlist on Blogger.

Add the music playlist to Blogger

Click on the large "Add to Blogger" button in the middle of the page. A new browser window shall open in which you need to enter your blogger username and password. You will now find yourself in the Layout -> Page elements page. Place the playlist in the blog as you want and save the changes. Note: it's added as a widget. Review your blog and tell everyone about it.

If you need to add this playlist to any other web site, you can get the related code you can embed it anywhere with ease.

This review is performed by Web Developers Notes Blog.

The service drawback is that you cannot upload your own files to the playlist, and the fact that not all the tracks you may find through the search are in fact playable.

27 July 2011

Free analysis for your blog at SEOprofiler

There are different approaches blogger may have towards their blogging activities. Some consider content as the most important, and the only important, part of your activity as bloggers, putting next to zero attention on search engine optimization, links promotion, keywords, and everything else, which is requires extra time and efforts. Other bloggers strictly follow the rules of SEO, and investigate the possible implication for the blog popularity, and write the content solely based on the popular keywords and known guidelines. Most of the bloggers see themselves somewhere between these extreme approaches.

So, if you are content blogger (as I am), you may want once a while check your site for backlinks, ratings, and Google PageRank, for example, to see where you are from SEO perspectives, and how you can improve the blog popularity without shifting your attention from the content itself.

There are multiple services, and some are free, to help you with the task. Today, we would like to present the SEOprofiler offerings for bloggers. The process is fast and simple and does not require registration.

I have analyzed as example one of my blogs http://webfreebies4u.blogspot.com

The first tab, which will be opened by default, will show you the amount and list of the latest backlinks to your blog.

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Below, you can see most popular anchor texts in the links and the strongest pages.

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The second tab Rankings shows with which keywords your site and selected pages have high ranking in search engines. That will give you idea, where you can expect the traffic, and might give you directions on the further blog development.

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12 July 2011

How to Change WordPress Login Logo?

The post title reflects the question received from one of the blog readers. Since I am still active Blogger user, I am not so familiar with Wordpress tips and tricks. I have to admit that I even did not know myself that the logo can be changed. Actually, changing the logo appeared to be a simple and straightforward procedure.

Why it might be a good idea to perform this modification? The main advantage is ability to better brand your product. This is especially useful if you have multiple authors, or you require commenting visitors to sign in repeatedly from that page.

The instructions to perform the modification are posted on Quick Online Tips Blog. Follow instructions step-by-step to get the desired outcomes:
1. Modify your logo size to create a new image with following parameters:
  • .GIF image
  • Transparent background
  • Size – 310px wide, 70px height
  • Name - logo-login.gif
2. Check your WordPress login screen which would be located on the URL http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/, or if you host your WordPress in a folder, then it is at http://yoursite.com/folder/wp-admin/.
3. Login via FTP on your server and browse to the wp-admin/images folder.
4. Find logo-login.gif image and rename to easily recognizable name like logo-login-back.gif for backup purposes.
5. Upload your own logo image logo-login.gif to replace the original one.
6. Check your WordPress login screen and your logo is live.

03 July 2011

Using Bitty Browser to Enhance your Posts

If you reviewing particular Website or blog, you may want to include a fresh “screenshot” from the site’s main page. That will give your visitors a better insight on what you are reviewing, and add credibility to your review.

Here, you can use the free services offered by Bitty Browser. Bitty Browser actually helps you keep track of the foreign Web stuff by enabling navigable windows directly within your own site and your own post — it's like Picture-in-Picture for the Web.

Create the widget is easy: enter the desired URL and the embed code will be created automatically. Below is example of my other blog devoted to the Web Freebies, embedded in the post.

Using the service does not require registration. Start from the main page: http://www.bitty.com/

20 June 2011

Evaluate your Blog with Blog Grader

Do you know, how good your blog is? May be you sure it is good, but your traffic is not reflecting the fact. What are you doing wrong? If you need professional feedback you turn to the professionals. If you need just fast and free overview to get some side view and fresh ideas, online free grader, offered by HubSpot.

The fast test, which does not require registration or login (you need to enter email address, but that can be any address), will bring you some sort of feedback on your blog structure and elements. You do understand that your content or design will not be evaluated by this service.

So, input your blog address and wait about a minute for the results generation. What you will see once the analysis has been completed includes an embeddable “Blog Grade” badge, a very large “Tweet” button and an analysis breakdown of (5) main categories:  Grade SummaryBlog SubscribabilityArticle EngagementSearch Engine Findability and Blog Content.

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You may like what you see, you may not like what you see. But read carefully enclosed recommendations for the length of your titles, posts, presence of links and images. That is actually the most useful part, because it might show you some hidden flaws you never thought about before. You may also like the section for your posts analysis, where you can see the popularity of each of your latest post at Twitter and Facebook.

Do not get upset by the results. That is just one of many, and very specific, view on your virtual home. Use the provided advice to tweak your writing style and post characteristics for better performance results.

Access Blog Grader at http://www.bloggrader.com/

12 June 2011

Google continues tweaking search algorithm to promote high-quality content

CNet reported that Google is planning to make more changes to its search algorithm, the process which has started earlier this year, and already significantly affected multiple websites and blogs ability to be rated high in the Search Engine.

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According to Search Engine Land, which puts on the event, Google's Matt Cutts said that his company plans to launch Panda version 2.2 at some point in the near future. The update will reportedly deal with the issue of sites that republish content being placed higher in search results than the original source.

Google launched a Panda update earlier this year. At the time, the company's goal was to improve results on queries that had previously been dominated by content farms, like eHow and Answers.com, which wrote SEO-friendly stories, contained little actual value to users. In a blog post announcing the change, Google said that it would affect 11.8 percent of all queries.

"This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites--sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful," the search giant wrote in a blog post in February. "At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites--sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on."

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In April, CNET examined the impact that update, along with the addition in April of more "user feedback signals" to Google's algorithm, had on results. Based on its research, CNET found that news sites took the most advantage from Google's changes, while sites like WikiHow and eHow were hit hard.

Demand Media, the company that operates eHow and Livestrong, among other sites, confirmed during an earnings call with investors last month that it was hit hard by the algorithm change.

"In February and April, we experienced two major algorithm changes," Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt said during his company's first-quarter earnings call. "For eHow, here is the impact: as compared to the levels before the first February change, we saw a net decline in search engine referrals of 20 percent."

In response, Demand Media promised more high-quality postings on popular topics.

A Google spokesman told PCMag that sites that believe they have been adversely impacted should "extensively evaluate their site quality."

"In particular, it's important to note that low quality pages on one part of a site can impact the overall ranking of that site," the Google spokesman said. "Publishers who believe they've been impacted can also post in our webmaster forums to let us know. We will consider feedback from publishers and the community as we continue to refine our algorithms."

Durant Imboden, editor of Europesiteforvisitors.com, tried just that. After experiencing a 35 percent drop in U.S. traffic last week, he added a "nofollow" attribute to affiliate links and cleaned out archived material to "help Google distinguish our site from content farms." But the expected results were not been received.

Although Google engineers use feedback in the forum to update its search algorithm, the Google spokesman noted that there was no whitelist or blacklist for sites affected by the algorithm. In other words, the search engine doesn't plan on making individual exceptions.

"Our recent changes to help people find high-quality sites are entirely algorithmic and we have not taken manual action, nor will we take manual action to address particular sites. Instead, we will consider feedback from publishers and the community as we continue to refine our algorithms to improve our search quality at scale."

Though Google's upcoming 2.2 update might not affect as many sites as its major update in February and the subsequent algorithm change in April, it signals that the company is constantly evaluating results, and will change things as necessary. In fact, Cutts reportedly said at the SMX Advanced Conference that the search giant will continue to tweak its algorithm as it sees fit.

In response to a request for confirmation that it's launching an algorithm change soon, Google has this to say: "We'll continue to iterate on returning high-quality sites to Google users as part of the roughly 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year. We have nothing more specific to announce at this time."

To help webmaster distinguishing good from bad, Google posted some questions that one could use to assess the "quality" of a page or an article. These are the kinds of questions they claim to ask themselves as they write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality.

In their own words: Of course, we aren't disclosing the actual ranking signals used in our algorithms because we don't want folks to game our search results; but if you want to step into Google's mindset, the questions below provide some guidance on how we've been looking at the issue:
  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

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Bottom Line

If you want to be successful in blogosphere, you need to put more emphasis on writing unique quality content, otherwise you may see further decline in your performance statistics.

Sources and Additional Information:

05 June 2011

Dynamic Views in Blogger News

At the end of March, Blogger has introduced something they never offered before, something entirely new, entirely cool, and undoubtedly – promising. What I am talking about? Dynamic Views.

This new feature allows unthinkable earlier ability to present your content in several new and exciting ways. Google has introduced 5 new dynamic templates in Blogger. Now, you can view any Blogger blog as a Flipcard, Mosaic, Sidebar, Snapshot and Timeslide. No need for any additional changes for your existing template, which is just an extra way to see what you have already. Dynamic views are different versions of your blog, in some way, different ways to navigate your blog, without changing your template, using Ajax, CSS 3 and HTML 5.

What is all About?

Who can use Dynamic View?

These dynamic views will work on your blog if all of the following are true:
·         Your blog is public. Your readers don’t need to sign in to view your blog.
·         Your blog has feeds fully enabled. In the Settings | Site feed tab, you have enabled either Full or Jump Break for your Post Feed.
·         You have not disabled dynamic views. In the Setting | Formatting tab, the option for Enable Dynamic Views is set to Yes.

How to use Dynamic Views?

To try these views on your own blog, simply add “/view” to the end of the blog URL—for example, http://depressivedisorder.blogspot.com/view

Here are several screenshots in different templates:


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Main Benefits

  • Infinite scrolling: read more posts without having to reload or click to a second page
  • New layouts: different views suited to different types of blogs
  • Speed: download images as you view them, not all at once in advance
  • Interactivity: there are now more ways to experience and engage with blog content
Known Limitations

·         Please note that these views do not currently support many of the features your original blog may have, including displaying advertisements.
·         The older browsers do not support the feature.

Sources and Additional Information:

30 May 2011

Google Advanced Image Search

Many bloggers use Google image search engine to find suitable images for their blog posts but in some cases it takes a long time to find and filter the appropriate results from the amount loaded for your search terms. You may significantly save time if you use Google Advance Image Search instead of Google Image search. You can also switch interface from Basic Search to Advanced Search from the main image search interface by clicking on small hyperlink to advance search under the Search button, if needed.

Google Advanced Image Search is both powerful and easy to use. Following are some simple instructions on how to use Google Advanced Image Search.

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Step 1. Visit Google Advanced Image Search at the following link: http://www.google.com/advanced_image_search. If you plan to use Google Advanced Image Search in the future, it is a good idea to bookmark the site now.

Step 2. Familiarize yourself with the interface. Google Advanced Image Search is extremely intuitive and looks like Google’s advanced search for text information. There are ten easy ways to maximize your image search results – some empty fields in which you can easily enter text, others drop down menus, and others radio buttons. Here is a listing of each of the fields and how to maximize your results with them:
  1. Find results related to all the words- in this field you can easily enter keywords that relate to the image you are looking for. At any time you can go ahead and click on Google Search to begin your search for images.
  2. Find results related to the exact phrase- in this field you can narrow down your search by including phrasal keywords that relate to your search.
  3. Find results to any of the words- for a broader search in which there may not be lots of images available, you can easily add non-specific keywords.
  4. Find results not related to the words- this field can help you to remove ambiguity when a search term may have several meanings.
  5. Content Types: return images that contain- this search field is a radio button that gives the user three different options which are all self explanatory (1. any content, 2. news content, 3. faces)
  6. Size: return images that are- this field is a drop down menu giving the user five different size choices to choose from. The choices are any size, small, medium, large, and extra large. There is no way to input the exact size of an image you are searching for.
  7. File types: return only image files formatted as- this field is a drop down menu where the user can choose the type of files that he or she is looking for. There are five different choices that can be selected: any file type, JPG files, GIF files, PNG files, and BMP files.
  8. Coloration: return only images in- this field is a drop down menu where the user can choose from the following choices: any colors, black & white, grayscale, and full color.
  9. Domain: return images from the site or domain- this is a field that can be inputted with a domain of your choosing. For instance, if you would like to search for an image on Wikipedia, you can easily include the full domain in the box.
  10. Safe Search: Safe search allows a user to ask Google to filter your search. For instance, if you are at work or searching for an image at home with your children, you can use the radio buttons to choose the level of filtering to reduce the chances that unsavory material will appear. There are three choices for Safe Search: no filtering, moderate filtering, and strict filtering.

Step 3. Once you have filled in the criteria that you think best supports your image search, simply click on the Google Search button on the upper right hand corner of the page. If you find that your search has resulted in either not enough or too many listings, you may want to change you criteria and try again.

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22 May 2011

How to make links open in new windows for Blogger blog?

If you design your blogs with lots of links to other blogs and web sites, you probably like to make the links to the other blogs and web sites open in a new browser tab or window (depending upon reader preference). That helps with reader retention (for you), and increases convenience (for your readers).

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Unfortunately, in all of the Blogger GUIs, there's no selection for "Make links open in new window". If you want all links in your blog to open in a new window, you can do this with a simple template change as described below. If you want specific links to open in a new window, you will have to manually code each link individually.

To make all links open in new window is amazingly simple. Just sign into Blogger DASHBOARD > DESIGN > EDIT HTML to open template editor

Use keyboard shortcut ctrl+F to find <head> and immediately after that, add a single line
<base target='_blank' />

so that it become

<base target='_blank' />

Save the edited template and all links in your blog will now open in new tabs or windows.

If you prefer selective links not to open in new window/tab but to open in the same window, as you have now, add the attribute target="_self" for those links you want to open in the same window/tab.

Blogger who have multiple internal links, might not find the presented solution as acceptable since they might not like the idea to open ALL links in a new window, or to edit each link manually. The target is open in the new window just external links from your blog (what happens if the user clicks on your archives, or on the title, or on comment links, or on a javascript link?)
Here is a vanilla javascript solution, that you want to paste into your template just before the end of the body (if you're old-style template), or paste into a javascript widget:

Replace XXXXXX with the appropriate URL prefix.

<!-- code for turning all non-blog links to new page links -->
<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
   var arr = document.getElementsByTagName("a");  //get all links in the page
   for(var i = 0; i < arr.length; i++)
      if(arr[i].href.indexOf("XXXXXX.blogspot") < 0 //not links that are 'inside' blog
         && arr[i].href.indexOf("javascript:") < 0) //not javascript links
         arr[i].target = "_blank";


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