Archive for the ‘Web2.0’ Category

Removing URL’s from Google

Recently, I added a Google Custom Search to our Program Builder web site. After this was in place for a couple months, the owners of the web site asked why certain pages weren’t showing up in searches.

Doing a little investigation, I discovered much of the information on the individual program pages was also on the summary page listing all the programs. Because of this duplication, Google was eliminating the individual programs from the search results.

The first thing I did to solve this was add a meta tag to tell robots not to index the summary page. I did this by adding this html code:

<meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOINDEX" />

While I knew I could allow the summary pages to drop off Google’s results pages without any intervention, it could take a while before Google noticed this change. Therefore, I went into the Google Webmasters Tools, and requested that the summary pages be removed from Google’s results.

The option to do this in under the “Tools” tab in the webmaster tools. You tell Google what URL(s) you want removed, and Google then makes sure you’ve done something to tell it to quit indexing the page(s), such as the above meta tag.

After about a day, the summary page dropped off Google’s search results, and the individual programs started appearing instead of the summary page. Mission accomplished.

More information on Google Webmaster Tools is available in this recording of a session I did for the eXtension Learn series. You can also access my Delicious bookmarks for this session.

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URL’s and Search

Kevin Gamble had an interesting post on this topic, “URLs and the dominance of search.” I’ve known for quite a while that search is extremely import. Web analytics on our web site have been telling us this.

However, Kevin’s post takes this to another level. I’ve never really thought of search terms as being a marketing tactic. It sounds like a great idea. In many cases, it would be a lot easier to remember a search term than it is to remember URL’s.

This will require web authors to work more on the search term(s) that users will use to access their sites. In my opinion, this is something that currently doesn’t get enough attention now, so maybe we can use this as another reason to get content providers to consider how they write.

Google Snippets

Getting your page to show up as a top link on Google is one thing, having people click on it is another. What Google shows as the snippet is a big factor in whether someone clicks.

One of the things Google may use for a Snippet is the page’s “description” meta tag, see Improve snippets with a meta description makeover

The following video was included in a post The anatomy of a search report. In it, they talk more about how Google determines what to include in the snippet.

[Update: The embedded video didn’t seem to come through in the syndication feeds, so here is a direct link to the YouTube video “Matt Cutts Discusses Snippets.” ]

We can’t control what Google uses as the snippet. We can control what we put in the description meta tag. Google can choose whether or not to use it.

Lynette and I hope to meet this week to talk more about snippets.

Google is Addictive

About 6 months ago, Lynette called me with a question about Google Reader. She was going on vacation, and needed to export her list of feeds so someone else could import them and  follow some news sources while she was away. Because I wasn’t using Google Reader at the time, I created an account so I could help her.

At the time, I was using a Windows based feed reader, and thought I was happy with it. It took about 5 minutes of using Google Reader to decide that I liked it better. One of the main advantages is having access to my feed reader at home or in the office.

Soon after, I added a couple of other services, notably Webmaster tools and Groups. A little later, I needed a search mechanism for a specific web site, so I created a Custom Search Engine.

Last week, I Kevin did an eXtension Learn session on Google Presentation. At the time, I was interested in seeing Presentation, and also Google Docs, but didn’t think I’d start using them. During the presentation, Kevin gave Beth access to the presentation, and at the toward the end of the presentation, Beth made a change to the background of the presentation they were working on, and it showed up on Kevin’s computer, almost instantly. What an “Ah Ha” moment, seeing this level of collaboration.

I now have added Google docs, and have created a couple of docs using it. I’m impressed with the way it works. More full-featured then I expected from a web based package. It was extremely nice to be able to work on a document at home, after starting it at the office.

My latest addition is GMail. When I started my Google account, I was determined not to create a GMail account. Seeing how well other Google services work, I decided I needed to give this one a try.

What I’m trying to figure now is whether I should be worried that I’ve sold out to Google. Although I haven’t given them any money, I’ve given them a whole lot of data about me. Should I be concerned about this? And what’s next to try?

Finding Feeds in Google Reader

During my presentation on “Consuming Feeds” last week, someone asked me how they would find relevant blogs to their subject matter. My answer was along the lines of, search for it using Google, get recommendations from coworkers on what they read, and watch for blog-rolls on the blogs you find interesting.

My answer this week would be much different. That’s because I just learned about the search feature that’s built into the “Add Subscription” function in Google Reader. It will show you feeds related to what you enter into the “Add Subscription” field, along with an indication of how many people are subscribed to that feed using Google’s tools. I learned about this from the Google Operating System Blog.

For example, I’m currently interested in SharePoint, so I entered the work “SharePoint” into the “Add Subscription” file. Google Reader than found 30 feeds, related to SharePoint.

This is a great feature in Google Reader. The only problem is that I already have too many subscriptions, and now it’s so easy to find more.

Consuming Feeds Presentation – Followup

Last week I posted the outline for the presentation I gave at the Extension Technology Showcase, see Consuming Feeds Presentation Outline The presentation went well, although not very well attended. It doesn’t help when you’re up against a presentation on reducing stress, and another about gadgets.

In the outline, I described the opening demonstration, which would be a non-technical way to show what a feed reader can do for you. The concept was great, however I’ll change a couple things next time. First, I included too many packing peanuts along with the candy and some of the candy was too light. It was hard to quickly clean out the “fluff”, leaving just the good content. Hersey’s miniatures seemed to work better than some of the other things.

More importantly, I put the candy into lunch sized brown paper bags. These were too hard to handle. The demonstration would have been much better had I used large plastic cups as the containers to represent web sites. I could have dumped together a lot easier, and they wouldn’t have been as messy.

I think feed readers is an important subject for Extension staff, and I hope to be able present this information again. If so, I need a title that will attract more participants. People probably don’t know what “Consuming Feeds” means. Maybe “Browse more Web Sites in Less Time”. Please offer other suggestions.

Consuming Feeds Presentation Outline

Tomorrow, I will give a presentation titled “Consuming Feeds” at the Extension Technology Showcase. John Dorner asked if I would share the presentation. The only PowerPoint I have is some screen shots that I’ll use if the Internet connection doesn’t work. Rather than sharing that (not too exciting), I’ll publish the outline I’ll be using.
Introduction (5 minutes)

  1. Visual Aid
  2. What is a feed?
  3. Show “Trends” from Google Reader
  4. Not just for technologist, Lynette and eXtension News

Demonstration Google Reader (15 minutes)

  1. How to get an account
  2. Navigating the Subscription List
  3. Expanded vs List View
  4. Add Star, Share, Email
  5. Starred items

Other Readers (5 minutes)

  1. FeedReader3
  2. BlogLines
  3. Outlook

What to look for on the page (5 minutes)

  1. Firefox
  2. Internet Explorer
  3. Icons on the page

How to Subscribe (5 minutes)

Show Example Feeds (5 minutes)

Questions (5 minutes)

I hope the opening visual aid works. I have 15 brown paper lunch bags. Most have a few pieces of candy, a couple don’t have any. Many of the bags also have some packing peanuts. People will be encouraged to pick up some candy as they enter the room.

The presentation will start by explaining that the paper bags represent web pages, the candy represents content, and the packing peanuts is the “fluff” (ads, navigation, etc.) It’s a pain getting things from individual sites, and you probably stop once you find something that is acceptable. While talking about this, I’ll dump all the bags into a basket and sort out most the peanuts, and explain that this is what a reader does. ie It puts all your content into a single location, and makes it much easier to see what’s available to you. It also removes most of the fluff, you just see the content.