CSS Guru Eric Meyer Weighs in on HTML5/CSS3, Flash

by David Salahi on March 17, 2010

In an interview, CSS guru Eric Meyer looks at the future of HTML5 and CSS3 and also takes a look at how those technologies will impact the use of Flash on the web. He points out that “HTML5 itself and Flash are vastly different. They have different things that they’re trying to do.” I agree. But he also asserts that the combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript can do anything that Flash can do. This is where he’s clearly mistaken. Meyer has been a CSS luminary since the early days but he clearly doesn’t understand what Flash & Flex are capable of. Reader Matthew Fabb, in a comment on the blog, provides a short list of things that Flash can do which can’t be done with HTML/CSS/JS.

One of Meyer’s objections to Flash is that it’s a proprietary technology and that “companies don’t want to be beholden to somebody else [e.g., Adobe].” However, companies have been relying on hardware/software technology from other companies ever since IBM built its first punched card machine. The use by companies of technology from other companies is a fundamental part of our system of capitalism.

Open standards are great but they have their drawbacks, notably the ponderous pace at which innovation occurs. Look how long it’s taken—a decade—to reach the point where all the major browsers agree (mostly) on how to render HTML/CSS. Look how long it’s taken—a decade—for HTML 5 to be released. By contrast, look at how far Flash has come during that time. The advances have been stunning!

And, looking forward, I think there’s a bright future for Flash. As Adobe made clear at MAX 2009 they are making a big bet not just on Flash but on what they are calling the Flash Platform. Adobe is releasing new products for that platform including Flash Builder 4 (for Flex development) and Flash Catalyst while continuing to develop and enhance Flash Professional. Flash has a multi-year head start over everything else, including both HTML/CSS/JavaScript and Silverlight. The development environment for Flash/Flex is far superior to the environment(s) for JavaScript. And Adobe’s commitment to the platform convince me that Flash will be an important web technology for years to come.


How Can You Help Searchers Find Your Business?

by David Salahi on March 4, 2010

Choosing the right keywords is critical to getting found in Google and other search engines. But how do you know what words people are actually searching for? A great, free tool is Google’s AdWords Keyword Selector tool. You can start using this tool by entering a couple of words or phrases (in this context, the word “keywords” is used interchangeably with “key phrases”) that you think your prospects will use when searching for someone who offers your services. The tool will then display a page listing similar keywords that people have actually been searching for along with the number of searches for each keyword. This can help you when choosing what keywords to target on your site.

It’s important, first, that you do target specific keywords to increase your chances of being found in search engines. Second, it’s important to target the right keywords so that you’re using the words that people are actually searching for in reasonable numbers. E.g., you don’t want to target words that people rarely search for. And, to be clear, targeting, in this context, means using specific keywords and related words fairly frequently on a given web page.

Keyword Selection

With each search you do using the tool you’ll get a list of words that have come up regularly in Google searches. One important point when using the tool is that your prospects aren’t necessarily searching using the words that you would use. You’re an expert in your domain and, as such, are familiar with the proper terminology in your field. Frequently, your customers are not. So, they’ll often use words that you wouldn’t expect. The tool can help you find these. Also, as you choose your keywords, you want to use a couple of variations which the tool can help you find.

Once you’ve selected about ten keywords you’ll want to review your existing copy with an eye to working your keywords/phrases into that copy (wherever those phrases don’t already exist). Your goal is to make sure that the keywords (including variations) appear regularly.

Geographic Keywords

You’ll probably want to include variations that include the cities and counties you serve. What I usually do when creating a website is to include a list of cities/counties in small print on the Contact page. The list of cities is usually long and people aren’t looking to read that. Still, the list needs to be included for search engines.

Target Pages for Other Keywords

You probably don’t want to target the same keywords on every page. Search engines like pages with content that is highly targeted. That allows them to deliver accurate search results for specific terms. So, it’s generally more effective to target your pages narrowly. Targeting different keywords on different pages also gives you the best chance of ranking highly for a variety of terms. You can’t rank highly for ten different keywords on a single page even if they are all related to your field.

Heading Tags

Search engines give extra weight to the text contained in heading tags. Web page headings are created with a set of tags ranging from the highest level, h1, down to the lowest, h6. These tags work similarly to the heading styles in Word. As you write/update your copy you want to be thinking about where you can insert headings and how you can include your keywords in those headings as much as possible. Using heading tags helps both with SEO and with making your pages more scannable—which increases their appeal to your visitors.

Analyzing the Competition

I would recommend that you have a look at other websites of your competitors to see what keywords they are targeting. You can use the Google Keyword Tool to analyze your competitors’ sites to see what keywords they use on each page of their sites. To do this you simply choose the “Website content” option in the tool and provide the URL of a page. Checking out what the successful sites (i.e., sites that rank highly in search engine results) are doing can help you to choose a good selection of keywords. It can also help you determine what pages you want to create for your new site.

Buying Signals

Pay special attention to keywords that people are likely to use when they are ready to engage someone who provides your services. People use the internet both for research and for finding companies to do business with. It can be helpful if people find your site when they’re in the research phase but it’s more important to be found when they’re ready to buy. So, for example, in my business I’d be more interested in targeting the keywords “web design services” or “web designer” than just “web design.”

Keyword Density

Another factor that search engines use to rate websites is keyword density; i.e., the concentration of your keywords on a given page. A page that uses the target keywords a lot is interpreted as being more focused on that topic than a page that, for example, includes the keyword only once. So, as you choose your keywords and target them to specific pages you want to try to work the appropriate keywords (and related text) into the copy wherever possible.

Write Naturally

With both link text and keyword density there can be a temptation to write copy that sounds unnatural in an attempt to load the page up with your keywords. That’s not a good approach. You want to write as naturally as possible so that the text doesn’t sound stilted. Also, if your keyword density is too high Google will interpret that as search engine spamming and downgrade your ranking.

More Free Info on Search Engine Optimization

For more info about search engine optimization, visit my website and get my free SEO white paper.


Another Outrageous Patent

February 27, 2010

Anyone who doubts that the U.S. Patent Office is mired in the 19th century need only look at a patent it awarded to Facebook this week: the news feed. The concept of the news feed has been around for a decade or so. Blogs, podcasts and, more recently, social media sites use news feeds to [...]

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Social Media Survey Shows Importance of Tracking Your Online Efforts

February 21, 2010

According to a survey by Website Magazine businesses are jumping on the social media bandwagon in large numbers. Their survey shows 82% of respondents planning to spend more time on social media this year than last year. However, the survey also shows that 41% of respondents aren’t seeing a return from their social media efforts. [...]

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Will the Advent of HTML 5 See a Downturn in Mobile Apps?

February 15, 2010

Google has announced that its Google Voice application is now available via HTML 5. This move allows it to get around Apple’s decision to oust Google Voice from its app store. By running in the browser and using advanced features of HTML 5 Google can escape Apple’s grasp.
In an end-of-year 2009 piece Wired Magazine named [...]

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FCC’s Internet Policy Stifled Broadband Development; Will it do the Same with Net Neutrality?

February 5, 2010

An article in the February 2010 issue of Scientific American points out that, in one decade, the U.S. has slipped from having an international lead in internet connectivity to homes to being below average. The article places the blame largely on FCC Commissioner Michael Powell who in 2002 presided over a ruling which classified broadband [...]

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Tweetable, a Twitter Plugin for WordPress

January 27, 2010

One of the problems with social media is that, like any form of networking, it takes time. So, if you’re going to engage online you want to maximize the benefits for whatever amount of time you choose to spend. One way of doing that is by automatically connecting your various channels. Tweetable, a Twitter plugin [...]

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Take That, Spambots!

January 23, 2010

I’ve been getting some hits from spammers on my newsletter survey page recently. My previous newsletter survey form was built in HTML which is the traditional way of building forms for the web. But HTML forms can be filled out and submitted by automated spambots. This is what I was experiencing. I’d get empty form [...]

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Restoring a WordPress Blog from a Backup

January 23, 2010

As I mentioned at the end of my previous post on backing up a blog, any backup is only as good as your ability to restore the data from the backup. If the backup medium (e.g., tape, disc, disk) has been damaged or if the data has been corrupted, the backup is useless. So, it [...]

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Customizing the Thesis Theme with Function Hooks

January 23, 2010

After I made my first post to this new blog everything seemed great. But when I added my second post, I was surprised to discover that the new post was displayed lower on the page than my first one. Many blogs (most?) display posts in reverse chronological order so that the newest material is always [...]

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