Color Combinations

I have to admit that I always struggle with getting good color combinations for websites. I often will change colors several times before I decide on what color combination I want to stick with. Things have gotten easier the last few years though because of some very cool web tools out there to help people who are color deficient.

Colors on the Web
This site offers so much for those interested in colors, including color theory. Make sure you check out the color wizard. It is the most comprehensive color tool that I have found. Many great features and it will give you complete color schemes you can use. Excellent tool!

Color Schemer
This is a great web tool for finding colors that that work with that one color that you know you want. It offers a quick and easy interface and lots of colors that will match with your one color. I find it will still take some work to find the right colors.

Palette Man
When you need a quick color combination for a website this site fits the bill perfectly. It has several color themes already set. I find it great to just pick a color theme and make it lighter or darker just to get going quickly.

These online tools have made it much easier to help pick colors for your website. Don’t forget to experiment a little though to make your site your own.

Simple SEO for Everyone

The world of search engine optimization is huge and depending on what you read the messages can be very different. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to do some of the things that professional SEO’s do.

Here are some things that you can do to help improve your websites ranking in search engines.

  1. Update Your Site.
    It can be hard to update your site regularly but search engines love new, fresh, unique content so give them what what they love.
  2. Check Your Title/Meta Tags
    Check your title and meta description and keyword meta tags and make sure that they describe the pages content properly. Don’t over due it though, watch out for keyword stuffing in your title tag. Some SEO’s have written off meta tags saying that they have little effect on search engine ranking. While they may be less important now than in the 90’s they are still being used. Lately they have been shown to possibly keep pages out of Google’s supplemental index.
  3. Get Links
    Links to your site are still very important. Not only do they help get the search engines to visit your website, every link will help to increase your websites ranking the search results. Look out for sites like link farms and “bad neighborhoods”.
  4. Think of Your Users
    Remember you are building your website for people not other computers. Think of them first and build the site for them.
  5. Use Well Formated HTML
    Make sure your site is properly coded and is functional. Check for broken links, images etc and fix them.
  6. Submit a Sitemap
    Create and submit a Google Sitemap. It can help make sure all your pages are indexed. It won’t guarantee that your site is number one, but they will get indexed.

This is just a brief summary of simple things that anyone can do to help the search engine optimization of their website. Every webmaster should read the Google Webmaster Guidelines. They remind you of the solid website building techniques that will help your websites. The last thing you need to remember is to be patient. It takes time and will not happen overnight. Keep working at it and eventually you will see results.

Shopping Carts on Adsense, Canadians Still Left Out!

It was confirmed on the Google Adsense blog yesterday that some Google Adsense ads have a tiny shopping cart badge alongside the ad title to signify that people can purchase the item advertised via Google Checkout.

What is interesting is what the blog post does not say. It does not say whether a click on the cart still pays the publisher the same as a click on an ad? One could probably assume that is true, but they do not say for certain.

It has been suggested that Google should make this a referral product as well so publishers could get paid when someone new signs up for Google Checkout.

Google Checkout is still not available to sellers that do not have a U.S. bank account. This leaves out all the potential sellers here in Canada, who may have the same products as U.S. companies and sell and ship primarily to the U.S., often at better prices.

It is nice to see that they are giving some extra promotion to Google Checkout sellers, but they need to expand the countries that sellers are allowed to be from before rolling out these extra features just for U.S. sellers.

Top 5 Easy Ajax Add Ons

Looking for a quick and easy way to add some new zing to your website without a lot of fuss. Here are my top five Ajax add ons to bring some new life to your website. The list is in order of how difficult I think it is to implement on a website, with one being the easiest and five the hardest.

  1. Lightbox
    If you use photos on your website, have a small photo gallery or just want to highlight some special photos then Lightbox is a great easy addition to any site. The install is a very simple four steps.
  2. Thickbox
    If you want to add more to your site than what Lightbox can offer check out Thickbox. It offers more features including the ability to show single images, multiple images, inline content, iframe content and content served through AJAX. While a little more work to install, it can offer more possibilities than just a Lightbox install. I have even seen it used to pop up a Google Map on the page. A very nice package to add on.
  3. moo.fx
    moo.fx is an easy way to add effects to a website. When I used this on a site I found the Idiot’s Guide to moo.fx very helpful in getting me going.
  4. Google Maps
    Google Maps are everywhere! They are easy to include into a site and can provide users with easy access to finding your office. Combine Google Maps with Thickbox and you have a fabulous Ajax add on.
  5. Rico
    This Ajax add on is for those that want to give their website a real make over. The possibilities are almost endless with Rico and what you can do. The simple things that you can do include adding animation effects and rounded corners.

That is my top five that I have experience with, but certainly not an exhaustive list of possibilities. You sometimes just have to pick the tools you will use otherwise you will be switching things constantly and never getting to the other things that need attention.

Social Bookmarking – Helping Readers, Helping You

I was helping a client establish a new blog a little while ago and one of the questions they had in the process was what are those little icons at the bottom of posts? I was not sure what they were talking about at the time, but after a little of back and forth I figured out that they were talking about the social bookmarking icons that are on the bottom of so many posts. They simply did not understand what was the point of having them. I tried to explain that social bookmarking can be a great service to your readers since it allows them to bookmark your post and share it with others.

Social bookmarking sites also have the potential of sending users to your website or blog. I have mentioned StumbleUpon a few times here, that is perhaps my favorite social bookmarking service, but there is also Digg, and lately I have come across a blog focused site called Blogg-Buzz. These services can be a great help in getting your website noticed. They are the digital form of word of mouth advertising.

When adding social bookmarking links the tendency is to add all of the social bookmarking sites. While I can understand peoples desire to do that, I usually recommend that people add no more than 10. Why 10? It is a nice round number, plus by choosing 10 you should be able to get the services that has the majority of users. Almost always Digg is on the list as well, and while Digg has the potential to send you a lot of visitors, I recommend people don’t bother with it since Digg is a very specific niche and they tend to look down on blogs.

It only takes a few extra minutes to add some social bookmarking links to a site to provide users with a quick way of being able to find your website again, and the word of mouth advertising never hurts.

What are your favorite social bookmarking sites to use? What services do you add to your blogs?

AGLOCO is Bunk!

I must admit I am in a bit of a vile mood here tonight. I have been struggling with getting a project done and I keep running into problems. To help relax and ease my mind a little I thought I would do some reading, so I went and checked in on some blogs that I read semi-regularly. The first stop was problogger. Going back through the posts I found one that caught my eye. AGLOCO – First Impressions, sounded interesting. Well it did not take me long into the post to realize that it sounded to me like AGLOCO has got to be one of the biggest scams going on the internet right now. Usually problogger discusses good quality programs and has some good advice. I thought it was a little surprising that he was talking about AGLOCO.

Next stop was John Chow, who’s blog I checked out because I had been hearing quite a bit about it since he made The Vancouver Sun. Well, the blog looks good, some good writing, but what do I find? A whole category of posts about AGLOCO! I counted six out of 14 posts that just talked about how many referrals he has. I was almost afraid of what I would find on another blog, so I thought I would check out this AGLOCO myself.

What did I find? I found out several things that I think are important to know about AGLOCO. First it is a reincarnation of AllAdvantage. Anyone remember that company? They were a pay to surf company that went belly up in 2001. Wikipedia states that the reason was due to the dot-com bubble burst and advertiser money disappeared. From what I remember about AllAdvantage (yes I was a member) it really was not about getting paid to surf, but more about referring new members to install the viewbar. I never got paid, I guess I never referred enough members.

Visiting the AGLOCO site, I noticed very quickly in the second paragraph that users have to install a viewbar. Well that sounds familiar doesn’t it? In a world of spyware, malware, and all kinds of other nasties out there they are bringing back a viewbar that sits on the bottom of the users screen. They claim it is not spyware, but spyware companies out there state that their product is not spyware. Perhaps if this company was Google they would have a better chance of people trusting them to install a viewbar. Is anyone out there going to trust this viewbar and what data it collects? What is even more interesting is the page that talks about the viewbar in more detail, tells you that it is not even out yet! This company is recruiting members and having people refer others and their main product/service is not even finished yet? Sounds a little suspicious to me there AGLOCO.

Back to the home page and the third paragraph. Here it is, talk about the referral program. The detail page on the referral program is the standard type of stuff. You refer so many members, and they refer so many members etc. The only good thing I noticed was that it was only 5 levels deep.

I thought I would sign up and give them the benefit of the doubt just to see what the sign up is like and the account center. Perhaps it is not as suspicious as I was thinking/feeling. I had a few problems with their captcha system but once that was taken care of registration and activation went smoothly. Unfortunately the look and emphasis on the account side is all focused on how many people you have referred. The only mention of the viewbar that I can see on the account center is the main menu link for the viewbar. You would think that if the viewbar, which appears to be the main product/service for end users, was so important that they would provide more details on what it does, how it does it and how it is going to benefit the people you refer. If it is there anywhere I did not see it.

I have to say it appears that AGLOCO is nothing but a lot of hot air, and internet hype. For all of you out there hoping to strike it rich surfing the internet I just don’t think it will happen with AGLOCO. Of course I am now an affiliate, so if you want to prove me wrong go right ahead. Here is my affiliate link. I will even go one step further, if I ever actually get paid from them I will donate 2/3 of it to cancer research. Let’s see those full-time bloggers with 6 figure incomes do that, they certainly don’t need the money.

A Beginners Guide to Google Pagerank

In my work as a web developer and lately as an SEO I am going over the basics of PageRank with clients on a regular basis. I thought I would put some of the usual things that I tell them here for others to read and as a resource that I can give to my clients. I try to keep things simple, without a lot of geek speak. For those of you who have been involved in SEO for sometime this will probably be a very simplistic overview of PageRank.

People have often heard about Google PageRank, or have the Google toolbar and they see the different PageRanks of websites as they surf. People want to see their website getting a good PageRank because they see it as an indicator how popular their website is. This may or may not be true, but it almost never fails though when their site is finished the next question well be “How come my site does not have PageRank?” at which point I have to try and explain that Google updates their toolbar PageRank roughly every four months. In an effort to explain Google PageRank to clients this is often what I will say when they ask. I always remind them that I am not an employee of Google and what I say might not be entirely accurate. It is my opinion.

What is Google PageRank
In short a number between one and 10 of Google’s ranking of the web pages importance on the internet.
Why Does My Website/Page Have No Pagerank?
Google updates the visible PageRank on the Google toolbar roughly every four months. If your site is new it will take time before it will be assigned a visible PageRank on the Google toolbar. If your site has been up for a while and you still don’t have PageRank you might need more incoming links to your website.
How Do I Get PageRank?
While the exact formula for how PageRank is calculated is only known to Google it is known that links to your website will help you get your site included in the Google index and be assigned PageRank.
Do I need a high PageRank to get better listings in Google?
Most people would say no. While PageRank has some bearing on Google seach results there are many factors that determine Google search results.
Can I buy PageRank?
The short answer is no.
If links are important can I buy links from high PageRank pages?
Yes and no. While many sites that have high PageRank often sell links to help raise funds, and those links may help to increase a pages PageRank it might not be as beneficial as one might think. Google favors natural linking and frowns upon bought links to increase PageRank. A bought link from a high PageRank page might help in the short term as Google’s algorithm picks up on possible bought links it could potentially hurt a pages PageRank.

It is important to not worry about PageRank. There are many websites out there that have low PageRank and do great. The most important thing is to focus on your website, and what it has to offer. Focus on what matters, your websites content or service and PageRank will come as people naturally link to your website.

More reading on PageRank around the web:


Recently every blog I visited had a MyBlogLog recent readers widget added on to it, so my curiosity was peaked about what this new service that I kept seeing was.

I was pleasantly surprised with the features that MyBlogLog offers. Along with the recent readers widget you can add a Top Links widget and a Stats script. They offer a free version and a pro version that you have to pay for. From what I can tell so far the free version is probably sufficient for most bloggers, unless you just have to have the real-time stats.

The other added feature is a community page for every blog that you own. To see an example of a community page take a look at the LGR Blog community page. On the community page you get a great overview of the readers to the blog, can post comments to the community and view the recent rss feed from the site.

The benefits of MyBlogLog are the possibility of increased traffic, a unique user community for your blog, and it is just basically cool to see who your readers are. There are also some downsides. Spammers did not take long to invade the community. I have already had as many spammers visiting my other blog which meant I had to hide them. Also the comment section of the community pages seems to be a target for spam. Hopefully MyBlogLog will get a better solution to control spam soon.

If you have a blog take a look at adding a MyBlogLog to your site. It adds an additional fun component to your site.

Adsense Referral Policies – Clarified

There is an excellent post on the Adsense blog this morning clarifying why publishers can draw attention to the referral products Google offers. Google referral products include Google Adsense, Google Adwords, Firefox with Google Toolbar and the Google Pack. recently Picasa was rolled in with the Google Pack, if you was wondering where it went.

To sum up the post you can draw attention to Google’s referral products because they are a cost per action basis, opposed to a cost per click, and because you know exactly what product you are referring, unlike ads where it could be almost anything.

Of course you are still not allowed to have people click or install products for deceptive purposes, and the attention should be done in a way that supports the product or service. I hope that means NO POPUPS, since I absolutely hate them.