Archive for March, 2007

How to Get the Games Working in Vista

Windows Vista has no Games?

So I helped one of my friends buy a new laptop yesterday – it’s a beauty – An Acer TM5625WSMi laptop with a 17 inch screen, Intel Core Duo 2Ghz, 1Gb RAM, 160Gb Harddrive – the works – all for about $US1500 – highly recommended.

Unhappy Children – where’s the games Mom?

Deb’s really happy with the purchase, but her 10yo daughter is PISSED OFF! πŸ™‚ I got an upset phone call – there is NO GAMES!

So I did a bit of a search, and I found that Vista DOES have games – all the old classics like minesweeper, solitaire, frecell, Spider Solitaire and Hearts, along with a crop of groovy new ones. There’s more on the new vista games here.

Anyway, I sent that link to Deb and she informed me that there was an item in the start menu called games, but that it didn’t actually have anything in it – so.. back to Google…

Make Vista Games Work – Allow or Deny?

After a bit of Googling, I realised that Deb’s computer has Vista Business installed. It seems that Vista Business has the games turned off by default (the bloody kill joys) to try and improve productivity (ha ha) but there is a way to get them working.

Solution – How to turn on the Games in Vista Business

So here’s the instructions if your 10 year old is complaining too (or you are bored at work) :-

  1. Click on the start menu, and then click ‘control panel’
  2. Click on the ‘program’ group.
  3. Click ‘turn windows features on or off’ (you’ll need to be logged in as an administrator to do that – it’s usually the first user you created, but if not, this primer may help)
  4. Click the games box, and hit ok. Wait a little while as it has a think..
  5. Close the control panel, click the start menu and then click ‘all programs’ – you should see the games folder is now full of the great new vista games.



6 comments March 19th, 2007

Can I use Microsoft Office 2007 on more than one computer?

Microsoft Office 2007

I recently bought Microsoft Office 2007. I have to say, they have done a very good job. The package as a whole installs very easily, and I really like the new ‘Web 2.0’ style interface.

Can Microsoft Office 2007 be used on Multiple Computers?

One concern I did have was whether or not I’d be able to use Office 2007 on the various computers I have (for instance my laptop as well as my main desktop).

This is a really valid concern, as I understand Microsoft’s other new release, Vista is quite strictly a ‘one computer only’ package.

I Googled to try and find this out, and turned up no answer, so like every good ‘experimenter’ I just went ahead and tried it.

The answer is YES – you can use one copy of Microsoft Office on up to 3 personal computers – although each copy requires ‘activation’ over the internet, which probably means that Microsoft records information about each computer to make sure that the package is only installed the three times.

How does Office 2007 activation work?

This makes me wonder.. how do they implement the 3 copies restriction? Off the top of my head I can think of only three ways:-

  1. The copy can only be activated 3 times – period.
  2. Microsoft records the IP address of each activation, and a reasonable number of activations allowed from up to 3 different IP addresses (not unlimited, but more than 3).
  3. Microsoft records the MAC address (Medium Access Control – each network card has a unique ‘DNA’ code that can be used to uniquely identify individual computers operating under the same IP address – but it can be faked).

If it is the first, as I suspect, you can probably expect that if you happen to install vista down the track, or have to reinstall Office 2007, that you’ll use up your 3 activations pretty quickly.

What to do if you can no longer activate Microsoft Office 2007?

If that’s the case, don’t despair, as I have had the same thing happen before, and one phone call to Microsoft Support to explain the situation has usually been sufficient to reset the activation limit.

The other two possibilities are both preferable, although I’d suspect they wouldn’t have used the IP technique, as many people have dynamic IP‘s, which means their IP address is changed by their internet service provider on a fairly regular basis, mostly (I suspect) to make it harder for people to put web servers on their home internet connection (although, like everything, that can still be done with a little ‘know-how’ πŸ™‚ )



34 comments March 18th, 2007

More Blogs Using Blix Krieg..

Just thought I’d throw another few links to some new blogs I’ve seen hit the ‘link-o-radar’ recently.

As you all probably know, I develop the wordpress theme that you are looking at (get it at my blix krieg download page) which is a wordpress 2.1 compatible version of Sebastien Schmieg’s Blix theme, and incorporates adsense (inspired by additions from SEO Dave).

I also do a fair bit of ‘blog-optimisation’ for people, including help with installation, customization and SEO considerations to help make blogs a financial and social-networking success.

Whenever someone installs my theme, I get pinged, and I often go check a random selection of them out on a weekly basis.

Here’s a few from this week which I liked:-

Triathlete Dad – Regular commenter on this Blog, Susie J, has finally convinced her husband Dave to join the club and get a blog. Dave’s blog is lining up to be a real success – he talks of his inspirational change from (slightly) overweight technical rep to triathlon-racing superdad.

This is one blog I’ll be watching – certainly the content is well written, and from an income perspective, I think the ads that adsense is pulling at the moment are extremely relevant to the content and likely to produce a good return.

Horse Logos – not a BlixKrieg blog but rather a Zen-Cart based ecommerce site I’m in the process of helping set up for a customer. I’m proud of how this is going – coming along nicely and indexed in less than a week.

Working for CatsΒ  – a nice Blix Krieg based blog about CATS – again, I was comissioned this week to help the owner make a few mods. Amongst other things, we widened the default theme out a little and fixed a few SEO problems.

Midwestern NGO – a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping developing countries. Welcome to BlixKrieg!

Lotan’s Blog Space – A blog about conservation in Israel and interesting things like living in an eco-dome. I love the work these people have done to the theme, and especially the background art – looks great, two thumbs up!

Just a small comment about comments – I’d highly recommend to Lotan that he enables comments without registration – users and readers are what makes a blog, and being able to make comments tends to get readers interested, and keep them. Plugins like akismet and bad-behaviour are extraordinarily brilliant at filtering spam – but if you are really concerned about unsolicited comments, you can enable akismet AND require that first time commenters comments are reviewed by you before they are given un-fettered access – I’m willing to help you if you’re not sure, Lotan.

name not included – A commercial site that’s pinched the theme and removed acknolwedgement. I wasn’t going to include this one as when I visited they had taken the footer out – ie removed backlinks to wordpress and this theme. That’s a pet peeve of mine, as the development of this theme is largely driven by traffic we get. But, I’ve decided instead to add this no-followed link as you might like to see what they’ve done.



1 comment March 16th, 2007

Ad Selection?

Just a quick post today.. been busy with work..

I was reading the local (online) newspaper today and came across this article.

What struck me was not so much the article, but rather the ad that had been placed next to it.. sometimes automatic as placements send an unintended message – (click the picture to make it readable).

For those readers who aren’t familliar with Rugby, it’s kind of equivalent to American football.

Get Involved with Rugby!

2 comments March 15th, 2007

Can I be penalised by being linked to from a bad neighbourhood?

Scraper Sites - Benevolent or Otherwise?

The ‘Scraper Site’ – Benevolent Friend or Deadly Foe?

One of our regulars, Susie J, left the following question for me this morning –

Can you have a bad link? I checked my inlinks through technorati. A few stood out with questions marks. Here’s a couple of them:
cold remedies
cancer research

These sites do not have any of their own content — just a list of other sties. There is a link to my site to a specific article — but it does not identify my site by name.

Hiya Susie – these are called ‘scraper’ sites.

I’ve got several of them linking back to me too.

There are a number of things you need to consider first before you get too worried about them.

Links from a Bad Neighbourhood – Good or Bad?

Is it bad to have them linking back to you? Well, there are a number of different perspectives on that.

I’d say this right off the bat – Google knows that you can’t help who links to you, so it is impossible to get an official Google ‘penalty’ from such a site linking to you.

If that were possible, I could set up a mean link farm violating every one of Googles webmaster guidelines, and get my competitors struck off Google’s index just by linking to them from my Uber-evil site.

The only exception, of course, is if you link back to the scrapers, in which case it is possible (but unlikely) that Google may consider you’re participating in some link exchange scheme with them and you might get penalised – that’s called linking to a ‘bad neighbourhood’.

Whether or not links from these sites is good or bad from an SEO perspective is a different matter.

What’s their game?

I had the following discussion about this with a few of my SEO friends a few months back, and the general consensus is that those sites are trying to get good search engine positioning by fooling Google into thinking that they are authorities on a particular topic – such as the common cold, in this instance.

Since they link back to me, I don’t get overly perturbed about them, but I have been puzzled about what their game is – because:-

  1. They can’t be after Pagerank – who’s going to link back to a site with no real information? (except people like us, wondering why they are linking to us – but you’ll note I nofollowed the links to them)
  2. They aren’t stealing content – they are acknowledging the source of the content.
  3. They aren’t MFOA (made for adsense) as they (mostly) aren’t displaying ads YET.

So what’s their game? Well Susie, I got your message this morning right after I got back from the gym. I’ve just had a shower (my thinking place) and I believe I may have their strategy sussed.

I reckon they have the same opinion as me – make your outlinks count. Whilst linking out to other sites does, by definition, reduce your pagerank, the effect on your search engine positioning can actually be positive.

This is somewhere along the same lines as ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ – if you link to a lot of other sites about a topic you start to look like an authority in that topic.

A Devious Black-Hat Scheme..

So search engine positioning is really a combination of relevance and pagerank. So in this case, they are trying to gain relevance in the topic of ‘the common cold’.

I think their strategy might go something like this.

  1. Use adwords to find some lucrative keywords (for instance, I would imagine competition for the keyphrase ‘the common cold’ would be fierce, so it would be lucrative).
  2. Crawl the net looking for articles about ‘the common cold’ – or better still, just do a Google or technorati search for the phrase.
  3. Take small snippets of those articles, and link back to the origin, thus reducing the likelihood of being reported as spammers (after all, everyone likes being linked to).
  4. Cobble together a large number of snippets in such a way that it’s unlikely that the density of information from any one source is suspiciously high on the page (thus avoiding the possibility of triggering a spam flag or duplicate content penalty from Google – and being deindexed or sent to supplemental).
  5. Wait to be crawled by Google.

So now, what do they have – they’ve got a keyword rich page, full of relevant links to topical pages about the common cold.. If I’m an automated robot I’m beginning to figure ‘hey, this looks like an interesting page about the common cold’.

So, they’ve got relevance – all they are now missing for good search engine positioning for the phrase ‘the common cold’ is pagerank (PR). Easy fixed – buy a link from a high pagerank site, or indeed (since these people likely have heaps of sites) throw a link at the page from several of your high pagerank sites, preferably in a related field.

Now Comes the Traffic.

VOILA! You’ve got pagerank and relevance – you suddenly appear to Google to be an authority on the topic of ‘the common cold’.

So hopefully, since you’re now the new authority on the common cold, you’ve got great search engine positioning too – and with positioning comes traffic – lots of traffic.

Sir Richard Branson started his empire by standing out the front of potential locations for his record stores, and physically counting the number of people walking past each site per day. He knew that the more people walking past the better – this is the online equivalent.

Think about it – the two links you sent me are scraper sites about cancer and the common cold. Hands up anyone that doesn’t know someone who’s had a cold this winter? Hands up anyone that doesn’t know of someone affected by cancer?

These keywords weren’t chosen by accident – they both have potentially very high traffic!

Money – lots of money, with Adsense.

Here’s where the brilliance lies – since the site doesn’t really give any answers, the first thing people are going to want to do when they get to the site is go elsewhere – so, what to do with all this traffic?

BRING ON THE ADSENSE. Scatter adsense all over the site and make clicking them is the only real way of escaping. Remove the links back to the original sites (after all, you only had them there to make yourself look legit and stop people from reporting you as spammers) and you’ve successfully run the black-hat gauntlet and probably made a motza on your lucrative keyword.

These schemes are all about maximizing traffic and hence financial reward.

They don’t expect to be around long before they are taken down or detected. This is probably the reason they choose very high traffic keywords – so that they can make hay while the sun is shining.

So is having links from scraper sites bad for me?

So from a net useability perspective, sure, these sites are bad for everyone.

I can remember when I first started surfing the net way back in the mid nineties, you could search for just about anything and it would return a multitude of links to porn – back then all you really had to do to game a search engine was to have heaps of ‘keywords’ on your page (a favourite tactic was to have a huge list of smut related words at the bottom of the page). Luckily Google’s algo has matured and that just doesn’t work anymore.

Plus – as of last year, the majority of web users are using the web for commerce and business, rather than porn, which had dominated legitimate searches for the entire public history of the net (says alot about human nature hey?). So these days, the majority of these schemes are in it for adsense income.

Don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go back to the bad-old days where search results are dominated by useless crud, only this time it’s useless crud with adsense ads rather than asking for your credit card number or offering ‘free previews’. Luckily, so far, Google seems to be keeping pace with the spammers and (whilst their is doubtless still loads of money to be made) things have become a whole lot harder for them.

The verdict – good or bad? From the individual short term perspective of your site, being linked to by these sites probably has no effect (at worst) and perhaps even a small positive effect (at best) on your pagerank.

It’s those that steal your content and don’t link back to you that are bad, as (occasionally) Google deems their version of your content the ‘original’ and cans your site to the supplementals as a plagiarised copy.

What can I do about plagiarised content?

A good way to check for copies of your content online is to use the tool called COPYSCAPE.

If it really irritates you that these sites have copies of your material, there are a number of things you can do about it.

First and foremost, most of these sites use some form of spider to harvest your content.

You can try banning the rogue spiders using robots.txt as described in this article, but that approach only works for the ‘well behaved’ bots – those that obey robots.txt. Furthermore, many of these bots seem to harvest their information directly from technorati, so there is nothing you can do about that.

The second approach is to report the sites as a spam site to Google (you can do that in Google webmaster tools – it’s under the ‘tools’ menu described in this article). This gives Google a ‘heads up’ that the site is a spam site.

As for me personally – now that I’ve realised their game, I’ll be reporting these sites.

This goes against my ‘all publicity is good publicity’ ethos, but what the heck – why should they be making money at the expense of legitimate sites.

All the best,


8 comments March 12th, 2007

Major Blix Krieg Release is in the offing…

Hiya everyone –

I’ve finally found that round tuit, and I’m now putting together my ideas for the next MAJOR release of my Blix based wordpress theme, BlixKrieg.

I’ve had a few suggestions about things that people would like in this next release.

Jeff Battersby ( has suggested that he’d like support for ‘Asides’ (Jeff, I’ve had a look at Matt’s page and I still can’t really understand what they are – could you please explain to me?).

Support for sidebar widgets is also at the top of my list.

Drop down menus, of the same style as can be seen on Joni’s new Horse Logos site is also something I’ve been strongly considering, just thinking about how best to implement it.

So folks, it’s over to you – any readers out there with suggestions? I’m keen to hear them.



3 comments March 12th, 2007

Targeting your Buyers – Google Adsense Tips, Tricks and Latest Gossip Part 3

In part three of this series about some tips and tricks I learnt during my recent visits to the Google Adsense Conference in Brisbane, Australia, I’m going to write about ‘targeting’ your ads to your content.

People get grumpy about the relatively low income they receive from adsense ads on their blogs – essentially, they want to know how to make moneyfrom their blogs, and having heard of the rags to riches stories of bloggers making hundreds of thousands of dollars from advertising online, they want a slice of the action – and why the hell not?

So now I need you to take a deep breath whilst I take you through some of the latest guidelines for helping google to serve ads that are more likely to be of interest to your customers.

Basically, to have a site that makes money you need at least three things:-

  1. Website Traffic.
  2. Relevant Content.
  3. Relevant Ads, and a high click through rate from those ads.

Those are the three key ingredients for making money from Google Adsense, and lacking any 1 of them will be to the detriment of the others.

Assuming you have good traffic (and I’ll be writing tutorials on that in the near future) and compelling content, all that remains is to encourage a high ‘click thru rate’ on your site.

I have to admit, on this site, the content is generally great and informational, but I’ve previously simply relied on the google adsense code to serve ads that are likely to be clicked on. I’ve tried out image ads, I’ve tried out text ads, I’ve tried out different colours and positions for the ads – and I’ve seen minor changes from doing so.

Alot of the time, though, I think I go a bit too by being too solutions oriented – For instance, someone has a problem, I’ll try to solve it for them, they leave happy, I get good feedback from them and probably generate traffic through referrals – that’s all great, and it’s a part of my growth strategy at this early stage of my blog

So, having the content, I hope the ads will be clicked and everything will be fine from there – but I’ve been finding this isn’t the case – on my other comercial sites, I end up with click through ratios (CTR – the percentage of visitors that click on ads) of less than 1%, whereas on my product based sites I get closer to 10%.

I started to think for reasons this may be – perhaps my readers are ‘ad savvy’ and have a form of blindness to the ad content – perhaps I am providing what they need – information, and they have no need to follow my ads to get more of it.

Someone suggested to me that I should leave articles I write ‘hanging’ so that the reader feels compelled to look at the ads to find more information – not a bad idea, but it goes against the ethos of this blog to an extent. I think the real answer is to write my articles in such a way that they want to take the next step, and offer, in the advertisements, companies and individuals that may help them do so.

Enter stage right adsense section targeting– this was released last year, and is an incredibly simple way to ensure that your ads are ‘micro targetted’ to the niche group viewing your pages. So why haven’t we all heard about it? I think alot of website and SEO people have kept this one to their chests a bit, as it’s a fantastic tool that can really help dramatically increase your returns and make the SEO people look worth their weight in gold.

But you don’t need to be a big shot blogger to imlplement this code – all you need to do is place tags around the content you think is most appropriate to your audience.

the tags are <!– google_ad_section_start –> and <!– google_ad_section_end –>

When google adsense bot sees the <!– google_ad_section_start –> tag, it expects that any information appearing between that tag and the end tag should be used by it when it considers what sort of ads to serve.

So, for example, I have taken an abstract from a recent Wired Magazine Article about how Yahoo has missed the boat when it comes to website advertising.

I found a paragraph in their that speaks about Hollywood, TV Shoe, Theaters, TV Sets – all things that aren’t really spoken about much in the rest of the article, but that I think will bring commercial ads about technology – things that some of the geeks reading this blog might be interested in.

    The truth is that when Semel worked in Hollywood, he understood more about how movies and TV shows made it to theaters and TV sets than virtually anyone else on the planet. Early in his career, during stints in New York, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, all Semel did was sell movies to theater chain owners. He’d show up at each theater — there were only a handful of national chains then — with a list of the movies Warner was going to release over the next few months, and each owner would bid on the movies he wanted.The truth is that when Semel worked in Hollywood, he understood more about how movies and TV shows made it to theaters and TV sets than virtually anyone else on the planet. Early in his career, during stints in New York, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, all Semel did was sell movies to theater chain owners. He’d show up at each theater — there were only a handful of national chains then — with a list of the movies Warner was going to release over the next few months, and each owner would bid on the movies he wanted.

In the next paragraph, I’ve found interestig information about the infrastructure of Yahoo – keywords like servers, technlogy, redesigning a database, redesigning a user interface – all are rock solid keywords that should hopefully trigger ‘mediabot’ to deliver an interesting combnation of consumer products ads and advertising for high grade database and server technology.

    But now, despite Semel’s achievements in Hollywood and early success at Yahoo, Silicon Valley is buzzing with a familiar refrain: Wouldn’t an executive with a little more technology savvy be a better fit? Semel has been Yahoo’s CEO for nearly six years, yet he has never acquired an intuitive sense of the company’s plumbing. He understands how to do deals and partnerships, he gets how to market Yahoo’s brand, and he knows how to tap Yahoo’s giant user base to sell brand advertising to corporations. But the challenges of integrating two giant computer systems or redesigning a database or redoing a user interface? Many who have met with him at Yahoo say he still doesn’t know the right questions to ask about technology. “Terry could never pound the table and say, ‘This is where we need to go, guys,'”one former Yahoo executive says. “On those subjects, he always had to have someone next to him explaining why it was important.” One could have made a convincing argument two years ago that such deep technical knowledge didn’t matter much. But now we have empirical evidence: At Yahoo, the marketers rule, and at Google the engineers rule. And for that, Yahoo is finally paying the price

The Lesson endeth for today – tomorrow we will see the results and expand upon them to make some money πŸ™‚ Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t look like it’s worked at first – it can take 24 to 48 hours.. patience πŸ™‚

15 comments March 12th, 2007

Off Topic – Bad Cow Disease

When Cows go Bad

So the dog ate the chooks right?

One of best friends, Karthik, recently sent me an article from his local newspaper in Tamil Nadu, India.

It seems that a local farmer was distraught that his chickens were going missing – 48 in one month!

Fido, of course, was right at the top of the suspect list.

Wolf in Cow’s Clothing?

So Ajit Gosh and his family dutifully stood guard at the cow shed (which also served as a hen coop) one night, and watched in horror as the family’s sacred cow unwittingly spared rex from becoming the family’s next dodgy vindaloo –

“Instead of the dogs, we watched in horror as the calf, whom we had fondly named Lal, snuck to the coop, grabbed the little ones with the precision of a jungle cat and gobbled them up,” Gour Ghosh, his brother, said.

An Udder-ly Senseless Waste!

They might look cute, but this, if anything, goes to prove that the saying ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’ is not at all true. Behind those dulcet eyes lies a sophisticated and deadly predator.

Don’t believe me? The photo above was taken in Far North Queensland, Australia, an area populated with venomous snakes, spiders and other deadly hunters like the crocodile. But these folks aren’t so worried bout the crocs – nope, they know a real killer when they see one πŸ™‚


3 comments March 11th, 2007

BlixKrieg Minor Update Released

Hi everyone, hope you are well.

I’ve just implemented a minor update to my wordpress theme BlixKrieg. As always, the latest version is available for download at the wordpress Blix Krieg download site, here.

This minor update removes some code in the sidebar that causes a minor HTML validation error, and changes a reference URL in the footer from our old url ( – which I have redirected to one of my commercial sites for some much needed ‘link love’) to our newer version.

Because these changes are very minor, existing users need not update until our next major release.


Add comment March 11th, 2007

Pulling pages out of supplemental 101 – Test

This post follows on from my tutorial about pulling pages out of the supplemental index.

A reader at Google Webmaster Help Forums has asked me if it would be possible to post a link to his site about classical music to try and pull one of his pages out of the supplementals.

SMc writes:-

I have had difficulty with one page from my site that insists on staying in the supplemetal index. I had a mis typed URL that I subsequently made a 301 redirect back to the correct link. Now both the bad URL and the good are in and have remained in the supplemental for ages and I cant seem to shift it. Would it be possible for you to throw a link at that page for me to try to force it back out ?

Your site has a couple of other probs that may be causing the supps SMc (in particular check for suplicate content), but let’s try and see if it works.

Here is a link to SMc’s Classical Music Site – By the way SMc – some tips:-

  1. I don’t remember where it was that I read this, but google prefers short URL’s – the physical length of the URL, and ‘depth’ of the URL (depth of directories) should be kept to a minimum. If someone has a link I think it was Vanessa Fox that talked about that.
  2. You should keep the number of links on a page to less than 100, if possible (see Google’s Webmaster Guidelines) –
  3. Every page should be 2 or 3 links from the home page.
  4. Links from ‘related’ websites with high PR probably carry more weight than links from ‘unrelated’ sites (ie mine versus a music site).
  5. Use copyscape to check for duplicate content on your pages (see my primer on the causes of supplementals here).




Follow-up – it worked πŸ™‚


Add comment March 10th, 2007

Matt Cutts’s Blog is FUNFUGLY.

Matt Cutt’s blog is uglier than a lard bucket full of armpits

I was over at Matt Cutts’ Blog today for my latest dose of Google goodness when it struck me…

HECK! I’m at the most visited blog by the best known blogger from the worlds best known internet company, checking out all the great new innovations – and yet his blog is flaming ugly. I think that’s kinda cool πŸ™‚

Today I couldn’t restrain myself, so I left a message for him on his blog (in jest) suggesting that if he wants to modernize his blog he could always add a DOS-prompt. On further reflection, a midi version of the ‘Knight Rider’ theme as blog background music might be a great touch too :P.

My Mum always told me ‘Matthew, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’ – so maybe I should stop and ponder.. just for a moment..

Ok.. I pondered Mum.. The fact still remains – his site deserves a new word named after it.


    fun-fug-ly [fahn-fahg-lee] (adjective)

  1. functional and yet hideous; simultaneously of great practical use and odious to the eye; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing to look at to such an extent it would make a nun curse; ‘The Googlers website was quite funfugly.’
  2. fun to be around, yet not beautiful in the classical sense; ’16 beers and many laughs later and it had happened again. The photos proved my friends were right – s/he was funfugly’.
  3. designed by Engineers without artistic oversight;.
  4. [Origin: 2007, – ‘Matt Cutt’s Blog is FUNFUGLY‘]


This all got me thinking.. I reckon I might just start a competition for the world’s ugliest website.. I’m thinking right now about the selection criteria and will be back with a follow up post when I get one of those round tuit’s I’ve been looking for lately..

In the meantime, feel free to submit your votes for the funfugliest websites you’ve come across in your daily rounds…


theDuck / Dockarl

7 comments March 9th, 2007

Out Ranking Matt Cutts

A while ago one of my online buddies, JLH, wrote this tongue in cheek post (or should that be boast? πŸ™‚ ), in which he pointed out that he now outranked Google’s own famous Blogger, Matt Cutts for one of his posts.

JLH and I have been having a light-hearted game of one-upmanship for a while now (see the now infamous Banalities of Bananas post here, and my even more ridiculous second attempt to beat JLH on the lucrative ‘Banal Bananas’ keywords here). JLH ultimately prevailed in the Banal Bananas stakes, so I’ve been wracking my brains about ways to beat him since.. so JLH – here’s my chance to match you on this one…

We now outrank Matt Cutts for the search “How to get out of the supplemental index” – granted, it’s probably a temporary fluke, but I thought I’d get mileage from it while I can πŸ™‚

UtheGuru Beats Matt Cutts for Supplementals Post

Cheers and Have a great day,



Update – for the moment we seem to be holding in 2nd position for the above search, and getting some nice traffic too… must have done something right πŸ™‚



Add comment March 8th, 2007

Thankyou Everyone! – UtheGuru’s Second Month

YIPPEE! Today marks the end of our second month in operation.

I write about topics to do with blogging, search engine optimization and improving readership of your site – and I use this site as a ‘testbed’ for many of the strategies I talk about.

I figure that there’s no use talking the talk if you don’t walk the walk. so, here’s a little update about UtheGuru, how we’ve been going over the last month, and where we are heading.

Our Second Month

I gave my regular readers a little update about progress of this blog about a month ago – just a rewind – At that stage, utheguru had the following stats:-

In this, our first month of operation, this blog has gone from nothing to around 350 unique visitors a day, has just hit the magic 1000 inlinks stage, and continues to grow extremely rapidly.

I’m glad to say that the trend has continued:-

  • Recently, we reached 100 unique blogs linking to us in technorati.
  • We now have 8000 sites / pages linking to us directly according to yahoo – an 8 fold increase in one month.
  • New pages from this site regularly rate in the top ten searches on Google for my intended keywords / keyphrases.
  • Google is crawling the site more regularly, and new pages tend to be listed within a day of posting, which is a great improvement.
  • Over 90% of our content pages are in the ‘main index’ – previously many new pages dropped straight into supplementals – so this is a great improvement.
  • Daily readership has doubled, and around 20% of our visitors are repeat offenders, which is heart warming.


Some readers have recommended that I should add a user forum to this site. I’m liking the idea, as I reckon it would be a great way to hear more of your voices / questions on this site and get more reader participation.

Having said that, I’ve made the mistake of starting a forum too early on another of my sites, and I’d hate it to be there with no users. I’ll make a promise – when we reach 3000 unique visitors a day, I’ll launch a forum. We’re at about 1000 at present, so we’ll see how long that takes


WordPress comes with user comments no-followed by default. As you can probably gather from my post about no-follow, I’m not exactly a fan of it. As such, I’ve now implemented a policy similar to JLH’s Do-Follow Policy – All url’s in comments posted on this site will now carry link weight (for pagerank purposes) after 14 days – meaning you can increase pagerank for your favourite sites (and your own) by posting comments on this site.

The 14 day ‘probation’ is so that I have time to remove spammy comments that don’t add to the discussion.


Well, it is an aim of mine to make income from this blog. This month has seen a noticeable increase in Adsense income – we’ve gone from two pinches of salt to three πŸ˜› .

Adsense CTR seems to be much lower on ‘technical’ sites like this than other sites, but I’ve found that by writing some articles as beginner tutorials, I’ve been able to improve this.

And anyway – income at this stage is a minor consideration with this blog – I’m more interested during this early phase in building readership, gaining pagerank (through people linking to my site) and getting a good search engine presence. So far, those aims have met with success.

Over the next month, regular readers will notice that I’ll be starting to include a few more ‘off-topic’ posts – these will be things like discussions about technical gear and other things that are likely to build the readership, and bring in a wider demographic – whilst also hopefully improving the CTR.

I’ve also gained income from helping users of my theme ‘BlixKrieg’ and others with general customization and SEO advice – thanks to those folks for their support, and I’ll be announcing a new service shortly that will expand upon that theme.

Readers and Participation are Everything!

I continue to be grateful to those members that regularly email me and write comments in support of this site – it’s really great to see people getting interactive and writing down their points of view.

Thanks Folks! I appreciate you heaps, and look forward to giving another update soon πŸ™‚

1 comment March 8th, 2007

How to Count Inlinks / Backlinks to Your Site using Yahoo

What are inlinks (Backlinks)?

Inlinks (also known as backlinks) are an important measure of the ‘popularity’ of your site – the greater the number of other sites that link to you, the more likely it is that you will have a high Pagerank (PR – see a definition of pagerank here).

Does Google show Backlinks I have to my site?

Yes, but not accurately. There are two main ways:-

  • You can use the link: modifier in a google search (eg but it’s known far and wide as being very inaccurate – in fact google claims that it is deliberately inaccurate.
  • You can also use Google Webmaster Tools, and the ‘links tab’ in those tools, but these are also known to be out of date and inaccurate.

A More Accurate Backlink Count – Yahoo Site Explorer

Yahoo, in my honest opinion, has the most up-to-date way of counting links to your site – it is called Yahoo Site Explorer.

How to use Yahoo Site Explorer to Count Inlinks (Backlinks)

Here’s a brief step by step guide to using this Yahoo Site Explorer Feature. (You can click on the thumbnails to get a full size view).

Step 1 – go to and enter site: followed by the name of your site in the search box (eg This will take you to Site Explorer.

Step 1 - go to yahoo and enter your site.

Step 2 – At the top left hand side above the search results, click on ‘inlinks’

Step 2 - Select inlinks.

Step 3 – In the Leftmost ‘Show Links’ Box, click on ‘except from this domain’ – This stops Yahoo from including links from within your own site.

Step 4 - Choose Whether you want to show inlinks to your entire site, or just this page.

Step 4 – In the next drop down box across (to:), click on either ‘Entire Site’ or ‘Only This URL’ – I’d suggest ‘Entire Site’ is best, but you can check links to individual URL’s using the other option, which can be handy.

Step 3 - Use the drop down menu to exclude inlinks from your own site.

Step 5 – Voila! You can now see how many inlinks you have, and where they come from.

Step 5 - Voila! Your inlinks.

Other Tools

I have a WordPress Plugin that will give you a count of other sites linking to you automatically – it’s called the wordpress yahoo sidebar widget, and you can see it here.

30 comments March 7th, 2007

Targeting Ads – Google Adsense Tips, Tricks n Latest Gossip Part 2

Adsense and Off-Topic Ads

So, you’ve got your blog / website, you’ve signed up for adsense, and you’re all ready to make money – but you keep getting weird, off-topic ads.

This is part two of my series about Tips and Tricks with Google Adsense (see part one here), and I’m going to use it to tell you about something called Adsense Section Targeting. First up, I’m going to give you a few insights I gathered from Michael Gutner (Partner Manager, Google) during my recent conversation with him.

How Google Adsense Works

When you place adsense ads on your site, an automated software robot (called ‘mediapartners’) usually comes to look at the content of your new page within a few minutes. This content is then run through a rather complex algorithm. The algorithm looks at things like:-

  • The textual content of your page.
  • Keyword Density (ie, what words and phrases appear regularly on your page)
  • What sites your page links to.
  • Your pages header, and keywords in the url.

Once that’s been done, adsense tries to work out what your page is about, and then, according to Michael, it aims to display the ads that will maximise your income by a combination of these two factors:-

  1. Presenting ads that are contextually relevant to the content of your page, and therefore likely to be clicked (called a high click through ratio, or CTR).
  2. Presenting ads with the highest possible return per click (called effective Cost Per 1000 impressions, or eCPM).

When Adsense Gets it Wrong

Sometimes, however, adsense seems to get the whole show wrong. As an example, I recently wrote a story about getting pages out of Google’s supplemental index, in which I talked about ‘infant pages’.

Next time I looked, I had ads on that page about colic and baby products.

Does this mean that Google thinks my page is about infants? NO – the adsense robot is a completely seperate entity to the google indexing robot – and I don’t think it works quite as hard at times to work out the real context of a page.

So, probably what has happened is that the adsense robot has checked my whole page and figured out that serving ads for the keyword ‘infant’ would be great, because it is a lucrative keyword.

What’s a lucrative keyword? Well it’s like this – advertisers compete for keywords – in a kind of automated auction – so if I’m wanting to sell acme widgets, and I know I make $1000 per widget, I’m likely to pay more for ads to appear on pages with the keyword ‘widget’ than someone who sells less profitable ajax brand widgets.

It seems that ‘infant’ is probably a lucrative keyword, and in a perfect world, I’d get really high earnings from having ads about infants on my page.

That’s really clever, in a way, but really, it’s quite obvious to me as a human being that the technical types on my site are probably quite unlikely to be looking for baby products, so my CTR (number of clicks per 100 ‘views’) is going to be quite poor.

Adsense is a computer algorithm, not a human, so it’s ocassionally going to make slip-ups – that’s a given.

So, to get more contextually relevant ads on that page, I can either remove the keyword that’s confusing adsense, or I can use a relatively new tool from Adsense – enter, stage right, a little thing called Adsense Section Targeting.

(stay tuned – more on this shortly)

4 comments March 7th, 2007

Supplementals and the Supplemental Index – a Primer

One of the most annoying (and mysterious) of all seo problems for many bloggers and website owners is the dreaded supplemental index.

In this tutorial / primer, I’m going to aim to give you an idea of what supplementals are, why they occur, how to identify them and how to solve the problems associated with them.

What is a Supplemental?

A supplemental result is defined by Google as follows:-

A supplemental result is just like a regular web result, except that it’s pulled from our supplemental index. We’re able to place fewer restraints on sites that we crawl for this supplemental index than we do on sites that are crawled for our main index. For example, the number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in our main index; however, it could still be crawled and added to our supplemental index.

So, translated into plain english, supplementals are those pages that Google considers not important enough to include in their main index, but not bad / useless enough to not bother indexing at all.

How do I know if I have supplementals?

Firstly, go to and enter the search (replace with your own url). The site: in front of your url is known as a search modifier – there are lots of different search modifiers, but in this case we’re using the site: modifier to tell google to return all pages it has indexed from

There are a few misconceptions about what constitutes a supplemental result. Some people think that supplementals are what is returned when you click on the “repeat the search with the omitted results included” link at the end of a google search. This is not the case.

That link actually shows ‘similar’ content that google thinks might not be relevant to your search, and that content can be supplemental, or non-supplemental in nature.

Actually, a supplemental result is one where the words “Supplemental Result” appear just under the ‘snippet’ (the short description of a site) in a google search. The supplemental results usually appear in the later pages of a site: search, following the main indexed pages. If you click on the thumbnail below, you can see examples of both.

Google Site Search Instructions

Why Do I have Supplemental Results?

Supplementals usually occur for one of the following reasons (in order of increasing likelihood):-

Duplicate content from other sites – have you quoted content from other peoples websites? Does this content make up a large proportion of your page?

Google has sophisticated duplicate content filters that will detect this – remember, it’s ok to quote other sites, but make sure you also have enough good original content on your site to ensure google doesn’t think you are just plagiarising.

A general rule is no more than 50% of any given page should be quotes.If you are concerned about whether you may have too much duplicate content, head over to a site called copyscape ( and run your page through their tool.

Duplicate content from your own site – it is a sad fact that many content management systems (CMS) are great at helping beginners spend their time writing great original content rather than trying to learn web-design and html, but really lag behind when it comes to being search engine friendly.

WordPress is one example of a CMS, and it will generally put duplicates of your content all over the joint – for instance, you’ll find this article on the front page of my blog, under the SEO discussions category, and in the archive for March on this site, and they’ll all have different URL’s.Find out about avoiding duplicate content in CMS like wordpress here.

Another cause of duplicate content can be Canonicalization issues – that is where the www and non-www versions of your site are indexed as seperate websites, when in fact they are the same. read more about them in our primer on canonicalization issues here.

Not enough pagerank – is your site more than a few months old? Do you have many other sites linking to you?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s likely that you are in the ‘sandbox’, a kind of purgatory between being indexed and being deindexed.

Some people claim the ‘sandbox’ is an actual step one needs to go through (ie 3 months of not being indexed) while Google gains trust in your site, but that’s just not the case – it’s more about how many people link to you rather than any deliberate ‘temporary ban’ on indexing for new sites.

Don’t believe me? I have one site ( which is almost entirely supplemental – that’s because it is very much a ‘niche’ site, and I haven’t bothered working on it too much – it’s been in the supplementals for months and months – eventually, one day, when it gets enough people linking to it, it will suddenly pop into the main index.

This site ( is almost entirely indexed, and was within weeks of me starting it. Why? because it has content that other sites like linking to – as a result, Google considers it an important site, and makes pages I write available in their main index within days.

Is Having Supplementals a Bad Thing?

It can be. Are you presenting ‘niche’ content? If that’s the case, your pages will still be returned as answers to a google search whether they are supplemental or not.

If you are presenting mainstream content, supplementals can be a very bad thing. They make it very unlikely that your pages will be returned by a google search (other than using the site: modifier) at all.

Some people say that once your pages are in the supplemental index, they’ll be there for at least three months (until ‘supplemental bot’ comes for a visit) or perhaps forever. This may have been true in the past, but not anymore. Whether the supplemental index is the end of the road for your site is completely up to you.

My advice? Everyone should aim to have at least 80% of their ‘content’ pages in the main index. It is not that difficult to do.

Supplementals 101 – Bot Behaviour

First, a bit of ‘bot behavioural psychology’ :). I’ve been observing bot behaviour on this site, and others, for many years. During that time I’ve noticed they tend to behave in a set pattern:-

Bot behaviour and the ‘Infant Site’

  • When a site is first submitted, the bots will come and have a fairly deep look at the site, and usually within a few weeks you’ll find your index page listed.
  • From that point on, bots will continue to visit regularly, to check for interesting new content, but they seem unusually reticent to add new content to the google index.
  • At this early stage, it’s very difficult to get anything other than your main page indexed.
  • Googlebot will keep on visiting your site pretty regularly, and at some stage or another you’ll notice some of your other pages appearing in the index, but they will be mainly supplemental.
  • This frustrating cycle will continue forever unless you get the bot really interested by achieving a ‘threshold’ of new inlinks.
  • Once a site has a ‘threshold number of inlinks’ the bot will start to treat your site as ‘an adolescent site’.

Bot behaviour and the ‘Adolescent Site’

  • A site reaches adolescence when it has achieved a threshold number of other sites linking to it – this number doesn’t necessarily have to be large – even 1 link from an ‘authority site’ (page rank 3 or higher) seems to be enough to get a site to this stage.
  • During this stage, ‘deep crawls’ of the site become more frequent.
  • New pages appear in the Google index rapidly after they have been crawled, and usually get a ‘honeymoon’ period – Google figures it will give your new pages the benefit of the doubt, and lists your new page in the main index until it has done a thorough crawl of other sites, and seen whether other pages link to it or not.
  • If Google can’t find other sites linking to your new page, it will often drop back to supplemental status within a few days to a week.
  • During adolescence, the majority of your pages will be in supplementals, and you’ll find that those pages that are indexed are pages that have been directly linked to by other sites.

Bot behaviour and the ‘Mature Site’

  • At some stage Googlebot starts to get really interested in your site, crawls become much more regular, and virtually all new original content is indexed.I’ve heard people say that this is due to the ‘trust factor’ – which I suspect is probably a combination of number and quality of other sites linking to yours, and number of clicks to your site from google searches, indicating relevance.That is the stage this site (utheguru) has now reached, and I generally find any new article I write is included in the main index within a day, and stays there, irregardless of whether other sites link directly to it or not.
  • I call this stage ‘the mature site’, and this is where you should aim to be. Don’t listen to people who say it’s hard – this site is only 2 months old.

In part 2 of this article, I provide strategies that will help you get your pages out of the supplemental index quickly. You can read the next stage of this article here.

{Other Search Phrases – supplemental hell and the mispelt version supplimentals.}

7 comments March 5th, 2007

WordPress Version 2.1.1 Hacked – MAJOR VULNERABILITY ALERT

Hi everyone – I just thought I’d let you know about an urgent notice from wordpress that I have been advised about.

It seems that about 3 days ago, a hacker infiltrated the wordpress servers, and inserted a vulnerability in WordPress version 2.1.1 which allows the hacker to execute php code of his or her liking on your server – potentially very dangerous indeed.

If you have recently updated your blog to wordpress version 2.1.1, please immediately upgrade to 2.1.2 – as per this WORDPRESS EXPLOIT ALERT.

In general, WordPress are asking ALL users running 2.1.1 to upgrade immediately.



7 comments March 4th, 2007

“Rel=nofollow” steals from the good, do-follow is robin hood.

Did you know that it is possible to ‘steal pagerank‘ by ‘comment spamming‘ – for those of you who aren’t familiar, a few definitions:-

PagerankPageRank aka PR is one of the methods Google uses to determine the relevance or importance of a Web page. PageRank is a vote, by all the other Web pages on the Internet, about how important a Web page is. A link to a Web page counts as a vote of support. If there are no incoming links to a Web page then there is no support.

Comment Spam – Link spam (also called blog spam or comment spam) is a form of spamming or spamdexing that recently became publicized most often when targeting weblogs (or blogs), but also affects wikis (where it is often called wikispam), guestbooks, and online discussion boards. Any web application that displays hyperlinks submitted by visitors or the referring URLs of web visitors may be a target.

in short, it is possible to use ‘comment spam’ to gain pagerank by writing comments linking back to your own website or blog on high PR blogs, forums and websites that allow user comments.
Great right? not necessarily. The ‘gotcha’ is that it can reduce the PR of the originating blog through a process known as ‘bleeding pagerank‘. In effect, these user contributed comments look to Google like a ‘vote’ for the target web-page by the originating webpage.

Enter stage right, the NOFOLLOW attribute. Nofollow was introduced to allow website owners to ‘choose’ which links on their pages should be counted as ‘votes’ for pagerank calculation – as per this background to nofollow from Google.

For that reason and others, we’ve recently seen a number of large websites implement no-follow on the majority of posts (wikepedia is a prominent example) and wordpress is now setup to ‘nofollows’ all user comments by default.

So why do I care? Well, I think it’s well accepted that the introduction of nofollow has caused huge fluctuations in the search engine positioning of various websites, as the effect of this change has filtered through the google index.. a bit like the ‘butterfly effect’, such changes to a well establised algorithm can amplify throughout the system and cause something called ‘hysterisis’ – or instability in the algorithm – while the whole system gets back to some form equillibrium.

I wouldn’t mind betting a million bucks that a large proportion of sites that are reporting huge recent drops in their search engine rankings are probably victims of this effect – even if your own site didn’t rely to a great extent on wikipedia links or comment spam links for its page rank, it could be quite possible that a website that links to you did – and so on ad-infinitum.

As for any system in a state of flux, I’d predict the google index will reach a new equillibrium relatively quickly (at least in a few months) and people will adapt new ways of gaining pagerank – but as someone with experience in this area (I did a lot of work that used similiar types of ‘reward algorithms’ as google in my previous incarnation as an Agricultural Scientist).

I see unintended side effects of this change down the track – here’s a little extract from a note I wrote to a Googler recently:-

Your previous missives about nofollow spoke of the fact that it is a great thing, and that backlinks can be built by other white-hat SEO techniques. I’d have to say that, in a lot of cases (one example would be a blog) the backlinks actually only start to build once the content is searchable, so those of us that have rapidly evolving sites designed to answer questions of the moment never ever get listed, even though they provide great answers and unique information – comments on blogs, for example.

My basic feeling is that the big, older, more well established domains are getting bigger and the smaller ones are getting smaller because they never get a chance to have their pages crawled because they are either nofollowed or put in supplemental hell because of ‘a small number of backlinks’, which will only get worse with nofollow.

Could be worthy of a future article – are we getting supp’d because G thinks we are spammers, or are we getting Supp’d because of some other reason? It’s a massive problem that’s diluting the value of Google, for research purposes imho.

Your second point, about not giving any value to links from Blogs is another thing about the (apparent) algo of Google that I find flawed (apart from the growing incidence of supp’s).

In my daily life as a computer and communications engineer with a fairly tangential degree (agricultural science) as well, I’ve learnt a fair bit about gathering information. Obviously, in science in general, the tradition has been that knowledge is built up through lit review and original research.

The original research is then recorded in peer reviewed papers. Any good scientist knows that a good paper is one that references to as many other papers about the topic as possible. This means that that paper can be a first stop for anyone wanting to know what work has been done before in the area of research.

If you take this model, and apply it to the google algo, the lit review is the google search, the peer review is the comments, the paper is the blog, and the references are the forward links.

Google is about information, and building knowledge. For hundreds and hundreds of years, humanity has built knowledge using the above peer review system. It works.

So, what am I getting at – 3 things –

  1. Blogs are pretty damn close to the peer review system, closer than static pages, IMHO.
    By no-following links, bloggers and Google risk penalizing new knowledge rather than encouraging it.
  2. Google needs to consider the effect this will have on its algorithm – new sites and people with great ideas need to be indexed to provide more balanced content and move information forward, rather than remaining static

I also spoke in my letter about the fact that I believe that sites should be rewarded, not penalized, under the PR system for linking to other sites with great information. To an extent I think they already probably are –

I’ll write more about my thoughts tomorrow in part two of this article –



10 comments March 3rd, 2007

How to show your indexed pages..

I know this one will be fairly elementary to alot of our readers, but there was a question on the Google Webmaster Help forum recently about how to show which pages google has indexed from your site.

The answer isn’t hard – you simply use the site modifier in a google – so, for instance, to see my indexed pages – type in google search.

There is one ‘gotcha’ however – often google doesn’t show ‘all’ the pages it has indexed – to show them all, you need to go right through to the very last indexed page, and you’ll see a link to show all the pages – the picture (which you can click on to enlarge) below should make it self explanatory.

You’ll note I’ve circled some supplemental pages – these are pages that google, for whatever reason, doesn’t think are really ‘up to scratch’ for inclusion in their main index. You can find out more about supplementals in my other articles here



Google Site Search Instructions

Add comment March 2nd, 2007

Google Reinclusion – Tips and FAQ

Many people have a bit of trouble trying to find where to request reinclusion in Google Webmaster Tools – There’s a picture of the relevant page at the end of this post to save trying to explain it in words πŸ™‚

Click on the picture for a full size version.

A reinclusion request can be useful if:-

  • You have taken over a website, which has been banned or is under penalty, and you want to request that Google gives you a ‘clean slate’
  • You’ve done something that violates the Google Webmaster Guidelines and want to plead your case for reinclusion or a removal of any ‘penalties’ that you believe you may have incurred.

My tips? Be succinct, honest and outline in dot points what you have done to make sure that your site is now more worthy of being reincluded in the google index.

I’ve found that whilst they don’t usually provide a personal answer, banned sites are reinstated within about 30 days of such requests, if you’ve made a strong argument.



Where to request reinclusion?

3 comments March 1st, 2007

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