Free eBook on best performing Ad placements for Chitika and AdSense untis

Get Chitika PremiumChitika, the search targeted advertisement network is offering a free guide (eBook) for making the most out of Chitika Premium and AdSense.

The book analyzes various medium to large websites and provides valuable suggestions for optimal  & harmonious placement of Chitika and AdSense advertisement blocks on your website leading to greater revenues.

Also provided are tips for customizing the Chitika ads (color palettes, fonts etc.) through code as well as heatmaps of high CTR (Click-Through-Rate) locations.

You can download this free eBook from here.

For those who haven’t tried out Chitika yet, Chitika Premium ads are displayed only to visitors coming to your site from search engine results pages. In contrast with the contextual AdSense ads that depend upon your site’s content, these ads are relevant only to the searched keywords. For example, if you searched for “technology” on any of the major search engines and landed on a post in this site, here’s what you’ll see…

selfmademinds-chitika

On this site, Chitika Premium ads are displayed immediately following a post’s content. However, the target segment is visitors from the US. Hence to see these ads in action, you’ll have to visit this live demonstration link. Alternatively, they can also be viewed by appending a #chitikatest=keyword(s) at the end of any post’s URL.

Get Chitika PremiumIf you’re interested in serving Chitika Premium ads on your website, you can do so by signing up as a publisher with them.

Google gets a new favicon

Google's Old and New FaviconsWoke up this morning to upload the theme and noticed a strange new icon in some of the tabs. Didn’t spare a second glance at them till much later.. when I decided to see what lay behind those strange new tabs. To my surprise, they were Google Search results …branded with a new logo. It’s quite a far departure from the earlier blockish icon they had – and it’s going to take some time to get into that familiarity mode with it. This definitely was one of the “lesser” surprise changes on part of Google.

The differences

As you’ll notice from the picture I’ve compiled, while the earlier one had distinctly defined edges with a solid white background, the new one has a hint of gradient in the background with no hard-edges. The icon is also transparent and looks pretty cool on a backdrop of any given colour (except a close shade of blue or course – where it’s rendered almost invisible). This shouldn’t be of any major concern to Google as the icon is supposed to appear only in the browsers address bar, which in 90% of cases sports a white background. Google’s new fancy seems to be rounded-corners and this icon is no exception. The upper-cased “G” has fallen out of favour for it’s lower-cased counterpart – “g”.

Shortly after this I was hunting for any other news articles when I came across one from Google Blogoscoped in my feed reader. They’re wondering if Google is undergoing a large-scale re-branding while sticking to their self-proclaimed core value of Thinking and Acting like an underdog.

Free SEO ranking techniques not working for you? Try Apogee

Apogee LogoLets say, you own a web-based business that isn’t working all that well. You don’t seem to get too many hits from the major search engines, despite trying out all the “proven” SEO techniques you dug up from the net. Your best bet under such circumstances is to turn to professional help – like Apogee Search – who can get your business into the limelight in no time.

The company has been around since 2001 and has evolved to become one of top 25 search engine marketing firms in the world. Apogee’s SEO can lead your site to be ranked at the top of today’s most popular natural search engines. Increased RevenuesThe increased visibility leads to more sales which in turn enables your business’s market share to grow by leaps and bounds.

Apogee handles the bulk of San Antonio SEO. San Antonio is a booming market for small, local businesses. Applying their domain of expertise (paid search, natural search, affiliate marketing, pay-per-call etc.), Apogee has put many of these small businesses online and helped them gain a stronghold in an ever expanding market.

They’ve an active blog that covers the latest and hottest search engine marketing news and events. Even if you aren’t availing their services, their articles can provide you with many helpful pointers & insights. If you wish to sample their services, you can always order a free Search Marketing Analysis of your site anytime.

To sum it all, Apogee is a trusted partner who can help squeeze the most out of your marketing dollar and quickly raise your revenues to the next level.

Xinu: Your one-stop SEO shop

Xinu LogoWell, almost ! Xinu is this great new “Jack-of-all-trades” tool that analyses and returns a horde of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) related information regarding your site, neatly stacked in a single page. A real time-saver if you ask me.

All you go to do is enter your site’s URL and hit Go. The results are fetched using AJAX – so you don’t have to suffer long wait periods while all the factors are summed up and displayed. In fact, the interface comes up with pre-created tables and SEO factor titles, where the values are simply plugged-in later on.

Among the results provided are:

  • Screen-shot of your site
  • A mini site diagnosis involving your URL’s difficulty-to-remember score, site title score (based on the number of words), keywords & description, HTML file size, number of each types of tags etc. Surprisingly, this section reported that my site doesn’t have a favicon and I need to get one, whereas you can see mine (the blue flask) the moment you land-up at my site.
  • A small domain panel that shows the IP your domain resolves to, the country where your host is located, the site author’s name and if possible the age of the domain.
  • A site ranking panel that displays you Google PageRank, Technorati rank, Alexa Traffic rank as well as the number of DMOZ listings.
  • Couple of lines of information on the type of syndication (feeds) offered by your site and the number of subscribers.
  • Number of inbound links from various well-known Social Bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, Digg, Clipmarks as well as from lesser-known ones like Mister Wong, Meneame etc.
  • Site markup validity information broken up into HTML, CSS and Feeds.
  • Number of indexed pages on Google, Yahoo and Live.
  • Lastly, the number of backlinks from all major search engines like Google, Yahoo, AllTheWeb, AskJeeves etc.

Xinu Interface Screenshot

All in all a pretty good tool – although a bit buggy in places. Hopefully, they’ll fix these soon. What I like best about Xinu is that you can stop scampering around half of the internet just to check on all the important SEO aspects of your site.

Calculate your site’s SEO Score with Website Grader

Website Grader LogoIf you’re a webmaster and run your own site, Website Grader can count as a brand new yet invaluable addition to your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) toolbox. The site takes your own site’s URL as an input and provides a Percentile SEO Score (on a scale of 100) along with a comprehensive report that tells you the SEO pros and cons of your site.

Additionally, you can enter your keywords/keyphrases along with your competitors URLs to get a relative feedback on your site’s marketing effectiveness.

My blog, Chaos Laboratory, got a score of 96/100. That means my site has a marketing effectiveness that is higher than 96% of all other sites submitted to this service.

A website grade of 96 for chaos-laboratory.com means that of the thousands of websites that have previously been submitted to the tool, our algorithm has calculated that this site scores higher than 96% of them in terms of its marketing effectiveness. The algorithm uses a proprietary blend of over a dozen different variables, including search engine data, website structure, approximate traffic, site performance, and others.

By submission, they mean the first time a site’s URL is entered at Website Grader, following which the data is kept stored in their database and matched against all such similarly submitted sites. This also means that the SEO Score for this site isn’t constant – and may vary from time to time depending on the quality of other sites submitted sooner or later.

The only warning I received was regarding the high number of meta keywords I have in my site header.

We believe that though the search engines don’t weigh keywords as heavily as they used to, they’re still important to get right. By using a high number of keywords, it is possible that you are diluting the effect of your most important keywords. We would suggest keeping the keywords to 10 or less. Currently, this site has 21 keywords in the meta-data.

The site sports a simplistic Web 2.0 AJAX based interface and there’s a membership feature, which helps you keep track of your SEO Score as well as get detailed reports mailed to you.

Website Grader is a free service (as of now) and I don’t see any mentions of a paid high-end counterpart anywhere on the site. This can definitely act as a free but great alternative to the Sitescore and the SEOMoz Page Strength tools – which have retracted their free services (at least Sitescore did while SEOMoz has reserved the updated analysis feature for premium subscribers only).

Found via: Quick Online Tips, Our Website SEO Grade is 98/100

Firefox OpenSearch Plug-in Samples for a wide variety of sites

OpenSearch LogoFollowing the tutorial(s) I posted on creating OpenSearch plug-ins for Firefox that can search Invision Power Board based forums & WordPress blogs, I received quite a few requests for help in creating such plug-ins for a wide variety of blogs/CMS/sites.

To make the job easier for all of you, I decided to create a couple of sample plug-ins, which I’ll list here as zip files. The zip will contain…

  • An XML file – which contains the actual plug-in code
  • A sample HTML file, which shows how to display a plug-in installation link on your site, as well as how to enable auto-discovery of the same by Firefox & IE7

Simply go through those files and replace the appropriate fields. In most cases, all you’ll need to modify is the actual URL to your site and the Author details. While setting up the plug-in at your site, feel free to put your name as the author’s name in it. No credits are required 🙂

I’ll try to cover as much ground as possible and update this list frequently. At the moment, the list isn’t so “wide” as I claimed in the title 😀 and if you don’t find a suitable plug-in here, check back at a later point of time, or just drop me a line at:

My email address

To start with, I’ll list the plug-ins I’ve received the maximum number of requests for…

Plug-ins List

Content Management Systems

  1. Mambo CMS based Sites
  2. Joomla CMS based Sites

Bulletin Board Systems

  1. Invision Power Board based Forums

Blog Softwares

  1. WordPress based Blogs

Miscellaneous Sites

  1. iPodNova Torrent Search
  2. BlogSpot based Blogs
  3. PsyDB – Psychedelic Trance Database

On Creating an OpenSearch Plug-in for WordPress (for Firefox & IE7)

In my earlier tutorial titled Creating OpenSearch Plugins for Firefox (adds to the QuickSearch bar) I taught you how to write a basic OpenSearch XML format plug-in that can be used with both Firefox 2.x and IE7. The demonstrated example consisted of creating a plug-in that searches through Invision Power Boards.

As an afterthought, I felt like coming up with another quick tutorial on creating the same for WordPress. I won’t spend any time on explaining the components of the plug-in and hence you’re advised to go through the tutorial first before continuing with this. This post is merely an example of how-to modify the code shown earlier on to perform searches on WordPress.

If you ever notice the URL in the address bar when you perform searches using the internal search engine of WordPress, you’ll find the the index.php page is being called along with a variable called “s“, which contains the keywords. Say for instance, you are searching for the term “Firefox” .. the syntax will be …

http://www.domain.com/index.php?s=Firefox

If you refer to the tutorial you’ll see that we can pass on variable-value combinations to a URL using the Param tags. That’s the only parameter you need to pass for WordPress searches. I’ll cite the XML code of my site’s plug-in as an example. It should be self-explanatory.


	ChaosLab
	Chaos Laboratory: Blog Search
	miCRoSCoPiC^eaRthLinG
	microscopic.earthling@gmail.com
	open
	false
	en-us
	UTF-8
	UTF-8
	
	http://www.chaos-laboratory.com/favicon.ico
	
		
	
	http://www.chaos-laboratory.com/index.php

Notice, how I’m passing the keywords in the form of the dynamic variable {searchTerms}.

Any questions ??

Tutorial: Creating OpenSearch Plugins for Firefox (adds to the QuickSearch bar)

A brief introduction

This tutorial will attempt to explain in a simple manner how to create an OpenSearch plug-in for Firefox. These plug-ins appear in a drop-down menu in the Firefox Quick-Search bar (located right of the URL/Address bar) and help you perform quick searches across various search engines without having to visit the search page first. Pretty neat, eh?

These search plug-ins were in existence (for Firefox) for a long time. But only with the introduction of Firefox 2.0, the OpenSearch standards have been adopted.

OpenSearch is a collection of simple formats for the sharing of search results.

The OpenSearch description document format can be used to describe a search engine so that it can be used by search client applications.

The OpenSearch response elements can be used to extend existing syndication formats, such as RSS and Atom, with the extra metadata needed to return search results.

The example I’m going to demonstrate searches Invision Power Board (Bulletin Board System). You can make this plug-in perform searches on virtually any other Blogs / Bulletin Board / Content Management System / Search Engine with just some minor modifications in the way the search URL (along with keywords) is sent to the search engine. Here’s a screen-shot of two such plug-ins I’ve created for Astahost & Trap17 forums powered by IPB (Invision Power Board).

OpenSearch Plug-ins Dropdown List

Advantages

There are quite a few advantages of shifting to the new OpenSearch format for these plug-ins, namely …

  • OpenSearch plug-ins are universally supported across many browsers & search clients. Specially worth a mention here are Firefox and IE7 !!
  • OpenSearch supports Autodiscovery of the plug-in, which means you don’t really have to instruct the user to click on a link on your site to install the plug-in. The search client can auto-discover the plug-in script based on a link provided between the HEAD tags of the page.If you wish to, the old-school click & install method can still be implemented.
  • A lot of recent Blogs / CMS / BBS etc. softwares have started supporting the OpenSearch API, which provides a flexible common standard for XML based searches. A list of such software can be found here.

Without further ado, lets get down to business …

The actual plug-in

The OpenSearch plug-ins consist of a single XML file called the OpenSearch Description File. It follows a very simple syntax as shown below:


	engineName
	engineDescription
	inputEncoding
	outputEncoding
	
	
		
		
	
	searchFormURL

Most of the tags here need to be customised according to the Search Engine you’re going to use with the plug-in. Here’s what you need to modify here.

engineName

engineName enclosed within the ShortName tags specifies the name of the Search Engine as it’ll show up in the dropdown list. Replace this with the name of your Search Engine.

engineDescription

engineDescription enclosed within the Description tags shows up as a brief description of the Search Engine. Replace this with a suitable description.

inputEncoding

inputEncoding enclosed within the InputEncoding tags declares the encoding to use for search string / keywords you provide for a search. The search string is encoded in this format prior to sending to the Search Engine. Your best best is to use UTF-8 here to declare it as Unicoded text that’ll cover the whole Unicode Character Set.

outputEncoding

outputEncoding, enclosed within the OutputEncoding tags acts similar to InputEncoding and declares the character set to be used for producing the search results output. Even here the best used option is UTF-8.

Image

Enclosed within the Image tags, this specifies the image / icon to be used for the Search Engine. This icon turns up next to the search engine name in the dropdown list and also shows up to the left of the quick-search bar. The image is usually in a 16 x 16 pixels format.

The image data can be provided in two formats:

  1. As a direct URL link to the location of the image file (gif/jpg/png etc.)
  2. As base64 encoded data which can be embedded in the plug-in directly. This I believe, is a more elegant way of doing it. However, I couldn’t make it work properly for me. The image simply refused to turn up and hence I’d to resort to method 1.There’s a very good tool at URI Kitchen that encodes any uploaded image in base64 format. The encoded data can then be directly embedded in the plug-in.

Url

Enclosed within the Url tags, this provides the actual location of the Search Engine page. The method attribute defines whether to use GET or POST for fetching the data, while the template attribute points to the location of the search query page. NOTE, that IE7 doesn’t support the POST method and hence to make your plug-in compatible with both IE7 and Firefox, you should ideally use GET here.

Param

Further nested within the Url tags lie a series of Param tags which have two attributes – a name and a value. These act as parameters which are passed to the search engine while performing a query. This too, isn’t supported in IE7. However, you can use a dynamic variable called {searchTerms} to pass on keywords.

Say for instance, I’m searching Invision Power Board based forums. The standard search string in IP takes the format,

http://www.domain.com/index.php?act=Search&CODE=show&searchid=xxx&search_in=posts&result_type=topics&highlite=keywords

If you study the URL carefully, you’ll notice that there are a couple of variables like act, CODE etc. which appear every time along with same values. You can use Param tags to define key-value pairs for these variables, which will then be passed onto the Search Engine during a query.

The actual search keywords (as mentioned before) are available through a variable called {searchTerms}. IPB supports a variable called keywords in the search string and hence you can define a key-value pair like…


… to pass the keywords. Here’s a full working example of the plug-in I created for Astahost forums…


	AstaHost
	AstaHost: Search the Forums
	miCRoSCoPiC^eaRthLinG
	microscopic.earthling@gmail.com
	open
	false
	en-us
	UTF-8


UTF-8 

	http://plugins.astahost.com/splugins/astahost.gif
	





 
	
http://www.astahost.com/index.php

Here you’ll notice several other tags like Developer, Contact, SyndicationRight, AdultContent etc. which I haven’t discussed in this article. A detailed outline of all the OpenSearch tags can be found at: OpenSearch Description Elements.

Autodiscovery

If you recall I’d discussed a feature called Autodiscovery earlier on. This helps search clients automatically discover a plug-in embedded in your page. The process is quite simple. All you’ve to do is include a special LINK statement in the HEAD part of your page.

  

You simply need to modify the title and the href link to the actual plug-in file.When you visit a site with the plug-ins set to be auto-discovered, here’s how the drop-down menu in the quick-search box will look like…

OpenSearch Plug-in Autodiscovery Screenshot

Adding the plug-in Programmatically

You can also include the plug-in on your page in a click-and-install manner. The process has been simplified. All you need to do is provide a link to install the plug-in on your page and in the link, add the window.external.AddSearchProvider() JavaScript statement. Example is shown below.


	Link Text

Clicking on this link will cause Firefox to pop-up a dialog box asking the visitor for a confirmation of plug-in installation. Example of the dialog box …

OpenSearch Plug-in Click & Install Screenshot

Working examples can be found at the Astahost Plug-ins Page.

Any questions / confusions ?? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll make sure to get back to you.