The Web Authority
Friday, February 29
  Runescape - Game Review for Parents
As a parent, you should really know what your kids are playing. In an effort to help you know which online games may be suitable for your kids, I will be reviewing several of the most popular. The first online game I'll be reviewing is Runescape.

First, this game is popular with the elementary and middle school set. I have seen some high schoolers play, but typically it is popular with the younger set.

I think that Runescape is great! have played with my kids and it can be quite complicated but is easy to get started on right away. First you can customize your person. At start up the tutorials will show you how to play the game, you select hair color, clothing, and physical attributes for your person.

Once in the game, it is a virtual world. You work, earn money, barter and sell items, store things in a bank, get attacked by robbers, and can even die and lose your stuff. If you die, you lose the things you were wearing or carrying, but do come back to life to start out again. If you had stored items in your bank, you can get them and be back in business quickly.

Runescape does teach kids that you have to work to earn things, now that is a real world lesson. The group that hangs out on Runescape is friendly. Others will chat, share tips and how to catch fish for example, let you know where to find the best food and other helpful tips.

I have never seen or heard foul language, sexual conversations, or for that matter any other things that would raise my concern to keep my kids off of Runescape. One thing that my kids really like is at Easter, Christmas, and other holidays, Runescape will offer special events. If you complete a mission, you will get a ring that allows you to turn into a bunny, for example, with a ring, on demand. These special items are coveted, not able to be traded, and once lost can never be regained. My kids also love the rainbow socks and special hats and clothes you can buy.

For a special treat, you may want to consider giving your kids a million Runescape dollars for about $7 real dollars on PayPal you can hook up with a person on Runescape and get a million or two dollars and let the kids knock themselves out buying cool stuff.

Should you become a member? I have not allowed my kids to do this, but if you are a member, you can do more and buy more. One of my kids recently told me that many of the things that used to be available only to members are now becoming available to non-member - oh the glory of competition between online games.

I would definitely recommend Runescape to you. If you see McMom there, you'll know that it is me being lead around by my pack of kids.

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Thursday, February 28
  Custom Blog Templates
Nancy's post for today is found at Blog-World Watch and on the topic of custom blog templates.
Wednesday, February 27
  Snake Oil Abounds In SEO Marketplace
Nancy's post for today is found at Design-World Watch. The topic is questionable tactics that she has just seen this month alone for organic placement and traffic generation.
Tuesday, February 26
  How to Find Content for Your Blog
Nancy's post for today is found at Blog-World Watch and is on the topic of how to find content for your blog.
Monday, February 25
  Organic Vs Paid Listings on Google
Consistently I have run into confusion on clients' parts thinking that participating in sponsored search or paid advertising listings on Google, Yahoo or MSN will raise their organic ranking. This is not true.

Paid or Sponsored Search
These are the text ads that appear on the right side of the search query results screen and at the top of the page typically in a colored box. How one appears here is to use a paid advertising service unique for each search engine for Google, it is Google AdWords, for Yahoo, it is Yahoo Sponsored Search, and for MSN it is Microsoft adCenter. To get top ranking in the results you must have a higher than you competitor maximum cost per click setting and a"satisfactory" click through rate. You also must have a Good or Great quality score. Quality score is the factor of a tight match between your landing page content, ad text and keyword trigger list. To get in the colored boxes you need typically a click through rate of over 2.5%.

Organic Search Listings
This is also know as the SERPs (search engine results placement). Organic listings are determined by each search engine's algorithm. Google has over 150 different factors which it will consider to determine your site's placement on the page. Some of these factors include size of your website, how frequently you update your content, how many quality sites on your topic link into yours, the keyword density of your keywords on the page and their match to the search query, how long you have held your domain name, the length of your renewal, and many other secret factors known only to Google.

Organic and paid results do not affect each other. They are entirely separate and participation in one has absolutely no bearing on performance in the other.

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Friday, February 22
  Keeping Control of Your Domain Name
Nancy's post for today is found at Design-World Watch and is on the topic of owning your domain name. This article is taken from our monthly e-newsletter. If you like it make sure to subscribe today.


Thursday, February 21
  Social Media Blogging Does It Work?
Nancy's post for today is found at Blog-World Watch and is on the topic of social media blogging. What does it look like and does it work?


Wednesday, February 20
  Top Choice for Web Analytics
As a professional webmaster, I have seen all types and brands of website statistics. My pick for best web analytics or best website statistics is Urchin.

If you can't get Urchin, Google Analytics is our second choice and is created by Urchin and owned by Google, but full-blown Urchin, typically only available from your web host, is even better than Google Analytics.

Hands down Urchin beats AWStats, Click Stats, Web Trends, all free Web stats from web hosts that are unbranded and even log files that Yahoo provides with their own web hosting package. Urchin is simply the best in the industry no holds barred.

I have Urchin for my own website and pay $5 a month to Hostway, my web host, on my shared server. I have seen other web hosts charge as much as $15 a month for Urchin, is it worth the price? If you are involved in pay per click advertising and serious about selling your services and brand, you bet it's worth it.

If you like Google Analytics, you'll love Urchin. Not only is it more secure and you do not share your stats with Google, but you have much more in-depth information about how people travel your website, how they get there, and from where they come.

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Tuesday, February 19
  Feedburner PRO
Nancy's post for today is at Blog-World Watch and is on the topic of how to track blog visitors using Feedburner PRO.


Monday, February 18
  Firefox an Important Browser
Firefox has moved out of just being considered an alternative browser. Now Firefox has real market clout and a loyal following.

WC3 reports that in January 2008, Firefox had cornered 37.2% of the browsing market. IE still dominates with 54.7% of the market. This is a huge drop for Internet Explorer. When I first started designing websites seven years ago, Internet Explorer owned 98.9% of the market. Now if you are note testing your website for compatibility with at the very minimum on Firefox, you may be in for real problems.

If we look at the break down in Internet Explorer, we can see that IE 6 still has a strong following with 32% of the browser market wit IE 7 only cornering 21.2% of the market.

Here's my tip for all website owners:
1. Test your site in Firefox. Make sure that you have a relatively good match with what viewers using Internet Explorer will see. Although you cannot match appearance exactly in many cases between the two as these two browsers identify the box model differently, you should definitely not see a broken layout.

2. Make sure to test your site in both Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7. I personally was surprise to see that Internet Explorer 7 had not been widely embraced, and so it is still a very important browser for testing.

3. Make sure that not only your website looks good in Firefox and IE, but make sure your programatically rendered website sections like client order areas look good in Firefox as well. Don't just review your front end, but your store, client's area, and all customer use areas look good.


Friday, February 15
  Password Protect Sections of Your Website
Now you can easily set up a member's area for your website, take pay subscriptions to view your content all without advanced programming or database knowledge.

Check out Sentry Login a very easy to use online application that even integrates with PayPal to help your website earn money for you!

Here are the good things about Sentry Login:
1. Easy to implement
2. You can control pages that specific users arrive at as their first page
3. Integrates with no brainpower used to PayPal
4. Allows you to easily manage your online database of users
5. Costs only $4.95 per month

Here are the things that I wish were improved:
1. Wish I had the ability to customize the subscribe message and auto messages sent to a new user on set up
2. Wished the landing URLs could be masked to match my domain

For non-programmers this is an elegant and easy to use application that you may want to consider for your website or blog.

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Wednesday, February 13
  Website Search Engines
Many of the websites we design are large enough that we really need to provide more than a sitemap for readers to be able to find what they want. I have found that FreeFind is a super online search engine that will spider and return content for searches on your own website. What I like most about FreeFind is that for $5 a month for under 250 pages I can skin the search pages to match any site seamlessly.

What's the point of having a search engine if you are showing ads or showing Google's name at the top? On sites I design I like to keep the brand and not showcase another's brand. I have reviewed several online website search utilities and have found that I like FreeFind best for my needs.

I use FreeFind on my own website and blog and have implemented it for other sites across the web. I pay $108 per year for FreeFind to spider my blog, PDF files, and all my 488 web pages. When someone enters a search query on my site, they are supplied back pages on a page that looks identical to my website ranking pages in my own site on that topic.

FreeFind is easy to use. You can set spider frequency, upload a custom template, configure results to weight pages as more important, and even block the FreeFind spider from files or directories.

I find FreeFind a good value and perfect for my needs.

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Tuesday, February 12
  Using Labels Effectively on Your Blog
Nancy's post for today is at Blog-World Watch and is on the topic of how to use labels and categories effectively on your blog.


Monday, February 11
  Control Your Kids Computer Time A Review
I have been using ComputerTime from SoftwareTime to control my kids access to the computer and wanted to tell you a bit about this great software. First I am not being paid for this review. I am a paying customer.

I decided after I found my kids on the computer nearly 12 hours on Saturday and at midnight after I had gone to bed that I absolutely had to install some limits and not work on the honor system. I wanted the ability to assign a daily limit and to override it easily if I wanted to.

I tried a few programs and ended up buying ComputerTime from SoftwareTime. I have four kids computers for each one. I was able to buy the family pack and to install it for about $39.99 on all four computers. With ComputerTime I am able to set a time limit for each day, a start and stop time, and to create additional time tokens. These time tokens all an extra amount of time (of your choice) and I personally award them for extra chores and to get more homework done.

When the time limit for the day is approaching the user will be warned and then when time elapses, they will be logged off and will not be able to log back in again. For me, the administration control panel and its ease of use was the reason that I chose the program over others. I am able to login as administrator at any time without having to log them off as Window's users to make a change.

Having control over the amount of time that my kids spend on the computer has been great. No longer are they spending the full weekend online gaming it out, but they have a real life not only a virtual life. For my kids age 11, I allow 15 minutes of computer time on weekdays. This allows them to check email and to email grandma. I allow two hours of time on Saturday and Sunday. If they have a homework assignment on a weekday and need more time, I have set up time tokens and give them a code to input to allow one hour of computer use. For my teen, I allow more time as he has more homework.

ComputerTime has allowed me to finally have control over the time my kids spend on the computer and to have new family time instead of having to fight the computer for their attention. If you have kids on the computer and if you feel that gaming is getting out of control, if chores are not being done, if they cannot log off when you ask as they just have to finish a game, now's the time for you to get ComputerTime too! Just click my blog post title to get it and have a free trial. I feel that it is a valuable and well-priced piece of software.

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Friday, February 8
  Teach Your Children to Be Web-Wise
Here are my tips as a parent on how to teach your children to be smart on the Web. I have triplet 11 year olds and an 18 year old son so I know a thing or two about how kids want to use the Web.

Some of the sites all my kids love are Runescape, Club Penguin, Silk Road, YouTube, and Voyage Century. Many of these online games have integrated chat rooms or the ability to talk to others during interactions of the games.

What I do is try to play each new game once or at least watch my children play. There are some games that I have banned. For example there was one where you shot cats and there was lots of blood. That one instantly got banned. I don't mind the action games but when people are killed, there is blood or just a lot of indiscriminate violence, my kids are simply not allowed to play.

Additionally they are never allow to share their real last names, their ages, school, mascot, or city. I have taken the time to explain that this is not about denying a friendship but for their protection. I have encouraged my kids to let me know when someone in a chat room talks dirty to them so we can report them together or so I can log them off. It happens, but I want them to allow me to help them so that they know that it is not okay to listen or participate in those types of conversations.

We've talked about sharing your password and login information on games, and that I consider it off-limits. You'll find that their are schoolmates and online buddies who will actually steal the things that your child has worked hard to earn on a game by enticing them to give in and give out their login and password. Terrible that these issues can cause real angst for your kids. So it makes it easy to say to someone who asks for the information - I am not allowed, my Mom won't let me.

The other big rule that I established early was no computers in bedrooms, all seven computers in our house are in the main rooms. This way, as I walk by, I can see what someone is doing or playing. This even keeps my 18 year old away from viewing pornography or dating sites. You know yourself what's out there and sometimes kids of all ages are curious, so keep them clean and away from trouble by laying down the law and then make them accountable by keeping computers where you can see them.

My other big rule is only 15 minutes of computer time on school days and only two hours of time each day on the weekends. I have a program called Computer Time that I installed to manage their time and lock them off when they are over, but that is another great blog post I'll do next week.

You may have other rules, but these are mine and they have really worked to allow my kids to have fun on the Internet and with online games and yet be safe.

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Thursday, February 7
  Effective Blogging Tips
Nancy's post for today is found at Blog-World Watch. Read her top ten tips for effective blogging.



Tuesday, February 5
  Using Multimedia to Reach Out
Nancy's post for today is at Blog-World Watch and is on the topic of the creative use of multimedia on web pages and how a blog can draw readers into your conversation.

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Monday, February 4
  February Newsletter is Out
Click our post title to see this month's e-newsletter. Our topics are:
Keep Control of Your Domain Name
How to Use Windows Vista's Reliability Monitor
Bright Idea Tip: ieSpell to the Rescue
  The New Linking Strategy
In today's world of linking for top organic search engine placement, the focus is now on new linking strategies. Long gone are the individual webmaster emails for reciprocal linking. Long gone are comments posted to blogs pointing back to your website.

These are the new strategies:
1. Social bookmarking
2. Article posting
3. Forum commenting - no advertisements, real comments based on the thread!

Why are some of the previous strategies dead?

Last year, Blogger, WordPress and Typepad inserted automatic code in the links of all comments that have a no follow tag for search engines. This new process that even you the site owner cannot override effectively removed one of our newest strategies which was to post comments to topical blogs that matched the keyword focus of a site.

I see social bookmarking as the new silver bullet for building organic links. Social bookmarking simply cannot be spammed and so the links voted on by a network may simply end of having more value than other links. Search engines are not evaluating social bookmarking in their algorithms right now, but I do feel that this will be coming soon. I am looking for Google to grab up some of the popular social bookmarking site this next year.

Article posting? This is not a new strategy, but in light of the devaluation of links by search engines in other areas, this one has not been devalued yet and so still at this point a viable option.

On the point of forums. The easiest way to see if posting to a forum will help you or is not worth your time is to review the source code of the page. Right click and then select view source. If in the links on the page that are in the signatures of posters you see no follow, then don't waste your time. Some forums are including this code in links and some have not. So be selective over what you do.


Friday, February 1
  ieSpell To The Rescue
Today's post is at Blog-World Watch and is on the topic of what you can do when the WordPress spell checker is broken as well as introducing you to a neat application I've found.

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Follow Web Diva, Nancy McCord, as she teaches you how to develop Web authority for search engines and to improve your Web visibility by positioning your company for strategic success.

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