A Great Way To Get Your RSS Feed On Your Static Website


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I know it has been a while and this blog is suppose to be mainly about web design, however as titled it is really about my life experiences as well as experiences with web design. So with that said, here is a web design topic that is pretty hot. RSS, Really Simple Syndication, is one of those buzz Web 2.0 items that has even worked its way into the new windows (Vista). RSS is more or less a coding language that codes news stories in XML, eXtensible Markup Language, so they can be dynamically implemented into web and now desktop applications. In this technology error, it is critical to get the latest news at a moments notice. Now with RSS, people can encode a news feed for their business or organization and persons interested in that news can subscribe to the feed and get the news dynamically on there desktop with Vista or on their home page on Google.

This technology integrates perfectly with a dynamic website CMS, content management system, such as a blog. As you write a news story or blog post as I am at the moment and then publish it, most CMS systems such as Drupal or Word Press will use a plug-in, widget, to encode that post or entry in the sites RSS. Now instantly people can read the latest news and posts! The problem becomes with static websites that still are authored to this day, how can they play with this new hot dynamic technology. I ran into that very issue recently with one of my clients static website and found the answer with one of the best web resources there is: Dynamic Drive DHTML. There RSS Display Box is by far one of the best solutions I found to solve the problem.

The issue was how can I make a dynamic element with a static website? So I figured the easiest way to solve the problem was to have the dynamic element tell the static website what to do. By doing so I could have the news stories expressed dynamically through RSS and then use the Dynamic Drive Java-script to display that dynamic data solving the issue entirely. This new method of web design is known as AJAX or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. More or less it integrates all of the popular web languages (Java-Script, XML, and XHTML (HTML) as well as CSS) to accomplish interactive and dynamic web 2.0 technologies in a usable and fast manor. With that said Dynamic Drive once again pulled through for me with this great code.

Of course I had to add in a couple of edits to cater to my needs. I am a web standards buff and in order to allow the news stories to display in a list, I would have to add in the UL or OL tags inside the Java Script it self. So if you too want a valid list heres how. First open up (outputbody.php). This is located in the rssbox folder and manages the templates that will display your feeds on your page. In this file you will have to add LI tags enclosing the template so that it generates the list :

function outputbody($item, $template=""){
if ($template=="" || $template=="default"){ //DEFAULT TEMPLATE ?>
<li> // Insert the list item to add each item as a list item
<DIV class="rsscontainer">
<div class="rsstitle"><a href="<?php echo $item->get_permalink(); ?>" class="extlink"><?php echo $item->get_title(); ?></a></div>
<div class="rssdescription"><?php echo $item->get_description(); ?></div>
<div class="rssdate"><?php echo $item->get_date('d M Y g:i a'); ?></div>
</DIV>
</li> // Insert the close tag for the list item after the RSS item template layout
<?
} //end default template

The the last thing you have to do is define either a UL or a OL for your list type in the page that controls the entire feed and template integration in the file called (main.php) also located in the rssbox folder. Here I created a small IF statement to trigger an echo command to insert the UL or OL tags depending which template is used in the outputitems function:


function outputitems(){
if ($template=="" || $template=="default") echo '<ul>'; // Added in an IF statement to trigger an insert of a UL if the default template is used
global $feed, $feednumber, $templatename;
$max = $feed->get_item_quantity($feednumber);
for ($x = 0; $x < $max; $x++){
$item = $feed->get_item($x);
outputbody($item, $templatename); //call custom outputbody() function
}
if ($template=="" || $template=="default") echo '</ul>'; // Added in another IF statement to trigger an insert of the close tag for the UL
}

There you go, simple as pie. A great way to get your dynamic RSS feed on your static web page with a little tweak. ENJOY….

SEO, SEM and Some New SEO/ SEM Issues


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SEO, SEO, SEO; another computer acronym to add to the ever growing list. However if your a web developer and this one isn’t in your vocabulary, then there are defiantly some problems. If you are one of the few, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, usually synonymous with SEM or Search Engine Marketing. These two acronyms should be on the top of your vocab as a developer, because whats a website if no one can find it or even worse knows about it. SEM and SEO are all about website promotion since the latest stats say that 80% of all persons looking for a website will use a search engine. So with that said it is pretty critical to get your website listed on the top of the search engine rankings, preferably the top 10 also known as the infamous “first page” results. With a whopping estimated 75% of the search engine market, Yahoo! and Google are of course the most critical. With over half the market using Yahoo! and Google, it should also be your task to learn these two guys inside and out.

Unfortunately they do not publicaley release their search algorithms for obvious reasons, but there is one thing for sure; THEY LOVE LINK POWER! Google calls it Page Rank and many have spent countless hours on the topic agree. The more links linking into you, the more powerful you will be in the search engines. There is of course more to it such as keywords, the more similar words located in the site, the more apt that your site will be located in the search engine ranking by those words. However everything can’t be that easy.

Too many people take advantage of a good thing and “black hat” their sites to unethically gain search engine ranking. It is unfair to list hundreds of words the same color as the background of a site to gain search engine ranking. It is unfair to conduct any of these procedures. That is why I am happy that search engines have created their algorithms to combat these persons. I am proud of Google creating the ( Google Guidelines for SEO ). By doing so, the web has once again become a more fair place. Then I think some people take it too far as in Wikipedia’s case.

Wikipedia is a Web 2.0 tech, the evolution of the web to an interactive medium. It allows the public to edit and create encyclopedia entry’s and in doing so has pretty much became the most in depth and believe it or not accurate encyclopedia in the world. A great idea and resource of course has its problems. Since anyone can edit it, it can be easy to corrupt or in SEMs case eay to get some great link credit. However Wikipedia does a GREAT job in preventing and controlling these issues, however they have felt that is was important to block external links from getting any juice for their link credit and I am talking about a lot of juice! Since Wikipedia is a extremely popular website, it holds a lot of value if your link appears on one of their pages. Since Wikipedia knows this, they have inserted the link class of nofollow so that external links get no juice from being listed.

I feel that this one is wrong. The Internet should equally exchange links, its how it is the “web”. As long as the external links are relevant to the topic, they should be allowed on the page and get the credit for it. Many devlopers have become so disgruntaled at this one that they have formed a grassroots organization named ( NOFOLLOW me to Wikipedia ). They ask that all developers add the NOFOLLOW tag to a link if they link to Wikipedia, funny if you ask me. Although a gallant effort, the effort will be futile. Wikipedia is already a powerhouse in the SEM market and even if a lot of developers did jump on, the amount required would not happen. Besides the word of mouth and technologies such as social bookmarking will hamper their efforts. I suggest a two prong attack, perhaps using the NOFOLLOW and every developer creating websites called Wikipedia that contain a lot of Wikipedia keywords. The combination of competition and the NOFOLLOW can be the only possible solution.

In any case, Wikipedia is here to stay and I think they are still a great resource. I will still use it as in most developers, just won’t link to it =). SEM, SEO, and website marketing are a very important topics and I have just touch base on the topic here. For more in depth information on website marketing and some great FREE tools, here are my top chooses:

  1. Search Engine Watch (Great Starting Point)
  2. SEOMoz (Some great search engine tools)
  3. Market Leap (Some more great tools)

References

  1. NOFOLLOW me to Wikipedia Campaign
  2. Google’s Guidelines to SEO