HighlyStructured.com is a blog website run by Mike D'Agostino about search engine positioning, online marketing, php/MySQL, tae kwon do, and various other topics.

December, 2005

The Dangers of Internet-Based Businesses

December 29, 2005

The Internet has enabled anyone with an idea and some kind of drive to make money. It seems as if every day I come across "get-rich-quick" websites, or websites claiming to enable you to make thousands of dollars a month with an Internet-based ecommerce business. The truth is that these are too good to be true, but at the same time, many people/businesses are making a considerable income with Internet-based stores.

I never really gave much thought to the dangers of having an Internet-based business until I recently changed jobs. I had two offers from two extremely different types of companies. One a consulting firm (which is the job I ended up taking), and another from a purely Internet-based business. When I say "Internet-based", I mean selling products without having a physi...Read entire article

Storing Array Data in a MySQL Database Using PHP

December 28, 2005

PHP is a great programming language to accomplish many dynamic/database tasks. When coupled with MySQL, you can literally do just about anything. I started using PHP and MySQL a few years ago and have put together some pretty complex sites. While I have no formal training in PHP, I have been able to do anything I want using the programming language. I learned from reading a book and going through its tutorials. After a few months of trial and error (and learning how not to look at the keyboard when typing "[" or "{", I was able to put together some simple dynamic applications on the web.

One of the trickier concepts to tackle is the idea of arrays. In short, arrays allow you store mu...Read entire article

The Problem with Google - Part II

December 27, 2005

As I have stated in a previous article, I think Google is teetering on the edge right now of becoming "super famous" and laying the ground-work for a new kind of "super Internet company". Besides lagging (at least I think) in introducing novel search concepts to the general public (forget the Google Labs Ride Finder, Transit, Video search, etc.), I believe there is a more fundamental concept Google and indeed all the major search engines are missing.

As a purely information retrieval tool, Google and the search engines are excellent. The ideal scenario for using a search engine is to find "academic" information on a particular subject. "Why is the sky blue?", "world land speed record", and "highest mountain...Read entire article

2005 Search Engine Optimization Holiday Wish List

December 23, 2005

As the end of 2005 approaches, along with the major commercial holidays, I've compiled a holiday wish list I hope to receive from the search engines this year. Come on, I haven't tried to do anything to trick the search engines into higher rankings this year!

  • 200 high-quality incoming links for KeepMyGolfScore.com
    Last year we saw great success for KeepMyGolfScore.com. We received 1500 new members, 1/3 more than we predicted/hoped for in 2005. One of the main reasons was the work we did to get other relevant websites to link to us. This is no easy task as we literally searched, visited, and asked, probably close to 500 websites to link to us (with a link back to their site of course). This proved to be very effective in the long-run as we've now compiled...Read entire article

RSS and Beyond

December 22, 2005

If the past few years were about the search engines and the honing of email marketing, the next few years will see the ubiquity of RSS feeds and a new type of launching point to browsing on the Internet.

RSS feeds bring about an important change in the way people approach the Internet, providing a new starting point to browsing the web. Instead of specifically looking for websites, website content is selectively delivered to a common interface to be chosen to be viewed. RSS feeds are the beginning of the ability to aggregate content and store it in a central repository for perusal at whatever time the administer sees fit. Part favorite’s list, part Tivo, RSS feeds finally put the power in the hands of the visitor to choose which content he or she wishes to receive.

...Read entire article

Search Engine Optimization Plans

December 21, 2005

Search engine optimization is a very broad term. The term encompasses everything from keyword research to site comparisons and goal assessment. As a provider of these services, it’s important not to make the explanation of such services too overly-complicated. From a purely “sales perspective”, the average website owner depends on you, the prospective search engine optimization provider, to: get results, and provide a simple, to-the-point explanation of those services. Therefore, an organized approach must be used when explaining search engine optimization to prospective clients to make sure you offer a comprehensible set of services and explanations to any type of buyer/business.

I thought that it would make sense to break down the different search engine optimization ...Read entire article

KeepMyGolfScore.com Planned Updates to Increase Visitor Traffic and Raise Search Engine Rankings

December 20, 2005

At this beginning of the new year (2006), the KeepMyGolfScore.com golf score tracker will begin to undergo a few major updates. These updates include graphic/visual upgrades, a new golf stats page, graphical displays of recent golf stats, an improved advertiser system, and a redesigned front page. The goal is to improve visitor traffic to the site via Google and the other search engines, to increase new user memberships, and start accumulating online advertisers. In the first full year after the site redesign, KeepMyGolfScore.com has received 1500 member signups. We hope to more than double that number in 2006.

New Stats Page - "Stats Central"

One of the highlights of the update will be the creation of a new "Stats Central" page. Stats Central will contain the m...Read entire article

RSS Etiquette

December 19, 2005

Recently I've been noticing an alarming trend with RSS feeds - long descriptions.

I started using RSS feeds not too long ago, and I've praised RSS feeds for their ability to deliver targeted content in a quick, to-the-point manner. It's great to open my RSS reader and see the latest headlines from my favorite sources clearly organized and easily accessible. Often I may not even read the description contained in the RSS feed and simply click the corresponding link to read the entire article. However, I'm finding that I'm almost offended when an RSS syndicator uses extremely long descriptions in their RSS feeds.

Case in point - SEOBuzzBox.com. This is a great site with a lot of interesting content that I read daily. They often have...Read entire article

Tae Kwon Do - Martial Art

December 16, 2005

I've been taking tae kwon do for about 6 or 7 years now, and every time I practice I keep learning more. Sure there are the repetitious hand movements, blocks, kicks, drills, and warm up exercises, and performing those drills and exercises over and over and over again start to get mundane. But after you start to reflect on the intracacies of tae kwon do practice, you'll soon start to hone your body movements and take notice of the position of you arms, legs, hands, feet, head, etc. while performing each movement. It's only after recognizing and contemplating your body position that you'll realize why tae kwon do is a true martial art.

Tae kwon do is a way of life, there is no way around it. Once you commit to tae kwon do and get past the basics, you'll soon start associating e...Read entire article

RSS - When Will It Hit Critical Mass?

December 15, 2005

Over the past year I have been hearing more and more about RSS, RSS syndication, and advertising in RSS feeds. I myself, who I consider to be pretty "Internet-fluent" have only just started using RSS a short time ago. I've been hearing the buzz about it, but it wasn't until I decided to turn my long-running website into a blog website that I started to subscribe to RSS feeds. I also found myself getting into the routine of incessantly checking the websites I usually go to for up-to-date information, news, and general content.

RSS has changed the way I view the Internet. Instead of opening up my browser and either clicking on a link in my favorites list or typing a URL directly into the address bar, I now open my RSS reader and wait for the headlines to come to me. It was a lit...Read entire article

RSS and Blogs - The New World of Conversation

December 14, 2005

Over the past year or so, RSS and RSS news feeds have really started to play a prominent role in how Internet users access informatino online. While RSS/XML have been around for awhile now, it's only just recently they have begun to catch on with the general public. I believe this is due in part to the advertising potential marketers and businesses see with RSS feed advertising. But of course, there would not be a potential without some sort of general public following. Whatever the case, more and more people are starting to author their own blogs and generate their own RSS feeds which are, in turn, aggregated and read by those interested.

Definition of a Blog

A blog is an information dissemination website created by opinions. While maybe not exactly consistent wi...Read entire article

Online Marketing Strategies - Different Forms of Internet Advertising

December 13, 2005

The newest focus in marketing and advertising is online and Internet marketing and advertising. What used to be a traditional media (newspapers, magazines, fliers, TV) outlet is now turning towords a new medium. ANY BUSINESS should be involved in some sort of online marketing and advertising. People increasingly look online for products and services and if you are not part of the "online advertising game", then you are denying yourself a could-be lucrative marketing opportunity.

There are many ways (which I will discuss below) to use your website to market and advertise to generate income. I'm not talking about a specific product or service or "ecommerce" website, but rather using your website traffic to sell advertising. The number one "golden rule" though is simple, you must...Read entire article

Analysis of Chitika Eminimalls

December 12, 2005

Recently, within the past month or so, I came across some really interesting online marketing. The effort came in the form of online ads which I couldn't really fit into any one category. Part pay-per-click ad, part banner ad, part "mini utility javascript", and really pretty eye-catching. It turns out the ads are part of Chitika's Eminimalls online advertising campaign.

I saw the "ad" at the top of a page on a, I believe, news site. Perhaps it was a news article reviewing a certain product or giving information about a certain manufacturer, I cannot remember exactly. But I read the article and then looked around the page and saw the "ad", which didn't really seem to fit in with the site's graphics and design. While the ad didn't necessari...Read entire article

The Problem with Google

December 11, 2005

Google is a great search engine. I would say I use Google for 95% of my searches and I always get returned websites that I find useful. Google is a great search engine for the general public performing searches, and that "sector" will always be the single most important factor in the company's survival.

Google has become a new type of business, the first seriously-taken "survivor" from the end of the nonsensical funding of new Internet-based businesses in the late 1990's / early 2000's. And for that reason, Google will definitely be written into the history books. But I believe they can do better, and will need to do better, to convince "everyone" that they are worthy of $500/share and beyond.

All businesses are now on a new playing field and the door has been opened b...Read entire article

2005 - The Year of the Search Engine

December 09, 2005

Ahhhh, the search engines...the glue that holds the Interent together...the most trafficed sites on the Web...where would we be without them? Search engines are often the launching point of many many web surfers today every time they open a new browser window.

I remember when Google first came out. Or maybe not when it first went online, but started gaining a following. I was still using AOL, and to be honest, I don't think I really performed many web searches. I remember using Alta Vista and Webcrawler, but it was rather sparingly. As I spent more and more time online and started getting into web design, I came across an article in a magazine about the best search engines. I saw Google on the list and...Read entire article

Creating an RSS Feed Using PHP

December 08, 2005

In a previous article I wrote about the benefits of having an RSS news feed on your site to syndicate your content and increase your ranking on Google and the other search engines. This is great, but how can website developers create their own RSS feed? I will describe the techniques I've used to create an RSS feed for this website using a MySQL database and PHP.

The procedure is very similar to creating static HTML pages from database content using PHP. In essence you are retrieving content from a database, writing code to a variable, and then writing that variable to a file using the PHP function FOPEN. I actually find creating an RSS fee...Read entire article

Increasing Search Engine Rankings with RSS Feeds

December 07, 2005

Recently the buzz online regarding increased ranking on Google and the other search engines has been the use of RSS syndication. I've seen RSS around for awhile now but with the advent of all the major search engines incorporating a "News" search, and some of them incorporating a "Blog" search, RSS syndication seems to be a way to gain a stronger presence on the search engines very quickly.

In short, RSS syndication is a way of providing your site's headlines in a compact, formatted, "packet" for RSS readers/parsers and the search engines to read. On your website you may have a "Latest News" section, or you may update your site's content somewhat regularly. Whatever the case, if you update your site with new "articles" every-so-often, it would be worth your time to investigate RSS...Read entire article

KeepMyGolfScore.com - Search Engine Positioning - Online Marketing - Part II

December 06, 2005

July and August were the biggest months for KeepMyGolfScore.com (in terms of traffic, new user signups, and search engine ranking). Our first page rankings on Google, MSN, and Yahoo! for "golf score tracker" and "online golf stats" stayed consistent, we did not move.

Since golf is a somewhat seasonal sport (at least in areas of the U.S. where seasonal changes have a significant impact on temperatures and general weather. In September, after Labor Day, when fall "unofficially" starts, our traffic started to drop. We were expecting traffic to drop in August (which it did slightly in comparison to July), but when we saw the numbers were so close to July which was a blowout month for us, we were very happy. So the drop-off in traffic was ex...Read entire article

KeepMyGolfScore.com - Search Engine Positioning - Online Marketing - Part I

December 05, 2005

KeepMyGolfScore.com is a free online golf score tracker where golfers can enter and manage their golf stats and golf handicap. The service was originally online in 2001 but went through a complete overhaul and was re-published last year (2005). Within that time the site has seen over 1500 users subscribe and first place ranking on Google, MSN, and Yahoo! for the search terms "golf score tracker" and "online golf stats".

I will attempt to explain the strategies used to achieve these results. The service reaches for a niche market, online tech-savvy golfers. The audience can be pretty diverse age-wise, but the keywords we are going after are well-defined. The two main keywords which describe the service are "golf score tracker" and "onlin...Read entire article

General Guidelines for Optimizing a Web Page for Google and the Search Engines

December 05, 2005

Over the past few years I've been able (and forced) to spend time researching and experimenting on how to get websites to rank higher on Google and the search engiges. Sometimes referred to as search engine positioning (SEP) or seach engine optimization (SEO), I relate it to "black magic". I don't think anyone really knows how it works, and even Google admits it's a rather automated process. It's not as if anyone is sitting at Google selecting which site is number one or number 5,000 for a particular search term. The search engines use their own algorithms to automatically rank websites in their index.

What further complicates the matter is that each different search engine seems to have different rules to rank websites in their index. A high ranking on Google does not necessarily...Read entire article

Creating a Static HTML Archive from a MySQL Database Using PHP

December 05, 2005

In an earlier entry I described how this site was created. In essence, I've created my own content management system which uses a MySQL database to store all the data, and a PHP script that converts the data into static HTML. This ensures that all the data stored in the database will get picked up by the search engines. But, there is much more involved than that and I feel as though I owe more of an explanation.

Benefits of creating static HTML pages from data stored in a database

The number one benefit is that all your precious content stored in your database will have a better chance of getting picked up on Google and the other search engines and will give your pages a better chance of ranki...Read entire article

Tae Kwon Do - Second Degree Black Belt Essay

December 04, 2005

Inspiration and Leadership

If obtaining first degree black belt in tae kwon do is like graduating from college, obtaining second degree would be the equivalent of getting a Master’s Degree. Training for first degree means intense physical workouts, memorization of form movements, trying to understand one’s body, and learning the relationship between your mind and body. Training for second degree continues with these experiences, and also brings teaching into the mix.

When I first started teaching some of the classes it would mostly be warm-ups and exercises. I concentrated on trying to remember which exercises to do and in which order to do them. After awhile the monotony of doing the same exercises in the same order became a factor, and at that point I decided to...Read entire article

Tae Kwon Do - First Degree Black Belt Essay

December 04, 2005

When I first decided to get involved in tae kwon do I did so for the physical training. I hadn’t played an organized sport in over four years and daily workouts at the gym became boring and uninteresting. I needed a different way to incorporate a daily workout that is important to me to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Tae kwon do became a refreshing change.

The classes in the beginning were physically intense. I got headaches often from thinking about the classes all day and having a tough physical workout looming over me throughout the day. There definitely were times I hesitated coming to class because I knew it would be a tough workout. I think that at the time I didn’t know, or better yet understand, that it wasn’t the physical workout I was dreading, it was more th...Read entire article

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