Getting That Expert Look

They say it takes a split second for a surfer to decide if he will surf a website or leave it. That gives you a very small window of opportunity to keep your visitors from leaving and also wanting them to come back.

Gone are the days when flashing text, or having animated flames plastered all over your front page was cool. Now, surfers want to see simple clean looking websites that are well organized and clear on what the subject or purpose of the website is. Here are a few tips on what you can do to help ensure you aren’t one of the millions of websites people leave in a split second never to return again.

1. Layout

When designing remember this term, Fold. Thats the point where the page stops due to screens ize and the visitor has to scroll down. You want your most important information above the fold, don’t make your visitor hunt for it. The maximum number of folds that you should have depends on who you ask, but really it depends on the type of site. I typically use a maximum of 3 folds, anything higher, theres too much information for the visitor to consume at one time.

Keep the layout consistent on all pages. That means your navigation, search facility etc… should be in the same place on all pages, again don’t make your visitors hunt for something thats in a different place on each page.

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Googles Algorithm

Google LogoWell the latest Page Rank update, which as usual is always highly anticipated, was quite possibly the worst update for many webmasters to date.

Google is trying to crack down on websites selling and buying text links and have decided to penalize these sites by dropping their Page Rank.

This Page Rank update not only effects those sites but has effected a large number of others big and small.

YouTube dropped from a PR8 to a PR3, but has since returned to a PR8. The fact that Google owns YouTube may have something to do with their quick Page Rank fix, but thats just speculation.

There has also been a lot of talk that the recent Page Rank update will effect SERPs if your rank dropped. Page Rank and SERPs as far as I am concerned are 2 different things and the update shouldn’t effect the SERPs, my rank for one of my sites dropped by 1 and my SERPs hasn’t changed.

How did the update effect you? Post your before and after rank below and any other comments you may have.

Pay Per Post

Well, I signed up to PayPerPost.com out of curiousity. I wanted to see just how many companies use their service and what types of companies they were.

The first thing I noticed was a fantastic design and member dashboard. They have a video tour to help new members navigate which I think I better watch but all in all I was impressed at first sight.

I only scanned the list of companies and didn’t noticed any big names, but there were 158 at the times of writing this post.

Signing up to PayPerPost.com is easy but getting accepted isn’t, your blog needs to meet requirements such as be in existence for at least 90 days and have a certain number of post. Some companies on their list require your blog to have a certain PR but not all.

I haven’t been accepted yet, but I am patiently waiting for my oppurtunity to write a few posts and make a few dollars at the same time.

Many bloggers use this service to make a few dollars for their time and effort, the responsible bloggers who do write a post for money also make their readers aware it is a paid post.

PayPerPost

This is not a paid post, as I have not been accepted to their service yet.

Microsoft, Google, Facebook

Microsoft pays $240 million for a stake that values Facebook at an astounding 150x of revenue – $15 billion dollars.

Seriously, did they really think that was a good investment.

Facebook is good, but come one, not that good.  They still have a long way to go.  It will take a while for Facebook to compete with MySpace.  MySpace has more traffic than any other website and makes more money than any other.  Facebook is not worth what Microsoft invested.

I think Google duped them into thinking Google was going to invest in it, when it actually was never interested to begin with.

Looks like Google has another major project underway.

Someday Microsoft will start thinking like Google.

Geoserv.

Mom reunites through Facebook with son she gave up for adoption

When Lori Haas joined Facebook, she didn’t know much about the popular social networking site except that most of her friends were on it. Little did she know how life-changing the online tool would be. After spending a year searching for the son she gave up for adoption 20 years ago in phone books, adoption registries and on the Internet to no avail, a friend suggested searching for him on Facebook.

“When my friend told me about the search tool and I typed in my son’s name, Travis Sheppard, I couldn’t believe it when I saw a photo of him,” she said.

The photo was a thumbnail shot of Sheppard wearing a hat and sunglasses and he was with a friend. Haas felt sure he was her son, but since it was difficult to clearly make out the picture, she was hesitant to send him a message. Then a week later, Sheppard changed his profile photo to a lone shot of himself.

“He was still wearing a hat, but I knew, I just knew that was him. My heart was racing when I saw the photo,” said the 37-year-old nurse from Vancouver. “We have the same long face and nose! And it was listed that he was in Vancouver. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Oh my god, he’s been living here too?!”‘

The 20-year-old Sheppard had moved to Vancouver only four months earlier in the hopes of locating his birth mother. He knew she had given him up for adoption in the suburb of Richmond when she was 17.

Haas worried about contacting Sheppard through Facebook since she didn’t know if he knew he was adopted. She finally sent him a message saying she was looking for a relative and provided a birth date and name. He confirmed the details were his and sent her a message saying he thought she was his birth mother. The two decided to meet the following day.

“It was exciting and scary all at the same time,” said Sheppard. “I’d heard so many horror stories about adopted kids meeting their birth parents, so I went into our meeting expecting nothing, so I wouldn’t get too hurt since I wanted to know for so long about my mother. But as soon as we hugged, I knew everything was OK.”

The connection between the two was instantaneous and they discovered they share similar characteristics and likes and dislikes.

“It was amazing how familiar it was meeting him and the feeling of being complete,” said Haas. “I carried around the pain and anxiety of giving him up for adoption at such a young age, but when I heard him say that he didn’t hate me for doing that, a chapter of my life ended and a new one is beginning.”

Since that meeting two weeks ago, the two have spent almost every day together touring Vancouver’s landmarks, as well as meeting Sheppard’s birth father, his family and Haas’ extended family.

“Everything’s fallen into place so perfectly and, well, so easily because of Facebook,” said Haas. “This weekend Travis and his birth father and I were all together. It’s been one of the happiest moments of my life.”

The reunited mother and son now have a profile photo showing them together on their Facebook pages. They plan to continue getting to know each other and to become a significant part of each other’s life.

“I was about to delete my Facebook profile just a few days before I got the message from Lori,” said Sheppard. “I can’t even imagine if I had done that. I’d still be looking for my birth mom, I wouldn’t have decided to stay in Vancouver and I’d still be wondering about my roots.”

More great news coverage for Facebook.

At Least 4 Dead After Two TV News Choppers Collide, Crash While Covering Car Chase in Phoenix

Federal investigators hope to determine why two news helicopters covering a police chase on live television collided and crashed to the ground, killing all four people on board.

Both helicopters from local TV stations went down in a grassy park in central Phoenix and caught fire Friday afternoon. No one on the ground was hurt.

TV viewers did not witness the accident because cameras aboard both aircraft were pointed at the ground, but they saw video from one of the helicopters break up and begin to spin before the station abruptly switched to the studio.

Computer program can learn baby talk

A computer program that learns to decode sounds from different languages in the same way that a baby does helps to shed new light on how people learn to talk, researchers said on Tuesday.They said the finding casts doubt on theories that babies are born knowing all the possible sounds in all of the world’s languages.

“The debate in language acquisition is around the question of how much specific information about language is hard-wired into the brain of the infant and how much of the knowledge that infants acquire about language is something that can be explained by relatively general purpose learning systems,” said James McClelland, a psychology professor at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

McClelland says his computer program supports the theory that babies systematically sort through sounds until they understand the structure of a language.

“The problem the child confronts is how many categories are there and how should I think about it. We’re trying to propose a method that solves that problem,” said McClelland, whose work appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Expanding on some existing ideas, he and a team of international researchers developed a computer model that resembles the brain processes a baby uses when learning about speech.

PC baby talk…