Category Archives: Musings

The Internet’s Alphabet Soup

Sometimes I think that one of the things that makes the internet intimidating for small business professionals is the “alphabet soup” that gets sprinkled throughout anything dealing with the internet. When you don’t know what the abbreviations mean, you need to make deliberate effort to ignore the “unknown” and that can make learning new things even tougher.

Here are a few definititions of some of the most common abbreviations you will see when discussing the internet and websites.

– Uniform Resource Locator. An Internet World Wide Web Address.

HTML – stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. This is the beautiful language that lets us add hypertext links to our online text so that people (and search engines) can follow the links and get more information.

HTTP – stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, is the protocol which allows browsing on the World Wide Web. The protocol allows a user browsing a hypertext document to jump to another document that may be located on another host thousands of miles away, and to retrieve the information in that document.

CSS – stands for Cascading Style Sheet. A style sheet allows a web developer to separate the content of a webpage from the formatting of a webpage. This is excellent for the search engines (they are interested only in the content) and excellent for developers because they can easily change the formatting on an entire website by making a change in the style sheet instead of needing to change every page of the site.

CMS – stands for Content Management System. A content management system is a collection of tools that allows the creation, modification, organization and removal of information from a web site. Usually CMS to requires no knowledge of HTML in order to create web pages. This means that if you have a developer set up a CMS for you, you will be able to easily update the information on the website without having to get your developer involved.

RSS – actually has two definitions, Rich Site Summary and Really Simple Syndication. I prefer Really Simple Syndication. It’s a format for sharing content among different websites. Sites can syndicate “feeds” (content) and Internet users can use an application called an RSS reader or aggregator to download feeds. A website owner can publish a feed of their own (like the one on this blog that says Subscribe toPosts [Atom]) or you can include an RSS feed from another site on your site (IRS feed for accountants, AMA feed for doctors, legal feeds for lawyers, etc.)

And, my all time favorite, though not an internet term, is TWAIN. I discovered this acronym while installing my first scanner years ago. I looked it up in the manual and found that it meant “Toolkit Without An Important Name.” Wikipedia now lists a different definition, but that’s definitely what was in the manual I read in the 1990’s

One easy way to find out what abbreviations mean is to use the define: function in Google search. Just type define: word/abbreviation in the Google search bar and you will get all the definitions that Google has indexed.

BEWARE! Liberty Names of America SCAM

Liberty Names of America sends out official looking documents to unsuspecting domain owners telling them “…Failure to renew your domain name will result in losing exclusive rights to it on the web, and losing access to your online identity. Renew today and take advantage of the big savings we have to offer.”

The part that REALLY burns me up is the “big savings” bit… their prices are DOUBLE what you would pay from a reputable domain registrar like Who does not send out scammy mailings trying to steal your domain from another registrar.

Domain owners beware. KNOW who your domain is registered with. Keep your email address with them up-to-date. DO NOT fall victim to scams like these because you’re not sure who you are registered with. When in doubt, check the WhoIs record for your domain, or Ask Joanne 🙂

Aaron Wall Rocks!

Aaron Wall, the author of the SEO Book has put everything you need to know about the nuts and bolts of SEO in one place. Not only that, the book gets updated online, so you are never without the most up-to-date information. This book is definitely written for the person who wants to do their own SEO work. It demonstrates accurate how to’s for every step of the process.

I like Aaron’s approach because the way I do SEO consulting is to provide my clients with a report of how to implement the right keywords and begin building their search engine rankings themselves. I want my clients to learn how to do it themselves, because in essence, it’s not difficult to do. But like all things, people need to decide where to put their attention and where to spend their time and money. If you decide to pay for ongoing SEO work (like link building and spotting new SEO “keyword opportunities”), just like you’d decide to pay for ongoing lawn care… knowing how it all works will make sure you hire the right professionals to do the job at the right price.

Seth Godin Rocks!

I have read nearly all of Seth Godin’s books and every time find myself saying “YES!” I haven’t yet read his latest – Meatball Sundae but I did attend a webcast this week that he did about the ideas in the book and, as usual, it was excellent.

The basic idea is that things don’t work when you add all the fun sundae toppings (social media, blogging, podcasts, interactive web tools, etc.) on top of plain old meatballs (everyday products for everyday consumers.) These days it takes being “remarkable” in some way to really create a buzz about your business or products. You need to choose your niche and be the best within it… not too hard to do, but a very different approach than the “old” way of marketing meatballs.

Jill Whalen Rocks!

I have been a huge fan of Jill Whalen and since I started learning about optimizing websites… in fact, it’s from Jill’s newsletter and forum that I learned how to optimize sites.

While doing some searching the other day on techniques for link building, I came across this interview with Jill on

It’s a very down-to-earth look at the basic tactics of SEO that worked in the early days, work now and will continue to work in the future. Why? Because ultimately the goal of the search engines is to provide their users with relevant information. If you “feed” the search engines relevant information about your site by using the right keywords in the right places, the search engines will “reward” you by ranking your site high.

Regardless of all the new internet marketing tools, techniques, gadgets and gizmos success on the internet is really all about providing relevant information and unique value to your customers. Search Engine Optimization is about making sure that message comes through loud and clear on your website through using your keywords in your page titles, web copy and behind-the-scenes code.

Yellowpages Internet Advertising – Just Say NO!

This week a client faxed to me a proposal he received from Yellow Pages Distribution Services offering him (for $495/year, reduced to $287/year) a whole lot of nothing!

Well, I should qualify, there were two items on their list that aren’t already free and easy to do, and that was a link from the website to his website and the “Profile Content Management System” that would allow him to update his own profile at

A few other items they say the fee included were:

If you want to pay to be in the printed phone directories – go for it, but I recommend saving yourself a lot of money and NOT paying for YellowPages internet services.

Internet Integrity

Successful internet advertising and website promotion, in my opinion, need to move toward integrity. Deliver what you promise.

Potential customers and clients move at the speed of a click. If your ad or your link promises X, but when clicked delivers U, V, W, X, Y, & Z people are likely to be frustrated to not get exactly what they were promised and will click away in the blink of an eye.

The key to successful advertising on the internet is to deliver what you promise. Gently lead your potential customers to where they can easily sign-up, contact you or purchase what you offer. Make it EASY for them to do what you want them to do.

A couple of great books (that I am sure I’ve mentioned before) that discuss ways to do this are: The Big Red Fez by Seth Godin and Prioritizing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen.

The Way Back Machine – for fun

Have you ever wondered what some of your favorite websites looked like when they were first launched? Well, you can find out by using the Way Back Machine at

You can type in any domain name and see the history of that site. For example, this is Google’s very first homepage: