Web Jive - The Buzz on Web Development

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Online Sitemap Generator Tool

If you haven't heard already, Google, MSN, and Yahoo have joined forces in support for a single xml sitemap format - Sitemaps 0.9. In the easiest terms, sitemaps are xml formatted files that provide a way for a website to list the URLs (along with related data) so that search engine spiders can index the website in the easiest way possible. It's basically an easier way for us (webmasters) to talk to search engines and recommend to how we'd like to have our websites crawled. This is great news! There is now a common sitemap protocol which will alleviate the drudginess of having to create different sitemaps for each search engine. In light of this merging of forces, the big three (Google, MSN, and Yahoo) have announced the launch of www.sitemaps.org, which will provide details of the current release of the Sitemaps protocol and will include future updates.

OK, so now that that's out of the way, it's time to create an xml sitemap. This can easily be done in notepad if you have a site with a small amount of pages (50 or less). You just need to follow the correct protocol (syntax). On the other hand, if you're working with a site larger than 50 pages, then you may want to consider a sitemap generator. Google provides a long list of third-party recommendations. My personal favorite is www.XML-Sitemaps.com. It's as simple and inserting your domain and letting it take care of the rest. Depending on how big your site is, you may need to wait for a bit. Once finished, it will spit out a fully formatted and compliant sitemap in several different formats of your choosing (up to 500 URLs). Go ahead and check it out!

Related Links:
Google Sitemaps
Yahoo Sitemaps
Sitemap Protocol
Third-Party Sitemap Tools

Add to Del.icio.us | Digg it! | Furl | Reddit | 

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gears of War Trailer

I'm not sure if I would classify myself as a "gamer", but I recently saw a trailer on TV for the new XBOX 360 game Gears of War and loved it. The part that stuck out for me is that it wasn't just another commercial - it was remarkable and compelling in every way. Not only did I love this commercial but I had to find it on the internet and watch it 3 more times. The brilliance and creativity that went into this trailer is like nothing I've ever seen. The music was chosen perfectly and in 1 minute of time a story is told that intrigues anyone who watches. While I have no idea if the game is truly worth the hype, I have no problem admitting that I am now compelled to buy an XBOX 360 and Gears of War. The amazing part is that I know I'm not alone on this either...case in point - the music used ("Mad World" by Michael Andrews) has jumped into the top 10 songs on itunes within the last two days...it came out 6 years ago. Need more evidence? Gears of War has now become the fastest selling 360 game ever. If I wasn't a "gamer" before, maybe I am now. Check it out: Gears of War Trailer (HD)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't Commit Spam Suicide with Email Marketing

So you're at the realms of launching a major campaign and you're realizing that your current email subscriber list is outdated and under-developed. You're confident this campaign is going to be a huge hit - that is if you can just get an audience to check it out. So how do you find and captivate a new audience? The decision of purchasing email lists is a process that gets abused too often. The truth of the matter is that your purchasing decision can really hinder your credibility and push you to spamicide (a status where you or your company is now associated with spam). Sure you can easily go online and buy a list of email addresses from a handful of vendors and move on with things, but do you really know where these vendors are getting these emails from and are they ethically responsible? Let's break it down - if the company you are buying the email addresses from is focused on selling email addresses, then take your que and leave. Once you've taken your ethical leap away from the spam vendors, here's how you build your list.
  1. Determine your target audience - I mean really figure out a group you need to focus on.
  2. Determine the established third parties associated with the target audience - focus on magazines, publications, websites, or companies of interest.
  3. Rent their lists - many third parties will be will be open to negotiating a deal in renting their lists. These companies will most likely verify your credibility before signing off.

Truth be told, some publications, companies, or related online businesses rent their email lists out for a price. Is this ethical? Most of the time - yes. This works because the people on these lists have already agreed to receive newsletters (or offers from third party partners) that have been approved by the company. I've been involved in email promotions where I've rented email lists and have had surprisingly decent results. The bottom line is that it is more ethical and technically "kosher". Overall, I firmly believe you will have better results and you'll be able to sleep knowing everything's right.

Few things to note: On many occasions you usually aren't allowed to send the email out directly. Don't worry, this is actually a good thing. You will need to provide them with your templated email in which they will then wrap their branding around the outside which states something along the lines of "This offer is being presented to you on behalf of ". Think of it as being introduced to somebody rather than introducing yourself. Your initial acceptance will be much more conventional and received.