Sep 20

I have now been running macintoshhowto.com for 10 years. Here is a graph of visitors over the last 10 years:

You will notice that there are some turning points on the curve. Most of these changes correspond to Google changing their Page Rank algorithms. The number of visitors is more dependant on Google’s algorithms than it is on the content. For example macintoshhowto.com was slowly and steadily growing in popularity from 2007 until April 2012, when there was a slight drop. This corresponds to when Google released ‘Penguin’ which changed their search results. In May 2013 there was another rather dramatic drop which corresponds to the release of Google ‘Phantom’. Most of the other changes in the graph correlate to some kind of a Google update.

In one sense it’s really good that Google is trying to tweak its search results to encourage good sites and get rid of spam sites. But there are two ways in which these Google rankings algorithms negatively impact the way people create websites. There may be more, but these are two that I have discovered.

Problem # 1 – it encourages ‘click to continue’ buttons.

It annoys me when I’m reading a website that has several ‘click to continue’ buttons though the article. But Google reward you if you do this. Google measures something called ‘bounce rate.’  If someone reads an article then leaves your site, that is called a ‘bounce.’  Google thinks this means the person doesn’t like your site.  If, after reading an article, they hang around on your site and click on some links Google like that.

Macintoshhowto.com has a very high bounce rate (approx 80%). This could mean people don’t like my site, but it could also mean someone has read an article and found the solution they were after. The only way to tell is to put a ‘click to continue reading’ button. (Or ‘click if you liked this article’).

Have a look at this experiment I tried below. This is a graph of visits to one of my articles on macintoshhowto.com. On the 20th February I split this article in half and added a link saying ‘click to continue.’  This means that in order to finish reading the article the reader had to click.

As expected the bounce rate of that page dropped from 80% to 50%.  You can see this in the light blue line on the graph above – it drops around February 20th.

What you will also notice is that a week later the hits to that page spiked. The increased by approx 25%. Google now sent me more traffic.  I did not change anything else about this article. All I did was added a ‘click to continue’ button.  In other words, Google rewarded me for making the article harder to read. They think that a click means that the reader likes my site more.
What’s the problem? The problem is that this encourages publishers like myself to put a  ‘click to continue’ button in the middle of every article. Which is worse for the reader!
Google’s ranking algorithm can tempt web page developers to add too many ‘read more’ buttons to their sites 

2. Problem #2 – Google only encourages ‘regular’ content.

The other thing that I have discovered over the 10 years of macintoshhowto.com is that Google rewards websites that have ‘regular’ content. When I regularly write articles (e.g. an article a week or more) the rankings of macintoshhowto.com tend to go up.   In the other direction, if I have a break for two or three months when I don’t write an article, Google seems to notice this and sends less people to the site.
I’m not talking  about the fact that when I write a new article new people visit that article.  When I write more articles,  Google sends more traffic to my entire site. When I stop writing new articles,  Google starts reducing the amount of traffic it sends to my existing articles. Google rewards a publisher simply for writing regular content to a blog. That may sound good to you. What’s wrong with regular content?
Regular content is great, but not every site needs regular content.
Here’s the problem. Regular content is great, but not every site needs regular content. I have noticed for example that some of my favourite mac websites like ‘cultofmac’ and ‘macroumers’ are spewing out all kinds of articles, essentially about nothing at all, multiple times a day.  It means that I have ‘unsubscribed’ from their content  because it inundates my mailbox with multiple posts every day.
There is a place for blogs that are going to write three or four posts a day. If you are a news website that people are checking every day for the latest news, of course you want new content every day.  But there is a place for blogs that might only write one post every month. If you run a business, like a coffee shop, what is more important is that your content is up to date. You may only need to update your content occasionally – like once every few months.

Conclusion.

Everyone want’s more visitors to their website, and you can play along with Google to get more visitors. But it’s responsibile as a website publisher and say ‘no’ to Google if it makes you website better.
Don’t be a slave to Google analytics results.
For sure, it helps increase your stats to have ‘click to continue’ on all your articles, but think of what your current readers want, not Google. It also helps to have regular content for your site even if you have nothing new to say. But don’t blog about nothing just to increase your ratings. It may bring more visitors but it won’t improve their experience.
I confess, this is hard because it’s a great measurable reward to see your Google stats increase!
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Sep 20

I tend to get sore thumbs from over-using my iPhone. Here’s something interesting that I noticed when I used an Android phone for 6 months. My sore thumbs disappeared. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really notice this until I switched back to the iPhone again, then after about 1 week my sore thumbs reappeared.

I think the difference is the iPhone home button.

It’s not a huge force that is required to press the home button, but because it needs to be pressed  reasonably hard, and it is used a lot (every time you open a new app) it seems to give me sore thumbs.

So if you get sore thumbs, I’d suggest trying this trick to see if they get better.

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Sep 18

I just went to sync my iPhone and I was given this message. This ‘lack of space’ is not a lack of space in your computer, the ‘lack of space’ is on the iPhone. This is somewhat of a bug. I think it is because iTunes is wanting to do some updates to the iPhone and there’s not enough room on the iPhone for this to happen. Whatever the cause, the solution is quite easy. Just uninstall some stuff from your iPhone (e.g. movies, music or photos), sync it, then put the stuff back on. Here’s how.

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Sep 17

movie

iTunes has copy protection on their movies called HDCP which will not allow you to play iTunes rentals or purchases on some older data projectors.   Thankfully there is a simple solution. You just need to watch an SD version  of the movie and it does not have the HDC P protection.  This is not mentioned on Apple’s support webpage but I was able to find out about it when I rang Apple iTunes support.  Read on for how to do this step-by-step.

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Sep 12

Many printer manufacturers have a built in counter on the drum cartridge in their laster printers. This is so that the drum cartridge will get replaced at a regular interval and remain in good condition. The drum can in many cases continue to function a long time after the counter has expired. It is possible to reset the counter in the drum cartridge to extend it’s life. Then you can wait until there are marks or faded patches on the printed pages before you replace the cartridge. In some cases I have been able to reset the drum cartridge 3 times, extending the life of my cartridge to 400,000 copies instead of the the recommended 100,000.

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Sep 10

 

Lots of websites are running articles about whether High Sierra will run on your current model Macintosh computer. The bottom line is, if your machine runs Sierra, it will run High Sierra. The hardware specs for High Sierra are exactly the same as for Sierra. But as usual I suggest you wait until the first update comes along before you upgrade. There are always a bugs in the first release.

If you are still running Yosemite, now might be a good time to upgrade to Sierra.

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Sep 04

If you use your macbook to listen to music, here’s a great tip. You can use your Apple remote (that comes with Apple TV or that you can buy separately on the Apple store) to turn the volume up and down and also to skip, pause etc. But firstly you need to pair the remote to your laptop. Here’s how.

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Aug 28

Over the past couple of months our family has discovered a strange little problem. Our emails have been getting mixed up! My daughters have been sending emails, but the replies have been coming to me. I have been sending emails, and they have appeared as coming from my wife. And in the worst case, some emails have been sent from a separate ical calendar that I don’t even check.

I have finally figured out what is happening, and I can’t believe I didn’t notice it earlier. Read on for what’s causing the problem and how to fix it!

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