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Entries from November 1, 2009 - November 30, 2009

Thursday
Nov262009

Canon S90

I bought a Canon S90 today. After seeing my wife's Canon Ixus 100 I was quite taken by the small pocketable for factor. My G9 is a little large to just slip in a pocket on a night out or just when you want to travel light around a city. I knew there was a small Canon with a decent lens that shot RAW and eventually tracked it down as the S90 model. Looking at various reviews and photo samples on the Canon Digital Photography Forums showed that it was a capable little camera, although my first impression is that it over exposes a little.



Thursday
Nov192009

Canon 7D

I / We bought a Canon 7D today. Nominally it's my wife's camera, but I reckon I'll get some good use out of it. It seems to handle better than my Canon 5D MkII and has better video options.
 
The rain was really heavy all day and there was bad flooding in Cumbria



Tuesday
Nov032009

Moving from Wordpress to Squarespace and my problems with Google

I used to run my "homepage" web site based around the Wordpress blogging platform and I used various SEO and sitemap plugins to get a fairly decent listing in Google.

Due to my existing webhosting completely disappearing one night and not coming back I made the decision to move over to Squarespace hosting at www.squarespace.com. They offer a two week free trial but after only a couple of days my mind was made up and I signed up for their Pro package for one year. I also used one of Leo Laporte's offer codes to get a lifetime discount on my hosting with Squarespace.
 
The change over was fairly smooth. I had a backup of my blog so the import feature in Squarespace slurped all the blog content in with no apparent problems. The other non blog pages were simply cut and pasted into Squarespace.
 
One thing I've noticed is that the editor window in Squarespace is a bit on the small side, I hope that is improved in version 6 of their hosting software. Support on their forums is a bit hit and miss. Sometimes you get no answers at all to your posting; other times you get plenty of help and ideas. I guess it all comes down to the question you asked. I must make it clear though that official support through their support ticket help desk is very quick and efficient and is all you could hope for.
 
My main problem after the move is that Google is still linking to about 3,000 pages in my old non-existent blog. I had hoped that after one month it would have noticed that the pages were each at a slightly different URL and updated its links, but it was still directing my traffic down a cul de sac.
 
After the first month Google had only visited six pages on my new Squarespace site while other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing had made a couple of thousand visits each.
 
I tried a few methods to get Google to notice that changes on my site. The first one was to sign up for and use Google Analytics. You have to insert a bit of code into the header of each page, easily done on Squarespace, and then Google tracks and analyses visits to your pages. I had hoped that this would help Google notice the new pages but it didn't seem to have any effect.
 
Next I tried a sitemap. This wasn't as easy as it is on a Wordpress blog, where a plugin takes case of it automatically for you. I tried various free resources on the internet and eventually ended up buying sitemap software which I run from my Mac to generate the sitemap for me. This also results in a huge spike in site traffic as each page is visited and logged by the sitemap software.
 
I eagerly uploaded the sitemap to my file storage area and let Google know about it, but so far after a week it has only visited eight pages out of about fifteen hundred in total. 
 
My next attempt at getting Google to notice was to sign up for the AdSense programme and yet another bit of Google code was inserted, this time into my right hand side menu, and which resulted in a couple of small text adverts being displayed on my pages. This seems to be a little more successful as Google's crawler has now paid nearly three hundred visits to my site, still some way behind Bing and Yahoo, but a definite improvement on before.
 
There wasn't much more I could to to poke Google into looking at my nice new shiny Squarespace hosted site so I next took a look at what happened when visitors followed a duff link to my site.
 
The standard Squarespace "page not found" page is not all that inspiring and I'm not at all convinced that it generates the proper 404 error back to the referring site or search engine. It also wasn't customisable, something I think Squarespace need to address sooner rather than later. I'd seen a thread on their support forums about using javascript to detect the string "page not found" in a page title and to then redirect it to your own custom "page not found" page. I tried this and found that it worked in that I could customise my own "page not found" and suggest that the viewer used the in built search function or the menus over on the right hand side to find what they were looking for.
 
This method still doesn't produce a proper 404 error so my worry remains that the likes of Google and other search engines may think that any links to my "missing" pages are still valid and OK to send traffic to. Only a few days after creating this 404 error page I notice that over 50% of my "Popular Content" in Squarespace's excellent statistics page is to my "404 Page Not Found" page.
 
It seems there’s not much more I can do now but sit back, wait, and hope that it eventually sorts itself out. Apart from this problem my experience with moving to Squarespace has been positive. Sure, you lose some flexibility when moving from Wordpress and you also lose access to all of the wonderful plugins. What you also leave behind is the seeming weekly need to upgrade either Wordpress and the many plugins you use and the worry a your site being hacked if you don't.
 
My only other comment regarding moving is to spend some time deciding on your layout and navigation before committing to it as it isn't always easy to change it later on. Text pages can easily be dragged around, but I initially started off with my photo galleries in the top menu bar and I now want to redesign them and have them in the right hand side menu bar and I fear that I may have to start over again on them.

Update 1: As of 16th November Google seems to have paid a bit more attention to the site and my top three crawler stats for the past month are as follows:

Bing 1,273 / 45.84%
Yahoo 760 / 27.37%
Google 685 / 24.67%

 

However, after uploading a sitemap containing over 1,600 entries it had only indexed 11 of them and was also showing 7,972 pages not found. I still don't understand why Google isn't paying more attention to my sitemap. 

Update 2: Finally, on 29th November, Google seems to have sorted itself our with regards to this site. I'd completely changed to navigation to my photo galleries and submitted another sitemap to Google. Of the 1,814 URLs in the sitemap Google looked at just 12.

Meanwhile the number crawl errors for "not found" pages on my Google webmaster tools page grew to 20,486. I've nowhere near that amount of pages, but lots of data such as my previous photo gallery software and also my genealogy data had lots of ways of linking to various items and thus generated a huge amount of links.

However, Google now seems to have finally purged all of the old bad links out of its system and the amount of 404 page not found errors finally seems to have dropped to zero.

As Google seems to ignore my sitemap, and Squarespace don't reccommend using one anyway, I'll now delete the sitemap and continue to monitor what happens.