Server updates

I now have Drupal installed to serve web pages for my technology consulting profile. I’m yet to put any real content on there, but the exercise in building the website was worthwhile. I was surprised at the speed of configuration (mine is not the most simple system now), and also impressed at the availability of themes. I was also impressed at how easy it is to theme plain HTML pages outside of the CMS with freely available CSS themes.

I’ve also gone through the update process for Diaspora* quite a few times, and the instructions work well. The only note is that they should also point out it might be a good idea to update gems at the same times.

Note on progress of content change requests

This is a brief note regarding he continuing quest to remove or reduce the content that has incorrectly implicated me in an internet scam. I have found someone to contact regarding one abandoned forum, and have done so. I have also again requested another site remove some content implicating me in the scams. I hope these will be effective.

I have also stepped up the registration of my sitemaps to hopefully boost the amount of indexing done for me.

My Diaspora* Pod is up!

As a further foray in to open source software, and taking a more personal ownership to sharing data, I’ve had a look in to Diaspora*. Rather than dabbling round the edges, I’ve installed my own pod.

If you are unfamiliar with Diaspora*, what it is and what it stands for, check out Join Diaspora*.

So installing it is far from easy. It is still considered to be in “Alpha”, and so instructions are changing on a regular basis. Also, as it can integrate with other products such as Facebook and Twitter, instructions on how to do that has to keep pace with those products and their APIs.

Simplest and best advice for installation is follow the instructions on the GitHub wiki for Diaspora*, and it will get you a long way. There are plenty of sites telling you the instructions are wrong and provide alternatives, but this appears to be no longer required. The next thing is to take a good look at everything in the config directory, even if you don’t think you need to configure it. I had a silent failure (Diaspora* has a habit of just stopping when things go wrong and not always providing log file comments) due to a non-existent directory being required as a log file repository.

The biggest gap in instructions for me was how to configure Apache2 to do all the things you need it to. It largely came down to working out which modules need to be loaded to fix which not-so-helpful error messages.

I’ve managed to get Twitter to allow me to twet from Diaspora*, but I’m yet to have any luck with Facebook. It seems to revolve around a lack of callback URL, something which the Facebook interface is yet to let me do. This is one of the issues where if I let my side try to contact Facebook and it doesn’t work, Diaspora* aborts ungracefully, leaving me to have to clean up the still running processes. Failure to clean up the ruby processes causes great confusion on the next restart. I’m currently running the server on a detached screen which is a little bit manual, but it seems to work.

Some more details on actions taken

So I thought it might be a good point to discuss why the rankings have changed. Broadly speaking, the approach has been to ask people to remove the misleading content, and secondly, to add more content about me that is under my control.

In the cases of removing content as well as generating new content, there needs to be some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) performed. There are quite a few ways to do this. For a start, the content on here is submitted in multiple ways to multiple search engines. This includes both at the root website level and at the wordpress level. Further submission techniques have been used to add “link juice” to faster promote these pages as active. Lastly, some keyword advertising with Google also helps to promote the correct content, but created some interesting side effects that need management.

There has also been a wide range of extra pages created on various sites to highlight what I would like to be known about me. While these sites will then require maintenance, it does help improve my profile.

Lastly, there are some sites out there worth regularly keeping an eye on. These are the ones that involuntarily start indexing information about you, unless you find the super-secret way to opt-out. These sites are a mixed blessing, and as long as they are watched carefully, they can add to the positive content.

Search rankings update

Time to do another snapshot of where things are at. Bear in mind that rankings do bounce around a lot, and I am only viewing them from my own searching perspective (affecting locality). I am not logged in to Google when searching, so hopefully it doesn’t tailor the answers by detecting who I am some other way.

Page 1: bad results at #5,7 (out of 10)

Page 2: #9

Page 3: #5

Page 1: #9 (out of 10)

Page 2: #3, #9, #10

Page 3: #2, #8

Page 1: #9 (out of 10)

Page 2: #3, #9, #10

Page 3: #2, #8

Page 1: #3, #5 (out of 10; excluding my ads inserted between 1 & 2, and at the end.)

Page 2: #3

Page 3: none!

One continuous page: result #5, 6, 12 out of a total of 27 results. One less result here is a good thing in this context.

Bing and Yahoo! are looking a lot better on the first page. Very happy with that. Ask has improved slightly on page 1, and Google has made no difference to page one. Duckduckgo has also improved a little, as all of the engines have improved at least a little in the lower ranks.

Overall, there are signs of improvement but still a lot more to do. First impressions count, so my focus is on the first page; but I still want to be more thorough than that.