Posts tagged ‘wrox’

Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP: A Fine Mix

What? Is this a merketing blog or what? Why would you even review a book about SEO on a blog dedicated to Drupal, PHP, MySQL and the likes?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we all know quite well that creating a website that can be found among all the other sites on the web has always been important to the success of any site, and I’m certain that you as a programmer are quite concerned with the success of the site you have worked on for so long.

If you have content sites and want to make money, or you have some other motivation to want your sites to become as popular as possible, you must not ignore the importance of global search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. It is no secret that Search engine optimization, or as it is known by the geeks, SEO, is as important to the marketing of a website as image optimization is to its graphic design.

If you were not aware of that, try using a web server log analyzer tool, or a site audience analyzer service like Google Analytics, so you can determine how many visitors Google leads to your site every day. The conclusion: many users start looking for what they want from the Internet using search engines sites. I am certain that you will reveal that more than 50% of your visitors come to your site after having searched for something on Google.

However, having your site pages just listed in Google definitely is not enough. When the users search for something, pages from other sites may, and probably will, appear before yours. Users tend to click on pages that appear first in search results pages. I’m sure you do the same most of the time.

It is therefore obvious that the more pages you have appearing first in Google search results pages, more visitors you will get.

But, the question naturally arises, how Google decides which pages appear first, and What can be done to make your site pages appear before other sites’ pages? Those are questions answered by a relatively new Internet science named Search Engine Optimization, or in short SEO.

That is precisely the main topic of the book “Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP” (Buy it on Amazon). This book is targeted at the PHP programmer who needs to understand the many technical issues involved when programming a search-engine-friendly site from attracting search engine spiders to site promotion.

Even if SEO is nothing new to you, I am quite sure that until reading this book you do not realize how much can be done from a architectural standpoint for SEO, and this book is designed for improving ranking during development and design of the website using lots of code examples and practice exercises which show how to implement the techniques covered in the book.

Among the topics covered in this book, for example, is the problem most sites are faced with when having to decide between visual design and spider efficiency. We all love to have our site visitors enjoy those cool looking interactive features, such as fancy menus, that can be created using JavaScript, Ajax and Flash, but the problem is that these same features make it difficult for search engines to find your site. However, web readers have come to expect a certain amount of interactivity and without at least a few of these goodies, your site will be bland by today’s standards. The authors discuss this problem and cover several ways to help such as generating SEO images and the use of graphic text.

Spread over sixteen chapters Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP details vigorously the points of interest within a complex landscape of not always obvious techniques.

The book begins with a nice discussion of how to set up the programming environment including setting up the MySQL server and then move on to tools and resources for the IT professional and the basics of search engine optimization, like Google page rank algorithm and what factors may influence it, penalties that your site may get for not having things done appropriately, and tools that may assist in your SEO efforts.

One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization is the URL. The URLs that you generate for your pages must not only be search engine friendly but also people friendly. The authors discuss how to make the task of creating and managing search-engine-friendly URLs easier. Another problem you will encounter is duplicate content which will harm your site’s search engine rating. The authors discuss many ways to prevent or minimize this problem such as using robots.txt and meta exclusion.

Since one of the most popular ways to promote a website is with RSS feeds and syndication which, in order to be effective,  must be updated as new content is added to your site. This can be a daunting and time consuming task especially if your site is updated several times a minute. Two answers to this problem offered by the authors are to automate the generation of RSS feeds with a PHP class and displaying feeds with SimplePie.

Zooming in further, the next eleven chapters focus directly on specific issues such as the evil of duplicating content or answering the now obvious question of why site maps are important, and how to use social bookmarking sites to increase the exposure of your site, increasing the relevance of your site pages by making links to those pages appear in other sites, considerations about non-English sites or sites of interest for users of specific regions, etc…

This book has a specific chapter dedicated to black hat SEO practices. It explains what are those practices, why their bad, and what search engine companies do to fight them. It also talks about the legendary Matt Cutts, a distinct employer of Google that leads the company initiatives to what is known as search engine ethics.

The parts that really focus on PHP are the ones that provide examples of dynamic sites generated with PHP. For instance, there is one specific chapter that focus on optimizing WordPress based sites.

This book is for anyone that wishes to improve the ranking of their PHP enabled website or who needs to comprehend the great number of little details involved with optimizations.

July 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm 19 comments

Professional PHP6: professional to its max

I am sure you are quite excited about the upcoming release of the new version of our beloved PHP language, but are you ready for it? Are you actually ready to make use of the new features? Further more, are you aware of all the new additions and improvements in the language?

Well, if you are like me, you must be thinking ‘Gee, I really should get some preperation going before this new version rolls around’. Well, that’s why we would love to present you today with a new book called Professional PHP6, by Ed Lecky-Thompson, Steven D. Nowicki, published by the great people at Wrox publishing. (Buy it on Amazon)

Before going any further, I would like to just make it clear that this book is for PHP developers who are interested in expanding and leveraging their development skills by taking advantage of the features of the sixth major release, and that a solid understanding of the basics of PHP application development is essential before reading this book.

In case you are ready to go “proffesional”, this book is definitely worth all its value because by reading this one you will discover how to unleash the power of PHP6 and push it to its limits, and You’ll learn how to use PHP 6 in the larger scheme of enterprise-class software development and practical examples and behind-the-scenes information will improve your skills for designing and building better large-scale, high-performance platforms using PHP 6. The book also takes care of highlighting the differences between PHP6 and earlier versions.

This book goes beyond just showing you how to create a quick and uncomplicated site; it helps you deliver better quality software in a shorter amount of time using PHP6.

In the first few chapters you will get the chance to learn the fundamentals of professional development and a review of basic object oriented programming (OOP) concepts, before moving on to more advanced development techniques.

The authors eventually put all that information consumed into practice and build an application from the ground up using a model-view controller framework. Ultimately, you will get the inside know-how for pushing the limits of how to maximize the full feature set of PHP 6 .

Since this is by all means a “profeesional” book, you should expect to learn some quite advanced topics like how to use the tools that are available with PHP6, such as namespaces, collections, iterators, the roles of databases in enterprise applications development, and how to approach common software development challenges by using various PHP6 techniques.

Among other topics discussed, you will find information on the importance of quality assurance (QA) and testing, and how to approach it on projects of varying scales, and how to construct high traffic or high availability using PHP6 sites that resemble sites like Facebook and Flickr, so that you are able to make full use of PHP-driven content management systems and content management frameworks.

July 24, 2009 at 1:05 pm 9 comments

Beginning MySQL: Not just for the beginner

Talking with many PHP developers, it is quite clear that one of the weak points a lot of of them face is their lack of a deeper understanding in terms of MySQL. That is why when we got Beginning MySQL, by Robert Sheldon and Geoff Moes, published by the great Wrox publishing, we got quite excited.

Of course, as the title says it is a “beginning” series book, but since we found that so many good developers are looking for a good guide on MySQL, we assumed we start from A and only than will we review the more advanced books.

For those out there who are not yet familiar with it, MYSQL is an open-source standard DBMS that is one of the most popular in being used as the back-end on millions of websites. MySQL boasts ease of implementation, minimal overhead, consistent reliability, and low total cost of ownership.

We found this book to be not only a wonderful starter guide to learning MYSQL but also as a great tool for people who have learned some MYSQL on their own and want a guide and/or resource for learning more intermediate topics.

In this book you will find great resources on how to get, install and configure MYSQL whether it be on a Windows or UNIX environment. As we all know, jumping into creating your tables before you understand design theory can be disastrous down the road when you realize you need to re-design your tables which can lead to hours of extra work. This is why right at the beginning of the book, the author on topics like how to create a relational database while explaining good design with normalization, relationships (one to many, many to many, etc), understanding what a data model is, and showing some good database examples.

The authors go into explaining the SQL (Structured Query Language) in how to create a table, retrieve data, update, append and delete data. The book spends a good amount of time on the basics of SQL and shows some really great examples. After the basics it discusses the MYSQL specific syntax and more complex queries and uses coupled with more good examples for each of them. The author does a great job of going through the syntax first then shows some examples and then goes through using the new syntax in a database project as well.

After going through the basics the book leads you into administration tasks such as exporting and copying databases, managing transactions, setting up security and optimizing and performance issues. The final three chapters cover using different web technologies (PHP, ASP.NET and Java) to interact with MYSQL databases and show data on a web page, being very nice change of pace that can prove helpful if you want to get into web development as well.

To sum it all up, we would advise every person who want to learn MYSQL to go out and get this book. Getting this book will assure you know your way around MySQL when your queries begin getting more complex than a simple SELECT statement… We believe that by the end of the book you’ll have a solid foundation for understanding MySQL as a robust, flexible, and easy-to-implement application that has many diverse uses.

July 8, 2009 at 6:08 pm 18 comments


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