Yahoo! Updates Mail Terms and Conditions

Unless you’ve been hiding in a bunker all day today, you’ve probably heard that Yahoo! has updated the terms and conditions for using Yahoo! Mail. Apparently Yahoo! will now systematically scan the contents of your mail messages in order to better target the ads they place in your mail. The update apparently includes the following statement:

Check Your Sites With Google

Earlier this week, I received a report that something fishy was going on with one of my websites. The report indicated that some sort of spam had infiltrated the site, informing users about great deals on pharmaceuticals. Needless to say, since we had not recently gone into the business of selling drugs (legal or otherwise), this was a bit suspicious.

I headed to the page that was included in the report and checked it out in about 20 different ways. I opened it in each of the five browsers I have installed; I viewed the regular source of the page; I viewed the generated source (after the JavaScript has run and modified the source) of the page and couldn’t find anything about the pharmaceuticals reported in the message.

Reset Stylesheets

Whenever I begin slicing up a new website design to turn it into a template, one of the first things I do is to implement a reset stylesheet. The ideal reset stylesheet will essentially turn off all of the proprietary default CSS properties that browsers impose on various HTML elements. At the very least, padding and margins need to be reset, as each of the major browsers tend to implement those in completely different manners.

Improve Your Page Performance

The other day, Glen Campbell (no, not “Rhinestone Cowboy” Glen Campbell) posted some tips on Friendfeed to help people improve the performance of their Web pages. I can’t say I completely agree with every single one of the suggestions across all situations, but they are definitely a great place to start. Glen indicated to me that his tips are “basically a distallation of the Yahoo! Developer Network “Best Practices”“, but I think he’s done a really good job of pulling out the meat of those best practices and putting them in a language that can be easily understood. I hope you will evaluate the tips and best practices for yourself and use the tips that apply to your situation as well as you can.

A Fond Farewell to Geocities

Today marked the end of an era, as Yahoo! finally put the classic free host Geocities out of its misery. Although Geocities has become the butt of many an Internet-related joke over the years, I guarantee that the world would be a very different place today had Geocities never existed. First of all, many Web developers and designers got their start with one of the free sites offered by Geocities. In addition, I’m almost certain that sites like MySpace (and, as a result, Facebook) would have never been conceived had the idea not begun with Geocities.

I hopped on the Geocities bandwagon shortly after it began back in 1994 (I might have joined in 95, but I know it was still the early days of the service). They offered a great jumping off point for anyone interested in learning HTML. For the time, they offered fantastic free hosting (complete with the ability to run certain CGI scripts) and had some amazing tutorials and tools available to help put together your own Web site.

Four Things You Need to do for Your Web Site

For many people, most of these things will be old hat. However, this post is just intended to recap four necessary steps for any webmasters trying to get their Web sites indexed by various search engines.

Create a Site Map

First and foremost, you must have an XML sitemap. Almost all search engines (certainly the three big ones) utilize a sitemap to become aware of all pages on your site. If you have good link structure, a sitemap might not be necessary, but, it doesn’t take much effort to put one together, and the benefits could be fantastic.

Many content management systems (CMS) will automatically generate a sitemap for you, but, if you aren’t using a CMS that does that, you have a few other options. If your site has an auto-generated RSS feed, that can be a good place to start. Most search engines will treat an RSS feed the same way an XML sitemap is treated, so that can make a big difference.

If you don’t have an auto-generated sitemap or RSS feed, there are quite a few tools you can use to create a sitemap; but you’ll have to make sure you update it each time your site architecture changes. A site called “XML-Sitemaps” will crawl your site and create a sitemap for up to 500 pages for free.

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