The Downside Of Encrypted Search

Back when Google first introduced SSL search I loved it, and thought it was a great idea. The problem is now that I’m getting back into Internet marketing I am finding myself much more conflicted about it.

The basic idea behind SSL search was simple – let people use Google but hide their activity. That makes sense. There’s one big flaw, however, and here it is:

downside of encrypted search

Yep, it hides a good chunk of my keyword data. That’s annoying. It makes SEO a whole lot more difficult. Then again… perhaps that is what they wanted? A way to force marketers to stay on their tip-toes?

But I digress; that image is a major downside of encrypted search. That said, do I think the privacy benefits are worth it? Sure! Would it be nice if Google provided some simpler ways of doing keyword analysis with 3rd-party tools (like you could before)? Hell yeah!

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So How Does That WordPress Htaccess Work?

WordPress LogoHave you ever wondered what that WordPress-generated .htaccess file actually does? This post gives you a quick line-by-line rundown of the file.

Before we begin we should go over mod_rewrite, the Apache module that WordPress relies on. Mod_Rewrite basically lets you rewrite one url to another. You can perform simple page redirects, point virtual/fake paths to a specific file (like WordPress does), or even redirect your non-www site to www.

Mod rewrite is used by WordPress to create your URL slugs – like /topics, /about, etc. These paths do not correlate to physical files on your server, instead the paths are passed to a single file (index.php), which will use the WordPress database to figure out what to load.

For reference, here is the code generated on this very install of WordPress:

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# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

Here’s a breakdown of each line:

  • Lines 2 and 9 – The IfModule lines (at the top and buttom) both check that the mod_rewrite Apache module is activated. If it was not activated and these lines were not in place – you would have server error-galore.
  • Line 3 – Turns on the rewrite engine.
  • Line 4 – This basically tells your server that the URLS are at the server root, rather than inside a folder.
  • Line 5 – Don’t rewrite requests to index.php. [L] Tells it to stop here.
  • Line 6 and 7 – Don’t rewrite the URL if it is going to an actual file (images, css files, directories, etc).
  • Line 8 – All other requests (“fake URLs” “slugs” etc) will goto index.php. WordPress finds out what page you requested via a server variable called REQUEST_URI.
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Quick’N’Dirty Weighted Link Rotation Script

Over the years I’ve worked with numerous clients who have needed this same basic script for their sites – a link rotator. Here is a dumbed-down version of the code that I use:

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<?php
 
//add links here
//format: "link_url" => weight
$links = array(
	"http://www.nusuni.com"=>1,
	"http://www.google.com"=>1,
	"http://www.apple.com"=>1
);
 
$expanded = array();
 
foreach($links as $link=>$weight) {
	for($i = 0;$i < $weight;$i++) {
		$expanded[] = $link;
	}
}
 
shuffle($expanded);
$link = $expanded[array_rand($expanded)];
 
echo $link . PHP_EOL;
?>

To add a link simply append it to the $link array, using the same format as the existing links. The weights have to be whole numbers. It is really simple – if you have two links with weights of 4 and 2 – that means the link with a weight of 4 will be shown twice as much as the 2.

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Silly Google Algorithms, Gordon Ramsay Is Not Beethoven!

This one stumps me. Really. So here I was, surfing YouTube (as any true blooded modern-day geek does after a long day of work), and I came upon one of Beethoven’s symphonies. I listened for a few minutes, then looked upon the sidebar and saw this:

umm…what?

Now, I’m not really sure why that happened. Gordon Ramsay is about as far from Beethoven as you can get. I mean, they sort of *look* alike (crazy hair, mean face), so perhaps there is some facial recognition thing going on? Even weirder – there was a link for a sushi video right under it.

My algorithm-orientated mind is having a really hard time trying to figure out how the heck Google thinks those videos are “related” Even weirder – when I refresh it shows a different video of Gordon Ramsay each time, but all the other “related” videos remain exactly the same.

Sometimes you just gotta love Google quirks.

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Frame Buster 1.0.2

Hey all,

I just uploaded a minor bug fix for my frame buster plugin. It has some extra sanitation code to remove slashes from host entries. For some reason slashes make it through the PHP host filter… odd. Anyhoo, you can download the newest version here.

I’ve also tested the plugin on WP 3.5.1 and it works great!

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