May 26 2010

New Red Eye Review article: Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimeMy review of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is now online at Red Eye Review.

As a huge fan of the games, I was nervous about watching the new film. Thankfully, gamers can rejoice: for the first time ever, we have a game-turned-film that isn’t a complete disaster. But is it any good?

Read my review of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

May 19 2010

X-ray SEO: how to super up your site’s search ranking

Superman: man of SEO (Image source: DC Comics)Getting your site noticed online can feel like putting a needle into a stack that consists of hay, straw, pins, paperclips and other needles – many of which look identical to yours – and then hoping that someone will inadvertently find it. In fact, if you don’t know what you’re doing, your users will need the online equivalent of Superman’s X-ray vision to find your content.

Don’t give up, though. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising – something I will cover in a future article – will get you into the sponsored section of the Google results page, but even a basic understanding of the principles of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will go a long way towards placing your site at the top of the ‘organic’ search results.

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May 16 2010

Site upgrades

I’ve spent today upgrading this site, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Aside from starting up the blog last week, these updates represent probably the biggest changes I’ve made on the site so far.

The main pieces of work were:

  • Adding the blog RSS feed to the home page. This was probably more difficult than it should have been. I’m a writer not a coder, and working out the inner machinations of WordPress widgets and PHP are still a little beyond me on a Sunday morning. Thankfully, I found the excellent Table of Contents Creator plugin, which I’m now criminally underusing as a feed. It may be that, one day, I open it up and run a site map through the plugin – as it’s designed to do, but for the moment I’m perfectly happy with my Links page, which is basically the same thing.
  • Adding a new Contact page. This now replaces my email address across the site, thereby making it easier for me in the long run to change email addresses. The form uses a fantastic plugin called Contact Form 7.
  • Merging the Comics and Fiction pages into one. Two reasons: I’m not writing much short fiction at the moment, which meant that the Fiction page wouldn’t have been updated for a while, and I wanted to shorten my menu bar, which meant getting rid of some menu options. I’m still not happy with how the new page looks, but then again I’m not happy with my (newly re-titled) Articles page layout either. I’ll be reviewing these over the coming weeks.

Any thoughts on the changes? Let me know in the comments – or contact me!

May 13 2010

Article published on Freelance:UK

My previous post about writing for the web has been published by Freelance:UK, a website for creative freelancers.

Many thanks to Simon Moore of Moore News Limited for his help with getting it published, and thanks to Freelance:UK for the opportunity.

Wording it well: a guide to writing on the web – Freelance:UK

May 13 2010

Public not private: how to lose £1,000 in 140 characters

Paul Chambers: fined £1,000 for single tweetAh, Twitter. To some, it’s the best way of keeping abreast of the latest developments round the world; to others, it’s a nuisance site filled with reprobates with too much free time on their hands. Whichever way you think of it, it is certainly popular, with around 19% of US internet users logging into the service to share updates about themselves and to catch up on news from friends and celebrities.

Pity, then, poor Paul Chambers, whose innocent tweet about his frustrations with the Robin Hood airport in South Yorkshire, UK, has led to a guilty verdict and a £385 fine, a £15 victims surcharge and £600 in court costs, not to mention the loss of his job. So what did Chambers do to be branded a potential terrorist and invoke a fine that would put most petty criminal punishments to shame?

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May 10 2010

Wording it well: a guide to writing for the web

There’s a lot of bad writing on the web. This always surprises me, because the reality is that writing online is not particularly difficult once you know what you’re doing. The problem is that, if you don’t know what you’re doing, bad writing can destroy any chance your site has of attracting repeat visitors.

In simple terms, there are two types of web writing: page content and articles. Both have their merits and their limitations, but many of the rules for one apply to the other. Keep reading for my advice on how to make your online writing sparkle.

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May 9 2010

First post…

I’m in the process of building my blog. You’ll have to bear with with me – I’m still getting used to all this CSS nonsense…