I am taking a break from writing and blogging for a while. Life has taken a sudden turn and there are lots of things to be dealt with. Will return to this space when I can. Until then...
P.S. My works are inexorably biased and unabashedly idiosyncratic.
@ 20/06/2012 – 10:45:16
@ 22/04/2012 – 13:12:33
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Robert M. Prisig
It is said that you can’t go for Vaishno Devi Yatra until and unless there’s a calling from divine goddess herself. Do I believe it now? Well I still have my share of doubt but after an array of invitation from friends, family and acquaintances over past few years I finally acceded to my colleagues request to join them for trip to Vaishno Devi, well a pilgrimage is more like it.
Vaishno Devi Pilgrimage in India is second only to Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple which is the most visited religious shrine in India. Located in the Trikuta Hills 14 kilometers from Katra – from where the pilgrimage starts- Vaishno Devi is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in India, visited by almost 8 millions pilgrims every year.
On 24th of February after an exciting day at office which was preceded by weeks of frenzied planning by excited colleagues, our motley crew boarded Doronto Express from Sarai Rohilla station for Jammu. There’s no pantry car in the train so many of us were carrying our dinner which we had together.
Well talking about the train journey, it was a long time since I had travelled in a sleeper coach. And I do missed the comforts of the AC compartment. The biggest luxury of traveling in AC coaches is the clean toilets. The toilet of Doronto was in sorry state and even flesh were not working. Ah! Mamta Didi if only you’d let the best Rail Budget in quite a few years pass and not gone for populist measures I would have hoped for improvement in Indian railways. Alas! It was not to be.
The train, Doronto Express, left around 10 O’clock in the night from Delhi and we arrived in Jammu in the early hours of a cold but fresh morning. Getting off the train was a relief. Outside the station, we had a hot cup of tea with snacks. Most of the other passengers were doing the same. Out of nowhere a nondescript lady in tattered clothes arrived and began accosting people gathered near the tea stall with some choicest expletives for our top politicians and India. That was one - and thankfully only - shocking incident to greet travelers, mostly Vaishno Devi Yatra pilgrims, in Jammu.
At the bus stand we were joined by one more person – an army officer and friend of one of my colleague and our group of pilgrims answering mata’s call was complete. A bus ride from there to Katra was supposed to be a 2 hours ride through rolling hills and scenic valleys. But then where’s the fun when everything is already planned.
In all the trips I have made this was the most neatly planned tour, planned 2 months in advanced whereas normally its not more than 2 hours of planning where to go on a weekend. If every piece of the jigsaw had fit together, Vaishno Devi pilgrimage plan entailed that we will begin our climb by 3-4 in the evening the same day and get back to Katra the next morning and then leave for Patnitop and cover Nathatop the next day and catch the train from Udhampur on Monday evening. But fate had other plans for us.
Even before we could have traveled for half an hour, the bus we were traveling on got stuck in a massive jam. From there it moved at snail’s speed for a few more kilometers before coming to a complete halt somewhere ahead of White Knight’s Golf Club. To our dismay we found out that the highway is clogged up with vehicles 14 kilometers further up the hills and for next 3-4 hours we were not moving at all and that there was no guarantee if the vehicles would move at all before evening. So we were in a predicament. Were we really?
The place where our bus was stuck was flanked by a hillock on one side and a valley on the other with a stream flowing through it, green pastures and horses grazing in it. So we took the trail and descended towards the stream. The adrenaline rush of adventure was palpable in members of our group. Shouting and screaming in excitement everyone was charged up as the rejuvenating natural ambience left each one of us enchanted. There was a frenzied photo shoot and after an hour of frolicking we returned to bus to recharge our batteries.
Soon our stock of water was over and I along with a friend embarked on a little adventure of our own to find water to drink. After walking a few kilometers we arrived near a cantonment area. There was a large open ground were people were picnicking. Can you believe all were travelers stuck in the jam and there were 100s of them? After walking a few 100 meters we arrived at the only source of water which was a water tank of the army. As I was carrying only 1 bottle which I knew I’d need when I walk back and since I also had to carry some water for fellows back there by the bus, I asked an army man if they could provide us with some bottle in which we could carry water. He replied that the only bottles that they have are empty bottles of Rum which we could wash and then carry our water. Was I surprised? Not at all! I know that in army if there’s one thing which could be found in plenty and very cheap, it’s the alcohol.
When I returned to the bus almost 3 hours had already passed and most of our group member were now hungry as well as thirsty and there’s were no signs of jam coming off. After much deliberation and conversation with local drivers we decided to walk ahead. They told us that a few kilometers ahead there is a dhaba so leaving two person behind to look after the belongings we decided to walk to the joint to fend for our food and drinks. It was also taken into consideration that in case the jam clears we could always catch the bus as we were moving in the forward direction.
I believe that we walked for like an hour or so and at that time it was like we were walking forever. Everyone we asked en-route told us that the so called “dhaba” is 1 kilometer ahead and we were told this over and over again as we keep on walking up the winding road. The sun was out and after a while we began to feel the heat. Even as we walked every banner caught hold of our sight appeared like our eagerly awaited dhaba. At that particular time and moment I could feel a kinship with dwellers of desert and could actually see the mirage. Every hoarding and billboard raised our hope, beckoned us, inspired us to keep moving, and ever drew us forward like a burnished beacon; like an oasis in desert.
After walking forever we did arrive at “the dhaba”. To our relief and disappointment all we could find there was tea and drinking water which we did with much gusto. When we asked about where we could find something to eat and drink, the locals told us half kilometer ahead. And we burst into laughing exhausted after walking so many “half kilometers”. We stayed there sprawling on the green grounds near the tea stall and waited for our bus the jam was giving way to smooth traffic and after 20 minutes or so our bus did arrived and finally we were on our way to Katra. Not half kilometers ahead we did saw a proper dhaba and a bar and we looked at each other and burst out laughing again. Now that’s what I call the interplay of “predestination and freewill”.
After riding for more than 8 hours we arrived in Katra which is not even 2 kilometers drive from Jammu Railway Station. We were down but not out. I couldn’t believe when everybody encored that we should begin our trek as soon as we dump our luggage and freshen up in the hotel. Finally at around 9 O’clock, we began our Vaishno Devi Yatra from Katra. The pilgrimage was finally on.
The path to the shrine is well paved and one could find it strewn with shops all along the way to Adhkuwari. This is perhaps the most commercialized pilgrimage I have ever undertaken. You can eat and drink all that you want to provided it is not alcoholic. Pilgrims who undertake have 4 options to reach the shrine of Vaishno Devi at Bhavan. They could either walk – the most arduous way, take the palanquin – mostly preferred by rich elderly pilgrims, hire ponies – the most common and suits middle class budget and finally fly on board Pawanhans Helicopter – suitable for those who don’t have much time to spare.
We walked in the blanket of darkness which otherwise would have been quite an incredible view as well as motivation for the tiring trek we were on. Every kilometer of the uphill climb was like walking 100. After the tiring walk of the day we were yet to recover from the fatigue and it was taking its toll even. Soon we were all separated from each other in groups of 2-3 and 4. I along with my friend formed the rear – and I was the only seasoned trekker in the group, what a humbling experience. Walking with me was Dinesh and he had decided to attempt the entire pilgrimage barefoot – in which he eventually succeeded. I only walked barefoot for half an hour at Bhavan and I needed 1 hour just to have the sensation back in my feet. It went cold and numb and I couldn’t feel a thing, it is amazing bordering on flabbergasting that he done the entire uphill climb barefoot in snowy season.
Somehow we kept walking and after following the arduous trail arrived in Adhkuwari at around 11 O’clock. It was quite an achievement. We regrouped near a food joint and I had one of the most flavorsome teas I ever had in my life for just 4 bucks. Quickly 4 cups were gulped by me that was quite enough to quench my appetite. Everything else available there came at much higher price. Every packaged snack, biscuit etc were priced half as much. After years of traveling it doesn’t baffle me anymore that “serving gods” means good business. Even in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand, cabs cost twice as much as they should normally - most of them are owned by religious trusts and swamijis. I could understand the price of maggi owing to the hardship of transportation and all when I go trekking but where vehicles are available and pilgrims throng the place round the year such overpricing is confounding or sheer business in the name of religion and piety.
Anyways, as everywhere else, all around the trail to the shrine, plastic bags adorn both sides even when dustbins are available all along. Pilgrims don’t think twice before disposing off their litter anywhere but in the dustbin. It’s alarming to see the amount of plastic waste which is casually thrown everywhere. I don’t think Ma Vaisho Devi will take this is her own stride because it’s definitely poisoning and destroying her abode. Adhkuwari also bears the brunt of the litter. It’s dirty and strewn with garbage. Although, sweepers and cleaners do their job round the clock but then there are thousands of apathetic pilgrims and only a handful of them.
There was a long queue at Adhkuwari and we were assigned our number which ranged in 390s – a number which is assigned for darshan at garb joon where Ma Vaisno Devi took refuge for nine months from Bhairav, the Tantrik. She was supposedly meditated for power and wisdom to defeat Bhairav. She was eventually located and emerged out of the garbh joon incarnated as Maha Kali and in a fit of rage struck Bhairav with such force that his severed head flew more than 2 kilometers before falling on a hill top where now the fatigued pilgrims have to walk in order to appease Ma Vaisno Devi and ensure completion of the pilgrimage. There’s a blessing even in the curse and when demons die they eventually find salvation when it comes to Hindu mythologies. Even our modern day demons are as blessed and it was spectacularly summed up by Pranab Da in his budget speech as he quoted Hamlet “I must be cruel only to be kind”. Ah! The irony of it all.
Diversions apart, given the assigned number, we unanimously agreed to press ahead and reach Bhuvan then press on to Bhairav before returning back to Adhkuwari and audaciously we also decided to do so before our number for darshan is called. So again we hit the trail and started to climb uphill. To our relief, this was a moderate climb but fraught with danger of slide as well as increasingly cold weather. It had snowed and we could feel it as we walked ever ahead. The trail was fairly empty and we could only encounter fewer and fewer pilgrim en-route.
Again I fell in beside Dinesh and we engaged in a healthy discussion on pilgrimage, piety, religion and all those abstract topics which ever confounds me when in comes to almighty and all. I think that was the most satisfying stretch of my Vaishno Devi yatra. It reinforced my beliefs and it also made me understand the other perspective. Ultimately, there are meanings which are always personal, just as pilgrimages are. One could do it listening to his/her ipod, as a date with his/her bf/gf, as an attempt to woo, in palanquin, in helicopter or barefoot; there are always perspectives and there are always motives and every time they are personal.
Even appointments with gods come with privilege. A pilgrim with VIP pass could bypass all number and answer his/her calling with a privilege which a poor barefoot pilgrim couldn’t even dream of. An Amitabh Bachhan has more easy access to god than a mere “Nikhil Chandra”. Perhaps gold is a precious metal even among gods…who knows why the world is the way it is.
Well we did arrive in Bhavan a few hours later and paid our homage. I saw people tying clothes on the steel railing on way to Mata Darshan where it was clearly written in bold not to do so, I saw people shouting Jai Mata Di where it was clearly written not to talk aloud and I saw how the deity of old has given way to shining idols as the original cave is not accessible anymore, at least not to us.
From there it was a tiring walk to Bhairon to complete the pilgrimage as it is mandatory in order to have the privilege of Ma Vaishno Devi blessings. By the time we arrived in Bhairon the sleep was threatening to take over, my body was exhausted and I was afraid even to stand still as I would have fallen asleep standing. As we were descending, it was arduous to keep my eyes open even as I walked. I was afraid I might fall asleep and fall. I slowed my speed to a crawl and was afraid to take the step as it was too risky in the condition I was in. As compared to 28 kilometers of Dodital which rejuvenated my senses, this 7 kilometer walk had my body exhausted as never before. Somehow I did managed climb down to Adhkuwari where I slept for an hour.
The sleep was healing. Soon we had our little walk inside the garbh joon and our pilgrimage was complete. Even as the queue crawled as we made our way to the garbha, I couldn’t but notice people ready to fight it out, to bypass each other so that they could enter first, the phoney faces, the tired faces, the casual faces and a few calm faces.
Every pilgrimage I have undertaken or have heard of requires pilgrims to take a bath somewhere and walk some distance. I have always believed that they are just symbolic, taking a bath at Banganga and walking the trail before taking a bath again in Bhavan does not purge a pilgrim of his sin. Same is true for other baths and walks, be it the Harmandir Sahib or Hemkunt Sahib or the Baba Dham. When scriptures demand that one should come clean to seek the blessing it’s not the body, it’s the mind and spirit. The hardship and trials of journey and meditation along the way is what purges a pilgrim of his sins so that he is clean when he seeks the blessings of his/her god.
The hardships during the climb are the real test and if they don’t transform you in anyway and if that doesn’t makes you stronger; than the pilgrimage ever always fail. When you are standing in the queue, your temperament decides if you have been blessed or not. When you eat that kurkure or drink that kinley, its where you throw the empty bottle and packet that decides if you have been blessed or not. Because blessings of Vaishno Devi Yatra if ever come, comes from within, because only you have power over you to transform yourself and become better and one always has that choice. It’s not there in Garbha joon or Bhavan, the blessing that everyone seeks; it’s all along the way.
Sorry for being gotten carried away. I think it’s better if I talk about my trip to Patnitop in my next post. Hence I should with all due regards conclude my Vaishno Devi Yatra here. And I also once again reiterate that all the views expressed here are personal and no offense is intended to anyone.
@ 25/03/2012 – 04:30:01
If you are looking for tips to improve the visibility of your website in Google search, or if you need answers to some common SEO related problems, here's an interview with the Google search quality team that you will definitely find useful.
The answer to some of the most vital SEO questions come from the panel consisting of John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google Zurich), Matt Cutts (Webspam Engineer, Google California), Zareen Kazim (Strategist, Google India), Koteswara Ivaturi (Project Manager, Google Hyderabad) and Kaspar Szymanski (Strategist, Google Dublin).
Q 1: Google now considers page loading speed as one of the many factors for ranking web pages in search results. Does this mean I should switch my blog to a faster, and more expensive, web host or even consider using a CDN (like Amazon S3)?
Zareen Kazim: If you are sure that switching your blog to a faster webhost or using a CDN will enhance your speed then I say go ahead my friend. Making your site faster will not go unnoticed by your users.
There are lots of tools to help you identify ways to improve the speed of your site. Our official blog post gives lots of links, and some of the links lead to other tools. But just to highlight a few, the site performance tool in Webmaster Tools shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world. In addition, various free-to-use tools offer things like in-depth analysis of individual pages . Google also provides an entire speed-related mini-site with tons of resources and videos about speeding up websites.
Please note, site speed is just one more signal (out of many ) in larger picture of Google's search ranking , this is not a high -impact change and therefore better loading speed will not guarantee ranking.
Q 2: Like most other blogs, I have tons of "archive pages” on my blog that don't have any content but merely group content by author, category or tags. Will these pages constitute "duplicated content” and should I block them from the Googlebot?
John Mueller: Good question. Duplicate content within your site is generally not a problem, however it always makes sense to try to limit it to a reasonable amount to make it easier to recognize your preferred pages. There are several methods to handle duplicate content, and when it comes to archive pages, one simple solution might be to just show a snippet instead of the full article.
Q 3: Over the years, my university has moved my Web site from server to server, and, as such, the URL has changed six times. They use aliases to map all six to the same IP address, so my old links still work but Google considers it as six separate Web sites. Is there anything I can do to consolidate the six URLs?
John Mueller: One easy way to handle duplicate content across different websites is to use the rel=canonical link element. Other possibilities are included in our blog post about handling legitimate cross-domain duplicate content.
Q 4: I was looking at my Google Webmaster Central report and under Sitemap, it says that the total number of URLs is ‘x' while the number indexed in Google is only ‘x-y'. What can I do to get more of my pages in the Google Index?
Zareen Kazim: Google uses a large number of factors to determine which pages to crawl and index. Two important elements to work on are:
- Make sure that your site provides unique and compelling content.
Q 5. We publish a lot of original content but there are scrapers who copy our content without giving any credit. The sad part is sometimes these sites, who copy our content, rank higher than the original content creator. How can we tackle this problem? Does Google Search take into account the timestamp when an article was published for search results rankings? Why does Google even index scrapers?
Koteswara Ivaturi: This is a popular question. At the outset, duplicate content due to scraping does not equate to a webmaster violation because we know that it is not the fault of the webmaster to not have control over who is scraping the content from his website.
Google is very good at identifying the original source in such cases and so that takes care of the any potential negative effects that the original source may have. It is very rare that the scraped sites rank better than the original site in the search results; but if that happens you can follow the instructions.
Q 6. For an image or media-rich website, what are best practices? Too often, the focus remains on written textual content – which of course is a major factor towards a website’s relevance to search terms, but sometimes, artworks are also relevant to the search. Other than adding good ALT text and using descriptive file names for image, what can I do to improve my site's visibility in Google Image Search?
Koteswara Ivaturi: Image Search can be a great source for some additional traffic to your website. Adding the ALT text and using descriptive file names are a must when it comes to image- or media-centric websites.
Beyond these, context for the image is going to really help the search engines understand the images much better. For example, if a page has an image of a flower the text or caption that describes the flower should be around or next to the image. Lastly, we recently announced that you can now submit information about your images while you submit your Sitemaps.
Q 7. I already have an XML Sitemap for my website. Should I also create an HTML sitemap? Also, should I include every single page of my blog in the Sitemap (including tag pages and the date-based archives) or just the important ones?
Matt Cutts: In general, HTML Sitemaps can be very handy for your human visitors, and it's a nice additional way to help search engines make sure that they know about all of your pages as well. If you have time or a script that can generate a pretty HTML Sitemap (e.g; for a blog, you could have one page for each year or month of your blog, depending on how much you write), that can work nicely.
If you don't have the time or motivation to do that much work, you might consider creating a "Top 10 most popular posts” feature for your blog. I know that as a regular user, I love stumbling on a new blog and discovering that the site owner is pointing out some of their best or most popular posts.
John Mueller: It's always a good idea for your XML Sitemap file to include all pages which you want to have indexed. If you have pages such as tag or archive pages which you prefer not to have indexed, it's recommended to add a "noindex” robots meta tag to the pages (and of course, not to include them in the Sitemap file).
Q 8. I have read on forums that domain expiration dates are a factor in Google rankings and domains that are due to expire soon may be penalized in some way. Is that correct? I have registered a domain through Google Apps and it won't let me renew the domain for more than a year.
Zareen Kazim: Matt Cutts addressed this issue in a Webmaster Central video recently and confirmed that the length of a domain name registration isn't a ranking factor.
[On Google Apps] Your initial domain registration is valid for one year. If subsequent registration renewal fails, you’ll have several opportunities to change your billing information and renew your registration. If you purchased the domain through Google Apps, you should make sure that you have the renew option checked in your Google Apps account and have a valid Google Checkout information. You can find more detailed information here.
Q 9. How does search quality team look at links from Newspaper Websites & Editorials? In recent times there have been incidents where leading editorials were selling paid content (which include links) on their website for brands & business interested in ranking well on search engines.
Although they explain they only offer advertorials with SEO benefits to agencies to promote brand content, doesn’t this mean offering a paid content (links) to manipulate SERPs is a direct violation of Google’s TOS? These sites indeed have a long reputation & trust but Google TOS should be same for all regardless of the brand or individual?
Matt Cutts: If you're talking about the recent incident in the UK, we saw that. Google's quality guidelines are clear on this point: paid links shouldn't pass PageRank.
Whether the paid links are in an "advertorial” or somewhere else on the page, that would violate our quality guidelines and Google would take action on those violations, both so that the link buyers wouldn't benefit and so that the link sellers wouldn't be trusted in the future by Google.
Q 10. I do have a couple of affiliate links on my website that point to Amazon.com and some other websites. I am not getting paid to insert these links into my content but will get some commission on a sale. Should I use nofollow with such affiliate links?
Zareen Kazim: If linking is natural, based on relevancy of a site's content, I don’t see a violation of any Google Webmaster Guidelines.
While it is legitimate for a webmaster to monetize great content, in order to perform well in Google's search results it is important to take technical steps in order to prevent unnatural passing of PageRank through paid links, e.g. by either using the "nofollow” attribute or by creating a robots.txt file.
Q 11. I have launched a new blog and it obviously won't rank in Google because none of the reputable blogs are currently linking to it. Therefore, I am actively writing guest posts on other blogs as that gives me a chance to get a link from them. Is Google fine with guest blogging and do links ‘earned' from writing guest blogs matter?
John Mueller: Making and promoting a new site takes time and effort. In general I would recommend putting that work into your own site, instead of creating content for other people's sites.
It's much better to create great content for your blog and to let other sites refer visitors to your site on their own. Good luck!
Q 12. What's your take on articles submission websites? I do a lot of article marketing & distribution for my clients. These are original articles written and distributed through sites like eZineArticles and iSnare. Obviously besides the exposure my clients get as experts, I am also looking at the SEO benefit of earning backlinks from these posts. How do you treat multiple copies of the same article spread over different sites?
John Mueller: As mentioned in an earlier question, it generally makes much more sense to create great content for your own site, instead of giving it to a large number of other sites to publish.
Personally, I would recommend not looking at it with regard to the links; think about how users will view the content and the people who created it. Having high-quality content on your own site will make it stand out much more than if that content is posted all over the web. If the content is unique and compelling, it will generally attract links naturally over time.
Q 13. Are all links on a page treated the same or does the order of links matter. For instance, will Google flow more juice to the links that are in the first paragraph of the story than the ones that are in the page footer?
Zareen Kazim: Our link analysis is getting much more sophisticated than the original PageRank used to be. To answer your question, we may treat links across different areas in a different way, as some areas of a page might not be as relevant to the content of the page as others.
Q 14. My website has a country specific extension (like example.in for India) but the content is of interest to a global audience. How do I ensure that my domain /site is visible in Google search results of other countries as well?
John Mueller: Any website can be relevant to users globally; it doesn't have to use a generic top-level domain (gTLD) for that. Using a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) is fine if you want to create a website for users all around the world.
If you're looking to target specific countries (instead of the whole world), you may want to review our recent blog post on multi-regional websites for more information.
Q 15. How do I know whether my site has been penalized in Google or not? I know Google Analytics reports can give me an idea but are there are any other methods? Will Google inform me about the penalty through Webmaster Tools?
Zareen Kazim: Many webmasters worry about penalties when they see their site change in the rankings, and for most times, these changes can be attributed to the nature of the web itself. Google algorithms are constantly changing, to reflect the changing content of the web, and these changes can affect how your website is ranked in our search results.
Working on improving your content and the user experience of your site should be your number one priority. In our Help Center, we have an article with suggestions for potential fixes if you see your site's ranking change significantly. Google uses the Message Center in your Webmaster Tools account to communicate important information to you regarding your Webmaster Tools account and the sites you manage.
If we have noticed there is something wrong with your site, we may send you a message there, detailing some issues which you need to fix to bring your site into compliance with the Webmaster Guidelines. Once you fix your site you can submit your site for reconsideration. Please note, while not all of the messages in the Message Center are for issues involving our Webmaster Guidelines, it’s strongly recommended that you make sure that these messages are forwarded to your email account, so that you are informed about changes or issues as quickly as possible.
Q 16. There are times when I have searched for a ‘query’ and clicked on ‘ads’ as they offered better content than the natural listings. However when I tried the same keyword few days later, the site that I clicked through ‘ads’ was listed in natural listing this time. Would the future of SERPs based on Google Algorithm involve correlating large number of user clicks on ‘ads’ and adding them to natural result pages?
John Mueller: We work hard to provide high-quality search results. In many cases providing personalized search results can help to make them more relevant to you. Ads, however, are separate from natural search results, so I would assume that what you've seen here is a mere coincidence :-).
Rest assured that ads do not affect our natural search results.
Q 17. My site is all about movie reviews and now I am planning to expand it into food recipes. Should I use a sub-domain (food.example.com) or a sub-directory (example.com/food) for the new topic.
Zareen Kazim: When it comes to Google, there aren't major difference between the two, so when you're making that decision, do what works for you and your user. If you use Webmaster Tools (which we hope you do ), you’ll automatically be verified for deeper sub directories of any sites you’ve verified, but sub domains will need to be verified separately.
Q 18. I have two blogs – one is about food and other one is about movies. Will it be OK if cross-link the two sites even if the content is not related? I am worried that Google might consider that as a "paid link” even though I run both the websites.
Zareen Kazim: Before you begin cross-linking sites, consider the user’s perspective and whether the crosslinks provide value. Ask yourself if you would place this link in a highly visible place on your page – if no, maybe it would make more sense to skip the link.
Cross-linking between dozens or hundreds of sites, however, probably doesn’t provide value, and I would not recommend it.
Q 20. I have an active blog where I post anywhere between 10-15 articles in a week and Google indexes my new stories often within minutes of publishing them. I am however planning to take a break and won't be adding any new content to my site for a month or so. How will that impact my site as far as indexing and rankings are concerned?
John Mueller: Your existing content will hopefully remain relevant in that time :-), so I wouldn't worry about Google's crawling, indexing or ranking during your break. Google will be ready to pick up your new content when you're back; you don't have to do anything special in a case like that.
One thing that you will want to do – if your site is self-hosted – is to make sure that it's running the most current version, is properly locked-down, secured against hacking and monitored accordingly during your break. We see many blogs get hacked nowadays, and that in turn can affect your site's standing in our search results if it's left in a hacked state for a longer period of time.
Q 21. Some people call a portable computer as a notebook while others use the term ‘laptop.' Similarly, a Flash Drive is known as a USB stick, a thumb drive and even a memory stick in some cases. Now if I am writing an article on say "10 best laptops,” how can I also optimize it for all "notebook” related queries?
Matt Cutts: When you're writing an article, it pays to think in advance about the words that regular users might type when searching for your content. If you identify 2-3 common terms before you start writing, it's not hard to incorporate those synonyms into the content of the post in a natural, non-spammy way.
Don't keyword stuff in the article, but you might write "a flash drive (also sometimes called a USB drive or thumb drive) is a handy way to carry around data in your pocket.” Or you could sometimes call it a flash drive and sometimes call it a USB stick. As long as you're doing it in a natural way, sometimes it can make the content even more readable than repeating the same term over and over again.
Q 22. Is there any ‘optimal' length that you can recommend for the page URL and the title?
Kaspar Szymanski: Not really; instead it's probably best to decide upon these things with the user experience in mind, rather than search engines. If you are interested in optimizing your snippets, feel free to have a look at our blog post on that topic.
Q 23. I know that inbound links will help my site's ranking in Google search results but is that true for outbound links as well? I always link to quality websites from my articles where my visitors can read more about that topic but do these outbound links aid search rankings as well?
Kaspar Szymanski: No, they don't contribute directly towards your site's rankings; however they add value for your readership and they contribute to the community, so feel free to continue this good practice. On the other hand, being selective and preferring quality sites to link to might help in how Google perceives your site.
Q 24. Do ads on a web page affect search rankings? All other factors remaining the same, will pages having 3 ads rank better than a page with say 5 ads?
Zareen : No, ads don't affect a page's rank in our natural search results.
Q 25. Would you recommend any books on web search and SEO?
Zareen Kazim: Given the dynamic and constantly changing nature of the web, it might not make sense to stick to a single book. But we have an entire page in our webmaster Help Centre about SEO including the SEO starter guide [PDF] which I highly recommend.
End of the Interview.
@ 23/03/2012 – 15:30:35
I came across something wonderful today while surfing over internet. It talked about lessons in life and each of them are so true! It's inspirational and sincere and straight from heart. I couldn't help but share them with you and I am sure you'll love them too...coz a little love can change it all :-)
A Little Love can Change it All
I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I've learned that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I've learned that having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I've learned that you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I've learned that I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.
I've learned that no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I've learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I've learned that we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.
I've learned that it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I've learned that under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I've learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?
I've learned that love, not time, heals all wounds.
I've learned that you can make some one's day by simply sending them a little note.
I've learned that you can tell a lot about a man by how he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.
I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life."
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People need and love human touches -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on t! he back.
I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
@ 14/03/2012 – 16:02:50
Tossing and turning
trying to find the verve
is it late to say
or are you comfortable with the word
I came of late
floating in dreams absurd
metaphors with meaning
life is all but simple word
Hope is cheesy
Promise of the world
Lived in moment
But to hope is .....
P.S. If someone could fill in the blank...I am missing the last word to fill in the puzzle of my predicament
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