Social bookmarking services

Social bookmarking services like ShareThis, AddThis and AddtoAny help your users share with social services like Facebook, Twitter, email, Digg, etc. They offer their services for free and are very easy setup. They offer features like: personalisation, optimized javascript, customizable, universal, localization, updates and analytics. ShareThis, AddThis and AddtonAny all provide a client side (JavaScript) solution. Even though all three say they are working hard on performance, they all seem to slow your pages down. Of these three ShareThis is the worst  for page speed. Even the fasteest of these 3 services will add 0.131 seconds to the the time it takes for your page to load. That is why everyone who has the time and budget, should build a sharing tool which they host on their own server. See the list below for the full ‘speed report’ generated by HttpWatch for these 3 and a few other social bookmarking services. AddThis is not only the fastest to load,  Google Trends also clearly shows that AddThis is the most popular sharing tool at this moment.

  • AddThis speed reportaddthis.com

    Elapsed time: 0.131 seconds
    Downloaded data: 2346 bytes
    Uploaded data: 4532 bytes

    Bookmark and Share

  • TellaFriend (socialtwist.com)  speed reportsocialtwist.com (TellaFriend)

    Elapsed time: 0.243 seconds
    Downloaded data: 14550
    bytes Uploaded data: 2347 bytes

    SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

  • AddToAny speed reportaddtoany.com

    Elapsed time: 0.322 seconds
    Downloaded data: 2970 bytes
    Uploaded data: 4939 bytes

    Share/Bookmark

  • ShareThis speed reportsharethis.com

    Elapsed time: 0.509 seconds
    Downloaded data: 3710 bytes
    Uploaded data: 8348 bytes

  • OpenLike speed reportopenlike.org

    Elapsed time: 0.548 seconds
    Downloaded data: 4413 bytes
    Uploaded data: 5446 bytes

  • SocioFfluid speed sociafluid.com

    Elapsed time: 1.061 seconds
    Downloaded data: 6822 bytes
    Uploaded data: 16205 bytes

  • Socialist speed reportsociallist.org

    Elapsed time: 1.086 seconds
    Downloaded data: 5669 bytes
    Uploaded data: 12552 bytes

  • SharePost speed reportsharepost.com

    Elapsed time: 1.466 seconds
    Downloaded data: 45435 bytes
    Uploaded data: 2210 bytes

If you have the time and/or budget to implement a social bookmarking app on your own server, you should definitely do that. Frank Koehl explains why it is better not to use hosted bookmarking tools if you are able to implement a sharing tool on your own server.  For people using WordPress a  free and easy option would be sexybookmarks.net or any of the other bookmark  plugins @wordpress.com. If you are building your own social bookmarking tool openshareicons.com and enthropia.com/labs/share/ will probably come in handy.

Update: Will Meyer pointed out to me that the loading speed of AddThis can be optimized in this tweet where he links to the Optimizing AddThis Load Time page on  addthis.com


Web Safe fonts

Which fonts are best suitable for websites?

In images and flash content any font can be used. In that sense any font is web safe. Unfortunately search engines, like google, are still not able to properly index text displayed in images or flash. If you want the text on your website to be properly indexed by search engines it needs to be in displayed in HTML. In HTML only the fonts available to the browser can be rendered properly. If the font is not available in the browser it will display the text in the default font, which is times in most browsers. The fonts you can use safely are the ones that are available in all browsers on all operating systems. As this will be a list of zero fonts I will have to rephrase that:  The fonts you can use relatively safe are the ones that are available by default in the most common operating systems.

There are several list of relatively web safe fonts available on the web. The best examples probably are w3schools.com & ampsoft.net. These both show fonts that are available by default in most operating systems. Being available to the browser however does not mean that the font will be displayed nicely. Unfortunately web safe fonts are not displayed in exactly the same in the many different browsers / operating system combinations present are out there. The rendering of fonts in the three most used browsers differs significantly for anyone who is into typography. Using HTML fonts will never fully satisfy the font fetishists because they will not be rendered smoothly in firefox and chrome. When using small (under 12px) italic fonts it is the most clear that IE is better at smoothly rendering web safe fonts.
Georgia, serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text

“Palatino Linotype”, “Book Antiqua”, Palatino, serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text

“Times New Roman”, Times, serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text
firefox-“times-new-roman”-times-serif

Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text
ie-arial-helvetica-sans-serif firefox-arial-helvetica-sans-serif

Arial Black, Gadget, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text
firefox-arial-black-gadget-sans-serif

“Comic Sans MS”, cursive, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text
ie-“comic-sans-ms”-cursive-sans-serif firefox-“comic-sans-ms”-cursive-sans-serif

Impact, Charcoal, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text
ie-impact-charcoal-sans-serif firefox-impact-charcoal-sans-serif

“Lucida Sans Unicode”, “Lucida Grande”, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text

This is bold text
ie-“lucida-sans-unicode”-“lucida-grande”-sans-serif firefox-“lucida-sans-unicode”-“lucida-grande”-sans-serif

Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text
ie-tahoma-geneva-sans-serif firefox-tahoma-geneva-sans-serif

“Trebuchet MS”, Helvetica, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text
This is bold text
ie-“trebuchet-ms”-helvetica-sans-serif firefox-“trebuchet-ms”-helvetica-sans-serif

Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif

Current browser IE FireFox
This is regular text
This is italic text

This is bold text
ie-verdana-geneva-sans-serif firefox-verdana-geneva-sans-serif

There are a few ways to make sure your font does render the same for every visitor of you website.

  • You could make a Flash website or put your text into images. As Google and the other searchangines do not properly index text in Flash or image files I would strongly advise againt this option. If the looks of your site are more important to you than traffic from organic search this could be an option.
  • CSS3 supports the src’ descriptor for fonts. This makes it possible to make extra fonts available to the browser.  Fonts that can be used for free: sil.org & Google & TypeKit
  • JavaScript Libraries that replace HTML text with Flash: sIFR
  • JavaScript Libraries that use <canvas> to draw the font (HTML5 only): Cufon, TypeFace
  • JavaScript Library that uses php to generate images: FaceLift

further reading:

Google image search results: universal vs images

You would expect the image results that show up in google’s universal search to be the same as they are in google’s image search, but there is a clear difference between the image results in universal search and in image search. Most of the times the first X amount of images from google image search will show up exactly the same for the same search phrase in universale search, but not always. Even when it is the images look the same they are not always realy the same.  Below you see screendumps of the search results for “Jack Herer” in universal search and in image search.

google universal search result for jack herer

Universal search: http://www.google.com/search?q=jack+herer

Image search: http://images.google.com/images?q=jack%20herer

It looks like exactly the same image results are displayed in both searches, but if you look more closely you will find out this is not the case.

My theory is that in universal search the context in which the image is displayed needs to be textual content on the subject as the filename & alt tag of the image suggest the image is about. In image search you seem to get more results from image galleries and pages that contain several images.

What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content is exactly what the term suggests it to be: It is content of which a duplicate exists somewhere on the web. The term duplicate content applies to all kinds of content: text, video and images, but in the context of SEO it mainly refers to textual content. Every page, article or even a snippet of text can have a duplicate somewhere on the web. The existence of duplicate content has three main causes:

  1. One page in a website can be accessed via multiple URLs
    The most common examples are homes page that can be reached via www.example.com, example.com, example.com/index.html and www.example.com/index.html. This can be prevented by using 301 (permanent) redirects
  2. The same or very similar content is shown in different ways on different urls in one website
    The most common examples are lists of items that can be sorted in multiple ways and every sort state is displayed on another URL.
  3. Copies of your content exists on other websites
    The most common cause is other webmasters hijacking your content. There are many lazy webmasters out there who rather steal content from others than write their own. Not all copied content is stolen though. YouTube videos for instance are offered to everyone to embed on their own website and using RSS feeds is a way for authors to yndicate their content.

To find out if there are copies of your content out there you could use a tool like the one offered at copyscape.com
On site issues with duplicate content can easily be found with free tools like the one available from virante.com
To see how similar two pages are you could use the tool provided at duplicatecontent.net

Duplicate content issues can be fixed by making only one version of the content indexable by spiders. This can be accomplished by:

  • Deleting all duplicate pages and making sure that you fix all links that might break. (This can be a lot of work.)
  • Using robots.txt,  no-follow and no-index tags to prevent spiders from indexing duplicates.
  • Using 301 redirects to redirect all traffic from the duplicate content to the original content.
  • Using the canonical tag can also be very useful to prevent penalties from Google for duplicate content.

See what more Matt Cutts has to say about duplicate content and the canonical tag on mattcutts.com. As you can see here too the people at Google do make a lot of fuss about duplicate content. If  you can be penalized for having duplicate content on your site is not clear, but I think Google cannot do that. As all big news agencies like BBC and CNN duplicate content provided by agencies like Reuters and  Associated Press, it seems very unlikely that Google’s can punish you for republishing content. For furhter reading see the post “SEO: There is no duplicate content penalty” on practicalecommerce.com.

Further reading:

Associated Press.