Posted by: Peter Andrease

Posted on: June 29, 2012 8:40 am

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This is a quick tutorial on the basics of creating a cartoon image from a photograph in Photoshop, like that shown in the example.

Start by dragging your image into photoshop and select around the area that you want to make into a cartoon using the ‘Polygonal Lasso Tool’. Cut your selection and paste back down so it becomes a seperate layer, then copy this layer so you have a backup of the original.

Now make sure your Foreground colour is set to black and your background colour is set to white. With your new layer selected go to Filter > Sketch > Photocopy, then adjust the settings to suit, a good guide is roughly to set the Detail to 3 and the Darkness to 8. Hit Ok to turn your image into outlines.

Now the photo already looks more like a cartoon but to emphasise the outlines more go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and experiment with the settings to get your desired look.

Your image outlines are now in place so all that is left is to add some colour, select around the white areas that are left and add your desired colours to the different sections. To select the white bits use the ‘Magic Wand’ Tool for large areas then use the ‘Polygonal Lasso Tool’ on negative selection to take away any unwanted bits. You can then use the ‘Paint Bucket’ Tool to fill the selection with colour.

Another neat trick to add a bit of depth to your cartoon is to copy the original image again and put this layer above all other layers, then select Soft Light from the layer options and you should see the original image almost blend into your cartoon and should hopefully highlight a few areas.

There are obviously endless tweaks and alterations you can make to perfect your cartoon but these are the basic steps to creating a quick cartoon in minutes.

Posted by: SEO Positive

Posted on: June 28, 2012 9:34 am

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Anyone in the online marketing industry will by now be used to being bombarded with advice about the importance of good quality, natural sounding content, especially in the wake of the Penguin update. We’re constantly being warned against the dangers of “keyword stuffing” and the detrimental effect of including search terms in your text, but it’s important not to lose sight of the very reason you’re creating this content- to appear within the search engines. After all, it’s all very well impressing visitors to your site, but for them to get there in the first place your site needs to be visible within the first page of search results, so what’s the best way to satisfy both search engines and your audience?

• There are a number of methods you can use to ensure your text reads well and entertains your consumer base, whilst still including your search terms the necessary amount of times to make sure it achieves first page search positions. One way to combine these objectives is to include these keywords in your meta descriptions and headings. By placing your search terms here, you aren’t disrupting the rhythm of your piece, but Google is more likely to recognise the relevance of your site.

• Breaking up your keyword phrases slightly with conjunctives and punctuation is another recommendable way of navigating around the problem. Thanks to the level to which keyword technology has advanced, these subtle changes shouldn’t affect how your site is picked up but they will make a difference to how your copy flows.

• Don’t be afraid to use your search terms slightly less. Before the Panda and Penguin updates, many people worked by the concept that anything up to around 5% inclusion was suitable, but following these algorithm updates, it’s more recommendable to keep to a maximum of 3%. There are a number of tools online that can help you calculate this percentage.

Generally, however, the best advice regarding the content debate would be simply to write from the perspective of your readers first and review from an SEO perspective once this is underway.

Posted by: Shofiur Rahman

Posted on: June 27, 2012 4:32 pm

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To authenticate a user includes the following steps:

  • Identifying visitors
  • Implementing access control
  • Authentication

Identifying Visitors

The web is fairly anonymous medium, but it is often useful to know who is visiting your site to focus on right business area. You are able to get little about the visitors due to users privacy. With a little work server can find out quite lot about users computers, networks, browsers, etc.  From visitor’s IP address you are able to know visitor’s geographic location.

Implementing access control

Simple access control is not difficult to implement. A simple PHP script is shown below.

<?php
//create short names for variables

$name = $HTTP_POST_VARS['name'];

$password = $HTTP_POST_VARS['password'];

if(empty($name) || empty($password)){

//Visitor needs to enter a name and passwor.

?>

<strong>Please Log In</strong>

<form method=”post” action=”login.php”>
<label>User Name: </label> <input type=”text” name=”name” />
<label>Password:</label> <input type=”password” name=”password” />
<input type=”submit” value=”Log In” />

</form>

<?php

}

else if($name==’user’&& $password==’pass’){

//login successful

}

else {
//login failed
}

?>

Encrypting passwords

To secure the access control you need to implement encryption algorithm on the user login. The PHP function crypt () provides a one-way cryptographic hash function. The prototype for this function is

String crypt (string str [, string salt])

Basic Authentication in PHP

There are some built-in authentication facilities in to HTTP. Scripts or web servers can request authentication from a web browser. The web browser is then responsible for displaying a dialog box or similar device to get required information from the user.

PHP scripts are generally cross-platform, but using basic authentication relies on environment variables set by the server.  A sample of HTTP basic authentication using PHP is shown below.

<?php
// if we are using IIS, we need to set $PHP_AUTH_USER and $PHP_AUTH_PW

if(substr($SERVER_SOFTWARE, 0, 9) == ‘Microsoft’ && !isset($PHP_AUTH_USER) && !isset($PHP_AUTH_PW) && substr($HTTP_AUTHORIZATION, 0, 6) == ‘Basic’)
{

list($PHP_AUTH_USER, $PHP_AUTH_PW) = explode(‘:’, base64_decode(substr($HTTP_AUTHORIZATION, 6)));

}

//Replace this if statement with a database query or similar

if($PHP_AUTH_USER!=’user’ || $PHP_AUTH_PW != ‘pass’)

{

// Visitor has not yet given details, or their
// name and password combination are not correct

header(‘WWW-Authenticate: Basic realm=”Realm-Name”‘);
if(substr($SERVER_SOFTWARE, 0, 9) == ‘Microsoft’)
header(‘Status: 401 Unauthorized’);

else
header(‘HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized’);

echo ‘You are not authorized to view this resource.’;

}

else {

// visitor provided correct details.

}

?>

Posted by: Evaldas Balcius

Posted on: June 27, 2012 8:45 am

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In this tutorial I will guide through the setup process of the goal tracking for internal and external file downloads.

Setting up Event Tracking

1. Make sure that you got the latest version of Google Analytics code on your site. It is highly recommended to keep GA tracking code somewhere in the header between the <head></head> tags.

2. Call the  _trackEvent() method on the actual link attribute you want to track. The structure of this attribute is as follows:

_trackEvent(category, action, label, value, noninteraction)

  • category (required). String value. The name of the group of tracking objects.
  • action (required). The name of the interaction with the object. (in this case the value will be Download)
  • label (optional). A Secondary dimension for event.
  • value (optional). An integer value of actual event data.
  • non-interaction (optional). A boolean value (true or false).  Determine if the particular action of the event is required for the calculation of the bounce rate.

HTML code example:

<a href=”www.example.com/brochure.pdf” onClick=”_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Downloads', 'PDF', '/brochure.pdf']);

Setup Google Analytics Goals

1. Login to your Google Analytics and go the Admin management panel.

2. Click on the Goals tab

3. Add a new Goal, by clicking on the +Goal link

4. Define the goal parameters. Add the name of the actual Goal, set a Goal type to “Event“, provide the goal details such a value of the Category, Action, Label and Value fields.

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I extracted a data from the _trackEvent object and passed into the GA goals configuration fields such as:

  • Category = “Downloads”
  • Action = “PDF”
  • Label = “/brochure.pdf”

A full Event Tracking Guide can be find here

 

 

Posted by: Peter Andrease

Posted on: June 26, 2012 10:42 am

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Vintage effects on photos can give a photo a total different look and bring out something else. Try completing these steps and then maybe adding it as an action in your photoshop. Then you can try it on multiple photos to see what it comes out like.

  • Create a duplicate of the image, this is so you can refer back to it at any time if you need to.
  • Create a new layer and add a gradient fill to it. Choose black to white with blend mode “Soft Light.” Make the style Radial and the angle 120 degrees. Make sure the scale is 125%.
  • Next create a new layer and add a gradient map, this is done using the adjustments panel. Choose black to white.
  • Finally add a curves adjustment like the one below, you should be left with the right result. You can always change the curves slightly to change the desired effect.

Adjustment curves

Posted by: Ben Austin

Posted on: June 25, 2012 2:05 pm

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This brief tutorial explores some of the many aspects of SEO that can influence your success within Google, Yahoo, Bing and all other similar search engines. If you’re serious about optimising your website than make sure you bear the following points in mind before buying a domain name for your online business.

Make sure your domain name is related to your target search phrases for maximum impact. Try to pick domains that include one of your targeted keyword or a combination of these keywords (note that these exact match domains can often be more expensive at auction but are definitely worth the heftier price tag).

Choose a strong, simple business name that explains exactly what you do or sell. When brainstorming a name for your company with colleagues, it’s easy to come up with flamboyant ideas that are sure to set you apart from your competitors and help you stand out in your chosen industry. However, when potential customers stumble across your brand for the first time, they need to understand exactly what it is you can offer them. Including your line of work in your business name also makes it easier to purchase a domain name that communicates your relevancy to your chosen search phrases.

The shorter the domain name, the better. Why over-complicate things? Opt for a single keyword domain name where possible!

Make your domain name user friendly. It sounds simple, but make sure your chosen URL is easy to say and to spell (if only for the benefit of the human user!).

Hyphenated domains are great for SEO. Google doesn’t separate words that are bunched together and reads hyphens (-) and dots (.) as spaces, so many SEOs are of the opinion that domains in this format respond better to optimisation techniques.

Top level domains historically perform better. Sites with extensions such as .com, .net and .org tend to be more trusted (by both human users and search engine bots). However, acquiring top level domains embedded with competitive search terms can be a difficult and often costly venture. Country code top level domains (for example, .co.uk, .ie, .fr) are great for location optimisation campaigns. Note that info domains are not unanimously accepted as credible enough to rank well but can still be optimised to achieve good rankings.

Remember, though deciding upon the right kind of domain name can help your SEO efforts, it’s not the be all and end all. Effective SEO is achieved by addressing a range of factors, so be sure to carry out further research into the actions you’ll need to take to boost your search listings!

It is no secret that researching for the right keyword would be the very first step in any type of SEO campaign. Many SEO Companies and SEO consultants knows that every keyword entered by search engine users would allow SEO agents to identify the intentions of the searcher. By identifying the type of keyword entered by the search engine user, SEO companies and SEO consultant would be able to identify the intentions of the search engine user and may be able to correlate it with the different data gathered. From there SEO companies and SEO consultants would be able to devise new online marketing plan.

The Different Types of Keywords

1. Transactional – this type of keyword implies that the searcher or the person using the search engine is looking to acquire a specific transaction. Transaction may vary from purchasing an item online or downloading a specific file. Whatever may it be the user seeks to gain an item online, and an example of such keywords are preceded by the words “download”, “cheap”, “buy” followed by the item being searched for. Example would be “download free software”.

2. Navigation Keyword – this keyword is used by searchers whenever they want to search for specific brands like Google, Facebook or Microsoft among others. Specific brands are entered in the search engine query boxes by the search engine users in order to locate a specific website related to that brand. Businesses who have established brands of course would be benefitting from this keyword provided they have their own website.

3. Informational Keywords – this type of keyword on the other hand is used by search engine users to locate specific type of information. Usually the keywords or phrases are queries in nature. For example “what is a bee?”, “directory of SEO Companies in UK” among others. This is where longtail keyword use will be beneficial as there is a considerable amount of search engine users that are using informational type of keywords.

Conclusion on Types of Keywords

Keywords determine the type of campaign that your SEO Company or SEO Consultant would apply to your website. The type of keyword will indicate how the SEO campaign is going to be planned or drafted before implementation. Thus keyword research is imperative even before developing your content or building your links. This is why keyword research and the knowledge in the types of keywords is an important prerequisite before drafting the SEO Campaign plan.

Posted by: Peter Andrease

Posted on: June 22, 2012 9:45 am

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Creating a vector character in Illustrator can be a tricky process but it all really revolves around the Pen Tool, mastering this tool with a little patience is all you need to create yourself a great detailed character based on a drawing or image you have already.

To start this process you need to create your character outside of Illustrator as it is far too difficult to come up with a detailed character design while still trying to master your Illustrator skills. So whatever way you find easiest to draw your character go for, the best option is to break out the pencil and pad. If you struggle to think of ideas for a character or can’t think how certain body parts look then simply research other characters or images online to get an idea and create a new one in your own way.

Once you have your character designed, scan your file in and get the image into Illustrator then lock the image as your background layer. Now you will need to select the Pen Tool and select a nice visible but small stroke with no colour on the fill. Now start drawing around your image, make sure to get your curves smooth by tweaking the Pen Tool as best you can. This is where practise with the Pen Tool is key.

Once you have the outline of your character created you can now fill the areas in with some colour and gradients and remove the stroke colour from all shapes.

Shadows are a necessity to add a final bit of detail, so choose the areas that need shadow and you can either go to Effect > Stylise > Drop Shadow and add very subtle shades to your image. Areas that usual need a drop shadow are under the fringe of any hair and any overlapping areas.

You can then add overall shadow to your image by using the Pen Tool and drawing black shapes with a light transparency to areas where shadows would appear. Once you are happy, feel free to add any other simple effects or amendments to get your character right. Just remember that simplicity is key so use simple colours with subtle effects to make a really effective character.

With the onset of the different algorithms of Google that focuses on determining a site’s ranking where content quality is considered as a ranking factor, made content development a lot more important. For content developers and even site owners however, it is important that they know how to identify a good and quality content. This is because of the fact that content quality has become a ranking factor and such a primary consideration by Google in determining whether or not the content deserves to be ranked. This is why SEO Companies and SEO consultants are focused on developing or writing effective content for their websites.

Characteristics of Quality Content

Content is very important in every website, more so when Google started to favor websites that contains quality content, this is why it is very important for website owners to know how to identify quality content from those that are of low quality. The following are the indicators of quality content.

1. Relevance – the content must be relevant to the topic or the general theme of the website. If a website is focused on talking about web design tips then the content should focus on that and not on other topics.

2. Cohesiveness of Thought – the content must be written and narrated following a single line of thought. This means that the focus of the writer is on properly conveying the message that he or she would like to impart. The thoughts should be clear and straight to the point without any extra sentences which may confuse the reader than understand the message of the content.

3. Unique – an article or content may be relevant and it may have cohesiveness but it might just have been copied. Copied articles or content posted on a website will raise the red flag signal for Google and other search engines and will penalise the website utilising such duplicate content. This is why it would be better if your articles are originally written.

Conclusion

The age of correct information is already here and Google has led the way to improving the quality of search results that it delivers to its visitors, and one way to do this is to determine the quality of content for every website. Thus knowing how you should write an article or knowing the qualities of an article would definitely help you in scrutinising your own article output or content output and you will be able to discern if your content deserves to be posted in your website or not. This way your content could be beneficial not only to your readers but also to your search engine optimisation campaign.

Posted by: Kerry Sheahan

Posted on: June 21, 2012 11:04 am

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There is often a level of misconception surrounding the subject of press releases, with the marketing tool often dismissed as old-fashioned. However, traditional as this outlet may be, press release distribution can provide one of the most effective online promotional tools around when creating more visibility for your brand on the web- as long as it is done effectively! To ensure your press releases fulfil their potential and are relevant to today’s market, there are a number of considerations to take into account.

1. Take advantage of the facilities provided by modern press release distributors

Far from being outdated, this tool has been developed to allow users to include links, images and even videos into their texts. Many business owners simply aren’t aware of the possibilities on offer, but through taking advantage of these benefits and incorporating different media forms, you stand to improve your search engine exposure and gain valuable links to your site.

2. Create a catchy title

Your title is arguably one of the most important parts of your press release, but all too often receives too little attention. Whilst it would be valuable to your SEO campaign to include one of your keywords, it is more important to create something attention grabbing, with your company name included. Press releases are a great way to see your firm rank within Google News, but to encourage people to read further, you need an interesting, and preferably concise heading.

3. Choose your topic wisely

It can be difficult to think up regular topics for your press releases, but your topic doesn’t need to be revolutionary to be newsworthy. For example an SEO agency might write a press release about a new client acquisition. It can also be really effective to link your press releases to recent industry news, one way of making your content more engaging for readers.

4. Write objectively

Writing your release in third person narrative is essential for two main reasons. Firstly, you may find your piece gets rejected when written in the first person, and secondly because you don’t want to make it too obvious you are specifically targeting your audience in order to promote your services. Try and adapt a reasonably formal tone, whilst still appealing to your consumers. Not an easy task, but one that will develop with practice.

5. Select the right distributors

Writing an effective press release is only half the battle. To really get the most out of the marketing platform it is essential to choose the right press release distributor. Choosing one that pushes press releases title out to massive numbers of viewers is the key to success. A good example of this is PR web.

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