I am enjoying my stay in Branson. The only exceptions is the traffic and the rain. It has been raining most every day this week and is forecasted to continue raining throughout the Memorial Day weekend.
When it is raining like this I tend to hunker down and stay in. This week since the reunion ended is no different. Besides I have had a new work project to work on and I am so proud of what I created I would like to share it with you here.
Before I do, for those of you have not been following my earlier blogs, I am a web programmer who happens to be a full time RVer. Which means I live in an RV and also run a home based business as a PHP and MySQL Database programmer. My principal clients are small businesses seeking an online presence or entrepreneurs who want to start an online home based business.
The types of services I provide for my clients are custom solutions that typically allow the client to have web applications that allow their clients to interact with their web sites. Such as placing orders, accessing a members only area, communicate with the site owners, or the inverse, allow the site owners to communicate with their clients. A good example of this is the blog you are reading now. This blog is not an off the shelf blog system., there are plenty of those available. What I do differently is I build my applications from scratch so I understand the coding that went into creating it. This is particularly useful to those clients that want customized applications integrated into their web application. Over time a web site can grow into a web site that has many advanced functions that the normal small business could not afford. One such example is this web site: http://www.programcritique.com
I have had numerous clients that have looked around the web for a web application and not been able to find one that does everything they want. So they turn to me. I either have an off the shelf web application that I programmed from the ground up that I can more easily reprogram for their custom needs. Or I can program their application from the ground up. So, when they want to add new functionality in the future I can more easily integrate it because I am familiar with the code.
Some people think downloading one of the many web applications already available on the internet is the easier and less expensive way to go. My experience shows that not to be the case. I have learned that where I have to go into someone else's code and reverse engineer their code it is more difficult because some coders tend to make their code more complicated than it needs to be or make it hard to read to prevent others from reverse engineering their programs. Whatever the reason, in the long run it is better that I create these custom applications from scratch then trying to hack over someone else's work. Then, as I explained above, when they want custom modification, additions etc. I am in a position to, more easily and less expensively, add that capability.
Now this is not to say I will not download and install a pre made application for them. But I do make clear to them that if they are not satisfied with that applications features, later, that I may or may not be able to modify it or add new functionality. Or if I can that it may require a lot of work to do so. Additionally, if it is a program that is updated from time to time by the developer, that once I modify their version of the application they will not be able to upgrade to the developers latest version again. At least not without me having to again reinstall their modifications they had me make. I am content as long as they understand that I will gladly install those programs.
Anyway, back to the project at hand this week. Most of my clients are very interested in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of their web sites. There are a bunch of tools available on the internet. In fact their are so many that most people don't know where to begin selecting the right tool.
What I have been working on is a program, that I integrate into their web site, that captures the key words that are used by web searchers to find their web sites by the search engines. As the web searcher searches a search engine (such as Google or Yahoo) with their key words and they click on the site owners web link they are taken to the site owners web page. First the web searcher see's the key words they used highlighted on the web page they arrive on which helps them find the information they are looking for more easily.
But more importantly, those keywords are added to a database that the site owner can view with various online reports. Now what is so neat about this is the database, over time, accumulates a list of keywords that are being used to find their web site and the search engines that are sending the traffic. How this is helpful to a site owner is that they now know what people are looking for on their web site. Which allows the site owner to add or modify his web sites content to reflect that interest. Over time, by modifying and adding new content, based on the interest in their web site, they will incrementally increase the interest in their web site. Their site will become more pertinent for the topics that their site is being listed for in the search engines.
My initial version of this Search Engine Tracker gathers data from Google, Yahoo, AOL, ASK, and last but not least MSN LIVE. Later I will have it track more search engines. To complete this project I will work over the Memorial Day weekend while Branson is loaded with tourists, I will add the admin for this program so the site owner will be able to evaluate the data being collected by the program I created this week.
Well that is what I have been working on this week while the weather outside has been inclement and what I will hopefully complete this weekend.