Search Engine Optimization

Through this week’s module, we will take a look at search engine optimization (SEO). The book defines search engine optimization as “the practice of tweaking your website to help its content rank well in organic search results” via search engines (such as Google or Bing).

One of the things mentioned at the bottom of this infographic is to include social buttons on every page of your website as well as on every blog post, press release, or outbound form of communication. I had mentioned in my web project plan that i was going to incorporate my social media accounts so that future employers could find me easily.

When looking at the images on Google of SEO, I came across this particular picture. I think that it does a fantastic job at illustrating how the different components of SEO are just gears in the entire process. It emphasizes making your website “crawlable”. It will be important for me to use keywords and meta tags on each webpage so that they will each appear higher in search engine results.

Also, check out this infographic below for a great visual description of how SEO works. It is often overlooked in striving for greater SEO to have a website that is functional and very user-friendly. If you have great usability, then your users will keep coming back and also recommend your site to others. This leads to greater traffic for your site, which in turn, pushes your site higher up on search engine results.

how seo works

One of the major downsides of SEO could actually be the fact that you have higher traffic on your website. Just because your site can become more visible and exciting to view to good viewers doesn’t mean it is impervious to spam and “bad” users. It will be important for users of websites to closely monitor the traffic on their site and make sure that the increased traffic from SEO is good traffic.

Coach Charles: Version 2.0

Today is the first day that we can begin practicing basketball for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). I volunteer as a coach for a 7th grade boys’ team and an 8th grade boys’ team at St. Dominic Catholic Church.

I began coaching basketball back when I was an 8th grader at St. Dominic’s as a way to earn service hours. I started by helping coach my cousin Maddy’s 2nd grade girls’ team with her dad, my Uncle Pat.

I know coach his son, Robert, and his 8th grade team with my Uncle Pat. I began coaching the 7th grade team last year when a guy I had met coaching the girls’  team asked me to help.

It is a great way for me to give back to my parish as well as just relax and have a little fun. Words cannot describe how much I enjoy coaching these guys and seeing them grow up through the years.

Me coaching a player

Coaching Trent during a playoff game

2016 CYO Toy Bowl

Today, I went to watch the Toy Bowl Court and Toy Bowl championship games at Archbishop Lipscomb Field. The Toy Bowl is the main fundraising event for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of the Archdiocese of Mobile. Each of the Catholic grade schools in the CYO compete in their sports leagues.

Each year the 8th grade boys have the opportunity to escort an 8th grade girl from their school and raise money for the CYO. These kids make up what is called the Toy Bowl Court. Then, a king and queen are announced to the highest money-raiser from the school with the most money raised per capita. The kids get to walk across the field with their date and also have a banquet, mass, and Toy Bowl dance.

They also have the championship games today for soccer and football with the volleyball games being played during the week. My cousin, Robert, is an 8th grader at St. Dominic and his football team won the league championship. That means that they played against a team of all-stars from the other teams in the Toy Bowl game. He was also part of the Toy Bowl Court.

Robert and his SDS football team beat the All-Stars today! This was their fifth league championship in the 8 years of playing. And all five times they have beaten the All-Stars!

GO EAGLES!!!

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Domain Hosting & Registration

So you have decided to create a website. Once you have the basic concept and design of your website designed, the next thing you need to do is come up with a domain name. You can either pay for a domain or use a free domain service. There are many other questions to be asked, such as: What services do you want?, What is your budget?, or Which host do you use?, etc etc etc.

Once you have decided what you want to use as your domain name, you must first see if it is available. A domain name is a lot like a phone number, in that there can not be any duplicate domain names in use. The website, WHOis.net, is a site that you can use to look up a domain name and see if it is currently being use. The site will also give you prices if you wish to purchase the domain that you wish to use.

There are multiple categories that domain names can be divided into:

  • Open Top Level Domains (TLDs) – Anyone can register for these
    • .com, .org, .net, .biz, .name, .info
  • Restricted TLDs – Registration is restricted to certain people
    • .aero, .asia, .cat, .coop, .int, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .post, .pro, .tel, .travel, .xxx
  • U.S.-Only Domains
    • .edu, .gov, .mil
  • Also, each country has its own 2-letter TLD
    • United States: .us, United Kingdom: .uk,  France: .fr, Canada: .ca  (ETC.)

After you have made sure that your desired domain name is available, you must choose a registrar and a host. Some registrars will offer hosting while other registrars do not offer hosting. A registrar may offer many other different services so it is important that you pick the one that best fits your needs for your site.

At this current time and with the potential use that I would have for a website, I do not think that I would buy a domain name. Sites such as Weebly and WordPress will work well for what people like myself are trying to accomplish with this website. I think it is also best for me to not pay for hosting and use a free service like the one provided. It makes no difference to me if my domain name includes the extra “.weebly”. Therefore, I will stick with my free domain name, charlesmathison.weebly.com, and the free domain hosting service provided.

Check out these PowerPoint slides in a PDF for more information on anything discussed above.

 

8.5 Combo State Champs…Again!!!

This past weekend I went down to Gulf Shores to play in the 2016 USTA Alabama 8.5 Combo State Championships. I was playing with my dad – which was a blast! And you’re not going to believe this but we defended our title from last year and won state for the second straight year!!!

Our team went 4-0 at the tournament. My dad and I played together in all four matches and went undefeated. We won our first two matches fairly easily: 6-4, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-2. Our third match was very tough and we were the decisive winning match with a 6-4, 5-7, 10-2 victory. Finally, we clinched our team’s state championship with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) win.

We will play in Sectionals in Mobile at the Mobile Tennis Center from March 10-13, 2017. Our team will compete against state champions from the following states: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee (as well as Alabama).

2016 8.5 combo state champs

Part of our state championship team. My dad and I are on the far right.

8.5 Combo State Championships

I’m headed down to the Gulf tomorrow to play in a state tennis tournament this weekend. This is the combo state championships, which means that two players of differing levels play with each other. The levels are 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, and 9.5.

I am playing with my dad, a 4.5 player, and I am a 4.0 player – that means we are playing 8.5 combo. It is so much fun being able to play the sport I love with my dad, the man who taught me how to play! Hopefully, we can defend our state title that we won last year!

2015 combo state champs (partial team)

Here are a few of the guys from our 2015 8.5 Combo State Championship Team! My dad and I are on the far left.

 

Man, I’m getting old…

Today, November 2nd, is my little sister’s birthday.

Her 18th birthday!

I cannot believe that she is a senior in high school and looking at colleges for next year. It seems like only yesterday she was just a little kid following me around wherever I went. I am so proud of the young woman that she has become and love her to death.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!!

me and my sister

This is my sister, Sarah, and myself after she was participating in the Mobile County Distinguished Young Women competition.

P.S. It is also my Uncle Pat’s (mom’s brother) birthday tomorrow. My family apparently likes to keep birthdays close together as my parents were both born on May 13th, exactly one year apart. Crazy, I know! But HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you too, Uncle Pat!

 

Online Security and Privacy

We live in a day and age where anybody can post about anything online, instantaneously. Sometimes, having this access to knowledge or ability to post, is a great tool to have at our fingertips. And then, sometimes, it’s not.

Just think about it. If it is that easy to post, tweet, blog, etc all of this information, then how easy is it for a skilled hacker to steal this information and other confidential information?

So how do we as communication professionals try to protect ourselves and our companies from potential hackers? We need to think about some practices that we take to ensure that our online content stays secure and private.

In an article on Wired.com, “Three Essential Steps to Make Yourself More Hack-Proof“, it says that you can never be truly 100% safe from a hacker but you can try to make yourself less vulnerable. Their three simple steps are to not reuse passwords, setup two-step authentication, and use a password manager.

Do Not Reuse Passwords

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If someone attains a password that is used multiple times, then they have the password to multiple accounts that you control.

Two-Step Authentication

Two-step authentication can sound fairly intimidating. However, it is actually a very beneficial tool that is becoming more and more common these days. All it means is that when you try to login to an account from a different device (desktop computer, laptop, cell phone, etc) it will send a code to a trusted device that must be entered by the user.

Use a Password Manager

A password manager will help you create and store your passwords for your accounts. These passwords will be encrypted and all you will ever need to know is the master password for the password manager. This allows you to use multiple complex passwords without having to worry about remembering so many different passwords. It is best if the password manager is stored locally, preferably, on a flash drive, that way only you can access it when the flash drive is being accessed.

So what does this mean?

These concepts and tools will be beneficial to communication professionals because they will be directly involved with confidential or important information for the company that they are working for. Therefore, they should look to apply these ideas to their work accounts so that they are better protected against a hack or leak of information.

Also, when people feel that their information is not as private as it once was, they are less likely to share information or engage in public discourse. This leads to a less democratic society because there is a lack of information to be shared or discussed. Finally, if people don’t feel like they have the proper privacy they were promised, then they have a lack of trust in the government that promised them privacy.

War Eagle or Something Like That

This past weekend my mom, sister, and I took a trip up to Auburn. My sister was taking a college visit at the university and we have family that live there. It was great to spend the weekend with all these cousins (4 boys)!!! They are huge Auburn fans so we got to tailgate with them and go to the game on Saturday. Can’t wait to see them soon at Thanskgiving!

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MOOCs and Online Learning

What is a MOOC?

If you are anything like me, then you were wondering the same thing before you opened this article. MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. This is obviously a far different cry from the traditional model of higher education that our parents knew. It is a course that is taught entirely online for a much cheaper price and can be taught to a large number of students. To get a more in-depth look at MOOCs and their pros and cons, check out this article.

While the effectiveness of these MOOCs has been questioned, there is no doubt that they are becoming more of an option at institutions of higher education. I believe that the effectiveness of a MOOC is dependent upon the layout of the course and the course itself.

CA 260 as a MOOC

The course that I am writing this blog post for (CA 260) is known as a blended course. This means that it meets once a week for one hour and fifteen minutes and the other coursework is to be done online. Basically, it is designed to be 50% online and 50% in class.

While CA 260 could function effectively as a MOOC, I feel that is best suited as a blended course. A lot of the material in this course are concepts that we have never seen before (i.e. HTML, CSS, JavaScript coding, etc.). Therefore, having that face-to-face meeting with a professor helps with the understanding of these concepts. This allows us to work in a hands-on fashion while getting instruction simultaneously from our professor.

The best blended course that I have taken was a Statistics I course. All of the homework was to be completed online, while the final exam and tests were in class. Attendance was not mandatory but the teacher used the once a week class time to answer any questions that you might have with difficult concepts or homework problems.

Helpful Resources

The top 3 resources for learning about web design and providing training in that aspect are W3Schools, Google Code University, and Codecademy.

W3Schools is a fairly straightforward site that may seem boring at first. However, it provides beginners with lessons starting at the early stages of web design. The interactive lessons then progress at a steady rate to help the user learn effectively.

Google Code University is best at their video tutorial series that look at coding through HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The videos are created by Google’s own web developers. Who else better to learn from?

The last helpful resource is Codecademy. It is self-described as the ‘easiest way to learn how to code’. It is a free website that also has a strong social network to allow users to interact with each other and learn from each other.

To look more in-depth at these sites or find other helpful web design training resources, go this article on Creative Bloq.