Alternatives to Google for Searching the Internet

One source for Google search alternatives is alternativeTo. The listings come from people on the Internet, using sites, services, and software and deciding which they like to use best. (Of course, software developers, businesses, and marketers are also free to post on the site too). Overall, the alternativeTo site is not so popular that marketers have flooded it with junk. So, the site is a really good source for software reviews and alternatives to try.

A few to get you started: 

Google Knows Where you Live and They Want to Tell Everyone

Did you know Google keeps track of everything you do online, with any Google products, software, etc. You can’t make them stop, not really. (You would have to eliminate Google from your life). Also, if you do want to control how much they know and share about you, the most you can do it pause it. There is no stopping Google.

Google is not the only option for web searches. Even if you are only looking for your own site to see where it comes up in a search – why are you only looking at Google?!

The following screen captures are a mess due to problems with software I was using. Right now I don’t want to fix them. But, they tell the story, as messy as it is.

How Do People Find you Online?

Are you sure people can find you online? What if you change your Twitter account? What if a web service you rely on shuts down? What if… ?
Amy (see images) is my example tonight because I did have to track her down from a broken Twitter link and nothing else but the Scoop.it profile I was already looking at. Google search results were not a big help because her name has changed and the domain for her current name is not the same person. So I searched Google for both names (together) and did find her new Twitter account among the search results. (Turns out I was already following her there).

If you rely on web services, like social media, for your web presence you could be leaving it up to chance.  

Not everyone wants to buy a domain and run their own site. It’s another expense, another new thing to learn and another drain your your available time too. But, consider something simple like creating a quick profile on Blogspot. Yes, it is a web service too, so it could disappear but it has been reliable for a very long time. 
All you need to do is ceate an account (or use the account you forgot you still had) and set up a blog. You don’t need to post regularly. It’s just a place to have your name, some general information and your links available.  If you can get your name, great. (Example – yourname.blogspot.com) Likely you won’t find it available. So pick something clever for your account – consider your business or niche and go from there. 
  • Use the basic template/ theme. Add colour to the header if you want but keep the content easy to read.
  • Add one post with links to your social media accounts. Include an image if you like. 
  • Use your name (or whatever you call yourself online) as the title of the post. Use the same for a category and tags with that post. 
  • Publish it and save the link in your web browser bookmarks. Any time you change a social media account use that link to update the Blogspot post. 
Next time someone goes looking for you online you have this as a base of operations. It’s not perfect but it’s simple and free. 
As an option you can buy a domain and have your Blogspot/ Blogger site on that domain instead of the blogspot.com web address. 
Of course, there are other free web hosting services. I like the history of Blogger and the fact that Google currently runs it with few limitations to how you use it. 

Has WordPress Jumped the Shark?

I think WordPress is in danger of “jumping the shark”, becoming too complicated and loaded with too many features. Google has mostly forgotten all about Blogger, but it may become a better alternative for a lot of people who just want a simple business site. WordPress seems to be something for people who want to spend time and money on a fancy site with a lot of features. How many businesses really need all of that? Not many.

As someone who has kept sites for many years and used WordPress most of the time, I’m not planning to use a lot of customized posts. I don’t need them. I want to focus on content, not spend a lot of time on formatting.

I will add that if people are building a site to function as a web directory, job board, or any of a hundred other things – WordPress isn’t an essential element. It may even be a hindrance. WordPress is still a customized blog at heart.

Note: I posted this as a comment on WPTavern. The post there was about new custom formatting for WordPress posts. It got me thinking about how WordPress is used, who uses it and whether it is really still sustainable for the general blog user – people who are not web developers and may not want to spend that kind of time or money on a site for their business, or hobby, etc. Most of us have a limited budget. How important is it to have a fancy site with a lot of features versus just having a site up and functioning?

Is WordPress still a good option for putting up a site? Or, do you need to be (or pay) a web designer/ developer to work with WordPress?

WordPress Calendar Plugins

I wanted a holiday calendar. I did not find anything which really did what I wanted. (Just a simple way to keep track of holidays and all those odd international and national days for odd, but interesting and sometimes relevant, things). But, today I found a new list of reviews. Quite sure I have already looked at most of them, but there might be something new.

Chronosly looks good but it has a lot of features I don’t need and that could make it complicated to work with when I just want something simple.

I’d recommend The Events Calendar (Pro, or not) for most people who want a way to list or track events. The developers were quick to write back when I had a question when I tried the plugin earlier. It has good features and I might try it again. Last time it wasn’t quite right for me but I know it hasn’t been left to stagnate in the mean time.

Premium Calendar Plugins

  • Events Calendar Pro
  • Community Events
  • Facebook Events
  • Event Calendar WD
  • EventOn WordPress Event Calendar
  • Business Calendar – WordPress Internal Calendar
  • WordPress Pro Event Calendar
  • Sugar Event Calendar
  • StacheThemes Event Calendar

Free Calendar Plugins

  • Google Calendar Events
  • The Events Calendar
  • Chronosly Events Calendar
  • All-in-One Event Calendar
  • My Calendar

List via  wpmayor.com – Best Calendar Plugins for WordPress (2016).

Blogger Auto Poster did not Work

This one did not work. Set up was not right some how. But, not a loss because I do have Open Live Writer which does work to post to all my Blogger Blogspot sites. Not an auto poster, but I can build a post, keep it in draft and then publish it to Blogger without opening another window to the Blogger blog/ site.

Do you do anything with old (or current) Blogger blogs?


Source: Blogger auto poster – Home

Build “Near Me” Search

Smartphones link to all kinds of local information. Terms like “near me” “closest” and “nearby” are rapidly growing into the most popular search terms

Source: Build Your Business with “Near Me” Search

Not all of us have a brick and mortar business to apply a physical address to for this “near me” search idea. However, it can still work for you and your site.

Consider your content as a resource. First, the topic. It may be a physical object like electronics, fashion, etc. Or, an idea, hobby, like collecting stamps, help for hoarders, etc. The “near me” plan will still work for your site, and you.

Think about the resource you can build for readers who want local content and resources. Not just location but topic too. What other relevant or related topics could people be searching for in your niche?

If your site is about an idea or hobby find all the local resources and list them. Local to you is the easiest and most relevant list you can make. Not only can you find resources via Google search but you can talk to people in the community and find resources Google hasn’t found or not available online.

If you are writing about fashion, electronics or another niche topic you can also build up a list of resources for local search/ readers. Promote your resource as location based. Even if you just make it a page on your site, or a post, rather than turning your site into a local resource – you can still catch the “near me” searchers – and give them what they are looking for.

Bookmarks are Reader Testimonials

You can hear the nay-sayers when it comes to web bookmarks and blogrolls. Not everything from the old, retro Internet has become obsolete.

Source: Modern SEO: The end of social bookmarking websites – BloggingConsult

But… are they right? Is keeping a list of your favourite links, the links you still visit to actually read, a bad idea? I don’t think so.

Of course, I try not to blog for SEO and Google in general. The very idea of doing all of this for a mindless machine is unappealing. Even if I don’t have many readers, or get feedback in comments or make fame and fortune through my sites… at least I’m doing something I really care about, my own way.

Back to the bookmarks!

People used to work at getting links from other sites. There were link exchanges, web rings and assorted other plans and schemes. Now Google put the scare into most people… duplicated content, too many links. etc. Google scares people because they want to be scared. In fact, Google works for us, the readers of blogs. Google wants us to find good content because then Google can sell more ads based on the people using Google and finding what they were looking for.

If we each keep a list of sites were really do like and find useful, we help our readers and we even help Google.

Each bookmark and blogroll link is a testimonial, a recommendation, from readers (real people, not machines).

I still look for a list of resources and links when I visit other sites. Isn’t that the point of visiting a niche site especially? You want to find information, resources and new ideas. Other resources are important.

Even if you have found a niche topic and you are the only resource there are still sideline resources, like supplies, maintenance and so on. Sidelines are great opportunities for you to run affiliate links for Amazon (for example) products/ books/ etc which you don’t offer yourself. Sidelines are a way to show readers you really know what you are writing about too. You can offer a complete package to readers of your site and keep them on your site by giving them all the information they need. Google will like you for it too.

Don’t think you can’t link to your competition either. You show confidence in doing so. Plus, you make yourself part of that group of well done, successful and popular sites in your topic or niche. Send a note to the other sites. Do not ask for a link exchange, be smart and offer them something they need: content and ideas. Interview them and post it to your site. Guest post (but make sure you have a great idea they really will want).

You can build your authority and readership with bookmarks and by having people bookmark you in return. But, the best are those who do it because they want to, not those done as an automated link exchange or some kind of deal about linking back.

Sincere recommendations and testimonials are the word of mouth you want people to hear. Blogrolls and bookmarks are not dead.

Making your Site Work Globally

The best way to make your site international is to have access to a translation application visible. I don’t do this myself because I keep a translator from Google in my Chrome web browser. A simple solution. People who only know one or few languages should be prepared to encounter other languages. It is then their choice to translate, run away or ignore them. Of course, it depends on how interesting and well put together the site looks, that first impression.

Trying to cater to multiculturalism, global protocols, and international readers is a good thing, in moderation. But, you can’t possibly include everyone.

Instead, identify your own location. Show where you are from and who you are. Some of your readers will be happy to find they have something in common with you (at least geographically) and others will be interested to know more about your culture, history, traditions and point of view.

The advice given with this post (link below) is mainly cosmetic. Design and colours can make your site have more international or global appeal but I don’t think keeping it neutral is really in your best interest. Boldness, drama and colour will do more for your site than becoming neutral or bland.

Source: Think Global: 3 Tips to make your websites Internationalized • Inspired Magazine

Copyright Traps

How could you use a copyright trap in other creative work, like writing and photography? It’s not like a watermark for photos but a way to prove the work is your own from something only you would know was an error.

The more likely story, though, is that Argleton was an example of a copyright trap, which cartographers have long used to catch would-be thieves from stealing their hard work. In this case, either Google was laying the bait for a competitor (hey, Bing?) or the mystery town was inserted in analog form long ago by Tele Atlas, the Netherlands-based company that supplied Google Maps with its initial framework.

Source: D E C E P T O L O G Y: Why digital maps killed the town of Argleton