Tuesday, February 28, 2006

 

Galician hotels on the way!

Regrettably, or perhaps really just inevitably, I move ever closer to the addition of commercial content on Galicia Guide, but having accepted that this is now a natural conclusion of web site development I am determined to make the content as valuable as possible.

I have been playing with some alternative style sheets (page layout formats), enabling the addition of extra buttons, there by separating “real” content (the guide areas) from the commercial ones. It seems in theory at least a good compromise. The info on hotel booking etc should be easily spotted and reached from anywhere on the site, whilst the informative areas will not be disrupted by annoying ads.

In terms of new content I have some new pages ready to upload, but google’s inability to replace the old ones in their cache is causing me to hold fire for the time being. I am having some irritating issues with getting google to see the site in the way I want them to – i.e. as it actually is right now!

Monday, February 27, 2006

 

Blog content

My other blog is on Blogeasy.com. This site lists its most popular web logs and articles – a top ten if you like, and every one of them is pornographic.

It is a sad reflection on both society and intellect that pictures of naked teenage Russians seem to hold more appeal (presumably to people at work) than some thoughts or observations written eloquently and often entertainingly – not that my entries qualify in that way.

I have now pretty much decided to make the move to commercialise my main Galicia site by adding hotel booking links and details. I will however do it in a way that keeps the real and commercial content separate and distinct.

I was astounded today to see a current google cache of one of my pages showing a “five month out of date” page about la Coruna! What are they doing? I bet if I added an adsense campaign things would soon change and every page would be indexed and up to date.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

 

Santiago city

Take a look at the old town of Santiago de Compostela city and explore the rest of the municipality by clicking on the title above.

Seven brides for seven brothers was on TV yesterday afternoon. What a great film. It entertained 3 generations of our family from a 12 year old to a 73 year old - not many movies can claim that today!

Anyone used Ryan air (minus a baggage allowance) yet? If so drop me an email and tell me how much the baggage charges were.

Friday, February 24, 2006

 

Google upset me yet again

This week I find out that galiciaguide.com is mentioned in a BBC publication. I am contacted by a major online hotel booking chain re: promoting their hotels through the site and the visitor stats have more than doubled over the last 5 weeks. That is of course to say nothing of the fact that it has had visitors from over 90 different countries and is used as an English language resource by some of the official Galician tourist offices – I know, they have told me about visitor attractions whilst showing them to me on my own site.

So how do google view all of this? They demote the site’s page rank by a point in the latest PR update, despite releasing it from a series of filters which now makes it even more prominent in their own serps.

Google’s advice for webmasters tells you not to worry about PR and that it has no real relevance to a sites serps performance. But if that is the case why bother with it at all! It seems that what is actually a quality resource and what google consider to be one are two totally different things.

Meanwhile this pointless blog goes from a PR of 0 to a PR3 and a second blog I have (which has existed for less than 5 months and had its 1st entry in 2 months this week) suddenly gets a miraculous page rank of 4!

This is nothing short of insanity. Rubbish now values higher than original, researched and carefully put together content. The sole purpose of this blog is for me to write about galiciaguide, let off steam (as I am now doing) and generally occupy 5 minutes every couple of days – it has no real value, few people read it, it is nonsense.

A friend of mine, also with a non commercial and carefully put together site, sees an even bigger drop in his PR today and that is with a 10 year old site that has ranked highly up until now. What is going on.

Or is it because both these sites only offers genuine information, have no commercial content and, worse still no google ads!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

 

BBC History magazine

I have just discovered that galiciaguide.com has been mentioned in the March issue (vol. 7, no 3) of the BBC History Magazine. The article was about Galicia’s Celtic connection and mentions, amongst other places, Noia. So my thanks go out to the writer, researcher and anyone else who played a part in the sites listing as a resource – thank you.

It looks like I may be adding commercial content to the site sooner than expected having been contacted by a company involved in hotel bookings.

Adding this kind of content has an obvious benefit to visitors and, I guess, makes the site a more complete resource, but I still have major reservations. It seems that all companies of this type want a commission or ppc agreement which I know is fraught with abuse and which (in the case of the former) simply miss-represents the real source of business. I will need to give it some serious thought, but also know that my annual service provider’s charges are coming up next month –it’s a tough decision!

If you want more info about the BBC history magazine, click the title link above.

Monday, February 20, 2006

 

emails/jet2/fraga

I had a moan a week or two ago about not getting as many emails as I used to re: galiciaguide.

Although only coincidence, I have been inundated ever since and I am currently running several days behind in replying to them.

It would appear that there is a possibility of either Easyjet or Jet2 trying to get a (direct) route into Galicia from the UK. If this is the case I hope it is Jet2 from Leeds/Bradford and that the target airport is Santiago. How feasible that is after Iberia's pull oy I don't know, but time will tell.

I have been trying to get some news on the health of M.Fraga after his collapse of last month, but it all seems to have gone away. Perhaps it was not so serious after all.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

 

Santiago de Compostela Guide

I have uploaded the new Santiago guide. You can reach it by clicking on the title above. Send any feedback, suggestions etc to the site email at the top of all the section pages, or to the one on this blog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

 

Galiciaguide developments and a google moan

I am pretty much ready to upload the new Santiago section to galiciguide.com. It is 18 pages at present, but I have a few additional pages in the pipeline that I will add over the forthcoming weeks.

I have also syndicated an article about Santiago and St. James which I hope will provide some deep back links to the index for the section. I have sent it to 7 e-zines so far and will see how it does. (linkgrinder, articlealley etc)

As of now, the old Santiago section has not been a roaring success, so I hope that this very de-optimized new set of pages will please google a bit more.

Another google irritation is the failure of the site to appear in the “galicia spain” results from which (only) google filter it out. To make matters even more confusing the site does appear on the “galicia espana” search (on page 2), even though the Spanish language content is minimal. All in all it continues to convince me that there is no consistency in google’s algo – but with 60% of all SE traffic last month I guess that is irrelevant and I could certainly fair much worse.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

 

Santiago & Google update

Another big google update is on the way over the next few weeks. It is being rolled out gradually and is already in place at some google centers. Hopefully it will have a positive effect on my main site, galiciaguide.com, although with google who knows. It is claimed that the main aim of this update is to penalise, or at least devalue, “paid for” links. Since I have none it should do me no harm, but then again google are notorious liars and seem to give priority to every commercial spam site under the sun, especially those with google’s own spamy adverts – adsense.

I am pushing hard to get the first batch of new content for my Santiago section completed and uploaded by the end of w/c 12/02/2006. It is the only city guide on the site not to have benefited from a complete rework since August and, as the most popular Galician tourist city, I should really have addressed its revision first. The first upload should be about 18 pages, 9000 words and 40 to 50 photos. As with the rest of the site it is written in a more informal style than most guides and offers our personal opinions and thoughts!

You get to galiciaguide.com via the link in the left hand column.

Friday, February 10, 2006

 

The Spanish Inquisition

I don’t believe that anything approaching the full force of the Spanish Inquisition ever got close to Galicia, but I have seen a couple of TV programs about it recently and it was pretty appalling.

If you are not familiar with the Inquisition, here is a quick summary.

Anyone who was not a catholic was deemed a heretic and this included not only Jews, Muslims and agnostics, but anyone else who chose to practice Christianity in a manner that was not approved by the then tyrannical Pope (I believe one of the Paul’s).

As an example of a “crime of the day”, holding, possessing or reading a bible in any language other than Latin was a sin. Owning any book not authorised by the Grand Inquisitor was a crime and saying, or even having witnesses report that you may have been thinking, unholy thoughts was also punishable.

The sentence for all crimes was straight forward. The death penalty applied universally, although the ways in which it was implemented varied considerably.

Most common was burning at the stake, but a later innovation was the “simmering” in hot oil. Being plunged into a river or the sea (whilst weighted down) was also used as was public beheading. There was however a way to avoid these awful deaths. If you repented, you would be strangled before the burning or boiling.

One cannot help but draw comparisons between the radical and fanatical Christian movement of the 15th and 16th centuries in Mediterranean Europe and Islamic fundamentalism today. Both want to remove all aspects of civil liberty and freedom and neither accept that any way but their own should be allowed to exist. To me both represent what (I hope) any just God would find repellent.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

 

Leeds Bradford to Santiago Airport (Spain)

A further though relating to Iberia’s intended withdrawal from the Heathrow Santiago route is the possibility that Jet2 may now consider flying there from Leeds Bradford airport.

It was muted that they considered this route some 18 months ago, but that they then decided against it when Ryan air went ahead on their Stanstead flight path. This opening may cause Jet2 to reconsider. I certainly hope so, firstly I live in the region and secondly their service is certainly an improvement on Ryan airs and without the “trick” surcharges.

Monday, February 06, 2006

 

Muros plus some Bad tidings

I had an email from someone who has visited Muros over the weekend, so I thought I would add a little post about it.

Muros is a coastal town in "A Coruna" province and was once a major fishing port (it has a deep water harbour). Today it is much more of a tourist center and has a great promenade that runs along the town front with plenty of bars, cafes and shops. In the summer months it is always busy with tourists although most visit on day trips as accommodation in the town is limited.

What you can see in Muros

Muros does not really have any spectacular buildings, it is just a nice town to wonder around and has many colonnaded old streets and a pleasant atmosphere. It tends to be the seaport stop for many short stay visitors who are based in Santiago, but want to visit the coast for a day. Muros has small beach, but in truth all of its neighbouring towns possess far better ones. That said it is a great stop off point and we visit it every year and often grab a snack to eat while we are there.

Some very bad news

Iberia have decided to stop flying from Heathrow (England) to Santiago de Compostela. They say they can no longer compete with budget airline Ryan Air. I will find out more and give some extra details over the next couple of days. It appears that they intend to open up a new route from A Coruna. It all sounds puzzling and is dissapointing since the Ryan air service we have experienced was very poor (albeit cheap!).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

 

Secret pages

Quite some time ago, whilst exploring a very large site about Spain (it shall remain nameless) I discovered an invisible link (i.e. colour coded anchor text) that took me to a new section of the site with a different page layout and some radically different content. It was all about babes in and out of bikinis and there were several pages crammed full of enticing photos.

No to be out done by this “secret page concept” I created a secret page of my own and it has had a couple of hits over the last week. I assume mainly because it now appear under some google searches. That said you need to enter both a name and location in order to find it. It also doubles up as a good way of generating some extra page count although content is not something I am currently struggling with.

I am nearing the completion of the 1st phase of the new Santiago section for galiciaguide. The old section was 4 pages in length and it is my intention to get the new section up to 30 or so pages. I hope to upload the first 15 or so later this week.

I also need to look at seriously promoting this blog in order to get some google PR. I keep adding content, but have registered it with very few directories.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

 

Looking around Santiago

If you plan to visit Santiago de Compostela then try to ensure you have at least 2 full days to explore the city.

Santiago’s biggest tourist hot spot is the cathedral and most of the other interesting sights lay pretty close to this building.

There are in fact 4 squares or plazas that sit around the cathedral and each of these, aside from giving great views of the cathedral itself, has one or more other interesting buildings in them. Eg’s are the Rajoy palace, which is now the regional parliament headquarters, and the Chapterhouse, which is a highly detailed granite structure, again in one of the local squares.

So why 2 days? Well the old part of Santiago is big and a tour around the cathedral alone can last the best part of half a day, you also want some “meandering” time and most people want to sit down, have a lunch or a snack of some sort. The city also has plenty of shops, many selling keep-sakes, so there is plenty to occupy the tourist.

If you click on the title it will take you to zeal.com who have a directory with a comprehensive list of Galicia related links.

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