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Google Sitemaps for big sites: splitting the sitemap into multiple files

Sitemaps are an important element of search engine optimization (SEO), in order to provide search engines an accurate outline of what content exists on your site. One of our client sites recently outgrew Google's sitemap URL limit. Instead of removing content from the sitemap, we implemented a simple solution of using a sitemap index to reference multiple sitemap files.

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Accidental DDOS by desktop news aggregator

Since the beginning of 2012, for one of our clients with a big news website, we recognized a drastic increase in website traffic without an accompanying increase in ad impressions. Under normal conditions, an increase in traffic would be a positive sign; however, in this case it was caused by end user software that turned normal web users into aggressive web crawlers. This essentially created an accidental but consistent distributed DoS (denial of service) attack.

Here, we explain how we identified the cause and mitigated its effects.

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SEO: Eliminating duplicate content on eZ Publish sites

A common task in website search engine optimization is to set up Google Webmaster Tools and go through its HTML suggestions. Many of the suggestions center around duplicate content -- pages at different URLs but that have the same HTML title, meta description, body content, and more. This post summarizes a couple of common duplicate content scenarios within an eZ Publish site, and how to solve them.

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mysqldump alternative: MySQL backups with Percona Xtrabackup

Many hosting companies will take care of file system and database backups for you.  We have a few clients where we have file system backups configured, but database backups have to be handled manually, since the database is "live data".  Often we can just configure a cronjob that runs mysqldump so that a database snapshot is stored to a file and thus regularly backed up when the file system backup is run.  However, sometimes you have a perfect storm where mysqldump is too heavy for the server (causing severe slowdowns or even crashing some services), even if run in the least intensive way (such as with the --quick flag) and at a low traffic time: partially due to lack of system resources and a large database.

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Subdomain rewrite rule strategy: whitelisting

Here is a quick how-to for a strategy to prevent duplicate content across domains and subdomains of the same site by "whitelisting" discrete domains and redirecting all other requests to the main domain.

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Google Page Speed Service and eZ Publish loading performance

Google Page Speed Service is an interesting new offering for websites. It is currently free, but with limited availability for the time being. It claims up to 20 - 60% speed-up in overall page load. It accomplishes this by routing all site traffic through Google, which will automatically perform some optimizations such as minifying CSS and JavaScript and serving some page assets through its own content delivery network (CDN). This is quite interesting, and there is even a site that runs a test to show you how your site performance will change if you use the service. We ran this test on a few client sites, and certainly there was up to a 25% performance improvement on some; however, for others the Google-optimized version was slower!

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Create your own Firefox search engine plugin

Do you frequently use the Google, Wikipedia, and other search boxes in Firefox, typically in the top right of the window? Ever wanted to add your own for a site that isn't on the directory? Here's a quick and dirty guide to creating your own Firefox search engine plugin, using the api.jquery.com search as an example.

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