60 Second Solution: URL List HTTP Response Codes

Let’s say you have a list of URLs that you need to quickly go through to determine their HTTP status. This recently happened to me when I had to determine if a series of pages were redirecting properly. You don’t need anything fancy. You certainly don’t want to enter a bunch of URLs manually.

Using cURL , a command line tool for fetching URLs, is the quickest solution. It can retrieve information and content on any URL. By modifying the command with flags, we can get the exact information we need.

To start, you’ll need to have a file of URLs available, one per line. Open your favorite terminal program. At the prompt, copy and paste the following command, substituting filename.csv for the name of the file containing the URLs:

curl -L -o /dev/null -s -w "%{url_effective}\n%{http_code}\n" $(cat filename.csv)

Here’s how to understand the different flags in the above command:

curl is the command name. -L tells the command to follow any redirects. -o /dev/null sends the output to nowhere, since we’re only interested in the response code. -s suppresses the progress bar. -w "%{url_effective}\n%{http_code}\n" outputs the URL on one line, then the response code on the next line. $(cat filename.csv) uses each line from filename.csv as an argument for the command.

If you think this command is useful and used frequently, consider setting up an alias in your profile, or create a shell script. Then you’ll have the command ready to go whenever you need it.

I hope this quick tip eliminates the menial, repetitive task of checking URLs manually – exactly the kind of thing computers are good at.

60 Second Solution: Incentive for Customer Engagement on Social Media

Local businesses have an interest in creating social media incentives for their in-store customers. Online recommendations can mean all the difference to businesses in competitive markets. Personal recommendations from friends are much more likely to draw customers than regular online advertising. Try this incentive solution to increase your online social media engagement.
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60 Second Solution: Facebook URL Debugger

Facebook has committed itself to improving the relevancy of information it provides in your News Feed so that you always receive the latest and most relevant information. While this is a good idea in theory, in practice it’s a bit more difficult. At well north of and estimated 200,000 servers (Facebook has always been tight-lipped about its infrastructure), making changes to information stored in its database isn’t always as instantaneous as you need it to be.
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60 Second Solution: Facebook-Ready Featured Images

In September 2013, graphic designers were given a terrific gift from Facebook. News feed thumbnails for links were enlarged to 400 pixels by 209 pixels. Authors can now use a comfortably large space to visually promote links to their articles.
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60-Second Solution: WordPress Scheduled Posts

If you’re like me, writing comes in fits and spurts. Sometimes you sit staring at a blank screen hoping you’ll have any thought whatsoever, other times the ideas for articles just won’t stop coming. Now when you have a few articles ready to be published, do you do them all at once, or should you spread them out over time?
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60-Second Solution: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful statistics and tool for tracking website visitors. Any web site manager serious about understanding how their visitors use their site needs to be using

Register for Google Analytics, create a new GA account, then register a property for that account. This is useful if you want to track different usages separately, for instance one for your web site, one for your mobile site, another for an app, and so on.

Next you’ll be given some Javascript code to insert into your webpage. Alternatively, you can use a WordPress plugin to manage your GA settings, and simply give it the Tracking ID of the property you set up for your site.

Google Analytics has a lag of a day for historical data, but it also has a real-time view which is fun to watch site traffic as it happens, especially after a big marketing launch.

Once you learn your way around the GA system, you’ll find enhancements such as linking it to your Google Webmaster Tools account and adding social settings to your tracking data. The more you learn about this important tool in your web site management toolbox, the more you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

WordPress Wildcard User Search

SQL is a language used to communicate with databases. The WordPress blog system uses MySQL as its default database.

When doing database queries, SQL wildcards are the ‘%’ (per cent) character. However, Wordpress escapes ‘%’ and ‘_’ characters for security purposes, to prevent SQL injection attacks.

If you are modifying a WordPress database query string, either manually or through one of the query classes, you’ll want to wrap your search term with a regular regexp wildcard instead, like this:

$args[“search”]=’*’.$search[“s”].’*’;

WordPress returns the results with the wildcard search parameters.

60-Second Solution: Send Out a Press Release

Sometimes we get so caught up in our social media channels that we forget there are other media channels that are still effective in advertising your company. Trade magazines, newsletters, local newspapers, and associations are always looking for news “filler.” Continue reading “60-Second Solution: Send Out a Press Release”

60-Second Solution: What Your Customers See

How often do you visit the homepage of your website before you click the admin section? What about entering your store from the front instead of the back where you parked? It’s easy to get caught up in making things look good from our own point of view, but don’t forget it’s your customers who are seeing and judging you and your business. Whether it’s your website, your store or your conference booth, always step into your selling space “as the customer” so you can see what your customers see, and keep tweaking your presentation until it’s perfect.