Embedded, Twitter-Like Update / Following Application for Web Sites
In recent months, a lot of business Web sites (and many personal and family sites) have started incorporating RSS feeds or widgets from microblogging sites like Twitter, usually because they hope that the frequent changes will help improve their sites' search engine placements.
Not a bad idea, but unfortunately, it usually doesn't work. There are three main reasons why:
- RSS feeds from microblogging sites do not provide truly unique content: By the time it appears on your site, it's already been published on their site.
- Even with custom-built feeds, API limitations imposed by Twitter force busy sites to cache the feed in order to avoid hitting the limits. This further delays the appearance of content on your site.
Luckily, I have a better way to get continually updated content on your site. My solution provides you with distinct advantages over using a Twitter feed, including:
- You remain completely in control.
- You choose who can post. There are no spam posts and no "tweets" from wacko followers.
- The application is hosted on your own server and doesn't depend on another provider. As long as your server is up, so are your messages.
- My solution is written in PHP, so search engine robots will see the output.
How It Works
A simple interface, designed for convenient use with Blackberries and other mobile devices, is installed on your site. You log in from your Web-enabled phone or from a computer, type your message, click "Submit," and the message is instantly added to the feed on your site.
That's all there is to it. Really.
Here's a demo version you can play with. The input form is on the left, and the feed output is on the right. Use user name "demo" and password "demo." Go ahead. Give it a try.
Note that both boxes will disappear for a few seconds while the display is being refreshed. This is only because I had to kludge things a bit on this demo to make both the boxes refresh without refreshing the whole page. It doesn't happen on an actual installation.
Pretty cool, huh? The size and shape of the output can be modified to match your site, as can the font size, colors, etc.
This script can be installed on most sites. It requires PHP 5.x, MySQL 5, and one database. It also would help if you have some sort of graphical front end for database maintenance (like phpMyAdmin, for example) so you can manually edit posts, if necessary.
For information on how to get this script installed on your site, please contact me.