Siding and the Environment

In today's increasingly environmentally-friendly climate, the construction industry has begun to get something of a bad reputation for utilizing materials that are known to be harmful to the planet. The siding industry is no exception. With vinyl being one of the more popular and affordable materials for siding installation, the siding industry is often accused of contributing to the demise of the planet by introducing the modifying chemicals of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) into the atmosphere. Of course, the benefit of PVC is that it is inexpensive and quite easy to work with. But in the eyes of the average environmentalist, the advantages inherent in PVC do not outweigh its destructive impact on the planet.

So which types of siding are the best options as far as the environment is concerned? According to Ruben Jeruco, solid wood is probably the most environmentally-friendly siding material available today. Although wood siding requires a fair degree of maintenance, the fact that it is renewable makes it attractive in the eyes of those who are environmentally-conscious. Fiber cement siding is also known to be a reliably earth-friendly product. Offering the same great look and feel of wood but without the significant maintenance, fiber cement is another good choice for people who do not want to run the risk of destroying the planet.

Although it is quickly becoming a less popular choice among homeowners, aluminum siding is actually regarded as fairly environmentally-friendly. Although its production requires a significant amount of resources, aluminum siding is often made of recycled materials, making it a winner in the eyes of those who think green. Finally, natural stone and classic cement stucco are both regarded as earth-friendly siding options; however, the cost involved in stone and stucco puts both choices out of reach for homeowners with limited budgets.

Of course, despite the fact that vinyl is often regarded as the planet's greatest enemy, vinyl siding might not actually be as ecologically destructive as some might think. Vinyl siding requires far less maintenance than most other types of siding once it's installed, few environmental resources are needed in order to preserve it. Vinyl siding is also said to use little energy as part of its manufacturing process. So while the material itself is definitely not the most earth-friendly, vinyl might not be quite as bad as some people think.

If preserving the environment is important to you, then make sure that your siding contractor is aware of your feelings as he helps you select your siding material. With so many earth-friendly siding choices available, you can improve the exterior of your home without having to choose between conservationism and aesthetics. And while you may pay a bit more for your eco-friendly siding, you'll be rewarded with the peace of mind that comes along with knowing that you're doing your part to preserve our planet for many generations to come.

Do Alt and Title Attributes Help With SEO?

A highly talked about topic is the SEO world is, “Do Alt and Title Attributes Help with SEO?” Well to help shed a little light on this topic, I did some research and came up with a few good conclusions. I’m not suggesting these are 100% accurate but from my initial research they seem to be right on target. I welcome all other SEO experts to share their opinions on this topic by posting their comments – because as we all know, every little bit of information can help us all.

Well to start, I want to provide a brief introduction of each attribute to help you understand their “intended” purpose.

The alt attribute is, popularly and incorrectly referred to as an alt tag and is commonly misunderstood to provide a tool-tip for an image. Both of these are incorrect. First of all, the alt attribute is an attribute and not a tag. The alt attribute was always intended to provide alternative information about an element and is generally required for image and image maps and is not meant to be used to display a tool-tip. The alt attribute, can be used for the img, area, and input elements to help provide alternative information to users who cannot display that element in their browser. As an example, here is how you would define an alt attribute for an image: <img src=”imagepath.gif” alt=”this is our company logo”>. If the image is not displayed the text, “this is our company logo” will be displayed in the place of the image.

The title attribute, on the other hand, is meant to provide additional information about an element, which is displayed as a tool-tip by most graphical browsers. The title attribute can be used to describe any HTML element except for base, basefont, head, html, meta, param, script, and title.

An excellent use for the title attribute is to provide descriptive text within an anchor tag to let the users know where the link will direct them if they click on it. When the user places their mouse over the link, it will display a small tool-tip displaying the title text that you’ve provided. An example would be

So as you can see the alt and title attributes have different purposes but how do they affect SEO? This is the true question we all want to know and understand. Do they help with SEO or are they simply ignored by the search engines? I tested several different scenarios, all in Google, and after my research I’ve come to the following conclusions.

Alt attributes seem to be picked up by Google, whether or not there was a link within that element. Some SEO experts have mentioned that if there is no link, then the alt attribute would not be indexed… from my research I’ve found this to be false.

Going further, I noticed in one testing scenario, if there was an image with an alt attribute and a link to a completely other site, that other site was also indexed by Google when searching for the text within the alt attribute. It was difficult for me to verify this multiple times but I definitely verified it in one testing scenario.

I also took this one step further and analyzed my results with what Google Images was displaying. I immediately noticed that Google sometimes takes the alt attribute text and provides this text as the description for the image in Google Images, something that is very valuable to know and understand when doing SEO for your website.

In all of my testing scenarios, the title attribute do not seem to be picked up by Google and adding a link to that element did not seem to affect this result at all. If you really think about it, this makes complete sense. Since you can place title attributes in almost every element of a website, it would be very easy for a user to affect the search engines by keyword stuffing throughout their web pages, something that Google and the other major players do not want, hence why title attributes do not help with SEO.

In my opinion, you should use the title attribute to help with your user’s experience and not with SEO. Since tool-tips provide more useful information to the user about images, links, fields and much more, you will help your users to understand what is happening around the web page.

So from my testing I’ve determined that a title attribute is meant to provide tool-tips to the user for user experience, whereas the alt attribute is helpful in terms of providing alternative information to the user when their browser cannot display an image or input element and helping to increase the SEO of a website. My recommendation is to pay close attention to when, where and how you are using your alt attributes. If they help with SEO, then you should pay close attention to what you are adding.

When adding images always be sure to add an alt attribute to the code of each image. If you do not have one, then just specify a blank one, such as alt=”". Also, be sure to add alternative text that is relevant to that image, the content on that page and be sure not to specify an alt attribute greater than 100 characters in length, as this may be perceived as spamming.

I hope you find my brief overview on the topic of, “Do Alt and Title Attributes Help with SEO?” to be beneficial for you and your business. I’m sure one could dive deep into this topic, spending weeks determining the differences between how Google, Yahoo! and the other major search engines handle title and alt attributes with regards to SEO for a website.

I welcome all comments and/or feedback.

7 Best Tips For Healthy Clay Pot Cooking

Clay pot cooking is the oldest and time-tested method for healthy cooking. While people are struggling to fight the ill effects of modern ways of cooking, with this safe and simple way of cooking, nobody ever had complaints. This is probably the reason people are slowly going back to their roots by switching to clay cookware.

There is a new challenge with clay pot cooking today it is rare that people are making it with the health value in mind so the clay pots available in the market are unfortunately chemical laden and coated with toxic enamels and glazes (like ceramics). The more beautiful and colorful they look on the outside, the more toxins they may leach while cooking. The cheaper they are, it’s possible that additives are used to make them faster and smoother. It’s important that you choose a truly healthy pot and here are 7 tips to choosing and using the best clay pots:

1. Always Choose Primary Clay

Primary clay is the purest form of clay – it has absolutely no toxins. Only primary clay is naturally inert, so doesn’t react to food like metals and ceramics. There are many clay pots available in the market that are made from secondary or tertiary clay but they have contaminants that may leach into your food while cooking.

2. No Chemicals, Glazes or Enamels

Most makers start using chemicals to make the process easier. In fact, every mechanized process needs the raw material to be treated with chemicals. The glazes and enamels might make your clay pots and pans colorful, attractive and even robust but they contaminate food. So always choose a cookware made from unglazed primary clay (or pure clay).

3. Seasoning Is Important

Seasoning your pure clay pot as per instructions is very important for cooking delicious food every time and it also increases the life of your pot. Pure clay is naturally non-stick, so after proper seasoning, if done right, the food should never stick to the bottom.

4. Choose Ingredients Carefully

You have finally chosen the healthiest clay pot – great, but it will all be in vain if you won’t use the right ingredients. For healthy clay pot cooking, make sure you choose all-natural organic ingredients that are unprocessed and nutrition-rich. A balanced diet is all you and your family needs for a healthy body, so always pay attention to the nutritional value of your ingredients.

5. Cook At Medium to Low Heat

Pure clay pots are great retainers of heat and the near infrared heat radiating from their walls cooks food evenly with gentle heat. It keeps nutrients intact and food cooks in almost the same time at low-medium heat as it does on high heat in metal/ceramic cookware.

Cooking at low-medium heat not only prevents food from burning and sticking to the bottom, it also improves the durability of your pure clay pot.

6. Choose A Pot That Manages Steam Well

Steam management is an important aspect of healthy cooking. In conventional cookware, the steam pressure inside the pot gets too much while cooking with harsh, near-infrared heat from metals/ceramics. So their lids have vents to release excessive steam in order to protect the pot from exploding.

Not many are aware that steam is water-soluble nutrients. As the body can’t store them like fat-soluble nutrients, they are needed every day. If the steam is released freely while cooking, the food becomes nutritionally deficient.

An ergonomically designed pure clay pot and lid make sure when steam rises from food, condenses at the inner surface of the lid (the lid being cooler than the pot) and settles back into the food before cooking is complete. This way, the water-soluble nutrients are preserved and your body is nourished with them regularly.

7. Clean With Water – No Soap

Regardless of what the label says, all soaps are toxic. When you are using a 100% non-toxic cookware, it’s important that you keep it away from anything toxic or chemical laden. Pure clay pots are naturally porous, so food doesn’t stick to the surface. You can always clean them with bare hands in normal water. Though you can scrub it a little if burnt food sticks at the bottom.

By following these simple yet useful tips, you can do wonders with healthy clay pot cooking. This will not only keep your body nourished with essential nutrients but will also protect you from common infections and diseases by strengthening your immunity.

Offshore Translation Agencies – Reducing Your Translation Costs

Naturally, the language centers are aware of the existing cultural differences and the possible difficulties that may arise during the process of negotiations.

The offshore translation agencies usually cooperate with other language agencies, and they will gladly assist you in finding a translator of a certain language, if they cannot offer the services of the translator themselves. Besides the quality of translations, offshore translation offices can offer cost-reduction options, just like many IT outsourcing services due to their location in low-economy countries.

As for the most common services, provided by offshore translation services, this is first of all translation, interpretation, localization, reviewing of documents in various languages. Most translators specialize in a certain area of knowledge, for example, engineering, software and IT, advertising and marketing, economy, finance, tourism, medicine and many others.

The jobs, outsourced to offshore translation offices, can be performed in a short period of time, or they can be done in a few hours. The ready made projects are forwarded to the customer using the most modern techniques, available today. Also there is a chance to communicate with an employee of an offshore translation agency, using all the possible means of communication.

The rates for the translations can be more than competitive if compared with the rates in, say, America. The rates are usually based on the per-word model; however there are offshore translation agencies, which prefer the per-page model (usually 1800 characters). You can also request a quote per book or article.

Offshore translation agencies are very handy if you plan to visit the country, in which it is located. If you are in need of a language assistant, you can also make a request to an offshore translation agency. Consider employing an offshore translation agency and see how you will benefit from it.