Search Engine Optimisatin (SEO) Top Tip. Help and Advice on SEO.

I was recently doing on some Search Engine Optimisation work for some websites and I have given them an advice that i have personally used before and that have proved to be very effective. I am sharing this Tip with you for free! Please comment on this post with your opinion on whether or not this works as it has worked well with me.

Do you want to get Top forums and Top blogs mentioning your website and linking to your website. When high traffic good quality forums and blogs start linking and pointing to your website, this will have an excellent impact on your website search results rank.

So how do you get them to do that, and for free?

Here is the tip and the trick.

Go and add your own posts on Forums that are related to your business. Choose the best and highest traffic forums, and simply add good quality posts related to your chosen “related” thread. Make sure your post is of good quality, to the point and is helpful. Simply add your website URL to the bottom of your post, in the signature area. You can even add another link to your website in your post if the link is related to the topic and will provide additional useful information to the forum/blog post topic.

It’s a brilliant free and top quality way of improving your website ranks.

This way, you will hit two birds with one stone:

  1. Advertising your own website on a high traffic forum. So people will start looking at your site and visit it.
  2. Robots will see your links on good important forums and start giving you the thumbs up for good community links.

If you find this tip useful, please comment with your experience on whether this works and how much impact it could have or if it have had a good impact on your own website.

Please also comment with your views and advice on Search Engine Optimisations (SEO) in general.

I will be creating more posts with more general advice and help on SEO. It will be like an Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation methods.

Methods to Bulk Delete Microsoft Dynamics CRM records and Using Scribe Insight to perform a Bulk Delete of all CRM records.

I’m sure many people needed to do a bulk delete operation on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. You may have uploaded thousands of records from an imported file or migrated them through Scribe or even used a .NET application to mass create records.

Unfortunately, and as far as I can see, there is no straight forward way to do bulk records deletion on Dynamics CRM 4.0 using the out of the box functionality and interface of Dynamics CRM 4.0.

To bulk delete records in Dynamics CRM 4.0, you have the following main options:

  • Get a third party tool or CRM add-on to bulk delete records. This option is a straight forward one but you might have to pay for purchasing or using the tool. It may also have security issues. I would not recommend it to my clients as most probably the tool is created by a small company or an individual which I don’t know. Hence, it will be rather difficult to put this tool on a live Production environment or client server. Let alone adding it to CRM Online or to a CRM hosted solution by a partner.
  • Use CRM SDK to write a .NET application (or a .NET console application) that will run and delete all records for a specified entity or entities. This is a more robust way of doing it, but it may take longer time and is probably not suitable for people who do not come from .NET development background.
  • Use Scribe Insight. This is what this post is about really.. Using Scribe Insight to bulk Delete Dynamics CRM records.

Please Note: This is a work around. It is not supported by Scribe and the advice in this post is provided as is with no warranty. I have tried it and it works perfectly but can not guarantee it will have the same acceptable results in any other environment.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Create a new Scribe workbench DTS (or Job). Point to your usual source file (even a sample one) and point to CRM: either IFD Forms for hosted CRM or direct connection.
  2. Configure the targe: Create one delete step on the target.
  3. Make sure that the option to “Allow multiple record matches on updates/deletes” is ticked under the All steps tab.
  4. Under Step control tab, leave failure to go to next row but change all the success records (Success (0), Success (1) and Success (>1) ) to End Job. Select success radio button at the bottom and write a message to your log such as: “All records Deleted”.
  5. No Data links are important as you are only deleting.
  6. On the Lookup link, just make the lookup condition impossible. Such as: where Account Name = 123456789 or whatever.
  7. Run the DTS.

The Job will read the first source line. Will then try to find this record at the target (remember it is update/delete). Since we have setup the lookup link to look for something “impossible to find”, the result of the update will be Success (0).

Once this happens, Scribe will go and delete all records for your chosen entity (or CRM table). This will be a complete bulk delete of all CRM records using Scribe.

Remember, it’s a work around… that works.

SQL Server Reporting Services Error cannot decrypt the symmetric encryption key & website declined to show this web page

One of our “big and important” clients has approached us with an issue with their system. The problem is that reports are not accessible from the .NET application and CRM that we have built for them. If you try to open reports from these, you get the error in Internet Explorer saying “Website declined to show this webpage. The website requires you to login”. We were getting this error with everything related to reporting services. So when logged on the reports server machine, those urls:  http://localhost/reports , http://localhost/reportserver , http://localhost/reportsmanager all come back with this error or with the error 403 forbidden “Error 403 Forbidden access”.

To rectify this issue, I went through all the usual possible routes such as authentication on IIS, reports server and reports website on IIS. Made sure that all the application and system users have the right access to the reports server. Checked the application pool for the reports server, all these looked find with nothing that has been unchanged. I have also tried to check the reports server configuration manager. Went through all the usual steps to check that it is running and configured properly and again these were all fine with the nice green tick next to each step of the reports server configuration manager. I have also checked services running on the server and the server even viewer. All windows services and SQL reporting server services were running correctly and can be restarted with no issue.

 Then, a colleague of mine, tried to open reports from the management studio, and that was it. The error we got in the management studio was much more descriptive and helpful. The SSRS reports server management studio error said:

The report server cannot decrypt the symmetric key used to access sensitive or encrypted data in a report server database. You must either restore a backup key or delete all encrypted content. Report server disabled”

The problem here is because that the Reporting Services encryption key has been invalidated, in other words corrupted. This encryption key is stopping reporting services from returning any reports or even displaying the reports manager, etc..

To fix this issue, and after some research, there were two solutions to solve this issue (again solutions found by my colleague, not me!):

Solution1: In SSRS 2005, there is the encryption section on the left hand side.  We need to go to this section and restore the encryption key using a backup encryption key. The encryption key should probably (and hopefully) have been backed up during the setup of the Reporting Services. This encryption key should be regularly backed up and stored in a safe location along with the encryption key password. If you got this backup encryption key, and to solve this error, we need to restore it from the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, encryption section.

If you you don’t have backup of it, then you will have to go for the other longer and more annoying option which is:

Solution2You have to delete the encrypted content. This will remove the connection strings from all the reporting services data sources. Hence, in this case and after removing the encryption and generating a new one, you need to reset the data sources in Report Manager. Datasources could be shared (linked) or could be a separate data source for each report. You will need and update all these data sources after you removed the encryption.

 

Luckily! Our good client had the backup of the encryption key, so we only needed to do solution one (Thank God for that!). Well, to be fair, they searched on the server and found a file with extension ” *.snk “ on their server and it was the encryption key backup.

All SSRS encryption keys have file extension .snk.

That’s it.. problem solved. Thanks again to my colleagues work on these solutions.

 

Post code and Address lookup Using PAF for auto filling address details on websites

I was recently researching how to implement post code and address look-up on websites and on Microsoft Dynamic CRM. This feature is widely used in auto filling address details when a customer input their post code and sometimes the house number. This is also used in some desktop applications, plug-ins to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in store locator functions, bank details verification and in applications where the customer inputs their post code and the system can accordingly specifies which region or area the customer falls into. For example, quote websites, i.e. websites offering quotes for nationwide website visitors, will most probably need to know which region the customer is part of so if he is from the North East of England, the server may be much cheaper for example than in London.

After a bit of research, I found out that there several UK post code suppliers. The major supplier is of course as expected Royal Mail. Royal Mail provides a service called Postcode Address File (PAF®). The problem though is that Royal Mail will not give you any application, they will just give you some raw data on a CD and they will be sending you updates for this data every month, 3 months, 6 months and even some daily changes depending on your choice. The data is great and I think it does have almost all Britain’s postcode areas and addresses. Regular updates also ensures that the information is up to date. The raw data though needs to be manipulated by an application. Some hard coding will be required which is not too difficult to do but if you are not an experienced developer or have no development background, this will be an issue for you. I will try to address the coding of such functionality in Microsoft .NET (C# and VB.NET) in a later post.

Alternatively, I found out about quite a few online companies that provide solutions for the raw data. So, basically they create web-services which manipulate Royal Mail (PAF ) raw data and all you need to do is to write simple code to return the details you require. So you pass on the post code to them for example and they send you back the full address details. Many of them will even give you example code making your life easier. If you do not need this for a website, you can always opt for their other services such as an online application for you that you can login to and get the address information you require.

Pricing of these post code data providers varies with most of them if not all providing the service using credits. So each credit gives you one address information request. Credits are sold in packs with prices averaging around £50 for 750 credits pack. Do not buy the first one you see, ask around and shop around. Royal Mail though has a different licence structure with prices starting from £85 for a single workstation and £2 for every extract up to £££thousands of pounds for a multi-organisation multi-server licences. 

If you need more information, recommendation and links to the best providers of this post code and address information services, please get in touch and I will get back to you. I have now managed to nail down the best providers and got good offer from them. Just get in touch!