Install Contact Form with New reCAPTCHA Spam Blocker


You’ve seen it, the reCAPTCHA tool installed on web forms. But how do they get that? How do you control spam? Chances are you need an email contact form on your site – especially one that sends an automated reply to your visitors. But you don’t need expensive email campaign systems like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. You simply can’t afford another $10 a month much less $30 or more just to capture a few emails.

Relax, there’s a solution

It’s really not that difficult to do yourself if you have a small amount of coding experience. If you don’t you’ll probably be happy to know I can install it and give you my own email response system all for an average of $65. Not $65 per month, $65 ever. Plus I’ll make it match your site design; usually within 24 hours except on weekends. That said here’s the way to do it…

First register your site and get your public and private keys from Google at Google reCAPTCHA. Once you have those you’ll just need to put a bit of information into your web page(s) and your form. You’ll generally need 2 web pages: one for the form and one for the processing. It is possible to have both of these on a single page but most do not.

If you do not have a form you’ll need to create one. I hand code them because they are so quick and simple but you can make one online at JotForms.

For a basic form you can just copy this one:

<form name=”contact” method=”post” action=”RESULTSPAGEHERE”>
<p><input type=”text” name=”fName” /> : <label for=”fName”>Full Name</label></p>
<p><input type=”text” name=”uMail” /> : <label for=”uMail”>Your Email</label></p>
<p><label for=”uComments”>Comments :<br />
<textarea name=”uComments” rows=”8″ cols=”80″></textarea></p>
<p><input type=”submit” value=”Send Comments”></p>

You’ll need to change action=”RESULTSPAGEHERE” to point to the page that processes your form.

DONE FOR YOU: Email AutoResponder with reCAPTCHA

I’ll send you a PHP script for $7 that accepts the form data, validates the content (verifies the email address is properly formatted), strips out dangerous code, sends an automated response to the person who filled out the form, prints a “Thank You” page, and emails you the form data. It can do more – but you’ll get all that for $7. It’s written in PHP so should work on just about every web hosting service out there. If you’re not sure then download the test file and run it first.


Once you download your script you can follow the simple instructions in the files to make it work with your site. Again if you’re in a hurry, don’t want to mess with it, whatever your reason – I’ll do it all for you for $65

Here is one I just installed for a client who already had a website and they just needed a form, a spam blocker, and the data content from the contact forward sent to them. (This is a live site so please don’t demo it. If you want to demo use the one at iCobb here.) I just inserted the form into their existing page, created a confirmation page that matches this page and installed the new reCAPTCHA.



What Is So Great About WordPress?

Every small business, every business even, every marketer, every church, every politician, needs a web presence. Years ago when I first began providing web presences for such people it took much more to convince them of the need. Today it seems almost every one of these people recognize the need even if they do not exactly know why. For the sake of this short article let’s assume everyone knows having a website gives direct access to your words, images and sound to nearly every person in your marketplace regardless of scope or size.

When the web first started gaining traction back in 1995 I could charge, and get, as much as $500-$1000 for a single web page, more for small business websites, that actually did something like accept information into a form or provide automated data responses to visitors. Plain static web pages would yield $150-$300 or more depending on graphics and how much content I created for the site owner. This trend continued for a few years and started to change when Microsoft and Macromedia (among others) came out with WYSIWYG, DIY solutions. Unfortunately this led to a proliferation of cookie cutter, amateurish websites which displayed awkwardly on various browsers, contained many errors in style and code, and all too often stayed out of date within days of being published.

By the opening of the new millennium various Content Management Systems were making their way onto the Internet to help solve some of these issues. These framework systems were created by groups of developers working on the code in teams and churning out stable, modifiable solutions almost always available for free. Many of these continue today and our subject, WordPress, was born in the same era and continues to grow and refine today.

But Why Choose WordPress?

Today’s selection of CMS solutions is wide. There are at least four major competitors, although another twenty or so would like to be considered a front-runner, vying for your attention today. Each of them offers a unique blend of solutions and all do so quite well. Only one is highly dominant, for reasons we will discuss, and that is WordPress.

While it is still possible to make a royal mess of a website and to present a cookie-cutter look and feel it is also possible to have a powerful solution, likely valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to have developed from scratch, for much less than I developed five page sites in the mid-nineties. Using the most widely supported CMS helps insure it is stable, secure and continually updated to keep up with changes and challenges every website owner eventually faces.

WordPress Uses Themes

Imagine clicking a button and your entire website look and feel changing instantly. You don’t actually have to imagine because this is exactly what happens with WordPress. There are thousands of free themes available, an equally exhaustive catalog of fee-paid themes, and even having a custom theme developed (most “WordPress experts” who claim to do this only change a few colors and images and do not actually create a custom theme) for a few hundred dollars. Once the theme is installed you can activate it, switch to another, or revert to the “out-of-the-box” default theme quite literally by clicking a button.

WordPress Uses Plugins

One of the most useful things about today’s smart phones and mobile devices is the ability to install min-applications. Plugins are very similar to apps. While I still contract to create custom web apps for non-WP sites today, often for thousands of dollars, there are thousands and thousands of plugins available for WordPress for free or very low fee. The range of what they do seems to be endless and when one cannot be found a custom one can be coded for just a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on need.

WordPress Updates Regularly

For the same cost as purchasing WP, zero dollars, every time an update (major or minor) is released the site owner or manager can upgrade their installation with the click of a button. The same goes for themes and plugins when updates are available for release. Updates often are to enhance security, keep up with changes in HTML, CSS or other protocols, or simply to release a more advanced version.

WordPress Is Widely Supported

According to live reports on there are some sixty million websites using WP today. The development team has a core of full-timers and an army of contributors. Making sure the core of WP is secure, fast, functional, and forward moving at all times is what they do. Any time a report or suggestion is filed by a user it is taken seriously and considered toward future developments and releases.

WordPress Is Responsive

The word responsive, in this case, means it displays well on every browser including mobile. With the release of Theme 2014 the out-of-the-box version of WP is ready for mobile just like it is for laptops, PC’s, and even large screens. What once required a separate plugin and theme set can now be achieved within seconds of installing and activating WP.

 WordPress Is Easily Installed On Most Hosting Accounts

Whether your webhost uses CPanel or other management console it is almost certain they offer 1-click installation of multiple WordPress sites. This makes it possible, and simple, for virtually anyone to install and use WordPress online within a matter of minutes. Because each WP site can be installed in the same domain name creating dozens of sites like through is possible. This makes team management simple and even though it is beyond the scope of this article it is possible to tie all of those installations back together.

WordPress Is Simple To Use

If you can send an email with a photo attached you can post to WordPress. The management console is intuitive and even looks much like an email or word processing interface. Adding photos, changing text styles, including bullet points, inserting videos, and other common tasks are completed using the easy to navigate interface. With certain plugins it is also possible to extend the features and benefits of any WP installation.

A Word Of Caution

Just because you can sit in a race car doesn’t mean you can win a race. Just because you can sit at a piano doesn’t mean you can perform Beethoven. There is an art and a science to excellent presentation online. While it is possible to create a functional website using WordPress, and to be very proud of your results, if you are depending on your website for lead generation, customer interaction, or other crucial business tasks I encourage you to contact me for a free consultation. Sometimes that is all it takes.

29% of US Shoppers Use Mobile For Research/Inspiration

Every small business must have a mobile friendly website. Forget expensive mobile applications that people don’t want to download; we’re talking about a responsive design website people can use on their mobile device.  With today’s powerful content delivery systems small business owners, and individuals, can be online and ready for mobile in just a matter of hours. Here is why they should:

graph of mobile shopping stats showing US 29% of shoppers research online before buying

Nearly 30% of US shopping involves online research or inspiration.

Obviously no intelligent business owner would choose to neglect such a large buying population. In real numbers that percentage represents millions of people. As Google continues to improve their search results you can be sure they will, at least consider, omitting sites which are not mobile ready from the results of searches performed on a mobile device. Continue reading

Who’s Name Goes On The Article?

I suppose this is a common question for ghost writers, content creators and contract employees who create content for their clients. I get it all the time from my web content and blog content clients. The answer, for my services, is simple: If you buy ready made or generic content my name goes on it. If you retain my services (that means pay me to work for you) then your name goes on the content.

Image by EloquaCC 2.0

When You Buy Articles Who Is The Author?

You may or may not be aware than many “authors” actually give their writers the idea they want portrayed whether it’s for books, movies or blog articles and that’s the end of their involvement. In other words many “authors” do not actually write their own content. I know, right? Because I cannot speak on behalf of the many content writers out there who choose to write content on which others place their names I will use my services as an example to give you an understanding of how it works. With that said know when I am writing about services or fees I am writing about my services and my fees which may, or may not, be the general rule.

If a client comes to me with a very specific idea of what they want written and my services will mostly be research and assembly of data followed by a corrective re-write or less I generally charge $100 or more for a blog style article giving all rights to the client. On the other hand if someone simply wants 200 words give or take a dozen on the keyword topic of their choice and my name will stay on the blurb it’s literally only five bucks. Now bear in mind this is partially for my publicity so I do not release the full license for use of the content – this is a one off content license for the single purpose and it does not allow for the removal of the author’s information.

What happens when a client needs several pages of web content or blog content created? That’s where content packages come in. Perhaps my most popular package is one month of blog or web content written around a single keyphrase with 8 articles of approximately 500-700 words delivered throughout the month along with tracking through keyword tools (Google) on the performance of those phrases.

Points To Consider When You Want to Buy Content

As terrible as this may sound to my wonderful sister and multi-degreed Dr. Northcutt, the lifelong educator, grammar and sentence structure truly are not the primary consideration where SEO is concerned. Is it important? Oh, you bet – it’s just not the most important. My intent by beginning this section with this slap from a wet trout is to say hiring a writer fresh out of journalism school is not guaranteed to return the advancements you need. In fact this world is all about appeasing the reader with relevant information and that being picked up by Google’s ever changing algorithms as they seek (so they claim) to provide only the best, most relevant information to their search customers.

People with SEO skills who have been in business for a few years and who have faced the challenge of creating their own leads often make the best writers. They generally understand the importance of delivering a concise and accurate message while focusing on the points most likely to win the attention of Google. When interviewing your prospective writer ask what they have been doing for the last 10 years.

You can get tons of content from 3rd world countries for pennies. Do I really need to sell our international brothers and sisters down the river? If what you are doing really matters look close to home. This keeps in line with our “perfect grammar does not perfect content create” but adds the unknown factor of “what the heck does this mean” to the outcome. Your site visitors really care when they get content relevant to their search. Your visitors are not always the search engine genius you are so Google does an ever improving job of presenting truly relevant search results to their search customers. In the future they will likely have some mind reading app but it’s not out yet.

How To Buy Web or Blog Content

It should go without saying you need to read what your contractor has written. Furthermore they should be well rounded, experience individuals. Be careful on hiring content companies (content farms) for your personal business if you are an independent professional. Getting your personality across on paper or web page can be a daunting task best not left up to automation, inexperience and shortness of understanding. Be thorough in your appreciation for their talent, skills, experience, and knowledge because you cannot learn most lessons in a classroom or just by Googling the answer!

I will be happy to speak with you about your content needs, provide references and give you an opportunity to experience my abilities without the need for a long-term, heavy obligation through a massive and expensive contract. Just contact me about SEO and custom website content or blog articles for sale.

How to create a Google Site – Part 2 (with video)

Part 1 of How to create a Google Site is here.

This is still so very simple to do literally anyone can do it. This is how to add a theme (change the look) of your Google site.

Using Google Sites for you business is not recommended but certainly as an extension of your Internet reach or to get you started they are an option freely available to you. Be sure to work along on your Google Site and I am relatively certain you will soon out-run the tutorials and take off on your own. If you have ever created a site anywhere you will find you don’t even need the tutorials.

Google provides several themes for your site and there are developers who create themes for Google sites as well. I am available to do so or you may already know someone who can. If I have time to take the tutorials that far you will learn how to do them yourself.

Web designer or developer? Why you should care

Back in the ancient days of web development, around 1995 or so, the common name most “gurus” chose for themselves was “Webmaster”. Of course that is, and was, a real term which was not clearly understood in the main stream. The definition, clearly being written, for a Webmaster was essentially: the person charged with overseeing the operation of a website. This included everything from development and design to content and data control. Within the name Webmaster, however, fall two distinct services which are rarely separated in main stream conversation yet when one is engaging the services needed it is relative and of high importance to know and comprehend the differentiations of these two terms developer and designer.

iCobb has provided development since the mid 90's

Why is it important to know the difference between a designer and a developer?


Almost certainly there will be a few who read this post and make the argument it really does not matter. For the person or company writing the checks that statement could be dangerous and costly. Understanding the difference and knowing which tasks are performed by each can help even a small site owner save time and money as well as other types of capital simply by knowing what goals each position is charged with attaining.

A designer

Designers, for the purpose of websites, are charged with the look, interface, navigation, and presentation of the site. They are the one who determines the colors, graphics, menu positioning, text styles and other meta-physical attributes of the site. The designer is the one who is, or should be, charged with what you see, what you click and how you describe a site. Generally speaking a new web client will want to show the provider another site to help set a visual direction for the creation of the new site. Understanding how to direct the creation of the website for visual purposes is the responsibility of the designer.

Generally speaking there is no need for the designer to have more than a working knowledge of the programmatic structure of the languages which cause the server and browser to work together to present the user with the desires results. While they certainly need to know what AJAX, JSON, HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS can do they really do not need to know exactly how to code a data call from a Perl script which passes to a JSON code inside of a PHP script.

A developer

Once the designer has an accepted presentation of how the site should look the developer needs to know what it will do. Will the site have user interaction parsed to an online database for an online catalog? How about a dynamic, real time chat feature? For this reason the developer must be intimately familiar with and experienced in understanding which language and which functions to use to empower the site to interact with the users as well as the server to achieve the site owner’s goals.

Perhaps the designer has decided to use a menu bar just below the header on every page which has drop down categories and fly out subcategories. To make it even more challenging the client wants the categories to change dynamically based on the current page being served. It is the developer’s responsibility to develop the site to work within the designer’s specifications to provide the client a working site according to their expectations. Likewise if the client wishes for a custom email based newsletter system it is up to the developer to find a suitable solution.

Today it is quite simple to find many “out of the box” scripted solutions to achieve the goals of the client so what once would cost thousands of dollars may cast only a few dozen. With the growing pervasiveness of content management solutions like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal pretty much everything the small site owner needs is readily available and robust websites can be online in hours, instead of weeks, for hundreds of dollar, instead of thousands.

For larger, custom coded web solutions, shopping for your design and development separately can save a lot of frustration. Even if one provider is covering all the bases, and some certainly can, at least remember there are two major roles to getting the website from your head to the visitor’s monitor. And do not forget mobile!

Are you optimized for the mobile web?

You have heard it, you’ve read about it, people who appear to know stuff have told you: the digital revolution is unwired and if you don’t feed it what it needs to exist it will move on without you. When is this going to happen? It’s already, almost, so last year.

We cannot imagine the resistance Alexander Bell experienced. I remember hearing old people talking about it back int he 60’s saying they thought the phone would be a huge invasion and some called it “the devil’s box”. Why do we always credit “the devil” with innovation? But I digress. Let’s look at communications changes over the last few thousand years:Infographic of the history of communications

When I was in communcations classes some 30 years ago we were told 90% of the advancements in communications had been made since 1900. The number today must be closer to 99% of the advancements since 1969.

Many humans are slow to embrace change. Those who are generally miss the opportunity to leverage the excitement of new chances. Now we all know not everyone can do everything. You can’t be a specialist at real estate and a social media guru and a web programmer and a mobile technology expert … the list goes on. You can, however, use the technology as it is made available to you as an “early adopter”.

The important reason to be an early adopter is because if you are a late adopter by the time you start using the old technology another technology has come into play and the old technology is dead. Why is this important? Be where your buyers are coming instead of where they have already been.

We know, now, after me being laughed and scoffed at by Mrs. Garner some 15 years ago, over 80% of all home searches are started on the internet. I bet if she were still in the business she’d have a website just like every other agent. But I wonder if she would scoff at me when I called to tell her she needs to optimze her website for mobile?

What does this mean, “optimize for mobile”?

Simply put a website created for display on a larger screen laptop or desk top computer is not going to present well on a smaller screen mobile device. The browsers, for the most part, are completely different, smaller in byte size and present the web pages in a different manner than when used on a computer. Even though mobile is new it is re-inventing a few wheels to make use of existing data in the new technology.

The subject is vast and a complete dissemination of the topic is far beyond the scope of a simple blogpost like this one. Do some research. Check your stats (you do track them, right?) and see how much of your web traffic comes from mobile. On one of my sites I’m at 13%. Thirteen percent. Would you close your doors to 13 out of 100 people who tried to come and buy from you?

Then there’s video. Don’t scoff – mobile and video go together like movies and popcorn …

See you at REtechSouth. Speaking of video, come dressed for your debut. I’ll be doing free green screen sessions at the event! My session is on how to actually cut through the smoke and generate some leads online. Not theory, my actual tools that I use and have used to generate millions in gross income.

Image credits:

(Phoenician alphabet) (Parchment) (Chinese horesmen) (Gutenberg press) (Marconi radio)


You are free to use the infographic in any way you wish so long as you either link the image back to or place a credit in the article thus: <a href=”” title=”Social Optimization” target=”_blank”><img src=”whereveryoustoredtheimage” alt=”Infographic by @thekencook”></a>


Finally! WordPress 3.1 is here

We’ve been playing with it. As developers we’ve checked our themes, plugins and widgets. We’ve talked about it in the WP develoepr community. We’ve seen things we really liked and saluted. We’ve seen things we didn’t like and submitted them for changes … and finally, after months of hard effort – WordPress 3.1 is live!

wordpress 3.1 releasedWhat does this mean for you?

If you host on the free site it means you’ll see a few new features like I wrote about at WordPress 3.1 – Developers get ready. That’s really about it.

If you self host or host with a WP developer it is possible, certainly not probable, a few things may break along with all the joys of the new features:

  • Internal Linking – click a button for an internal link and it allows you to search for a post or browse a list of existing content and select it for inclusion.
  • Admin Bar – contains various links to useful admin screens. By default, the admin bar is displayed when a user is logged in and visiting the site and is not displayed in admin screens for single blog installs. For multisite installs, the admin bar is displayed both when visiting the site and in the admin screens.
  • Streamlined Writing Interface – new users of WordPress will find the write screen much less cluttered than before, as more of the options are hidden by default. You can click on Screen Options in the top right to bring them back.
  • Post Formats – meta information that can be used by themes to customize presentation of a post. Read more in the article Post Formats.
  • Network Admin – move Super Admin menus and related pages out of the regular admin and into a new Network Admin screen.
  • List-type Admin Screens – sortable columns for list-type screens and better pagination.
  • Exporter/Importer Overhaul – many under the hood changes including adding author information, better handling for taxonomies and terms, and proper support for navigation menus.
  • Custom Content Type Improvements – allows developers to generate archive pages, and have better menu and capability controls. Read more in the article Post Types.
  • Advanced Queries – allows developers to query multiple taxonomies and custom fields.
  • Refreshed Blue Admin Color Scheme – puts the focus more squarely on your content.

What happens if it breaks?

Before you call me at 877-7000-KEN (877-700-0536) or hit up free online support for WordPress, try the following depending on your error:

  • Login as admin
  • Backup your installation of WordPress
  • Do one or all of the following then refresh your home page (or the page where the trouble is)
  • Disable your plugins either all at once then turn them back on one at a time or
  • Disable your plugins one at a time until the problem is gone
  • Switch to the default WP theme

If you find a WP theme or plugin that does not work after the upgrade or breaks your site THEN you may call me.

WordPress – the website you can update yourself

Repeat after me, “WordPress is NOT a blog!”

Back between 1995 and about 2000 one of the most costly website jobs to program was a dynamic and interactive website the user could update and maintain on their own. During that period I was able to create some pretty amazing sites, or extensions to sites, for companies like Loomis&Fargo, Shari’s Restaurants, SiGARMS, CrossGeneration Comics, The American Outdoorsman, and many more. Honestly my team and I worked quite diligently to create those sites, mostly eCommerce solutions, to allow the company’s webmasters to update and make minimal changes to the site.

If WordPress had existed back then instead of a few thousand dollars for each site the companies could have had a much more powerful solution for a few hundred or at the most a couple thousand. They also could have been online in hours instead of weeks. So when you try to comprehend what WordPress is just think of a website you can update yourself by adding pages, images, videos, calendars, mailing lists, appointment scheduling, online stores … so much more.


[twitter_status screenname=thekencook]

What can you do with WordPress?

Repeat after me, “WordPress is not a blog.” WordPress can be used as a blog because it’s just that powerful. It can also be used as a user community, an online store, a matchmaking service, an inventory control system, a static website (old school), a photo album community, a real estate site, an auction site … seriously.

WordPress is a Content Management System. If you can send an email you can run one of the most robust websites available.

Here’s a short video with picture and words and music and ….