Posted by randfish
The process of launching a new website is, for many entrepreneurs, bloggers and business owners, an uncertain and scary prospect. This is often due to both unanswered questions and incomplete knowledge of which questions to ask. In this post, I’ll give my best recommendations for launching a new site from a marketing and metrics setup perspective. This won’t just help with SEO, but on traffic generation, accessibility, and your ability to measure and improve everything about your site.
Nothing can be improved that is not tracked. Keeping these immortal words of wisdom in mind, get your pages firing analytics code before your first visitor. Google Analytics is the obvious choice, and customization options abound (for most sites more advanced than a basic blog, I’d highly recommend at least using first-touch attribution).
Google analytics, or any other package (see some alternatives here), needs to be placed on every page of your site and verified. Do yourself a favor and install in a template file you can be sure is on every page (e.g. footer.php). GA’s instructions will indicate that placing the code at the top of the page is key, but I’m generally in favor of leaving it at the bottom to help page load time for visitors (though the new asynchronous GA code is pretty fast).
Both Google & Bing have webmaster tools programs that monitor data about your site and message it back to you through online interfaces. This is the heartbeat of your site from the search engines’ perspective and for that reason, it’s wise to stay on top of the data they share.
That said, the numbers inside these tools are not always perfect, and often have serious flaws. The referring keywords and traffic data are, in my experience, far off what analytics tools will report (and in those cases, trust your analytics, not the engines’ tools). Likewise, crawl, spidering and indexation data isn’t always solid, either. Nonetheless, new features and greater accuracy continue to roll out (more of the former than the latter unfortunately) and it’s worth having these both set up.
No matter how perfect you or your developers are, there’s always problems at launch – broken links, improper redirects, missing titles, pages lacking rel=canonical tags (see more on why we recommend using it and the dangers of implementing improperly), files blocked by robots.txt, etc.
By running a crawl test with a free tool like Xenu or GSiteCrawler, or leveraging a paid tool like Custom Crawl from Labs or the Crawl Service in the Web App (pictured above), you can check your site’s accessibility and insure that visitors and search engines can reach pages successfully in the ways you want. If you launch first, you’ll often find that critical errors are left to rot because the priority list fills up so quickly with other demands on development time. Crawl tests are also a great way to verify contractor or outsourced development work.
In addition to testing for search engine and visitor accessiblity, you’ll want to make sure the gorgeous graphics and layout you’ve carefully prepared checks out in a variety of browsers. My rule is to test anything that has higher than 2% market share, which currently means (according to Royal Pingdom): Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera.
There’s a great list of browser testing options from FreelanceFolder here, so I’ll just add that in-person testing, on your own PCs & Macs, is also a highly recommended use of an hour.
Virtually every site will have some form of structured data being pushed out through an RSS feed. And, just like visitor analytics, if you want to improve the reach and quality of the feed, you’ll need to leverage data.
Feedburner is the de facto software of choice, and it’s very solid (though, good alternatives do exist). Getting your feed and the analytics to track and measure it is typically a very easy process because there’s nothing to verify – you can create and promote any feed you want with just a few button clicks.
One important recommendation – don’t initially use the counter "chicklet" like:
It has a bad psychological impact to see that no one has subscribed to your new RSS feed. Instead, just provide a standard link or graphic and after you’ve amassed a few hundred or thousand readers, use the numeric readout to provide additional social proof.
No matter what your site is, there are actions you’re hoping visitors will take – from tweeting a link to your post to leaving a comment to buying a product or subscribing to an email list. Whatever those actions might be, you need to record the visits that make them through your analytics tool. Casey Henry’s post on Google Analytics’ Event Tracking will provide a thorough walkthrough.
Once action tracking is in place, you can segment traffic sources and visit paths by the actions that were taken and learn more about what predicts a visitor is going to be valuable. If you’re pouring hours each day into Twitter m but seeing no actions, you might try a different channel, even if the traffic volume is high.
Before a formal launch, it can be extremely helpful to get a sense of what users see, experience and remember when they browse to your site for a few seconds or try to take an action. There’s some fantastic new software to help with this, including Clue App, screenshot below:
Last week, I set up a Clue App test for SEOmoz’s homepag
e in 30 seconds and tweeted a single link to it, which garnered 158 kind responses with words and concepts people remembered from the visit. This type of raw testing isn’t perfect, but it can give you a great look into the minds of your visitors. If the messages being taken away aren’t the ones you intended, tweaking may be critical.
No matter what your website does, you live and die by some key metrics. If you’re starting out as a blogger, your RSS subscribers, unique visits, pageviews and key social stats (tweets, links, Facebook shares, etc) are your lifeblood. If you’re in e-commerce, it’s all of the above plus # of customers, sales, sales volume, returning vs. new buyers, etc.
Whatever your particular key metrics might be, you need a single place – often just a basic spreadsheet – where these important numbers are tracked on a daily or weekly basis. Setting this up before you launch will save you a ton of pain later on and give you consistent statistics to work back from and identify trends with in the future.
This may seem non-obvious, but it’s shocking how a friendly email blast to just a few dozen of your close contacts can help set the stage for a much more successful launch. Start by building a list of the people who owe you favors, have helped out and who you can always rely on. If you’re feeling a bit more aggressive in your marketing, you can go one circle beyond that to casual business partners and acquaintences.
Once you have the list, you’ll need to craft an email. I highly recommend being transparent, requesting feedback and offering to return the favor. You should also use BCC and make yourself the recipient. No one wants to be on a huge, visible email list to folks they may not know (and get the resulting reply-all messages).
TheAlerts Service from Google certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s free, ubiquitous, and can give you the heads up on some of the sites and pages that mention your brand or link to you in a timely fashion.
Unfortunately, the service sends through a lot of false positives – spam, scraper sites and low quality junk. It also tends to miss a lot of good, relevant mentions and links, which is why the next recommendation’s on the list.
In order to keep track of your progress and identify the sites and pages that mention or link to your new site, you’ll want to set up a series of queries that can run on a regular basis (or automated if you’ve got a good system for grabbing the data and putting it into a tracking application). These include a number of searches at Google, Twitter and Backtype:
The queries should use your brand name in combination with specific searches, like the example below (using "seomoz" and "seomoz.org"):
You can add more to this list if you find them valuable/worthwhile, but these basics should take you most of the way on knowing where your site has been mentioned or referenced on the web.
Capturing the email addresses of your potential customers/audience can be a huge win for the influence you’re able to wield later to promote new content, products or offerings. Before you launch, you’ll want to carefully consider how and where you can offer something in exchange for permission to build an email list.
One of the most common ways to build good lists is to offer whitepaper, e-book, video or other exclusive content piece for download/access to those who enter an email address. You can also collect emails from comment registration (which tend to be lower overall quality), through an email newsletter subscription offering (which tend to be very high quality) or via a straight RSS subscription (but you’ll need to self-manage if you want to have full access to those emails). Services like MailChimp, ExactTarget, Constant Contact and iContact are all options for this type of list building and management.
Social media has become popular and powerful enough that any new site should be taking advantage of it. At a minimum, I’d recommend creating accounts on the following networks:
And if you have more time or energy to devote, I’d also invest in these:
Setting up these accounts diligently is important – don’t just re-use the same short bio or snippet over and over. Spend the time to build fleshed out profiles that have comprehensive information and interact/network with peers and those with similar interests to help build up reputation on the site. The effort is worth the reward – empty, unloved social accounts do virtually nothing, but active ones can drive traffic, citations, awareness and value.
BTW – Depending on the size and structure of your site, you may also want to consider creating a Facebook Fan Page, a LinkedIn Company Page and profiles on company tracking sites like Crunchbase, BusinessWeek and the Google Local Business Center.
If you’ve just set up your social account, you’ve likely added your new site as a reference point already, but if not, you should take the time to visit your various social profiles and make sure they link back to the site you’re launching.
Not all of these links will provide direct SEO value (as many of them are "nofollowed"), but the references and clicks you earn from those investigating your profiles based on your participation may prove invaluable. It’s also a great way to leverage your existing branding and participation to help the traffic of your new site.
Depending on your niche, you may have traditional media outlets, bloggers, industry luminaries, academics, Twitter personalities, powerful offline sources or others that could provide your new site with visibility and value. Don’t just hope that these folks find you – create a targeted list of the sites, accounts and individuals you want to connect with and form a strategy to reach the low hanging fruit first.
The list should include as much contact information as you can gather about each target – including Twitter account name, email (if you can find it), and even a physical mailing address. You can leverage all of these to reach out to these folks at launch (or have your PR company do it if you have one). If you tell the right story and have a compelling site, chances are good you’ll get at list a few of your targets to help promote, or, at the least visit and be aware of you.
This is SEO basics 101, but every new site should keep in mind that search engines get lots of queries for virtually everything under the sun. If there are keywords and phrases you know you want to rank for, these should be in a list that you can measure and work toward. Chances are that at launch, you won’t even be targeting many of these searches with specific pages, but if you build the list now, you’ll have the goal to create these pages and work on ranking for those terms.
As you’re doing this, don’t just choose the highest traffic keywords possible – go for those that are balanced; moderate to high in volume, highly relevant in terms of what the searcher wants vs. what your page/site offers and relatively low in difficulty.
See this post for more tips – Choosing the Right Keyphrases – from Sam Crocker.
WIthout goals and targets, there’s no way to know whether you’re meeting, beating or failing against expectations – and every endeavor, from running a marathon to cooking a meal to building a company or just launching a personal blog will fail if there aren’t clear expectations set at the start. If you’re relatively small and just starting out, I’d set goals for the following metrics:
And each of these should have 3, 6 and 12 month targets. Don’t be too agressive as you’ll find yourself discouraged or, worse, not taking your own targets seriously. Likewise, don’t cut yourself short by setting goals that you can easily achieve – stretch at least a little.
Every 3-6 months, you should re-evaluate these and create new goals, possibly adding new metrics if you’ve taken new paths (RSS subscribers, views of your videos, emails collected, etc.)
I know this one’s a bit self-serving, but I’d like to think I’d add it here even if it wasn’t my company (I recently set up my own personal blog and found the crawling, rank tracking and new GA inegration features pretty awesome for monitoring the growth of a new site).
The SEOmoz Web App has a number of cool tracking and monitoring features, as well as recommendations for optimizing pages targeting keywords, that make it valuable for new sites that are launching. The crawl system can serve to help with #3 on this list at the outset, but ongoing, it continues to crawl pages and show you your site’s growth and any errors or missed opportunities. Tracking rankings can let you follow progress against item #16, even if that progress is moving from ranking in the 40s to the 20s (where very little search traffic will be coming in, even if you’re making progress). And the new GA integration features show the quantity of pages, keywords and visits from search engines to track progress from an SEO standpoint.
Using this list, you should be able to set up a new site for launch and feel confident that your marketing and metrics priorities are in place. Please feel free to share other suggestions for pre and post-launch tactics to help get a new site on its feet. I’m looking forward to seeing what other recommendations you’ve got.
Posted by randfish
Earlier this year we asked the community to take our SEO Industry Survey. We had originally hoped to get at least 3,000 responses and were completely blown away when over 10,000 people ended up taking the survey! Of course, it never hurts to have an iPad as the grand prize, but I’m still very excited about the extent of this report. As a comparison, another excellent survey in our industry earlier this year from eConsultancy and SEMPO generated ~1,500 responses (results are detailed in this SELand article).
Our survey’s goal was to gather information about SEO in 2010 and share it publicly. We asked questions around:
After some detailed number crunching by our good friend Will Critchlow from Distilled, we’re happy to present to you the results from the data.
Some of the cool things you’ll see include:
We’ve also created a spiffy infographic to help visualize the survey results:
For those who’d like to delve into the data more deeply, and extract new views on the information from the 10K+ respones, we’ve made the full data dump available in CSV form: download here. We’d love to see any interesting/unique analyses on this information, and we hope it’s useful to those organizations and companies seeking to learn more about the SEO market.
We can’t forget to mention the people who won gifts for participating in the survey. The winners were notified back in June and they’ve all received their prizes. Here are the winners:
Grand Prize: 32GB Wi-Fi iPad:
First Prize: 120min Flip Mino HD Camera with custom SEOmoz artwork:
Second Prize: gift certificates to the SEOmoz Zazzle Store:
It’s been a tremendous pleasure and honor to be part of such a powerful and growing industry, and this survey highlights the depth, breadth and uniqueness of those who do SEO professionally. Thanks so much for participating – we hope to make this a biennial (or possibly even annual) tradition.
p.s. We’ve also got the questions in individual results format on this detail page. Feel free to use any of the images and data in your reports, presentations, analyses, slide decks, etc. but if you use them online, we’d appreciate a link (nofollow is fine, but remember it leaks PageRank)
Posted by JoannaLord
Are you an SEOmoz fan? Do you love our software? Do you dream of introducing Roger to your friends? Well, what if you could do all that and make money? Too awesome to believe, huh? Well now you can! We are excited to present our new affiliate program, which has higher payouts, an easier management platform, and better service all-around.
For years we have been struggling to really let the potential of our promoters and evangelists shine through. Well enough of that.
We have moved to the HasOffers platform, another Seattle-based startup that is quickly earning a reputation as an industry leader. With HasOffers our affiliates will now enjoy more visibility into their account, top-notch reporting, and an easy to navigate platform for better usability.
Now let’s talk money! Like I said, we are paying out big for your help in promoting our software. It’s a win-win…you get to share software you love and make money while you’re at it! Here is what the payouts look like.
Got questions? We have some answers!
How long does my cookie last?
We are giving a generous 60-day cookie, to make sure you get the credit you deserve!
What kinds of tracking does HasOffers provide me?
Our new program offers real-time tracking. This means when they convert…you know! Please note the tracking will begin on the click, not the impression.
What kind of resources are available to me?
We have over 25 different creatives in there for you to get started with. This includes a variety of themes as well as sizes. We are also going to be adding to this regularly, based on affiliate feedback and needs. In addition to a plethora of creatives, we provide you a variety of optimized landing pages to help your traffic better understand what SEOmoz PRO is all about and purchase with confidence!
What kinds of campaigns are allowed?
We allow a number of different campaigns–website, blog, email, and coupon are just some examples. Currently, we are not accepting incentivized traffic and paid search campaigns require affiliate manager approval.
How often do I get paid?
We work off a 30-day pay period, and then we will be paying on Net 30 after the close of each pay period.
What about all my other questions?
Well friends, this is the awesome part. We have moved this affiliate program in-house because we are serious about making this a top-notch affiliate program. If you have any questions you can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and will get back to you speedy as speedy can be!
That about sums it up for now. We are so excited, and urge all of you check out the program and sign up! If you are looking for more information you can read about the new affiliate program in detail or if you are ready to sign up and get promoting, you can join below!
Posted by Lindsay
Some of the Internet’s most important pages from many of the most linked-to domains, are blocked by a robots.txt file. Does your website misuse the robots.txt file, too? Find out how search engines really treat robots.txt blocked files, entertain yourself with a few seriously flawed implementation examples and learn how to avoid the same mistakes yourself.
The robots.txt protocol was established in 1994 as a way for webmasters to indicate which pages and directories should not be accessed by bots. To this day, respectable bots adhere to the entries in the file… but only to a point.
Bots that follow the instructions of the robots.txt file, including Google and the other big guys, won’t index the content of the page but they may still put the page in their index. We’ve all seen these limited listings in the Google SERPs. Below are two examples of pages that have been excluded using the robots.txt file yet still show up in Google.
The below highlighted Cisco login page is blocked in the robots.txt file, but shows up with a limited listing on the second page of a Google search for ‘login’. Note that the Title Tag and URL are included in the listing. The only thing missing is the Meta Description or a snippet of text from the page.
One of WordPress.com’s 100 most popular pages (in terms of linking root domains) is www.wordpress.com/next. It is blocked by the robots.txt file, yet it still appears in position four in Google for the query ‘next blog’.
As you can see, adding an entry to the robots.txt file is not an effective way of keeping a page out of Google’s search results pages.
The thing about using the robots.txt file to block search engine indexing is not only that it is quite ineffective, but that it also cuts off your inbound link flow. When you block a page using the robots.txt file, the search engines don’t index the contents (OR LINKS!) on the page. This means that if you have inbound links to the page, this link juice cannot flow to other pages. You create a dead end.
(If this depiction of Googlebot looks familiar, that’s because you’ve seen it before! Thanks Rand.)
Even though the inbound links to the blocked page likely have some benefit to the domain overall, this inbound link value is not being utilized to its fullest potential. You are missing an opportunity to pass some internal link value from the blocked page to more important internal pages.
Ouch, Digg. That’s a lot of lost link love!
This leads us to our first seriously flawed example of robots.txt use.
Digg.com used the robots.txt to create as much disadvantage as possible by blocking a page with an astounding 425,000 unique linking root domains, the "Submit to Digg" page.
The good news for Digg is that from the time I started researching for this post to now, they’ve removed the most harmful entries from their robots.txt file. Since you can’t see this example live, I’ve included Google’s latest cache of Digg’s robots.txt file and a look at Google’s listing for the submit page(s).
As you can see, Google hasn’t begun indexing the content that Digg.com had previously removed in the robots.txt.
I would expect Digg to see a nice jump in search traffic following the removal of it’s most linked to pages from the robots.txt file. They should probably keep these pages out of the index with the robots meta tag, ‘noindex’, so as not to flood the engines with redundant content. This move would ensure that they benefit from the link juice without flooding the search engine indexes.
If you aren’t up to speed on the use of noindex, all you have to do is place the following meta tag into the <head> section of your page:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">
Additionally, by adding ‘follow’ to the tag you are telling the bots to not index that particular page, but allowing them to follow the links on the page. This is usually the best scenario as it means that the link juice will flow to the followed links on the page. Take for example a paginated search results page. You probably don’t want that specific page to show up in the search results as the contents of page 5 of that particular search is going to change day to day. But by using the robots noindex, follow the links to products (or jobs in this example from Simply Hired) will be followed and hopefully indexed.
Alternitavely you can use "noindex, nofollow" but that’s a mostly pointless endeavor as you’re blocking link juice as with the robots.txt.
Blogger.com is the brand behind Google’s blogging platform, with subdomains hosted at ‘yourblog.blogspot.com’. The link juice blockage and robots.txt issue that arises here is that www.blogspot.com is entirely blocked with the robots.txt. As if that wasn’t enough, when you try to pull up the home page of Blogspot, you are 302 redirected to Blogger.com.
Note: All subdomains, aside from ‘www’, are accessible to robots.
A better implementation here would be a straight 301 redirect from the home page of Blogspot.com to the main landing page on Blogger.com. The robots.txt entry should be removed altogether. This small change would unlock the hidden power of more than 4,600 unique linking domains. That is a good chunk of links.
When a popular page is expired or moved, the best solution is usually a 301 redirect to the most suitable final replacement.
In the big site examples highlighted above, we’ve covered some misuses of the robots.txt file. Some scenarios weren’t covered. Below is a list of effective solutions to keep content out of the search engine index without link juice leak.
In most cases, the best replacement for robots.txt exclusion is the robots meta tag. By adding ‘noindex’ and making sure that you DON’T add ‘nofollow’, your pages will stay out of the search engine results but will pass link value. This is a win/win!
The robots.txt file is no place to list old worn out pages. If the page has expired (deleted, moved, etc.) don’t just block it. Redirect that page using a 301 to the most relevant replacement. Get more information about redirection from the Knowledge Center.
Don’t block your duplicate page versions in the robots.txt. Use the canonical tag to keep the extra versions out of the index and to consolidate the link value. Whenever possible. Get more information from the Knowledge Center about canonicalization and the use of the rel=canonical tag.
The robots.txt file is not an effective way of keeping confidential information out of the hands of others. If you are making confidential information accessible on the web, password protect it. If you have a login screen, go ahead and add the ‘noindex’ meta tag to the page. If you expect a lot of inbound links to this page from users, be sure to link to some key internal pages from the login page. This way, you will pass the link juice through.
The best way to use a robots.txt file is to not use it at all. Well… almost. Use it to indicate that robots have full access to all files on your website and to direct robots to your sitemap.xml file. That’s it.
Your robots.txt file should look like this:
Earlier in the post I mentioned that "Bots that follow the instructions of the robots.txt file," which means that there are bots that don’t adhere to the robots.txt at all. So while you’re doing a good job of keeping out the good bots, you’re doing a horrible job of keeping out the "bad" bots. Additionally, filtering to only allow bot access to Google/Bing isn’t recommend for three reasons:
If your competitors are SEO savvy in any way shape or form, they’re looking at your robots.txt file to see what they can uncover. Let’s say you’re working on a new redesign, or a whole new product line and you have a line in your robots.txt file that disallows bots from "indexing" it. If a competitor comes along, checks out the file and sees this directory called "/newproducttest" then they’ve just hit the jackpot! Better to keep that on a staging server, or behind a login. Don’t give all your secrets away in this one tiny file.
Both Rand Fishkin & Andy Beard have covered robots.txt misuse in the past. Take note of the publish dates and be careful with both of these posts, though, because they were written before the practice of internal PR sculpting with the nofollow link attribute was discouraged. In other words, these are a little dated but the concept descriptions are solid.
Posted by Suzzicks
So here is the deal: Traditional websites frequently rank in mobile search results – especially if you are searching from a SmartPhone. What you may not realize is that the converse is also true – mobile pages can rank well in traditional search. This is quite an interesting phenomenon, and something that we need to address strategically.
Why does this happen?
Well, Google has said that they really don’t want to index two versions of the web – one mobile and one traditional. Even though they do have different mobile-specific bots, they want those their bots all to feed into one index. Hmmmm….Is it just an interesting coincidence that they just launched the multi-format site mapping in Google, where you can combine all the different types of sitemaps that we previously had to submit separately? Possibly. At least it that could indicate a shift away from multiple indexes.
Did anyone notice that this shift happened pretty soon after Caffeine, as did the re-launch of Google Images, and some significant changes in Google Places?
Hmmmm…..It seems that now things might be all moving to one index with different types of ‘indexing attributes’ that will replace the need for different indexes in the long run. That would actually do lots of things that Caffeine has done, like speed up searches, and allow them to algorithmically prioritize things by freshness more effectively….
But I have gone astray – We were talking about mobile. We can’t know for sure if there are different mobile indexes. There definitely was in the beginning of ‘mobile’ – you could always tell because the results were SO bad! Even in the past two years, I have seen mobile search results that were way off base – For example, the top result for a search on ‘subway sandwiches’ was a Gawker article for a long time; then Subway.com, and then m.subway.com. I just checked, and they have finally sorted that one out! About 18 months ago Google changed the location of their mobile engine from m.Google.com to Google.com/m, and it did seem that the ‘/m’ feature phone search results were a bit better than they had been, but who knows!
As I have mentioned, there are different mobile search engine crawlers that are evaluating your website as if it was being rendered on a mobile phone. These mobile bots actually have generic and more specific user agent strings that will spoof actual phone handset models in order to understand how the website would behave on the different phones. While they don’t do a great job, Google actually does try to only provide you with mobile search results that will actually work well on your particular handset – What that means is that there are slight variations on search results from phone to phone.
There are some simple ways to check what I am now describing as ‘mobile indexing attributes.’ I always start mobile rankings research by doing a normal search from my traditional computer. We know more about the traditional algorithm, so that sets my baseline for comparison. From there, I will do the same search from Google.com/m to see the differences. In most cases, the websites that are included in the traditional search results will be included in the SmartPhone search results – but sometimes in a slightly different order.
You don’t have to have tons of different phones to get a sense for what is going on in mobile search. There are a couple quick tips and tricks to help you do this all from the web. The first thing to know, is that you can do searches from your computer directly from Google.com/m. The results you get will be generic ‘SmartPhone’ search results. From that page, you can move on to see the results for the same query on feature phones by simply scrolling to the bottom of the page and changing the drop-down that says ‘web’ to say ‘mobile,’ and hit ‘go.’ This set of results will be the generic FeaturePhone results.
The best way to indicate to the search engines that your page is mobile-ready, (beyond including the ‘no-transform’ tag, discussed more in another post called What is Mobile Search Engine Transcoding?), is to provide the search engines pages that will work well on mobile phones. Handheld stylesheets can be included on any page on your site. If you don’t have mobile-specific pages, you can use these stylesheets to tell mobile browsers how you would like your existing pages to look when they are displayed on a mobile phone. These are especially good if you would like to change the order that your content appear in when it is displayed on a mobile phone and they should also be used to prevent the need for left-to right scrolling when your site is displayed on a mobile phone.
If you have mobile specific pages, you should set up user detection on your site to ensure that, regardless of which pages rank (mobile or traditional) that users are presented with the appropriate version of the page, based on the device that they are using to access the page. If they are on a mobile phone, they should automatically be sent to the mobile version of a page – even if it is the traditional page that actually ranked in search engines. Conversely, if they are on a traditional computer, and happen to click on a mobile version of a page, they should be automatically be sent to the version of the page that is meant for traditional-computer viewing.
Last, include a page-to-page link in the upper left hand corner of each page that allows people to move between the mobile and traditional versions of the pages, if they can’t find what they are looking for, or need to over-ride the user-agent detection and redirection. The upper left-hand corner is the ideal location for this link, because it is always the first thing that people will be able to see, even if there is a mobile rendering problem with the site. If something is wrong with the way the page looks on someone’s phone, you don’t want to make them search all over for the button to fix it!
You should still crate the handheld stylesheet for your mobile-specific pages and traditional pages as well, just in case something goes wrong. They are a good signal to the search engines that the pages should be ranked in mobile search results.
Always include links between the mobile site and the traditional site in the upper left hand corner of the page. Both sets of pages should have a handheld stylesheet to control mobile rendering. User-agent detection and redirection should also be in-place to automatically deliver people on traditional computers who click on the mobile pages to the traditional version of the page instead.
Always include links between the mobile site and the traditional site in the upper left hand corner of the page. Both sets of pages should have a handheld stylesheet to control mobile rendering. User-agent detection and redirection should also be in-place to automatically deliver people on traditional computers who click on the mobile pages to the traditional version of the page instead.
Always include links between the mobile site and the traditional site in the upper left hand corner of the page. Both sets of pages should have a handheld stylesheet to control mobile rendering. User-agent detection and redirection should also be in-place to automatically deliver people on traditional computers who click on either version of the mobile pages to the traditional version of the page instead.
Posted by randfish
The team at SEOmoz has been hard at work this week, smoothing out a lot of the initial bumps we’ve seen with our beta launch of the new web app. We anticipated the app would be popular, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for just how many keywords needed rank checking/grading and pages needed crawling/error-checking. Our queue to fetch rankings/crawl URLs had a backup of multiple tens of thousands of requests all week, and the dev team’s been slogging away on parallelization, separation of queing stages and other fixes.
Our next big release is scheduled for August 25 (possibly the 26th depending on how repairs go) and we’re all crazy excited (and more than a little nervous, sleep deprived and caffeinated). Feel free to start marking your calendars; I know we have
But, today, I’m here to talk about (and ask about ) the future of the web app. We’ve got a nearly endless list of features & functionality we’re hoping to add to the web app in the weeks and months to come, and we need your help in priotizing what YOU care about. To start, I’ll share two lists – the first is our "quick hit" list of items we’re planning to address in the next 2-3 weeks (some will even be in time for our "big" launch on August 25th). The second is some larger concepts we’ve been noodling around with that may take a few months to get in. With both, we’re hoping you’ll give your .02 and help us prioritize which items to concentrate on.
#1 – Printable Reports (DOC & PDF)
We’ve heard from a lot of users already that they’d like the ability to export the crawl diagnostic reports, on-page summaries and report cards and ranking data into DOC or PDF files to be integrated into internal or client reporting. Luckily, this is a feature that’s early on our roadmap, possibly as soon as September.
#2 – On-Page Optimization Interface Tweaks
The on-page analysis section has already garnered a lot of kind words and hopefully helped many of you improve your targeting for some easy rankings wins. However, there’s a few tweaks that folks have suggested to help make it more usable, including removing the "fix" level of difficulty label on elements that are already completed and offering a way to re-order the recommendations to show those that are incomplete at the top.
We’re also working on ways, in the longer term, to help make this page shorter and the information more quickly digestable. Look for some interface experiments coming soon.
#3 – Adding Issues to Crawl Diagnostics
We currently track 20 unique crawl issues (split between errors, warnings and notices). Some other items we’ve considered tracking include:
If you have additional items you’d like to see in the crawl diagnostics, please let us know!
#4 -"Ignorable" Crawl Issues
Some of our members have noted that they’d like to be able to "ignore" an issue and have it exist only in an "archived" issues section. We think this is a great idea, as there can be times when we catch a 404, duplicate content, robots blocking, etc. and it’s not a problem for your site but an intentional move. When this happens, it can be frustrating to see the continued error/warning message, so an archiving system might be ideal.
We’re still working on the concept of how to implement, but an "ingore all issues of this type" and a specific "ignore this issue for this URL" are currently on the roster.
#5 – Bulk Keyword Import System
Today, it can be a bit frustrating to add more than 5-10 keywords and labels at a time. We’d like to build a system that lets you upload a CSV or paste in rows with lable data included in a consistent format to make bulk insertion and labeling easier.
Although we’ve amassed literally hundreds of ideas for upgrading and adding to the web app’s featureset, we’re really excited about a few key ones that have many mini-features inside. These include:
A) Integration with Google Analytics
One of the projects we’re most excited about is integrating with Google Analytics (and later, other packages like Webtrends and Omniture). You can see some of our early ideas below in wireframe format (these ARE NOT finished designs by any means, just illustrations I made in Flash).
We’re keen on the idea of having some stacked are graphs to help you see when traffic from different sources vary, and help to measure indexation via the chart below. Splitting out social traffic by using a set of referrers (ReadWriteWeb does a good breakdown of sources) to filter also struck us as being a great feature.
From there, we’re also bullish on including data about specific keywords alongside rankings, keyword difficulty scores and estimates from Google AdWords:
With this data, we think we can calculate some cool metrics around the potential opportunity of a given keyword, though this will, obviously, require some testing and refinement.
B) Crawl Depth Analysis
We’ve long wanted a way to visualize a site’s internal link structure and know how depth of pages from the homepage might actually be influencing crawling, rankings and traffic. With the custom crawl & crawl diagnostics system, we believe we can architect this into the web app’s dataset (though it’s unfortunately non-trivial to do so). You can see a very early wireframe below:
This is one of our more ambitious projects, but we’d love your thoughts about whether it would be valuable/useful for your campaigns.
C) XML Sitemaps Builder
Building an XML Sitemap can be a pain, even with some of the specialized software out there (though we at SEOmoz are big fans of John Mueller’s GSiteCrawler). Since the web app is already crawling your site’s pages, it only makes sense that we could construct an XML sitemap, plug into Google Webmaster Tools’ API and help you verify the sitemap and make custom tweaks based on what you want to include or exclude.
D) Keyword Research System
A relatively obvious next step would be the addition of a keyword research tool. We’d like integrate the functionality of the keyword difficulty tool’s analysis along with data from Google’s AdWords API. This might help you choose which keywords are most likely to produce value for your site and deserve some content/targeting in SEO.
E) Historical Link Analysis
One feature we hear demand for all the time is historical link information. We’ve actually got the data already stored from previous indices, but in testing retrieval, we’ve found that numbers can really bounce around due to the massive amount of noise in the "not-so-awesome" parts of the web (spammy sites, scrapers, etc). Thus, we’re looking into ways to scrub the data a bit before building this system (possibly by using our metrics to have the option of showing only mozRank 2-3+ pages that link, which tend to be relatively high quality). This work may take us into November or later, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that it can be in the web app by year’s end.
The wireframes above are just some initial concepts. We’d also really like to be able to show you pages/sites that were linking to you in a previous index but aren’t any longer or those that are newly linking, too.
F) Social Media / Link Monitoring System
Finally, we’ve got a project to turn some of the early work from Blogscape and our Social Media Monitoring prototype into a more robust, fully functional system. Our goal here is to provide a list of all the pages, tweets, blog posts and links that your site acquires in a more real-time type environment. So many of us are constantly doing Google Blog searches and Twitter searches and looking at our referrers via analytics that we thought it would be great to combine all that data in a single repository so you can keep up to date on what the web is saying about you (and, more relevantly, how important each of those sources are).
We’re still at the nascent beginnings of this work, but hope to have some wireframes to show in the not-too-far-out future – possibly in the next feedback request post.
Just for fun, I thought I’d include a poll regarding these "big" ideas and see which you’re most excited about:
With our next big launch just 9 days away (yikes!), we’re all working hard to make the web app and the many other pieces that are releasing better, faster and more stable. However, we’d love your opinions and will certainly use that feedback to improve, if not next week then in the future.
Also – as we move forward, we’ve decided to be more open about our product development and roadmap (as part of our commitment to being TAGFEE), so you can expect a post every few weeks or so detailing some of our ideas and asking for your thoughts on what to build next and how to improve.
p.s. If you haven’t tried the web app beta yet, give it a spin – it’s PRO-only, and some sections are a little slow, but by building a campaign now, you’ll have more historical data and trends to compare over time as the app improves.