The buttons suck - we knew that a lot of users hated them (it adds 4 * 20 additional HTTP requests to the main page), but they were worth too much traffic to do away with. Social network referrals likely surpass search engine referrals for a lot of blogs and web sites. They have steadily become an important web traffic navigator.
If somebody can figure out how to make those share buttons prettier and more efficient there is probably a product in that. I would guess that most blogs would love to drop the grid of share buttons that can be found on every post.
Otherwise I totally agree with not going for subdomains. We setup each property on a separate domain and initially had some on subdomains. The subdomains didn't rank at all and didn't help our PR or SEO. As soon as we switched each property to a separate domain our search referrals rocketed. For eg. you can now find a crunchbase link within the first 5 results for the name of a startup, while similar records for posts that lived on subdomains wouldn't rank at all. We had around a dozen different domains and frequently linked between them (for eg. each post would have multiple crunchbase links), and it worked really well for search ranking (search engines are ~40% of crunchbase traffic, IIRC) It shouldn't be like that, but it is.
I found that quite nifty and unobtrusive. A smart solution to the problem.
There is a product here - package the buttons together so they only load once, hide them in some way by default, and provide a bunch of analytics. Lots of blogs and websites would pay for that - the current solutions for social button analytics are really bad, or non-existant (you need to know things like click-through rates, which share options are most popular, autohiding some for users who never use them, detect if the user is logged in for each service, how many followers/likes/retweets etc. each user gets from a share so you can identify 'power sharers' etc.) - I don't think that exists.
You can't just keep adding more and more buttons for each social service, and there are some people who will only use, for eg. delicious or pinboard and there are no buttons for them.
Mobile is definitely a problem but the mobile version of the website makes that solveable for the most popular devices.
One thing I'm learning about SEO, is that you have to know your audience. This means you should know what they are searching for, and optimise for that. Likewise if your audience is a big user of twitter (which TechCrunch's audience would be), then use that to your advantage.
Am I wrong?
Can anyone clarify?
If the price isn't too high, someone should just start selling crapblockers that make everyone happy. I guess the challenge is that you can't price a crablocker until after you've inundated someone with crap for measurement purposes.
Love this. There's no reason you can't host the write-up for your github projects / gems on your own domain, and make a much prettier and more intuitive documentation for your code than what you can do with markdown and no pictures. As an example, look how nice VowsJS (http://vowsjs.org/) does this. It makes me excited to clone their module and use it in my project. More people should be doing this!
So, about that whole "subdomain" thing, as mentioned in this article. The problem in SEO is that separate subdomains accrue separate Google scores, correct? So if I was to serve my whole site from a third-tier domain, like "www.example.com", that would be okay? Provided I were not foolish enough to also put stuff on "example.com" and "other.example.com" and expect links to that content to contribute to the reputation of "www.example.com"?
Basically I'm looking for confirmation that the classic old "www" prefix is okay, if used carefully. (Lots of people hate it for aesthetic reasons, and I used to agree with them, and then I had to dig into the rules for DNS CNAMEs, and the terrifying results have made me fall in love with "www" again. Unless you tell me it's bad, in which case I guess I'll just have to take to drink.)
The trouble comes when you segment content to subdomain.site.com. The domain authority engines assign to a root domain may not always pass to all the subdomains, so you end up with subpar rankings to what you could earn.
As an example, we launched the Beginner's Guide to SEO on guides.seomoz.org and moved it after a few months to www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo (where it currently lives). It had earned tons of links prior to that move, but the day after the 301 back to the main domain (away from the guides subdomain), it jumped to #1 rankings for all sorts of terms, including "seo guide" (recently got beat out by Google's SEO guide and is now #2). This was a good illustration of the power of keeping content in a single sub/root domain location for us.
I have been meaning to blog this - this leads to cloaking exploits. For eg. Google will figure out the shorter canonical link for a domain. So if you have www.lakers.com redirect to lakers.nba.com Google will treat 'lakers.com' as the canonical link and rewrite all the search results.
This can be exploited by registering a shorter domain and then pointing it to the real site, then waiting for Google to redirect it. For eg. Fred Wilson noticed that the guy who owns avc.com was redirecting to his blog. He thought the guy was being a good samaritan, until I pointed out that it was a cloak attack and he was trying to jack all of avc.blogs.com's Google juice.
You can avoid this by not letting Google or Bing setting the canonical and by specifying it with a rel='canonical' link or using Webmaster Tools. Do you know anything else about this Rand or have you seen it in the wild?
Good that this doesn't work
some URL parsers have caught up to non-www domains if you have a .com domain, but try it with an .io domain. it fails most of the time.
that means there are some interesting hipness tradeoffs
* if you have a cool .io domain
* you should have an uncool www
That said, I don't want to suggest this is always true all the time or that Google/Bing never group subdomain authorities together, just that we've seen inconsistency and thus I'd recommend keeping them together.
Obviously, if you set it to be just example.com, don't have all your promotional materials link to the other, and somewhat less obviously, please be aware that what you set as preferred for Google doesn't necessarily mean squat to Yahoo, Bing, AltaVista or whomever.
I'm not as qualified to touch on the rest, but thought this might be at least a little useful.
 - http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
On the other hand, I think I disagree with the buying a new domain to target an exact match. That will just give signal to Google that it's a new domain and it was unnaturally optimized.
Today this does not work if there is any competition at all for a word. (I've still seen it work for long tail terms with no competition).
Long story short - you need good content to rank well :-)
A user searching for exactly what your website is offering, using the words that make up your website url, should at the very least have a strong opportunity to arrive at your website. If Google did anything else it would offer an opportunity for Bing et al.
This is a common sense, but I have hard time reconciling patio11 saying that with an actual appearance of his projects. Preaching without practicing takes away a lot credibility from a preacher even if the advice is reasonable.
That doesn't look that good looking to me.
Also, that site has not gotten a lot of attention for a while. His focus nowadays is on the much more attractive Appointment Reminder.
That is a "no true scottsman" fallacy.
When someone says design matters, it means having a pleasant design. BCC's design is not something that can be considered good. It still does business - that's great, but "it does business -> hence it has good design" doesn't hold.
'Pleasant' to who? Myspace's design is/was pleasant to teenagers, for example. So surely design is tied closely to the audience. If the goal is, let's say, making money, and the site has been A/B tested extensively and this 'design' makes the most money from its audience, then it's presumably the best design. There are so many anomalously successful website designs that ye can't just say it's about 'pleasantness', unless your audience are graphic designers.
A good looking, well designed website will convey credibility and professionalism. Even if you’re just two guys coding at a Starbucks, you can look like a big, well-known brand. Invest in design.
BCC does not convey credibility and professionalism and is not good looking.
It doesn't look like a Starbucks brand, it looks like some guy in his bedroom put it together.
appointmentreminder.org, on the other hand, does follow that advice.
So either Patio11's ignoring his own advice, the author misinterpreted it or Patio11forgot to add 'tailor to your market', which BCC might be.
In that sense you're totally right, BCC doesn't convey credibility, it looks like a landing page, and personally, i'd immediately go off the site if it was a product i was looking for because it looks scammy to me. It works though, apparently, is all i meant.
(Unless it's a trap for compulsive proofreaders and/or code checkers.)
I love that it gives that impression. $99 logo, $70 wordpress template.
Anyhow, as folks have noted, I'm not historically known for high-quality Web 2.0 design. I have vanishingly little design skill and poor taste, so I tend to do the minimum necessary to not scare away credit cards. I hope that the refresh on AR makes a positive impression on people, but making a positive impression on people who are not my customers is not super-high on my todo list.
It doesn't, that's just your fan club talking. It looks like a run-of-the-mill WordPress theme.
What you just said translates into "Design doesn't really matter." There is a difference between doing minimum needed not to scare away customers, and refining the design to appeal to both existing and future audiences. Latter is the case of why design matters, former is not. Former is just the same common business sense that dictates to not be rude to your customers or not use green on red text.
I think hostility(fan club) will only derail the conversation. Irrespective of whether the posters are fan boys or not, they are going to take offence, and then everything goes south.
With regards to being an anonymous jerk - I like my privacy, but should it have been an in-person conversation I would've said the same thing and probably then some.
That gives me an idea: What if HN hide usernames until you'd voted on a comment (or hide it for X minutes). That'd be an interesting technological change.
You've managed, in the most irritating possible way, to tell us that you find Patrick's blog template bland. Does anyone find this helpful?
I can say with almost total certainty, just based on the few words in your comments on these threads, that you care a thousand times more about Patrick's "HN karma" than he does.
A usable site that is a bit ugly will win over a great looking one that confuses the user. Craigslist is the best example of this, it doesn't look great, but millions of people use it. Foursquare wasn't as pretty as Gowalla, but it won because it was a better game - becoming mayor was more engaging than dropping teddy bears.
BCC was well designed in that it delivered exactly what people were looking for. Sure, it may convert better if it looked better, but it was successful nonetheless. But the whole point is that Patrick has learned that visual design also matters, which is why appointment reminder looks better.
The site looks neat, and there is an attribution for wordpress and "woo themes" in the footer.
Also, Patrick has posted below saying he didn't invest much in the ui(in terms of money or effort), which doesn't contradict anything. He said design matters; he didn't say one has to invest a lot of time and money.
Besides using Twitter to:
- build your network and following,
- Twitter can aid in brand/product mentions
- Some reason to believe Twitter links are followed by the search engines, so help with indexation and discovery.
- Some reason to believe Author/Agent/Identity rank of social profiles will start playing a role.
- Finally, there are sites who add Twitterfeeds to the author profiles. Not all these feeds have the "nofollow" property.
The last one is also relevant to the statement: "Wikipedia doesn't matter for link juice". There are many copies of Wikipedia on university domains, where they don't employ nofollow (For study about web crawling or natural language processing). Or people rewriting Wikipedia articles and adding the references without nofollow. A nofollow link can transform into a dofollow link.
>> Don’t use the keyword meta tag.
Exactly, but do use its fine on-page alternative: Microdata keywords: http://schema.org/WebPage
If only for internal usage: Writing down the keywords for a page, keeps you focussed. If you don't mind giving this information to your competitors (there are tools to find out these keywords anyway, if not already obvious), do experiment with microdata keywords.
With my post I tried to show that Twitter has both SEO (indexation, ranking, discovery) and marketing value (visitors, network, following).
Using Twitter is so-so SEO strategy. But it is an invaluable online marketing strategy.
Just dumping your links on Twitter and calling that link building is silly, and he is right to shoot that down. But using Twitter a little more intelligently, would have you connecting with other webmasters and linkerati: People who can add (Twitter) links to their sites, for example when they blog about the topic of your tweet, or submit it to Hacker News.
There are valid reasons to ditch Twitter: if your produce content just for ranking, instead of your users, and you lack a brand, because you have a keyword-in-domain.net, then Twitter will be very ineffective. No one wants to follow or engage with a non-brand, with highly optimized content.
If you have a brand and produce interesting content, you'll shoot yourself in the foot, if you ignore Twitter.
>> Do .edu links have any ranking weight anymore?
I don't know, I am unable to measure their value (lack control groups with the exact same linking profiles)
There is good reason to believe there is something like "proximity to authority". Taking a seed set of quality websites (Stack overflow, Wikipedia, a lot of .edu domains) you can calculate the distance/similarity of your site to this seed set and measure your own quality and authority.
If this is a solid measure, then the .edu TLD alone might not give a free pass. It matters if the .edu is deemed authoritative or not and to what degree. A link from cnn.com can be more authoritative, relevant, contextual and so provide more ranking weight, than a link from a random university student page that happens to end in ".edu".
A nofollow link always caries mention-value. For a smart search engine just a relevant mention of, for example "SEOmoz", could attribute a vote to http://seomoz.org . Also an added benefit of mentions is the increased "search results estimate" for your brand or product. Some people give more trust to companies that have more results in the index, especially when comparing companies.
In terms of marketing a product, indexation and discovery aren't critical issues, even if it's nice SEO to be able to control it in such a fashion, but i can't see evidence of ranking being affected by tweets.
Thanks for the info re .edu and mention-values, makes total sense.
What does work is people seeing your link on Twitter and posting it around the internet.
By the same reasoning, Hacker News front page doesn't help you with page rank, but it's great for exposure.
It's been working for me but I notice the english version (which is the default one, www, but not the one with most visits) is not working as good as the other languages so I'd say juice is not shared between subdomains, like Patrick said. Still trying to figure out what's the best solution...
Use Google Adword’s keyword tool to come up with keywords and write pages that
speak to those topics.
If you’re a productivity app, write a page for
“increases productivity in Healthcare”, another for “increases productivity in
Education”, “lowers cost in Healthcare”, and so on. Rather than automating it or having the CEO
or head marketing guy write everything,
you want to define a process such that a freelancer
or team member can create content
responsive to those keywords with a consistent level of quality.
He specifically told us not to create crap content.
"""If you’re a productivity app, write a page for
“increases productivity in Healthcare”, another for “increases productivity in
Education”, “lowers cost in Healthcare”, and so on."""
^ That type of thing is pretty risky if it's one of your big strategies..
Our latest public post on this is here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/do-tweets-still-effect-rankings but we'll continue to test and try to get more definitive answers.
Ditto "If you’re a productivity app, write a page for “increases productivity in Healthcare”, another for “increases productivity in Education”, “lowers cost in Healthcare”, and so on."
This kind of seo-engineering just seems so desparate, as if SEO is the be-all and end-all of running an online business.
Whatever happened to having a site that obeys all the normal 'rules', and provides valuable information / services / products to your target audience. They'll find it.
An even scammier version of that is to rebrand software you didn't even make, like take VLC and rebrand it as customized video software for $whatever, when indeed you've done no customization for anything.
Buy KW rich domains and pay some copywriter to crank out 4-5 pages?! Are you serious?
Twitter has no SEO Value?...just so you know...the SE's came out and said that authoritative tweets absolutely have value....While they don't pass "juice", they can help you in the SERPs
I'd hold off on that hug if I were you...
Nothing wrong with this if you have time on the weekends, heck this could even be a fulltime job as the income will slowly climb.
However, this 'trick' is quite old, but probably new to some people...
I've heard from official sources like below that Google doesn't discriminate on TLD. There are my sites and Googlers who use ".info" TLD in a legit and well-ranking manner.
Where this "evidence" does play a role, is in spam/made for Adwords-sites. It is reasonable to assume that a .co or .ly will get more attention, to combat spam/made for Adwords sites that try to use Keyword-In-Domain tricks to outrank legit companies.
But if you are not making Keyword-In-Domain Made-For-Adwords sites, you have nothing to worry about (at least as for Google discrimination).
It is mostly _users_ who discriminate for a .com. If Google ranks website.ly in the top 5, but its users don't click on the result, in fear of spam or low-quality, then your rankings might suffer.
Matt Cutts interview on DomainRoundtable.
"For example, do .com domains carry more weight than a
.net, .us, .info, etc.
He said that TLD doesn’t matter -- that’s the way Larry
and Sergey originally designed the Google algorithm. The
algorithm doesn’t care where the page is located, it’s
all about pagerank (LINKS) of the particular page. At the
end of answering this question he did admit that they
might have started to look at particularly cheap (and
spammy) TLDs differently than other TLDs or they might
start considering TLD in their algorithm if they’re not
already doing so."
I am reminded by statements like: "For better ranking, claim your domain for 5+ years". Just because Google gives extra attention to domains with a low expiration date, because they correlate with spammy/get-rich-quick sites, doesn't mean that spam on a 5+ years registered domain is ok, or that simply claiming a domain for 10 years, somehow signals quality to Google.
You only have to worry about registration dates, when you know that you deliver low-quality content and you don't want to be found out soon.
Especially, I just hate how much google gives credit to the terms which are in the domain name. Why is having been able to register a "good" domain first such an important signal about site relevance? On many searches the first page is full of "keyword.com" "keyword.net" "keyword.it" websites that were only made for SEO and Adwords and have no usefulness.
@patio11: could you make your presentation / slide deck available for those of us who were not fortunate enough to attend in person.