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6 Ways to Optimize Your Site for the iPad

The iPad is no Apple Newton. It truly is a revolutionary device. The whimsical blog of “Fake Steve Jobs” calls the iPad a “life-changing, mind-altering product”. Although that may be an overstatement, the iPad is certainly important — to the computing industry, to computer users, and to online marketers.

The launch of the iPad marks a significant step forward for mobile computing, and for computing in general: one’s productivity can finally be as high as when they are in front of their laptop or desktop computer.
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Overall, it looks like this launch is going to be a success and the iPad, like the iPod, iPhone, and the iMac before it, will gain significant distribution among consumers globally. And, since it includes a browser with a different set of specifications from either the standard mobile devices, the question for advertisers becomes a practical one – “will my web pages come up on this browser?”

With the iPad’s Safari browser, the Web generally looks and works like one would expect on any traditional laptop or desktop computer. However, there are important differences in the browsing experience and these differences could thwart your web visitors, stopping them in their tracks. As a site owner, you must compensate for these differences, or risk losing the conversion, and more importantly, the customer.

In this post, I will briefly touch on 6 ways to optimize your site for the iPad. You can read the full article published on Search Engine Journal here.

“Mobile-Friendly” Does Not Equal “iPad-Friendly”

If you created a mobile-friendly version of your website, you are probably seeing the fruits of your labor in customer adoption already. That mobile site, however, is not suitable for iPad user consumption. Mobile sites are designed for a teeny-tiny screen and translate to a deficient user experience on the iPad. Consequently, your mobile site should never be served up automatically to the iPad user. This can happen inadvertently when buy viagra your web server’s “user-agent detection” is overly broad in its matching of mobile user agents (the user-agent strings for the iPhone and iPad are very similar; the iPad’s even includes the word “mobile”).

Layout and Formatting

Your website design should lay out correctly whether the user is holding the iPad in landscape mode or portrait mode. Furthermore, when in landscape mode the primary call-to-action should still be visible without scrolling.

Retool Your Navigation

The multi-touch display provides an elegant and intuitive interface for users, but it also presents some unique challenges to web designers who are use to designing for the desktop. The biggest one is that iPad users cannot hover their cursor, potentially rendering any mouse-over navigation unusable. On the iPad, holding your finger down invokes the copy-and-paste function rather than creating a hover state.

Lack of Flash Support

This is one of the main complaints with the iPad. No, this was not an oversight. The lack of Flash support was intentional. The company line at Apple is that Flash is prone to crash and is too resource-intensive. Just ask the helpful employees at the local Apple Store and that is what they will tell you. I do not buy it. If Flash really were that unstable, wouldn’t we notice it on our desktop machines? Speaking for myself, this is not something I experience regularly. Google’s Chrome browser, which I now use as my default, even calls it out when Flash crashes and displays an unhappy icon in the place of the Flash animation. Note that in Chrome, Flash does not crash the browser or even the tab/window. Surely Apple can follow Google’s lead and build this same capability into Safari? I feel this is more a political/competitive issue than anything else.

Expect Glitches

It’s still early days for the iPad. This is version 1, with many more revisions to come. There are still many kinks to be ironed out, including in the iPad Safari browser rendering engine. So do not be too surprised if Safari for the iPad mangles your website with browser rendering bugs and inconsistencies. For example, notice in the figure below that the “New Account?” checkbox partially overlaps the input field, the combination of the two resembling a pull-down list. User confusion could result: if the user doesn’t recognize the checkbox, then they are liable to mistakenly expect the “New Account?” label to be a clickable link and find themselves unable to proceed to checkout.

A Simple Solution

If implementing an iPad-optimized version of your website quickly is not feasible or would be a struggle, there are a number of vendors that provide real-time site translations – one such solution is our own Mobile Site Optimizer. These solutions can be implemented quickly, cost-effectively, and with minimal IT involvement. Read more here.

Texas Stadium Demolition Case Study – YouTube Still Tops For Video Promotion

Texas Stadium Implosion - Time LapseWhenever I know I’ll be near some major spectacle, I try to photograph it or video it. Not only are such events great practice for a search marketer, the content is great for getting links from individuals and from newspapers. So, when I heard about the scheduled Texas Stadium Demolition, I couldn’t resist, even though it was painfully early in the morning (7:00 a.m.).

I’ve written here before on how Flickr introduced videos in order to compete with the popular YouTube. Flickr’s owned by Yahoo, while Google owns YouTube.

Both services have a huge usership, however, (more…)

Top In-House SEOs – Where Are They Now?

There’s been a lot of buzz lately criticizing TopSEOs, a business which purports to rate Search Engine Optimization experts, though ratings are influenced by payments. Both Aaron Wall and Edward Lewis skewered the service with pretty convincing points.

The rating service and talk about it reminded me that I actually did a sort of rating via a blog post here back in 2007 entitled “Some Top In-House SEOs“. In that post I sought to list out the cream-of-the-crop of search engine optimization experts working within major companies.

Top SEOs - On Top Of The Heap

The main difficulty of attempting to rate SEOs is that it’s quite hard to know precisely what they’ve recommended or done to optimize a company’s websites. For instance, you could be an absolute genius at SEO, but if the company is lethargic or incompetent programmers oversee their sites, none of the SEO expert’s talent might be reflected in the actual site. That’s an extreme example, and in most cases some degree of the expert’s recommendations will be properly implemented. But the point is that site configuration may not really be used to reflect an expert’s actual ability, particularly if compared with other colleagues.

Back when I wrote “Some Top In-House SEOs”, I wasn’t really prepared for the large amount of attention it received. I was immediately pressured by a lot of people who wanted to be added to the list, but didn’t meet the criteria I was using. Quite a few people asked me to update the list over time as well, and I quickly saw that it would be necessary if this was done ongoing to be open about the rating criteria I was using — else people would question why so-and-so was listed while so-and-so was not.

The criteria I used back then was very basic. I wanted to list only people who were employees of top companies that performed organic search optimization of one sort or another for those company’s websites. I wanted companies which were readily-identifiable by a majority of people in the U.S., so they had to be MAJOR brand names: top-50 websites, Fortune 500 companies, and Internet Retailer 500 companies. Finally, I had to be able to find/identify the SEOs who worked for those companies, which usually meant that they’d have to self-disclose what they did (many SEOs operated somewhat anonymously behind corporate walls). So, the SEO needed to blog or speak at conferences, and disclose who they worked for. In one or two cases, I discovered individual’s names through news interviews or press releases. I also mined the list of top-linked SEOs from LinkedIn (apparently no longer in operation? formerly: http://www.linkedseo.com/).

I made a number of mistakes, of course. I didn’t feel I had time to write to and receive confirmation from each person. In some cases I just “outed” people from behind the corporate curtain for the first time!

For the most part, people loved the attention and recognition! I felt a bit stressed from those who clamored to get in, and I pretty much stated that I wouldn’t add any until I updated a year down the road. In quite a lot of cases, I think that headhunters mined the list in order to lure people away to other companies, so many benefited from the exposure.

Here it is, about three years after the fact, and I thought it’d be interesting to see where are they all now? So, here’s the list once again, with individual’s former companies listed from back then, and who they work for now. Nothing scientific – I merely base this on what their LinkedIn resume or website states. It’s been neat for me to revisit this list! So many of these folks became friends and close acquaintances since I wrote this up! It’s also fascinating to see how many of them have moved on to advanced titles and to owning their own companies. (more…)

Check Out New Google Maps Labs Features

Many Google Maps users may have missed the recently added button, allowing users to opt-in to try out some of the Google Maps Labs beta features. The Labs options can be accessed via the new little icon button found in the upper right of the user-interface, if you’re logged-in to your Google account:

Google Maps Labs Icon Button

The new features might also reveal some secrets of Google Maps ranking factors. It’s definitely a space that’s well worth watching for local search marketing experts.

Are you an SEO Superhero?

I was tickled to see these SEO Superhero t-shirts that Covario was giving away to attendees of the SMX West conference in Santa Clara this week:

SEO - Covario's SEO Superhero T-Shirt

Naturally, I got my t-shirt sporting the SEO Superman-esque logo! I don’t wear t-shirts a whole lot, but this is one I’ll definitely wear sometimes.

It felt odd not to see Stephan Spencer, VP at Covario, at the SMX conference, since he’s been such a search marketing juggernaut over the past few years and his book, The Art of SEO, just came out. But, I understand that he may be hitting some other conferences, and these speaking gigs can sap the energy out of one really quickly.

There’s not a lot of companies that could pair themselves up with an SEO superhero promotion and still be taken seriously, but I think Covario can do it. I know from formerly working with Netconcepts that their automated SEO solution, GravityStream, is an awesome service, and pairing it up with Covario’s analytics makes for a very strong combination. As a technologist, I certainly think it’s best to simply program a site to have excellent optimization for search rankings, but I’ve seen time and again when large companies are unable to get past bureaucratic IT development processes to roll something out in a timely fashion. For those companies, GravityStream is a really good solution.

For all of you who also attended the SMX West conference, did you get your SEO superhero t-shirts? How often will you wear them?

Relationship Between Link Growth And Indexation

With every passing day, the number of websites and hence the number of web pages are growing at an explosive rate on the internet. This can cause a major headache to the search engines as they gear up to meet the challenge of crawling and subsequently indexing the new sites popping up everywhere in the cybersphere.

Today, when a new web site is launched, it will take a while before its pages get crawled and indexed in Google. With the increasing strain on hardware and resources due to the rapid growth of new sites, Google has become very strict in its policy of admitting sites and retaining web pages of sites in its index. It is a case of survival of the fittest in cyberspace.

(more…)

Inbound Deep Links Benefit Page Rank Distribution Sitewide

Many a time, you would have come across sites (especially the large ones) where the deeper you dig into the site hierarchy, you can see the Pagerank toolbar grayed out or having a value 0. In general, the home page is the starting point for a website and it accrues the maximum Page rank.

The entire domain’s authority and trust is reflected by this page rank value. The home page then tends to distribute this page rank to the first level (categories), the second level (sub-categories) and the third level product pages which we often refer to as link juice. In general, the first level pages tend to derive the maximum link juice from the home page. But in a site with excessive number of sub-categories and product pages (money pages), the pagerank distribution is not proportional with some gaining link juice and a large majority not gaining any.

(more…)

Good Practices SEO With A Tinge Of Creativity

Search engine marketing is increasingly becoming popular with people from all walks of life and businesses of all hues adopting the web in a big way. The global recesssion has clearly thrust SEM into the spotlight as a great way to drive targeted traffic that is measurable and also making a huge difference to the bottomline of any company, the $ generated in revenue.

Search engine optimisation(SEO) and Pay per click (PPC) marketing are being accorded increasing importance as affordable means of tapping the market potential by reaching a targeted audience on the web compared to the traditional TV and/or newsprint advertising which are more expensive and the results are hard to measure. It is all the more imperative that SEO practitioners adopt more white hat creative methods to improve the visibility of their clients’ sites.

(more…)

SEO Tools: Using Xenu and Excel – Blindfolded SEO Audit Part 2

During Part 1 of the Blindfolded SEO Audit, we started learning how to use Xenu and Excel to begin our SEO audit and focused on the foundational element, URLs.

Now let’s move on to the most important signal a site’s pages can send to the search engines, the all powerful title tag. Like URL constructs, sites often have nearly as many constructs for title tags. Three things that a quick scan of our data will tell us:

(more…)

Blindfolded SEO Audit Part 1

SEO consultants spend a lot of time looking at websites. Moreover, like web designers, SEOs definitely “see” websites very differently than the average web user. Some days, it feels a little like the Matrix, where instead of seeing the streaming code, you see the people, cars and buildings that the code signifies. After doing web design, this is heightened even more, although perhaps inverted … instead of seeing shoes, cookware, and dog collars, I see title tags, heading tags, URL constructs and CSS.

Like any skill though, it takes continual honing and refining, along with the education. This is part of the concept behind the 60-Second Website Audit and training the eye to quickly identify key SEO issues and potential issues.

I’ve joked that, after so many audits, SEO consultants could probably do them blindfolded. So, whip out the blindfold and let’s put that to a test.

(more…)

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