An interesting article on “Google Hell”, or their Supplemental Index. The Supplemental Index is referred to in the SEO/SEM presentation that I caught some of at the Web 2.0 Expo.
I left the Web 2.0 UI workshop and jumped into the last hour of the SEO/SEM workshop. I probably should have been in the SEO/SEM the entire time instead. I figured I knew much of what I needed to know about the SEO/SEM space, but the guys up there (from Range Online Media and Web Guerilla) seemed to have some good tips and good experience.
The most interesting thing they had to say (in that last hour I saw them) was that most sites/companies are far too afraid of pissing off the search engines and so they follow the web master guidelines too closely. They said that we should just push the limits; specifically we should just cloak. Yeah, just get over it and serve specific pages to bots (as identified by user agents). They go so far as to serve specific pages to bots as identified by IP address. Interesting. I’m ready to give it a shot…
Update: Here are some other tips that come from my notes:
- Best/Worst kept secret: Yahoo Search Submit Pro. Use it. It’s gray tactics that you can actually use, and it works!
- A lot of the on-page tactics are ones you’ve all heard before:
- Title tags
- Meta tags
- H1 tags
- Get rid of query strings
- Get quality links
- And finally, check out the SEO presentation. Definitely some interesting stuff.
Just taking a break from all the Web 2.0 Expo posts, here’s something that I saw this morning that’s a real head-scratcher:
I love data. Data rocks and solves a lot of problems. It removes (mostly) foundationless opinion, emotion, and spin from arguments. And that’s why Tuesday’s keynote about measuring the participatory web has been the best thing of the conference so far. It was chock full of fantastic data from Bill Tancer at Hitwise and Dave Sifry from Technorati.
Some highlights (with my comments):
- In the last year, visits to participatory web properties (like YouTube, MySpace, etc) went from 2% to 12% of all web visits.
- Visits to Wikipedia outnumber visits to the leading “normal” online encyclopedia Encarta 3400 to 1.
- Participatory photo sites (like flickr, photobucket) make up 56% of all photo site traffic; photobucket makes up 40% (but I assume that’s before MySpace cut them off)
- Obviously, not all visits to participatory websites are actually participating, but the numbers are smaller than and varies more than you would think.
- YouTube: 0.16% of visits upload a video (much lower than I would have guessed).
- Flickr: 0.2% of visits upload an image.
- Wikipedia: 4.59% of visits are edits (much higher than I would have guessed).
- What is the percentage of commenters on YouTube? Much higher, I would think, but still…
- Editors at Wikipedia skew disproportionately with age, and propensity to edit grows strictly with age. I.e., 55+ year olds are much more likely to edit than 18-24 year olds.
- YouTube is slightly different: middle age users have the highest tendency to post (35-54 year olds).
- Editing/posting also skews toward males: Wikipedia 60%, YouTube 76%. Visits are split very close to 50/50 on gender lines.
Now here’s the most interesting part of the presentation. Some company (Claritas, as it turns out) has separate the people on the web into a bunch of different demographic categories. Hitwise has tracked people in these categories and there are three that are predictors of the next big thing; i.e., the big properties of the new web (like YouTube) were visited by these three groups before they made it big. The groups are called:
- Money and Brains
- Young Digerati
- Bohemian Mix
And who are they visiting now; who are the “next big thing”s? In order:
- StumbleUpon (just bought by eBay and targeted by Google)
- WeeWorld (disproportionately “Money and Brains” because they tend to have kids)
Dave Sifry of Technorati also showed some interesting stats on the state of blogs out there. Most of the stuff was in this blog post.
The most interesting thing is that Japanese is now the most popular language for new blog posts, accounting for 37% of blog posts that Technorati tracks. That is amazing in my English-centric world view, especially when you consider the number of people in the world who speak English vs. the number of people who speak Japanese.
He also gave hope to us “long tail” bloggers who get no traffic. 88% of the top 100 blogs as tracked by Technorati are different than they were last year, so the top blogs are changing all the time. Just keep at it…
I attended the presentation on the new Dojo Offline Toolkit given by Brad Neuberg. It was a little too pitchy, but accepting that, it was very informative.
Homestead has a very extensive AJAX application (SiteBuilder Lite) and making that work offline well might help us eventually retire the downloadable and installed SiteBuilder LPX app. The quick rundown of the practical options:
- Adobe’s Apollo: A lot of splash from this one, including several sessions given by Adobe and even a keynote about it. Brad’s thesis is that users don’t want a separate install, that they want to work in the browser. Frankly, I don’t think they care; they care that it’s easy to install and that it works almost exactly the same as the online version. And technically, I just want a single code base providing the functionality. Apollo may provide that.
- Slingshot: This platform allows you to take Ruby on Rails apps offline. Brad argued the same thing: that users don’t want a separate application, but just want the browser.
- Dojo Offline: I do think it’s pretty cool. It’s made up of a JS library and a 300K installed runtime that acts as a standard local proxy, actually proxying the host names it cares about, providing access to local caches of otherwise online web pages, local file storage, local data storage, and syncing behavior. It’s really interesting and deserves investigation.
Practically, I think both Apollo and Dojo are great possibilities. When it comes down to it, adoption will come down to the same things it always comes down to: ubiquity of the runtime and developer mindshare (will it be easy for developers to build on it).
Again, it’s hard to see Microsoft completely ignoring this arena. I would surprised if MS did not come out with a well-fleshed out web app framework with built-in support for working offline.
Note: I took these notes in the morning during the keynote, but I couldn’t get on the WiFi so had to write it in Notepad.
Again, just like Launch Pad I (during Day 1’s keynote) with WebEx, since when was TellMe a startup? Like 8 years ago?
Swivel: Maybe it’s just a bit early for me, but I don’t think Swivel did a good job getting their point across. It’s something about “freeing data” so the world can use it.
Vidoop: They’re trying to make passwords obsolete by having users pick images in categories instead of typing in a password. It’s an interesting idea, but I just don’t see it as being easy enough to really take over passwords. I got a demo from them in the Expo Hall last night, and they said they only have 36 categories to choose from (probably because 26 letters + 10 digits), and it seems like most users only pick 2-3 categories. (Of course, you could pick more, but you’d have a hard time remembering them.) I just don’t see it happening. For some reason, many people seem to love it.
TellMe: OK, so TellMe isn’t a startup, and they were just bought by MS, but that’s an awesome demo. They’re adding business search to the already very useful 800-555-TELL, and now a voice recognition app that can be installed on the phone. If it works as well as Google Maps for Treo, I’m sold.
TellMe is the clear winner in this group for me, but apparently the attendees here are evenly split among the three.
Update: I went to the booth and no, the TellMe phone app doesn’t work on the Treo yet. Sucks. But, mommy, I want it now!
Sort of the Chris Shipley’s DEMO conference, but in snippets: three “startups” get 5 minutes to tell the conference how awesome they are:
Spock: A search engine for people. I have heard of them before and read their writeup on TechCrunch. I have to admit I didn’t think it was going to do anything interesting. But the demo was really impressive; if they came up with the tags for people (G.W. Bush is a “politician”) and the relationships between people (his mother is Barbara) automatically, which should be possible, I’d be very impressed. And they’ve added the Web-2.0-necessary ability to allow users to vote tags and images up or down. Very cool.
(Trivia: It’s written in Ruby on Rails.)
WebEx: Since when was WebEx a startup? Huh? WebEx Connect is a platform for application developers to build collaborative apps and a marketplace to distribute them. Everyone wants to be a platform these days, but who can blame them? For collaborative apps, WebEx does seem to be well positioned (3.5+M users) to make their platform ubiquitous. But if collaboration makes the killer app (as WebEx and Google Apps is saying), then how can you expect MS not to include that? The demo didn’t show much about the platform itself, so I have no comment about that yet.
Inpowr: Ahhh, nice dropped the “e”. Quick! Fund’em! It’s a system that allows users to track and get ideas to improve their well-being and health. They claim it has been 7 years in the making. The demo must not have shown much of the content or complexity of the system because if that took 7 years, then they need to shoot their designers and developers. Not just fire them, but actually shoot them. What they really need to do is get Oprah on board so she can tout it like the “Best Life” program. The attendees at Web 2.0 Expo are just not the right audience.
Spock wins it for me. And they announced at Tuesday’s keynote that Spock won the audience vote, too.
I’m bouncing a little bit from session to session this morning. I made the mistake of ducking into a couple of the “Products & Services” sessions during the 9am slot. Those where just thinly veiled sales pitches. I ditched each one after ~10 minutes.
I’m finding the usability sessions the most interesting. I caught the end of “The New Hybrid Designer” session and that sounded interesting, but couldn’t get much out of it yet. I stayed for “Designing for and with community” which shared good lessons from Mozilla Corp’s work in managing design feedback from the community. I’d rather hear about designing apps/sites to foster and generate community, but it was intellectually interesting nonetheless.
BTW, I noticed in the conference program addendum that they do have a solution to the power problem: they’ve arranged to have a Web 2.0 Expo Power Room where you can plug in your laptop, but with no security you can’t leave it there. Oh, happy day. Someone call the pope and let’s get someone canonized.
I haven’t been too a big conference in a while, and it is pretty exciting. And the Moscone Center is a beautiful venue. And the weather was beautiful in SF today; the massive windows in Moscone West made me want to be outside instead…
But Zoli Erdos has it down: registration was a disaster this morning and ummm… what about the power?!? I can almost understand not having power strips along the rows in the session rooms (though I’ve been to conferences that have had it). But there also isn’t any juice at the tables outside of the session rooms. That’s ridiculous. I bonded with some guys outside one of the session rooms as we huddled around 4 outlets in one corner. Hopefully, they’ll fix it for tomorrow.
The best thing in Day 1 was definitely Yahoo’s presentation on high performance webpages. Very informative.
Next up for me: Web 2.0 as a UI Paradigm. It’s starting very slowly; the speaker is just running down the common UI features of Web 2.0 apps/sites, and the pros and cons of DHTML/JS/Flash/Java/etc. Not interesting at all.
Per speaker, Rich Internet Applications tends to mean:
- Customizable interface
- Things download in chunks for perceived increase in performance
- Instant feedback, minimize reloads
- Tons of HTML and JS
- Not crawlable by search engines
- No standard UI components yet
- No standard solution to “Back Button” problem
So here’s the first interesting point: with Web 2.0, the focus of UI is on tasks, not items. So task-focused UIs “let you perform ancillary or housekeeping tasks without taking focus away from your core task”. E.g., logging in/out is not a core task, it’s a necessary evil. Other non-core tasks might include: changing account settings, spell check, reorder items, flagging items, etc. All non-core tasks should not cause major changes to the UI (no full reloads, etc.). Makes sense to me…
An example is lala.com when you add a song to your list. Another: Trulia.com. Signup is in a DHTML popup; the page you were on doesn’t change or disappear at all. Reddit’s login box. Trulia.com, adding a neighborhood to a comparison.
Examples to the contrary: Amazon, refresh this page link. Reddit, login page. Yahoo! Answers, ask a question and it dumps you to login screen.
Luckily for me in this one, I found a power outlet in the session room! I shared it with a fellow attendee and we basked in the glory of our flowing electrons. Ahhh…