Content Isn’t King. Trust Is King.

As you likely already know, the goal of content marketing is to build up familiarity and trust with your prospective customers. In this case, the content isn’t designed to sell a specific product or service, but rather to sell you, and to interested potential customers.

People buy from people that they

Read the complete story: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/VHxawNm6O_k/content-isnt-king-trust-is-king

WordPress Aims for Twitter-type Functionality with Liveblog Add-On

Web publishing platform WordPress is attempting to provide users of its VIP service with Twitter-like instant blogging functionality through its new Liveblog Add-on. The add-on enables users to post updates from the front end of their site, without using the WordPress admin dashboard.

In addition, Liveblog viewers will

Read the complete story: http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/wordpress-aims-for-twittertype-functionality-with-liveblog-addon-017240.php

Identifying and Fixing Your Worst Landing Pages

by SEOMoz

Lately, I’ve been working on a lot more conversion-based projects, and one of the easiest and quickest improvements is to pick out the landing pages that aren’t performing and give them an overhaul. This post explores a core process that I usually work from.

Finding your worst pages

I’m going to

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New ‘radically simplified’ WordPress is on the way

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress and Automattic (see disclosure) says that the service is preparing for a significant change of direction — by releasing a much simpler version designed to work on mobile.

Speaking at the paidContent 2012

Read the complete story: http://paidcontent.org/2012/05/23/simple-wordpress-mobile-matt-mullenweg/

10 Myths That Scare SEOs But Shouldn’t

Howdy SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to address some of the myths that form in the SEO world that get people really scared and worried and asking questions in QA and on Twitter and on forums going, “Hey, wait a minute. I

Read the complete story: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/nRbuk-h041c/10-myths-that-scare-seos-but-shouldnt-whiteboard-friday

Duplicate Content in a Post-Panda World

by SEOMoz

“No one saw the panda uprising coming. One day, they were frolicking in our zoos. The next, they were frolicking in our entrails. They came for the identical twins first, then the gingers, and then the rest of us. I finally trapped one and asked him the question burning

Read the complete story: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/RyJ3E2HAb30/duplicate-content-in-a-post-panda-world

A New Way of Looking at Ranking Factors

By SEOMoz

SEOmoz readers are no strangers to the concept of search engine ranking factors. In general, much of the community that comments seems to delight when some new factor is discovered that may provide a potential ranking boost. Who wouldn’t, right? But in this post, I’d like to suggest that perhaps some refocusing on the “forest” of the ranking factors world, rather than the individual “trees” that populate it, might be in order.

I’ve been writing about SEO since 1996, from before we even called it SEO and from before Google existed. In those 15+ years, I’ve seen no end of attempts to “chase the algorithm.” My goal, writing to a broad audience, has always been to highlight the important factors that stand the test of time.

It’s not that I’m against testing. I love good discoveries as much as anyone, assuming they’re real, backed by solid data or can be easily confirmed (too many don’t meet these criteria). Understanding if the first use of anchor text overrides further uses or how variations of anchor text across the web might impact rankings is fascinating reading to me. It can help break new SEO ground.

What I am against is wasting time chasing things that might not be helpful for more than a day, week or month, versus time spent on the proven, time-tested factors that matter.

The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors

That was the genesis behind the Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors that I developed earlier this year, working with the talented folks at Column Five Media to illustrate:

It was a labor of love for me, combining my former profession — that of being a newspaper graphics reporter — with my current one as a journalist who writes about search engines and search marketing.

The table was designed to highlight what I considered to be the most important ranking factors, so that any experienced SEO could work with someone less knowledgeable and easily explain, in a visual manner, things that might help a site from an SEO perspective.

Want to rank well? It remains incredibly important to have quality content, or Cq. That’s why it’s the first factor listed on the chart.

Want to rank well? It remains incredibly important to have conducted proper keyword research, or Cr, a topic that sometimes feels forgotten in the quest for more exotic ranking factors.

Want to rank well? The locality of a searcher — Pl — has grown into a major ranking factor that can seem all-but-forgotten by some SEOs who assume that “normal” results still exist and can somehow be found by running proxies or using the pws=0 trick. Google personalizes results down to the metropolitan level in the US and elsewhere. Good luck “adjusting” for that to get your “normal” results.

The Ranking Elements

The table contains four major “element” groups:

  • On The Page Factors
  • Off The Page Factors
  • Blocking Factors
  • Violation Factors

Here are the individual elements, shown close up:

Each individual element is meant to keep people focused on the big picture issues relating to that factor, which I fear sometimes get lost as new SEOs enter the space, as intermediate SEOs try to build their skills and even experienced SEOs may lose track of.

The Bigger Picture

To better illustrate, I’ll use some different examples below, contrasted against the SEOmoz Ranking Factors Survey. I enjoy reading this survey, when it’s done every two years. But some of the questions can get way too granular for me.

For example, is a keyword being in the first word in an H1 tag important or not? That’s something the SEOmoz survey tried to measure.

The SEO Periodic Table isn’t that specific. When it comes to header tags — element Hh — it’s trying to stress headers can have an overall impact and that people should be thinking about them generally:

Do headlines and subheads use header tags with relevant keywords?

Should you focus on “linking root domains with partial match anchor text,” as the survey tried to measure?

For many people, I’m hoping the table emphasizes that they more generally need to be seeking out quality links, or the Lq factor:

Are links from trusted, quality or respected web sites?

Should you seek Facebook shares, as the survey found highly correlated? Even though Google’s Matt Cutts said Facebook shares don’t matter? Even though SEOmoz, after further research agreed with Cutts and wrote “Google is not using Facebook share data directly to rank?”

The table says yes, of course you should. And you should because both social shares (Ss) and social reputation (Sr) are generally having an impact on search rankings:

Do those respected on social networks share your content?

Do many share your content on social networks?

Maybe Google isn’t using Facebook share data now. But those shares might leak out from Facebook into links that get counted in other ways. Meanwhile, Bing absolutely does use Facebook data as part of its ranking system. And tomorrow, Google might start using them, just as overnight in July, Google suddenly lost Twitter data that it had.

Social signals aren’t just some fad that’s going away. Social signals are the new link building. Exactly how those signals get counted, just as how exactly links get counted, is going to be subject to specific change over time and hard to assess. But generally, you want to do social.

If you stopped doing Facebook work solely because you decided “Google doesn’t care,” then potentially you’re behind the curve if Google does care down the line — not to mention for Bing now and from getting traffic from Facebook directly.

Again, it’s not that I’m saying don’t test, don’t have an interest in specifics, don’t try to learn. Rather, it’s a reminder to focus on the big stuff that matters first. See the larger picture, before you chase down some alley such as whether LDA is real or not.

That’s what the chart is about. For the SEOmoz fanatic, I hope it’s a tool you’ll use alongside the SEOmoz ranking survey and the material you read on SEOmoz itself. And for anyone, I hope it’s a useful tool to make the complexity of SEO easier to begin with.

Bonus: Movie Time

For the real beginners, there’s another labor of love I worked on earlier this year, a short search engine optimization video to explain SEO in plain language, to anyone. It’s only 3 1/2 minutes long:

When so many still assume that SEO is a bad thing, to the degree that Google itself had to recently remind everyone that no, SEO isn’t spam, I hope our video helps explain the concept in friendly terms, and that people can graduate from it to our Periodic Table framework or the more specific advice they’ll find here on SEOmoz and elsewhere.

If you like the table, you can get a copy here. There’s also our associated Search Engine Land’s Guide To SEO, which explains it in detail. We also provide extended resources from us and around the web on our What Is SEO? page, which includes two other guides people should know — the SEOmoz SEO guide, as well as Google’s own.

What SEOs Must Learn from Adwords Folks

by SEOMoz

AdWords folks. They’re the traders of the online marketing world. They spend their time analyzing scoreboards, making little improvements and brainstorming their next ideas. They split-test their ideas, scale the best and ditch the best. In a world where scarce resources force them to make choices over budget, positioning and copy, they’re having to think totally differently to SEOs.

Rand posted back in 2008 about the disconnect between PPC spending and SEO spending. Despite the well documented differences in results, PPC is a science from the outset, but SEO still leaves lots to chance. AdWords folks live-and-die by the following five rules. Today, you’re going to learn how to adopt them as an SEO and win:

Perry Marshall once said that advertising is “one of the world’s most wasteful and deceptive industries” since results from campaigns are so difficult to track. In an online world with universally simple, yet sophisticated analytics available, it’s a totally different ball-game.

Sure, you understand the concept of profit and yes it is the end goal, but not in the same way as AdWords folks where not making money is an unforgivable sin from the word go. SEO and Social Media agencies can still charge $5k for a campaign that may or may not affect the client’s bottom line (spending is speculative), but an AdWords account manager can’t spend $5 without being accountable for every penny. AdWords clients can see what money is being spent on, and the results – there’s no excuse anymore.

We’re in the business of making money; whilst SEOs can be accountable, PPC folks are always accountable. We need to emulate PPC guys.

You’ve used Google Analytics, but do you really know how to apply custom filters, advanced segmentation and setup tracking. Take Google’s Conversion University course, take the exam and prove it to yourself.

Get yourself used to regular feedback. Computer games master this regular ‘pat on the back’ – get Geckoboard or some equivalent setup to feedback regular metrics that matter.

Pour through your Google Webmaster Tools, especially the ‘Search queries’ tab which gives similar statistics to what AdWords folks see on their dashboard.

Next up, rule #2…

PPC is still an investment – with each visitor (potential customer) you gain more and more user data. Direct marketers are conditioned to split-test mailings and harvest data to make continual improvements; AdWords and other PPC services make this even easier.

Tim Ferris used AdWords tests to name his book, ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, knowing he’d get more ‘instinctual’ responses than the perhaps group-influenced results from a focus group (plus, AdWords is so much more scalable).

Yes, we spend our time doing tests, but we need to experiment like AdWords guys do as well, agonizing over their campaigns titles and numbers month on month. We don’t talk about swipe files enough in SEO. When was the last time you tried editing and testing your title tags to improve your click-through rate?

Go through your bookmarks and draw together a list organized by factor of your favourite, most inspirational sites for improving your SEO. Rand’s Head-to-Head Presentation from ProSEO Boston consisted of little more than showing off his awesome swipe file and his concept mashup.

Conversion rate optimizers put together awesome guides like this to help you on your website. Use the same tips and tactics to brainstorm and implement tests on your onpage SEO.

Rule #3 next…

Use words carefully.

In the business of signup forms, calls to action, headlines, sub-headlines, and AdWords advertising copy… few words make a huge impact. As well as being the most viewed pieces content, often the content that most influences your visitors.

Joshua Porter is an interface designer you need to be aware of. His advice – “The fastest way to improve your interface is to improve your copywriting” – applies just as much to your search campaign.

Start with these basics for understanding microcopy.

Look through all your title tags via SEOmoz PRO app or by downloading them with Xenu. Can you make them more relevant to your users? Can you add more trigger words?

Phew! The last-but-one rule…

SEO is like having an unlimited AdWords budget that harvests ~85% of the clicks from a given SERP, but that’s a mixed blessing. Scarce resources, like a PPC budget force you to choose and optimize your input for maximum gain. Economics 101 in action.

Its like the difference between a funded startup and a bootstrapped startup. Jason Fried of 37signals explains the first thing a bootstrapped company has to do is turn a profit – or the owners go hungry – whereas the funded startup needs to spend the money first.

The PPC guy has to figure out and test where the money is, or they go hungry too…

Bad times. Picture via Declubz

Don’t think of SEO as an unlimited AdWords budget, but as an expanded AdWords campaign. The profit discipline has still got to be there. Although SEO doesn’t have direct costs-per-click, but it still is very expensive in terms of time. The trouble is it’s too easy to spend time like you’ve got waiting on the results later. Don’t.

37signals plan on ‘what takes two weeks’. They expect results at the end of that. If something isn’t possible in two weeks, the task is too big (cut it up instead) or focus on something that will deliver results. You need to watch this video like your next meal depends on it.

Apply some 80-20 analysis to your SEO spending (both time and money). Where’s the most money coming from? So if I cancelled 80% of next month’s SEO budget, would you still meet your numbers?

And finally…

“Revenue’s Vanity. Profit’s Sanity.” The same principles apply to search – traffic is vanity. Yes, it makes you feel good but you can’t go to the bank with traffic figures. You only need highly-targeted visitors that convert into customers.

When you’re paying for each visitor to your website, boy are you going to try to extract the most value from each visitor. Not every visitor is a “hot” lead, so gaining their permission to follow up is essential. AdWords guys recognize the power of opt-in landing pages and follow-up marketing.

Whilst landing pages used in a PPC campaign might not be the most linkable content, it is still important to build content that engages visitors in the prospecting process.

Brainstorm alternative methods to maximize the value of your current search traffic. How can you capture their email address, and lead them to a sale? Is the offer not right for them? How can you link in alternative offers?

Closing Thoughts

AdWords is not expensive search marketing. It’s direct marketing on steroids, and direct marketers appear to be the smartest guys in the business. It’s a no-brainer to study them and apply what they know to SEO. So I may have accidentally, on purpose, published my public to-do list for getting good at SEO. And it’s not like enough homework has been set already…!

The beauty of SEO is it combines the creative, artistic side of marketing with the rigorous, science that is online marketing; what do you think? Is it worth peaking over the shoulders of our comrades in paid search?

SEO for the iPad

from SEOMoz by Phil Nottingham

When the iPad first came out, like many people, I didn’t really get it. My initial thoughts were something along the lines of “Steve… what the hell?! You’ve produced a giant iPod and are somehow trying to claim its some sort of brilliant new product.” I resolved never to buy one, considering it simply a folly for overly wealthy businessmen or an iPod designed for the visually impaired.

18 months later, a lot of words have had to be eaten with very little garnish or dressing. Now the proud owner of an iPad 2, I consider the tablet to be the coolest gadget ever made and the piece of technology I use most at home and when out and about.

My belief is that the form-factor of the tablet PC will become the primary device for personal computing over the coming decade and will form conduit for the bulk of consumer search queries.

While this “tablet revolution” may end up meaning very little for the classic SEO model, unaffecting the nature of link-building, keyword targeting, on-page optimisation, content creation or social media; It will form a catalyst of change for the world of CRO, analytics and offer new vertical opportunities so far mostly untapped…

In this post I hope to scratch the surface of things that will need to be considered by the SEO community going forward.

Tablets have been common-place now for a over year and a half. Yet, the world as a whole, still seems relatively baffled by them. Where do they fit in relation to the notebook and the smart-phone? Are they a mobile device or a static home-based device? Are they more useful in a personal or a business environment?

The answers to these questions remain somewhat elusive as we see tablet devices used creatively and strategically in numerous different arenas for multiple different purposes, but without a singular, uniting core function.

Some of these uses have been inspiring in their creativity and originality…

 

Some of these have amused us with their breathtaking ill conceived stupidity…..(fast forward to 0:24)

 

In beginning to question the exact USP of the iPad, it becomes clear that the mutually exclusive definition of “personal computer” and “mobile device” is broadly defunct, false dichotomy.

By displaying multifunctional appeal, eluding concrete definition, yet morphing its value and form to fit the subjective perspective of the user, the Tablet PC defines itself as a post-modern tool for personal computing – doing nothing particularly new, but a number of things much better, than any other device.

The defining feature of the tablet is clearly its UI. While the touch screen technology used in smart-phones and tablets is essentially the same, the way that translates to end usability differs considerably. The size of tablet allows for multiple fingers to be used simultaneously, allowing for a wider frame of user interaction with content previously viewed primarily on laptops or desktops; made navigable through the integration of a full two-handed QWERTY keyboard.

The touch-screen tablet interface on the iPad is extremely intuitive, feeling responsive, flexible and mutable to the chosen behaviours of its user. Using the device feels effortless compared with the computing via a keyboard and mouse, requiring considerably less mental investment or formal effort.

When we are on a desktop/laptop computer, we are normally entirely using a computer; unable to be simultaneously cooking, brushing our teeth, watching the television or walking to work. The same is not true of a tablet device, where the “pick up and play” nature of the hardware and operating systems allows for genuine multi-tasking and partial engagement with technology.

As such, the tablet perfectly fits the frame for what the PC always felt a bit forced into, casual web usage and content consumption. Most of the time we use the web in a personal frame, it is for an immediate task – be that finding the answer to a question, reading the news, communicating with our friends or making a necessary basic purchase.

Last week Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, a tablet with a similar 7inch 16:9 form-factor to the Blackberry Playbook and the original Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The fire looks to be an incredible product and an un-missible bargain at $199 (£130), but while the eBooks, music, movies and gaming functionality on the Fire may be superb, I do not think it will prove to be a viable or productive device for mobile computing and therefore search.

I played with the original Galaxy Tab for a while when it was released and found it the screen far too small and restrictive, with too low a resolution to be used effectively as a tablet computer. It was not large enough to be more functional than a large smart-phone, yet too cumbersome to be used instead of one. I expect the same to be broadly true of the Playbook and the Fire.

For my money, the 9-10 Inch 4:3 screen will push forwards and the main tablet form factor for years to come, with screen-size slightly expanding to 11-12 inches, – increasing when technology allows for smaller, lighter batteries and even thinner devices. Until the Android UX improves and the App store expands dramatically and a hardware manufacturer is able to produce a device with design quality on par with the iPad for significantly less cost, I can’t see Apple’s sales figures or market share slowing down anytime soon. Even if the iPad doesn’t gain users, it probably won’t lose many due to the core Apple ecosystem i.e. those with iPhones, Macs etc will probably not switch to Android. According to technology research firm Gartner 69.7 million tablets were sold his year, of which a vast 68.7% were iPads. While Microsoft may eventually produce an exciting iOS competitor with Windows 8, this release is still a way off and with the luke-warm consumer reception to Windows Phone 7, one does have to wonder whether Ballmer and co will enthusiastically turn up just a bit too late for the party, arriving to discover the revellers have long-ago passed out drunk on Steve Jobs’ sleek, minimalistic, unibody aluminium sofas.

Therefore, I think it’s worth putting time and development resource into optimising for the iPad form factor, treating it as the only current tablet device worthy of consideration for site-optimisation.

The iPad crosses the boundaries between mobile and desktop, being of particular value in the following locations and situations:

  • In front of the TV

The iPad is great for finding out the names of actors, undertaking research alongside informational programming or casually engaging with twitter while keeping up to the date with the latest sit-com.

  • As a TV

This morning, I could not be bothered to move into my living room to watch the Rugby World Cup matches at 8am GMT, so kept up to date with all the action without leaving my bed. This felt awesome, even if it was just laziness on an unprecedented scale.

  • As a complementary device for meetings conferences.

In an age of earth shatteringly boring powerpoint presentations, the iPad is a welcome visitor to help liven up even the dullest of boardroom presentation. You can easily pass round presentations, videos and images with the rest of the room.

  • Travel

Trains and planes are not designed with laptops in mind. The iPad’s shape, size, weight and battery life take away the cumbersome hassle of trying to do work on the move.

  • Reading

Not only books, but also reports, PDFs, articles and newspapers are a breeze to look through while on the move or multi-tasking.

  • In and around the home

Particularly for casual browsing and quick enquiries, where the effort of loading up a PC seems unwarranted – the Tablet is the go-to device.

  • Collaboration

Happiness is best when shared and the iPad works really well for watching Youtube videos with friends, reading articles together or sharing holiday snaps.

My hypothesis is that sites in certain niches are likely to see more growth from tablet devices than others.

Everyone who has currently bought an iPad will have tethered it to a personal desktop or notebook pc. While this will change going forward, with the introduction of iOS 5, most tablet owners will still have access to a desktop or laptop and probably a smart phone too, meaning they have an option for devices to search from.

Due to usability factors such as screen-size, technical incompatibilities, typing efficiency and to the poor integration of tabbing within the native Safari Browser; the iPad is not suitable for heavy or sustained internet usage, the kind of which you are likely to do at work or when undertaking serious research.

Where the iPad comes into its own is with quick, frivolous tasks and I think this nature is beginning to manifest itself in the sites generating the most tablet traffic. The graph below shows the percentage growth of access from iPads for Distilled clients in a variety of different niches.

TV Media

A Distilled Client in the TV Entertainment Niche has had considerable growth of traffic from iPads over recent months, while maintaining a steady level of traffic across the board. Year on year for the month of august, traffic from iPads has grown from 0.47% of total traffic, to 2.52% of total traffic. While this may sound like only a small fraction of overall traffic, this growth represents a 400% increase. Meanwhile traffic from Windows devices reduced considerably over that time frame, by about 9.5% from 82.49 to 72.95%.

The further development of excellent TV media apps such as TVguide, Sky remote record, Netflix IMBD should be increasing the amount of traffic driven to entertainment and media sites via the iPad, as people choose not to switch devices in order to find out the name of that actor, or when the next episode of a certain program is on.

Travel Tourism

If you’re going abroad, a tablet is great way to keep up with your communication and computing on the move, without worrying yourself over luggage allowance or battery life. Ticketing sites, restaurants, hotels and activity planning businesses should start to see sustained growth in visits from tablets.

Leisure E-commerce

If you’re making a major purchase, such as a car, business insurance or an engagement ring you’re going to want to meticulously check through different options, from multiple providers and make copious notes on all the actions as you go. This sort of purchase is unlikely to be undertaken from the armchair with iPad in-hand, however smaller, more frequent purchases often are. The touch screen interface can be a fantastic way to browse through the kind of items that don’t require as much research and planning. For example, when searching for a gift for a friend, people will often browse a store on a sofa while perhaps taking into account other’s opinions.

News Information Resources

We have all been in the situation where in the midst of a heated argument one side reaches for the last resort: Wikipedia. Alongside the smart phone a tablet is the ideal device for quick information retrieval on a particular topic of reference. Tablets also provide a great way to consume journalistic content as demonstrated in this recent article from Net Magazine. If you run a content aggregation site, a popular blog or a news resource – prepare for a shift in the devices comprising your overall traffic.

Social

For some reason everybody, when amongst friends and family, usually groans when somebody reaches for their mobile phone or laptop to access a social network. This stigma has so far managed to find itself inapplicable to tablets, their users and their peers. The pedantry associated with social network browsing on a phone isn’t applicable and the giant expedition that requires setting up a laptop with charger doesn’t make it seem like too much of an aside from maintaining the current real-life social setup. A tablet is a complement to a group trying to include, perhaps talk about or explore others who aren’t in their immediate vicinity.

Flash

The iPad doesn’t support flash and from the vehemently stubborn quality of the comments made by Apple on this matter, I think it’s pretty safe to assume the iPad won’t be supporting flash anytime in the future either.

The SEO world have been pretty negative on flash for some-time, given Google’s inability to crawl it, but if you need another reason to take it down or convert your content to HTML5, here it is. Creating flash-style HTML5 content sounds extremely daunting to those of us without a front-end development background, but it really needn’t be. Check out Tom Anthony’s post on how to fix common issues with HTML5 and these sites for good tutorials:

HMTL5 Rocks

W3 Schools

Hype, a program for Mac OS X program allows even layman’s to create smart looking interactive HTML5 content and costs only $29.99 on the Mac App store.

Site Speed

Most of the time, tablets will run off reasonably speedy Wi-fi connections in homes, offices and coffee shops. But on trains, buses, cars, in airports and in meetings at other offices, iPads with the capability will often rely on their 3G connectivity to provide internet services.

The BBC recently conducted a comprehensive survey of 3G availability around the UK, which showed patchy connections in many areas outside of the major cities.

Despite an often advertised speed of 7.2Mbps for 3g connections, the BBC found most UK users get speeds of about 1.5Mbps, if stationary. In moving vehicles, connections can slow to a sloth like 284kbit/s – not enough to consistently stream video from YouTube. For iPad users opting to tether their device to their phone’s 3G connection for mobile browsing, the same sort of connection speeds apply.

This data simply reinforces the value of a fast loading, well constructed site, most easily achieved through:

  • Ensuring your images aren’t bigger than they need to be
  • Combining External Javascript
  • Minimizing DNS lookups

For tutorials on how to achieve these and more hot site-speed tips, check out Craig Bradford’s guide

Make an iPad friendly site, but not a duplicate

Mobile websites create unnecessary duplicate content, which can have bad consequences for your crawl bandwidth and keyword targeting, yet most desktop sites are not ideal for use on either smart phones or tablets.

The best solution is to serve different versions of the same site, perfectly optimised for each device, through changing CSS. Check out CSS zen garden to see how the same content can be delivered in totally different visual styles.

If you have built a mobile version of your website which you automatically serve to mobile devices, ensure this does not happen for users on an iPad. Although I can’t find any research to back this up (I’d be interested to hear if anybody else can), I expect that the vast majority of web browsing on tablets is done in landscape mode, where most full-sized sites can be navigated without any difficulty. The only reason I can see for supplying a mobile site to an iPad is if the full-sized site contains heavy elements of flash, which you are reluctant to lose.

Simplify the check-out/conversion process

Using the keyboard on a tablet is a little bit arduous. In small doses, it’s not a problem, but typing stuff in does often require the user to put down the device and engage two-hands on the keypad. If you’re looking for a simple conversion to purchase, try to minimise the amount of content a user has to manually input.

This can be achieved by:

  • Only forcing the user to input the minimum amount of data you require
  • Using cookies to store data from previous visits
  • Automatically matching addresses from postcode/zipcode inputs
  • Allowing payment through paypal

Create an App

My iPad has a folder on it labelled “Shopping”. If I have something i wish to buy, then my first port of call will be the two clicks required to open up one of the apps in this folder, rather than the lengthy process of searching Google then trawling the results. Ebay, Asos, Amazon and Ocado have all done really good iPad apps which are worth taking a look at for anyone with an E-commerce focus.

Apps allow you to permanently store your payment details and ensure you can produce a graphically rich online store without the concern of page loading times. While an app will likely provide conversions in its own right, they are also valuable tools for generating brand-trust and can act as fantastic bits of linkbait for improving overall domain authority.

Pagination

Scrolling through lengthy pages is a breeze on a tablet, requiring only a casual flick of the finger to move the page down. Clicking through to another page, however, can be time consuming – especially if the clickable icons are difficult to locate and the page contains heavy graphical content.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t paginate content when serving tablet devices, providing your “next” and “previous” icons are suitably tablet friendly, but simply that the visual impact of long pages is not such an issue.

Tabbing

While there are decent third party browsers available for the iPad; particularly Opera Mobile, Diigo Browser and Dolphin HD, the vast majority of users (around 96%) use only the native Safari browser, which currently offers an inelegant solution to tabbing.

If you’ve set all your external links to open up in a new tab or window in order to keep users on your site, beware that this may have an adverse effect for iPad users. Clicking back on the iPad is not nearly as dull or time consuming as going back to a page in another window.

Scrollers multitouch

Smart use of HTML5 and CSS3 allows you to integrate scrollers and multitouch into your site delivery, as seen in Google tablet search and the upcoming BBC site redesign, currently in beta testing.

The best of use tablet UI and architecture is where traditional vertical scrolling is combined with horizontal navigation, to allow a great deal of content to be delivered on a single page. This lessens the need for tabbing and 3+ click journeys to deep pages; which feel irksome on the iPad, while allowing users to locate content without spending a long time finger-flicking through giant pages.

Check out the way my previous company, LocateTV, integrated horizontal navigation, and the way the extremely pretty Sky News App displays big pages of rich content.

Button Size

Fingers are bigger than cursors and therefore require more space to be clicked. Having to zoom-in in order to make a selection gets extremely tiring, so nip this issue in the bud by making small adjustments to your CSS.

Downloads for Quality Content

One of the most useful and natural functions for the iPad is as a portable eReader. The iBooks application contains an extensive bookstore, offering a wide variety of both paid and free content. The iBooks App also works as the primary PDF reader on the iPad, allowing you to bookmark places, zoom in and out and store the content in an extremely visually appealing library.

One way we can utilise this functionality as website optimisers is to ensure quality content is PDF downloadable, giving users to option to store our content on their tablet device for viewing in environments absence of an internet connection. With many iPads only offering Wi-fi connectivity and frequent usage in internet free areas such as the London Underground, having offline readable content can improve long-term user engagement.

Two ways to make effective use of this would be to ensure that any HQ content you produce has a PDF download option as per the SEOmoz Beginner’s Guide or hitting mail subscribers with PDF versions of your new content so they can quickly upload it to iBooks in the morning before beginning the train journey into work.

When building the acrobat files, carefully consider the formatting of your document. The standard PDF looks like this:

An iPad in portrait mode has a width of 728px , considerably less than the average 15 inch laptop monitor screen, which clocks in at about 1440px. It’s best to test out your PDF document on an iPad so you avoid the need to excessively zoom in and out in order to make the text legible.

With the introduction of Apple’s reading list into the latest version of Safari on OS X Lion, expect iOS 5 on the iPad to provide an integrated system, which may open up more possibilities in off-line downloadable content.

Google Analytics make it very simple for you to work out how much traffic your site is getting from iPads, by treating the device as an operating system entirely separate from iOS on the iPhone or iPod touch.

Just go to Visitors Browser Capabilities Operating Systems to see a basic report.

However, I think setting up an “Tablet” Advanced Segment is the best way to go with this, so you can include the appropriate Android versions and other tablet devices in overall analysis.

You may notice unusual referrers coming in through GA, ones which don’t drive any traffic from other devices. These will most likely be Apps and if you’re getting significant traffic off the back of these, it’s well worth delving a bit deeper to see if you can leverage further opportunities in this area.

The vast majority of traffic on the iPad will come through Safari, with small amounts through Opera mobile and other niche browsers. However, there are also a few other quasi-browsers that may pop up their heads. The Twitter app for the iPad contains an integrated webkit based browser, which should show up in GA as “Mozilla Compatible Agent”.

Don’t be immediately alarmed if you see higher than normal bounce rates coming through from tablet traffic, it may be that many of these visits are coming in via social references and through apps such as twitter, Facebook, iReddit and Flipboard. The things to be wary of are low times on site, low conversions and any pages which may contain iPad hostile flash or aspx server-side scripts.

TV Companion Devices

One of the major futures for tablets will be as the “Second Screen” for home-based broadcast media. When watching sport, meta-data will be pushed live to the viewers phone and tablet, allowing them to browse through statistics, replays, commentary and static shots. Users are already beginning to make moves in this direction, with the plethora of Sky Apps released for the iPad. The current function of “The Red Button”, will be replaced by content wirelessly pushed to an App on a tablet.

For marketers, there will be opportunities within these integrated broadcasts systems; be it ads, creative content or affiliate recommendations. For example, imagine seeing the outfit a character is wearing in a TV show, then being provided with an image and a link to an E-commerce seller for that outfit on your tablet device.

The tablet will fulfill the main role as the TV companion device, as it’s informal, flexible nature makes it much easier and less cumbersome to use than a laptop while curled up on the sofa with most of your attention focused on your big screen.

Content Creation

The thing currently limiting tablets from becoming realistic content creation devices is not the hardware, but the creative software.

I can foresee voice-activated document creation coming back into the fray with tablets. While this technology has been around for a while, the speed and accuracy of dictation software has held back any wide ranging adoption. Tablets may become mainstream devices for illustration and design, video and music creation once innovations in UI take the next step and cloud syncing systems have been properly established to allow heavy processing tasks to be shared with more powerful computers. However, I do think it’s unlikely that heavy multitasking or database creation will find a mainstream form within the tablet functionality.

4G

Within the next few years, along with phones, tablets will take advantage of the 1Gbps 4G networks, improving the ability to watch HD videos on the fly and edit large documents stored in the cloud.

Operational Remotes – Media Libraries

Apps already exist to allow the iPad to be used as a remote mouse for Mac computers or Apple TV and if you have the money and the tenacity to set it up, it is possible to use a tablet device as a control for a large home-media library stored on a static disk. I expect this functionality will improve and expand going forward, with fully integrated media control across devices, service providers and screens.

Cloud Computing

The upcoming iCloud service will allow users to edit documents and content originally created on their larger personal computer, while also allowing access to their full iTunes library anywhere they have an internet connection. Full cloud integration will lessen the need for large hard discs and for users to pair any tablets with a desktop/laptop personal computer. We will start to see more individuals having a tablet as their only personal computing device and people in the same household having personal tablets, while sharing the use of a larger desktop/laptop machine.

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to the possibilities the tablet world is bringing to search marketing. If there are any areas I’ve raised that you would like to delve practically into, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I can find some good resources.

Many thanks to John Warnes at http://www.transparency.org who helped me with this post and my girlfriend Kim for making me a brilliant cake while I was typing away.

Follow me on twitter @philnottingham

Webmaster Tools in Google Analytics for everyone

by Kate Cushing, Associate Product Manager, Google Analytics team

Back in June, we announced a pilot program to allow users to surface Google Search data in Google Analytics by linking their Webmaster Tools accounts. We’ve been busy making some improvements and tweaks based on user feedback, and today we’re excited to make this set of reports available to all users.

The Webmaster Tools section contains three reports based on the Webmaster Tools data that we hope will give you a better sense of how your site performs in search results. We’ve created a new section for these reports called Search Engine Optimization that will live under the Traffic Sources section. The reports you’ll find there are:

  • Queries: impressions, clicks, position, and CTR info for the top 1,000 daily queries
  • Landing Pages: impressions, clicks, position, and CTR info for the top 1,000 daily landing pages
  • Geographical Summary: impressions, clicks, and CTR by country

Queries report To start using the reports you first need to link your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools accounts. You can get step by step instructions and additional information on the reports in this Help Center article. If you’re not already using Webmaster Tools, we highly recommend you start. It’s a free tool that helps you understand how Google sees your site. Sign up on the Google Webmaster Tools homepage. Enjoy the new reports, and let us know how they’re helping your analysis.