Archive for August, 2010

Visualizing How a Link Spreads Through the Twitterverse

A few months ago, I did some research into visualizing how a story spreads across the Twitterverse and how that spread could be visualized.

Using a combination of the Twitter API, the TweetMeme API and the Processing visualization library, I was able to graph the spread of a handful of popular links.

In the TweetMaps below the circles represent each user who ReTweeted the link, they’re bigger or smaller based on the number of followers they have. People who are following accounts that Tweeted the link before they did have lines drawn to the accounts they’re following (and could have “caught” the link from).

The graphs show the first wave of Tweets of each link (generally the first few hours). When you see a number of circles extending horizontally across the graph that means that those accounts all Tweeted the link very close together in time.

17 great

The first example is a post on the HubSpot blog. You’ll notice there’s a line of accounts that posted the link at very similar times. This is because there are a number of automated Twitter accounts that post every link on the HubSpot blog RSS. You’ll see this pattern again in the examples below. You’ll also notice that there is a high amount of variance in the size of the circles, indicating that the people who Tweeted the link have varying amounts of followers, and there is a high amount of interconnectivity between them as well.

80 signs

The next example is from celebrity gossip blog TheFABlife. The difference is striking, other than a single, highly followed account (which is probably the blog’s own official account) all of the other accounts have few followers. This is a good indication that this link’s audience is much more “mainstream.” Again notice the high level of interconnectedness visible.

but youre

Now let’s look at a TweetMap of a link from Seth Godin’s blog. You’ll notice there isn’t one big account that starts the chain (since there is no active, official Seth Godin Twitter account). There is a lower amount of interconnectivity present than in the previous examples, and most Tweeters have low numbers of followers.

chrysler recalls

The above example is from MSNBC’s site. There are very few connections between ReTweeters, and there are a few very large accounts amidst mostly low-follower accounts. The large accounts are probably official MSNBC accounts.

helen thomas

An example from FoxNews tells the story of a community with a high variation in follower counts and lots of inter-connections.

meet the

An example from Alternet.org shows a set of accounts with lots of followers and a moderate amount of connection.

startup life

The final example, from TechCrunch, shows the main Techcrunch account followed by a large number of low-follower accounts. It also displays lots of connections and a large automated Tweeting line.

Marketing Takeaway

The internet now gives marketers a way to map word-of-mouth that was previously impossible. Take the time to understand how your content as well as your competitors content spreads online. Look for opportunities to optimize the word-of-mouth spread of your content on Twitter and other social networks.

Free Download: Marketing Data: 50+ Marketing Charts and Graphs

Marketing Charts

HubSpot has compiled over 50 original marketing charts and graphs on topics including Lead Generation, Blogging and Social Media, Marketing Budgets, Twitter and Facebook

Download the ebook now! to have access to these charts for use in your own presentations

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Mobile SERPS & Usability

Posted by Suzzicks

So here is the deal: Traditional websites frequently rank in mobile search results – especially if you are searching from a SmartPhone. What you may not realize is that the converse is also true – mobile pages can rank well in traditional search. This is quite an interesting phenomenon, and something that we need to address strategically.

Mobile Search-Subway Sandwiches

All One Index Soon?

Why does this happen?

Well, Google has said that they really don’t want to index two versions of the web – one mobile and one traditional. Even though they do have different mobile-specific bots, they want those their bots all to feed into one index. Hmmmm….Is it just an interesting coincidence that they just launched the multi-format site mapping in Google, where you can combine all the different types of sitemaps that we previously had to submit separately? Possibly. At least it that could indicate a shift away from multiple indexes.

Did anyone notice that this shift happened pretty soon after Caffeine, as did the re-launch of Google Images, and some significant changes in Google Places?

Hmmmm…..It seems that now things might be all moving to one index with different types of ‘indexing attributes’ that will replace the need for different indexes in the long run. That would actually do lots of things that Caffeine has done, like speed up searches, and allow them to algorithmically prioritize things by freshness more effectively….

Different Indexes for Smart Phones and Feature Phones

But I have gone astray – We were talking about mobile. We can’t know for sure if there are different mobile indexes. There definitely was in the beginning of ‘mobile’ – you could always tell because the results were SO bad! Even in the past two years, I have seen mobile search results that were way off base – For example, the top result for a search on ‘subway sandwiches’ was a Gawker article for a long time; then Subway.com, and then m.subway.com. I just checked, and they have finally sorted that one out! About 18 months ago Google changed the location of their mobile engine from m.Google.com to Google.com/m, and it did seem that the ‘/m’ feature phone search results were a bit better than they had been, but who knows!

As I have mentioned, there are different mobile search engine crawlers that are evaluating your website as if it was being rendered on a mobile phone. These mobile bots actually have generic and more specific user agent strings that will spoof actual phone handset models in order to understand how the website would behave on the different phones. While they don’t do a great job, Google actually does try to only provide you with mobile search results that will actually work well on your particular handset – What that means is that there are slight variations on search results from phone to phone.

There are some simple ways to check what I am now describing as ‘mobile indexing attributes.’ I always start mobile rankings research by doing a normal search from my traditional computer. We know more about the traditional algorithm, so that sets my baseline for comparison. From there, I will do the same search from Google.com/m to see the differences. In most cases, the websites that are included in the traditional search results will be included in the SmartPhone search results – but sometimes in a slightly different order.

You don’t have to have tons of different phones to get a sense for what is going on in mobile search. There are a couple quick tips and tricks to help you do this all from the web. The first thing to know, is that you can do searches from your computer directly from Google.com/m. The results you get will be generic ‘SmartPhone’ search results. From that page, you can move on to see the results for the same query on feature phones by simply scrolling to the bottom of the page and changing the drop-down that says ‘web’ to say ‘mobile,’ and hit ‘go.’ This set of results will be the generic FeaturePhone results.

Mobile-Friendly Signals for the Search Engines

The best way to indicate to the search engines that your page is mobile-ready, (beyond including the ‘no-transform’ tag, discussed more in another post called What is Mobile Search Engine Transcoding?),  is to provide the search engines pages that will work well on mobile phones. Handheld stylesheets can be included on any page on your site. If you don’t have mobile-specific pages, you can use these stylesheets to tell mobile browsers how you would like your existing pages to look when they are displayed on a mobile phone. These are especially good if you would like to change the order that your content appear in when it is displayed on a mobile phone and they should also be used to prevent the need for left-to right scrolling when your site is displayed on a mobile phone.

If you have mobile specific pages, you should set up user detection on your site to ensure that, regardless of which pages rank (mobile or traditional) that users are presented with the appropriate version of the page, based on the device that they are using to access the page. If they are on a mobile phone, they should automatically be sent to the mobile version of a page – even if it is the traditional page that actually ranked in search engines. Conversely, if they are on a traditional computer,  and happen to click on a mobile version of a page, they should be automatically be sent to the version of the page that is meant for traditional-computer viewing.

Last, include a page-to-page link in the upper left hand corner of each page that allows people to move between the mobile and traditional versions of the pages, if they can’t find what they are looking for, or need to over-ride the user-agent detection and redirection. The upper left-hand corner is the ideal location for this link, because it is always the first thing that people will be able to see, even if there is a mobile rendering  problem with the site. If something is wrong with the way the page looks on someone’s phone, you don’t want to make them search all over for the button to fix it!

You should still crate the handheld stylesheet for your mobile-specific pages and traditional pages as well, just in case something goes wrong. They are a good signal to the search engines that the pages should be ranked in mobile search results.

Mobile Usability Options:

  1. Mobile/Traditional Hybrid Pages Only: One set of pages that has two or more style sheets – One for traditional web rendering, usually called ‘screen,’ and one for mobile web rendering, usually called ‘handheld.’ An important note is that the iPhone will automatically pull the ‘screen’ stylesheet, unless you give other instructions.
    _
  2. Traditional Pages for Computer and Mobile Pages for all Phones: Two sets of pages – one to be shown on traditional computers and one to be shown on mobile phones. The file structure of the mobile pages should be an exact replica of the traditional pages, with the addition of the ‘.m’ or ‘/m’. User-agent detection and redirection delivers feature phone users and smart phone users here automatically if they click on a link to a traditional page.

    Always include links between the mobile site and the traditional site in the upper left hand corner of the page. Both sets of pages should have a handheld stylesheet to control mobile rendering. User-agent detection and redirection should also be in-place to automatically deliver people on traditional computers who click on the mobile pages to the traditional version of the page instead.
    _

  3. Mobile/Traditional Hybrid Pages for Traditional and SmartPhone, Mobile Specific Pages for Feature Phones: Two sets of pages; one set of pages that are the mobile/traditional hybrid pages that use separate external stylesheets to be rendered on traditional computer screens and smart phones. The second set of pages are mobile specific pages, hosted on an ‘m.’ or a ‘/m’. The file structure should be an exact replica of the traditional file structure, with the addition of the ‘m’ or ‘/m’. User-agent detection and redirection delivers feature phone users here automatically if they click on a link to a traditional page while they are on a feature phone.

    Always include links between the mobile site and the traditional site in the upper left hand corner of the page. Both sets of pages should have a handheld stylesheet to control mobile rendering. User-agent detection and redirection should also be in-place to automatically deliver people on traditional computers who click on the mobile pages to the traditional version of the page instead.
    _

  4. Traditional Pages for Computers, Graphical Mobile Pages for Smart Phones, Text Mobile Pages for Feature Phones: Three sets of pages. Traditional pages for traditional computers, touch-optimized pages for smart phones with touch screens, and mobile-optimized pages for feature phones and smart phones without touch screens. User-agent detection and redirection delivers users with touch screens to the touch-screen pages if they click on a link while they are on a touch-screen phone. User-agent detection and redirection delivers users on feature phones and smart phones that don’t have a touch-screen to the mobile-optimized pages if they click on a link while they are on one of those types of phones. In this scenario, you will need two mobile-specific subdomains or subdirectories. I recommend using ‘touch.’ or /’touch’ for the touch-screen pages, and ‘m.’ or /m’ for the mobile-optimized pages.

    Always include links between the mobile site and the traditional site in the upper left hand corner of the page. Both sets of pages should have a handheld stylesheet to control mobile rendering. User-agent detection and redirection should also be in-place to automatically deliver people on traditional computers who click on either version of the mobile pages to the traditional version of the page instead.

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Who should guest host HubSpot TV?

hubspot tv marketing video podcastWe’ve had a fun filled 2 years on HubSpot TV, but for the next couple weeks my co-host Karen Rubin is away.  So I need someone to help me out as a guest co-host on September 3 or 10.

Don’t know what HubSpot TV is? We’re broadcasting live really soon (4pm EDT) so watch the live show.

I posted a message on Twitter looking for volunteers and suggestions for a guest host, and I got a ton of them. There were way too many for me to decide, so I am turning to your help in the community to pick a winner out of all the suggestions that people made on Twitter.

Click here to vote on the Guest Host for HubSpot TV  (Voting closes 12 noon on September 1.)

<– VOTE HERE –>


The results below should be updating (seems like there is a litte lag) or view in a new window here.

 

Connect with HubSpot:

HubSpot on Twitter HubSpot on Facebook HubSpot on LinkedIn HubSpot on Google Buzz 

 


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Linkscape’s August Update: New Domain Authority Numbers, Partners and More

Posted by randfish

Today I’m happy to announce that we’ve just updated Linkscape’s web index (which also powers Open Site Explorer and the metrics via the mozBar) with fresh link data. You should see some bright shiny links we’ve found from late July to early August in this index (e.g. our own Beginner’s Guide now has lots of interesting link information). We also have some cool updates to the API, new partnerships and more, all covered below.

50% Correlation Boost to Domain Authority (with some Oddities)

You may recall when we produced our correlation research this Spring, we showed that while Page Authority was substantively better than any other metric for an individual page’s importance, Domain Authority was much rougher (and only slightly better than homepage toolbar PageRank, i.e. pretty bad). We’ve been hard at work improving our models, adding data sources and writing code to help and this index is our first to feature an improved correlation between Google’s rankings and Domain Authority.

Domain Authority Correlation
This chart from April, if re-done today, should show ~50% better correlation for Domain Authority to Google rankings (sorry I didn’t have time to make an updated chart)
_

 You can see more in this video on How We Calculate Page & Domain Authority.

Unfortunately, along with this update are some strange outliers, likely stemming from us not doing as good a job testing as we should. We’ve heard feedback from our members that the new scores, in many cases, don’t make sense and seem unintuititive. We agree and we scrambled all day today (Friday) to put forward a solution. That should manifest in the next 14-20 days as DA numbers update again (separate from an index update). I’ll have more on that in a separate blog post when it launches.

In the meantime, our apologies to those whose numbers are adversely affected. Things should be considerably better in a few weeks, so if reporting or KPIs have you worried, please message to anyone receiving those data points that this temporary glitch should be solved soon and DA will much better relate to a domain’s top Page Authority URLs.

New Partnerships

Many of you may have already seen the news that Linkscape data (via our API) is now integrated in Brightedge’s enterprise platform. Their software offers an impressive collection of analysis and recommendations, and they’ve shared a few screenshots with us:

Brightedge Product Screenshot

Like our beta web app, Brightedge’s software manages a lot of critical SEO data all in one place (but for much larger sites and organizations – customers include MySpace, VMware, and Symantec).

Brightedge Link Screenshot

They also do some really spiffy stuff with layering meta data onto links (like "blog, wiki, directory, etc." as descriptors of the type of links you’re getting). This isn’t yet in the Linkscape API (probably 6+ months away) - Brightedge is analyzing the sites and adding this data themselves!

You can learn more about the integration from Laurie Sullivan on Mediapost (the only inaccuracy I saw was SEOmoz offering "consulting services" – something we haven’t done since 2009) or by contacting Brightedge directly.

We’re also psyched about integrations with several other tools and data providers including:

  • Flippa – the web’s leading site for buying and selling web properties now integrates Linkscape metrics in their due diligence section
  • Link Research Tools by Christoph Cemper
  • Raven Tools – an impressive suite of tools for managing SEO processes that now employs Linkscape metrics in their link analysis section

We’ve previously integrated with other tools and platforms from folks like Hubspot, Conductor, Authority Labs and many more. If you’re interested in the API, you can get a free key to use it (up to 1mil calls/month) here and see lots of code examples on our API wiki.

Improvements to Anchor Text

 If you ran previous link reports or have used our API, you likely had the same frustration as infamous SEO rockstar, Greg Boser (of 3DogMedia) as illustrated below:

Greg Boser wants Capitalization Agnostic Anchor Text

We’ve gone ahead and made this change, so that anchor text from Linkscape’s API and the tools it powers (Open Site Explorer, et al) are now capitalization agnostic. This means words that appeared in differently capitalized ways in link anchor text will be consolidated to a single version. For example, we may have previously shown different quantities of links for the anchor text:

  • SEO
  • Seo
  • seo

Following tonight’s update, these will all be treated as "seo" and consolidated. This should make Greg and a lot of other SEOs, considerably happier. :-)

Index Stats

This month, as always, we’ve got a new index with freshly crawled pages and links. Stats are as follows:

  • 41,362,566,619 (41 Billion) Pages
  • 366,305,174 (366 Million) Subdomains
  • 96,445,118 (96 Million) Root Domains
  • 409,355,797,533 (409 Billion) Links

Some other interesting numbers this month include:

  • 5.1% of URLs contain rel=canonical – the highest yet!
  • 3.1% of URLs contain a meta noindex directive
  • 2.06% of all links are rel=nofollow
    • 57% of rel=nofollow links are internal (pointing to pages on the same domain)
    • 43% of rel=nofollow links are external (pointing to pages on different domains)
  • 84.9% of all links are internal (linking to pages on the same root domain)
  • 87.5% of all links point to pages on shared c-block of IP addresses

Look for even more exciting things from Linkscape over the next few months, with some really big, exciting improvements to freshness and coverage by year’s end.

And, as always, feel free to give us any feedback you’ve got!

p.s. We’re taking a hard look at the feedback re: Domain Authority numbers, and have some action items ahead. Some relevant things to be aware of include:

  1. We believe our testing for this index wasn’t robust enough -we’ve now seen a lot of cases of DA 1 and DA 100 that clearly aren’t logical moves.
  2. While, on "average" DA is now better correlated with rankings, it makes far less intuitive sense. We think we may have optimized toward the wrong goal.
  3. We’re taking this very seriously, and may actually try to roll out an update to the DA metric in the next 2 weeks (prior to the next Linkscape update)
  4. As soon as I have clarity and a call is made, I’ll be posting another blog entry on what went wrong and details of the fix.

My sincere apologies to all who are adversely affected. Feel free to ignore DA scores for now if they don’t make sense for you and anticipate we’ll be shooting for a fix ASAP.  Thanks for sharing this information with us.

p.s. Update #2 – I’ve added more details in the section on Domain Authority. New scores will be out in the next 14-20 days prior to the next index update. Thanks to everyone for their vociferous and passionate feedback. We’re working hard to make this better.

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Expert Advice: Overcoming Business Blogging Challenges

hurdleBlogging and creating content is an essential part of any SEO strategy. Blogging means more pages on your site, more keywords being used, and (if your content is good) more inbound links. It sounds simple when you think about it; all I need to do is write a little each week about a topic I’m already an expert about and BAM, watch the benefits roll in.

However, while the positives are real, there are a few hurdles to jump over. What do I write about? Where do I find the time to do it? Who is going to write these posts, they aren’t going to write themselves! We asked the HubSpot Partners for a few of the tips they tell their clients when it comes to blogging.

Blogging Best Practices

Before even starting to blog, Kuno Creative’s John McTigue feels that one of the most important steps in blogging is to set up goals each month. This way you have a set point to work towards. If not, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not doing anything.

When it comes to brainstorming content, SmartBug Media’s Ryan Malone suggests his clients use Evernote to “snip” articles that are related to their industry as they read them. He also recommends setting up Google alerts for pertinent topics. Then when the time comes for blogging, clients find that they have a whole folder of inspirational ideas.

Ryan goes on to note that you don’t always have to create content from scratch. Taking an article and adding some insights of your own is an acceptable blogging strategy. He says “It also has other side benefits – you become the hub for all the research in your space…and you also get great retweet and share traction.”

Another content trick comes courtesy of Inbound Marketing Experts’ Andy Xhignesse. He suggests first looking at the list of keywords you want to target. Then develop one post around each keyword. Exhausted your list? Andy recommends his clients go back and try to think about and post 10 different articles about the same material. One article might not resonate, but another will.

With these tips, you’ll be churning out blog posts in no time! What other strategies have you found to be successful?

Webinar: Blogging for Business

Want to learn more about publishing a blog on your business website?

Download the free webinar to learn how to create a thriving inbound marketing blog.

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Linkscape’s August Update: Better Domain Authority Numbers, New Partners and More

Posted by randfish

Today I’m happy to announce that we’ve just updated Linkscape’s web index (which also powers Open Site Explorer and the metrics via the mozBar) with fresh link data. You should see some bright shiny links we’ve found from late July to early August in this index (e.g. our own Beginner’s Guide now has lots of interesting link information). We also have some cool updates to the API, new partnerships and more, all covered below.

50% Improvement to Domain Authority

You may recall when we produced our correlation research this Spring, we showed that while Page Authority was substantively better than any other metric for an individual page’s importance, Domain Authority was much rougher (and only slightly better than homepage toolbar PageRank, i.e. pretty bad). We’ve been hard at work improving our models, adding data sources and writing code to help and this index is our first to feature an improved Domain Authority.

Thus, you’ll generally find that sites that perform better in Google’s rankings will have higher DA, while those that don’t do tremendously well are much lower. We also noted that a lot of the "bunching" of DA scores in the 60-65 range is now considerably better, with a lot more even distribution for "mid-performing" domains between 35-55.

Domain Authority Correlation
This chart from April, if re-done today, should show ~50% better correlation for Domain Authority to Google rankings (sorry I didn’t have time to make an updated chart)
_

We plan to keep improving and hope to have even better numbers and overall index improvements by the end of the year. You can see more in this video on How We Calculate Page & Domain Authority.

New Partnerships

Many of you may have already seen the news that Linkscape data (via our API) is now integrated in Brightedge’s enterprise platform. Their software offers an impressive collection of analysis and recommendations, and they’ve shared a few screenshots with us:

Brightedge Product Screenshot

Like our beta web app, Brightedge’s software manages a lot of critical SEO data all in one place (but for much larger sites and organizations – customers include MySpace, VMware, and Symantec).

Brightedge Link Screenshot

They also do some really spiffy stuff with layering meta data onto links (like "blog, wiki, directory, etc." as descriptors of the type of links you’re getting). This isn’t yet in the Linkscape API (probably 6+ months away) - Brightedge is analyzing the sites and adding this data themselves!

You can learn more about the integration from Laurie Sullivan on Mediapost (the only inaccuracy I saw was SEOmoz offering "consulting services" – something we haven’t done since 2009) or by contacting Brightedge directly.

We’re also psyched about integrations with several other tools and data providers including:

  • Flippa – the web’s leading site for buying and selling web properties now integrates Linkscape metrics in their due diligence section
  • Link Research Tools by Christoph Cemper
  • Raven Tools – an impressive suite of tools for managing SEO processes that now employs Linkscape metrics in their link analysis section

We’ve previously integrated with other tools and platforms from folks like Hubspot, Conductor, Authority Labs and many more. If you’re interested in the API, you can get a free key to use it (up to 1mil calls/month) here and see lots of code examples on our API wiki.

Improvements to Anchor Text

 If you ran previous link reports or have used our API, you likely had the same frustration as infamous SEO rockstar, Greg Boser (of 3DogMedia) as illustrated below:

Greg Boser wants Capitalization Agnostic Anchor Text

We’ve gone ahead and made this change, so that anchor text from Linkscape’s API and the tools it powers (Open Site Explorer, et al) are now capitalization agnostic. This means words that appeared in differently capitalized ways in link anchor text will be consolidated to a single version. For example, we may have previously shown different quantities of links for the anchor text:

  • SEO
  • Seo
  • seo

Following tonight’s update, these will all be treated as "seo" and consolidated. This should make Greg and a lot of other SEOs, considerably happier. :-)

Index Stats

This month, as always, we’ve got a new index with freshly crawled pages and links. Stats are as follows:

  • 41,362,566,619 (41 Billion) Pages
  • 366,305,174 (366 Million) Subdomains
  • 96,445,118 (96 Million) Root Domains
  • 409,355,797,533 (409 Billion) Links

Some other interesting numbers this month include:

  • 5.1% of URLs contain rel=canonical – the highest yet!
  • 3.1% of URLs contain a meta noindex directive
  • 2.06% of all links are rel=nofollow
    • 57% of rel=nofollow links are internal (pointing to pages on the same domain)
    • 43% of rel=nofollow links are external (pointing to pages on different domains)
  • 84.9% of all links are internal (linking to pages on the same root domain)
  • 87.5% of all links point to pages on shared c-block of IP addresses

Look for even more exciting things from Linkscape over the next few months, with some really big, exciting improvements to freshness and coverage by year’s end.

And, as always, feel free to give us any feedback you’ve got!

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