It's December so we have bundled a bunch of Search Engine Watch (SEW) site updates for you as a holiday gift! The new features include an optimized user experience for tablet devices, a services and tools comparison shopping engine and a new forum for you to get any question answered.
These updates are designed to make SEW more accessible and also fundamentally more useful to both newbies and veterans of the industry - and it's also a part of a gradual return to SEW's roots as a forum.
Mobile & Tablet Optimization
Our own contributors and many of you on Twitter have been requesting a better mobile experience. Loading the desktop version of the site can be a crawl and there's naturally a lot of pinching and zooming to read and clickthrough to what you want to look at. So, we have listened to your feedback and partnered with OnSwipe to deliver an optimized experience for touch screen devices.
If you go to touch.searchenginewatch.com on your mobile device, you will see that there is now a pared down user experience which focusses only on content. You can see all of the days stories and swipe from article to article as if you are flipping through a book.
Once you have loaded the site, a dialog box will appear suggesting you add SEW to your homescreen, which if you accept, will enable you to access the touchscreen version of the site directly without having to type the URL. For supported devices, you will also be automatically redirected to the mobile site via whatever channel you arrive, whether that be search engines or social networks. Our entire archive of 15 years of content is now available in a mobile optimized format!
Current compatible devices include Apple's iPhone and iPad, Google's Nexus 7 Tablet and Amazon's Kindle Fire. Let us know what you think of the new site experience in the comments! We are working on optimizing the site for more devices and operating systems but currently we only support devices running iOS 5 or Android 4.
Compare Tools and Services
As we all know, finding the best SEO companies and most reliable SEO tools via forums and word of mouth is not so easy in the SEO industry. Rumor has it that the directories that currently provide a directory of SEO tools and companies are unreliable because you can just buy your way to the top.
Well... you can buy your way to the top of our new directory too… BUT that's only through pay-per-click ads which get you to the top of search results. SEW has partnered with Find The Best to catalog and review all the companies selling professional SEO services. If you click through to companies.searchenginewatch.com and technology.searchenginewatch you can see our new comparison shopping service which enables you to filter agencies and tools by size, the markets they serve and what services they provide. Clicking 'compare' will enable you to handpick the companies or seo tools you are considering and compare them directly, whilst clicking 'see details' will bring up a full list of their services, address, phone number, ratings and reviews, notable client list and a big orange button which takes you their website.
Every listing has been verified by Find The Best's team and our team at SEW is working with them to add more companies and tools to make the list as comprehensive as possible. Your company or tool can be in our directory too!
It's free to get listed. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and click 'add listing.' As mentioned, to get more prominence in search results, you can use Find The Best's pay-per-click ad service. We are in the process of building a "custom rating" with Find The Best to get an at-a-glance view of how companies stack up against each other. I have gotta say that it is not easy! Thus we have delayed launch on this aspect of the service. Nonetheless, rest assured that you will never be able to buy a "top rating" on our compare service. It is our hope that over the next 12 months we will start listing PPC and Social Media Marketing companies too.
There is no doubt that SEW plays host to a thriving community on site and within social networks. What has become clear to me after 3 years on the job is that our writers, the SEW contributors, are not the only experts out there! The minds of SEW readers are a goldmine of useful information too and we're giving you the chance to demonstrate that within the community. We now have a dedicated section for anyone to get any questions answered with expert advice.
Article comments are not always the best places to get your questions answered (as they are too difficult to follow) and also let people know about a cool new site or tool that you have created. Basically, whilst we are not 100% against readers dropping links in comments - and do make a choice, as moderators, about whether to leave or remove links - leaving links in comments always has the whiff of spam.
To solve these issues SEW has partnered with shopping advice service HipSnip to adapt their Q&A platform into a useful hub for any marketer or webmaster with an information need to get useful and immediate answers to their specific questions. Think of it like a mini-Quora just for online marketing advice.
Simply visit ask.searchenginewatch.com and login via Twitter, Facebook or create a HipSnip account (that will also work across a variety of other sites) and choose which groups you want to follow. By following a group, you will be notified of new questions in that group which you might want to answer. You can also follow users and follow specific questions.
To be clear, regardless of what groups, questions or people you follow, you can ask a question of the entire community of readers. We recommend that you try to post your question in a particular category - which are the same as our article categories. These questions will not only surface in our Q&A forum, but will also be displayed against our article categories on this site, so that your question gets maximum exposure and in turn receives more answers.
Another cool feature provided by HipSnip is the ability to create lists. Lists are a powerful way to help you get organized and also recommend your favorite tools and tips to other people. At SEW we have been using this feature to collect information on stuff that is slightly outside of the scope of our regular content agenda - for example, I am a big fan of retro gaming on mobile, so I am trying to find out what games are out there.
The key idea here is that SEW's Q&A section is designed specifically for you to "link out" to resources, posts and anything online which you think is useful. Pull your favorite blogs together, compile lists of articles on certain topics, show off your favorite apps and tell people about the tools you love or have developed. You can do that all here and all you have to worry about is staying relevant when responding to other users.
Right now there are 10 conventional categories of question but we expect to expand this over the next 12 months to make it possible to follow specific topics, such as 'retargeting'. We also have two special categories to help you do your job better:
- Brainstorming Content is a special group designed to help you create better blog posts. Short of investigative reporting, a good blog post tends to either be direct opinion or have multiple industry perspectives or it is a detailed feature on a product and how to use it or a list of products that serve a specific purpose. This group can't help you with all of that but it can certainly help you compile industry perspectives from a panel of SEW readers and also build lists. For instance, right now we have a list being build on the best analytics tools to measure apps and also ROI on Pinterest. There is no reason you can't take advantage of these evolving resources as a basis for you to create an excellent post for your own blog.
- SES Site Clinic is a special group that emulates one of our most successful session formats at the SES Conference. At SES, Site Clinics are a session where anyone in the audience can submit their website URL for a site review and by our panel of SEO experts. Now, we have recreated that concept online and opened it up to "labs format" where anyone, not just a chosen panel of experts, can review your site and make recommendations. Simply post a question about your site, with the URL included and wait for the advice to pour in!
As promised, following the SEW redesign, the Comparison service and Q&A forums are just a few more steps towards building a stronger community. As part of this continuing effort, we launched SEW Weekly, our radioshow on Webmaster Radio (tune in tomorrow at 1pm EST!) earlier this year and we have some exciting discussions around new development projects for 2013.
But for now, to get the most out of these new community features be sure to:
- Check out our tablet site.
- Get your company listed.
- Get your software listed.
- Ask a question.
- Give advice.
Hopefully these holiday gifts from SEW prove to be extremely useful and worthwhile to you. As ever, we love your feedback, so feel free to drop any ideas of reactions in the article comments.
Happy Holidays from SEW!