Need Help Finding a WebPosition Replacement

webposition alternative
The all new, (all suck) webPosition!

WebPosition was pretty great until Infospace bought them in 2009. Then came the outages. What was once a wonderfully supported suite of SEO SERP tools turned into a nightmare. The newly released Webposition is a web-only interface (vs. software you install on your computer.) Whereas you used to pay a few hundred bucks to own the program outright you now have to pay WebPosition a steep monthly fee to use this website.

What’s wrong with the new WebPosition?

It’s costly. $499 per year.

Poor security. Because it’s online-only, all of your clients’ campaign data is on their servers. No doubt they’re selling it to somebody.

Missing features. And more! My friend reports that he’s…

having trouble exporting their reports into excel.
They don’t give any details on how many keywords
rank #1, 2-10, 11-20, etc (only shows a bar graph)
There’s no report email function, and I don’t see an option to FTP/upload reports.
The reports look really sloppy compared to the WP4 reports.
WP support is still no good.

WebPosition Alternatives

Advanced Web Ranking

That same friend and fellow SEO says,

I’m trying AWR because I’ve heard a lot of good
things from prominent SEOs and larger agencies who use it.
AWR has custom reports and lots of bells and whistles.
I couldn’t get anyone to answer their customer service line…I believe the
company is in another country… I never tried emailing them.

So far Advanced Web Ranking is at the top of my list to try. It’s $399 to buy and then $119 per year after the first 12 months.

Web CEO

I’m on the advisory board for the e-business program at a college. They use Web CEO for their SEO classes. So it’s number two on my list. WebCEO costs $389.

Addweb

Costs $299 but their website is an unholy mess. I can only imagine how terrible their program’s usability is.

SEOmoz

$79 per MONTH ?! Wow. My friend says,

Seomoz’s rank tracker isn’t very robust and you need to enter each keyword
and URL individually. Lame.

Wikipedia’s List of Web Ranking Software

As if this wasn’t already complex and challenging, Wikipedia offers a longer list of SERP software options. And dmoz has a category full of website promotion possibilities.

SEO Software Help

As you can see, this blog post isn’t informative as much as it’s a cry for help. If you have a non-shill comment on your experience with SEO ranking software, please comment. Here are the most important criteria

  • >20 sites
  • sftp upload of reports
  • brandable/customizable reports
  • data export (csv or ods or xls)
  • easy backup AND restore from backup
  • easy revert (e.g. if my evdo internet connection dies during querying and I need to re-run a report.)
  • imports WP4 campaigns (this might be a pipe dream)
  • no monthly fee
  • no sensitive data stored on third-party servers
  • etc.

What do you think?

 

Dan Dreifort whines about SEO, efficiency and usability on this blog and IRL.

SEO, Typography, Usability – Advice to a client

Through better usability (and other practices) we can turn more of your visitors into customers.

A client asked for clarification on a few suggestions I’d queued for their project. While I don’t offer any background, this article is still informative. Partially edited to protect the innocent.

What is Google Page Rank? How do I measure it?

Google pagerank is best explained by those who’ve already typed it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

I use a Firefox page rank plugin to tell me the PR of any page I visit. But you can also use web tools like this one

http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

Typesetting and typography: What are they and should I care?

Typography… I’ll just talk around it a bit. That restaurant menu link I sent:
http://www.abriosbrickoven.com/menu.php
represents the last time I tried to do something neat with fonts, layouts and spacing. It’s from a few years ago (largely stolen from here) and I was on a tight budget. But while it’s far from perfect, it uses fonts, font sizes, font colors, font spacing, kerning, etc. in an attempt to present information in a sensible and easy to read format.

The example cited even conveys some subtle branding – with the Italian color scheme. We could display the same information with stock fonts, stock spacing, stock (black) colors, etc., and it would look different… worse. The information conveyed wouldn’t be as attractive. Visitors would read it less, and other nastiness! 😉

Another Typography Example

Prior to that one, my earlier attempt at an Italian menu (circa 2005) was this one:
http://avalanchepizza.net/pizza-menu.php
It’s been edited (read: improved) since I worked on it, but it’s still sucky enough  (typographically speaking) to be a good example. The fonts stay the same throughout. There’s bold text here and there, and we add some red. But other than that, it’s a fairly jumbled mess, comparatively speaking. The kerning is too tight. The spacing between an item’s header and its description is actually GREATER than the space between the item’s description and the NEXT item’s header. Etc. Etc.

A final typographic e.g.

Go to your bookshelf. Grab a paperback from the 1960’s and then grab the most recent hardcover book you can find. Open them to page 50. Read a few lines from each book. What’s the difference? Typesetting’s come a long way in a few decades. Books are much easier to read now.

So, using typography, we can better present the information on your site. We do this using CSS Cascading Style Sheets to define the spacing and other font attributes.

To further answer your question, yes, there is something you can do to help the effort. Write more sub-headlines to break up text.

Using HTML headlines helps both humans and robots

I’ll pick a random page:
https://www.mygovspending.com/gearbox/GovtDeficitAndDebt
Ah, not the *best* example, but I’ll use it nonetheless. A page with fewer headlines would’ve been better, but in one sense, this is actually better; it shows how we can improve on a good start.

Between these two headlines…
“A Shot at Quantifying Comprehensive Taxpayer Liability”
and
“Can government debt be a good thing?”

…we have a whole bunch of text. And while there’s a chart and a magazine style pull quote box, it still needs more segmentation. What’s there would suffice for a textbook or even a newspaper, but more headlines are the norm for web content where it’s so easy to lose a reader’s attention to countless other sites.

e.g. I picked a random article from smart money
http://www.smartmoney.com/investing/economy/the-other-consumer-confidence-index/

There’s a headline an average of every two paragraphs.

This is not just good for readability, keeping readers hooked, helping readers find what they want in a page and etc, it’s also good for SEO. Robots love this sh*t! HTML headlines are our opportunity to present a better page outline to the search engine spiders.

Headlines should often be accurately descriptive more so than catchy. If they’re both, that’s even better.

How about a segue?

As a neat tangent, and segue, think about the links you see when you visit a site. The call to action, “Click Here!” was once the norm. But then some genius realized that presenting the user with a dozen links on a page, all with the anchor text “Click here!”, all going to different pages… was a bad idea.

What are good links made of?

So, as well as providing better,  more obvious information to readers about where a link will take them, descriptive link anchor text is also valuable for those search engine bots too. The anchor text that you use to link to your pages, and even more so, the anchor text that third parties use when linking to your pages, tells Google a whole bunch about how it should rank your site.

The BEST links are:

  • from another site to yours
  • on a page that has high page rank (PR)
  • on a page with content closely related to yours
  • without link reciprocity (e.g. w/out you linking back)
  • hosted on a different server, different domain registrar info, etc.

How do I get incoming links?

But getting the best links is VERY hard. So we just get as close as we can. For SEO, I’d say the PR is the most important variable.

How do we get links?

  • Ask nicely (ultra low success rate)
  • Offer to trade links (also pretty low)
  • Buy them (expensive and frowned upon by Google)
  • Do some press releases (hope for links)
  • Befriend bloggers, e.g. hook them up w/ a free account (hope for links and/or a review)
  • Other networking (hope for / trade for links)
  • Etc.

We could compile a list of the top twenty or so bloggers in your field and compose a very short email to them. “Hey, check out my mad-crazy site, yo! I’ll hook you up with a free account.” …and you can send them off with a personal touch.

W3C Page Validation

The W3C link at the bottom relates to web standards. The closer you are to meeting them, the more people (e.g. w/ disabilities) and robots (e.g. Google’s) are able to make sense of your content. It’s otherwise advisable to get your code up to specifications too. If you need more convincing, please Google for myriad reasons.

Whew! This took a while to type, but it’s worth it.

Dan Dreifort

Dan Dreifort is a SEO consultant, usability consultant… and he’s working on becoming an efficiency consultant too. He just bought fficient.com in the hopes that it will some day become the web home of his efficiency consulting wing. Yeah, he’s like a bird.

Site Redesign 301 Redirects

301 redirects, very powerful, ultimately useful.

You want to change the URL of some of your web content. Why? Countless reasons. Maybe you misspelled a word in the URL. You used underscores and now you want to use hyphens or dashes for improved readability and usability. Your old page was /product=7&ver=1.php and you just think something-semantic.php would be a better file name for SEO and other reasons. Etc.

Throw a simple 301 redirect into a .htaccess file or directly within a deprecated content page and you can immediately send visitors and search bots to the new URL. Redirecting visitors is handy and polite but doing it for bots is critical. If you use any other forward, redirect or refresh method, you’re missing out on an easy opportunity to communicate with Google and other search engines. The syntax for a .htaccess 301 redirect is simple:

redirect 301 oldpage.html http://www.yourdomain.com/newpage.htm

Doing a 301 in IIS is a little more complicated, but still worth it.

not using 301 redirects, more powerful, more painful

Your company finally decides to pay for that dream web site redesign. Good idea. (Your old site was so two weeks ago!) Be sure to ask about your chosen web designer’s SEO  production credentials. Not all web designers are created equally. There are numerous web shops capable of delivering beautiful bleeding edge aesthetics and “totally two point oh” functionality, but if they’re not hip to SEO and usability, all the polish in the world wide web won’t save you.

Inevitably site file structures and page names will change during a redesign. Some pages will move to new URLs. Some old pages will be deemed unworthy of migration, and you’ll surely create fresh new content that didn’t exist on the old site. Sit back and enjoy it when you publish your new site and get over the sticker shock. If they didn’t use 301 redirects, your fleeting euphoria will melt to tears when you check on your search rankings in Google.

If you check soon enough, you’ll still see your listings. Dig deeper with a click and you’ll get the dreaded 404 not found error page. (Did you bother to create a custom 404 page to at least brand your shame?) If you wait long enough (time depends on Google’s crawl frequency of your site,) you’ll cringe when you don’t see that first page Google listing. Then you’ll click to the second and third pages and that cringe will turn into a certifiable twitch. Google crawled your page and it wasn’t there. You moved it. Remember? As far as Google is concerned, it doesn’t exist.

retroactive 301 redirect, worth it?

At this point. you can still implement 301 redirects, but their efficacy will be diminished if not totally muted. If you waited too long and Google delisted your newly 404’d legacy URLs, retroactively 301ing them might still help. I don’t know. (Does the Google index have a “memory” of sorts? I doubt it.) Hence the unbeatable power of not using a 301 redirect. It’s still a good idea to retroactively 301, if for no other reason than to collect and reroute traffic from incoming links to legacy URLs.

When your SEO consultant gives you production advice about how to best do a site rebuild (and what not to do!) you should listen. Let your SEO consultant earn those bucks you pay every month. Save money. Make money. Use 301 redirects effectively.

Dan Dreifort is a SEO/Usability spaz and blogging novice.