Entrepreneur: Get your HTML right!

I’ve been having some problems with the www.ngedit.com. It was working nicely, but almost zero searches had ever found them. It’s weird, because quite many searches have found blog.ngedit.com.

After the release of ViEmu, it’s a bit different, but up until last week, the top search item finding this blog was “WM_CHAR”. WM_KEYDOWN and friends were also up there on the list. Search phrases revealed the frustration and desperation of programmers fighting to tame the Win32 keyboard input model: “how to get utf-16 wm_char without unicode”, “getting wm_syskeydown instead of wm_keydown ime”, “wm_char arrows repeat”, even “brief explanation of egytian currency”! My blog post on the issue is even on the first page you get from google when you just search for WM_CHAR!

As an aside, web stats are a source of awe and wonder for me, I cannot help but imagine the story behind every search, and this links to my theory of “exceptions”, but that’s a story for another day.

But only two terms have been finding the main page: ngedit and www.ngedit.com. A grand total of 23 search hits since the existence of the site (and I’m pretty sure several of them were either me or some friend I told about the endeavor).

It didn’t worry me too much until now. People were finding the blog and that was nice, the main site was almost placeholder stuff. But now, after the release of my first product, www.ngedit.com is important for the good advance of my venture.

And this week, after the release, I’ve gotten quite a lot of traffic from JoS and some announcements here and there, as well as the nice blog posts from fellow entrepreneurs setting up their own shop at the same time. But nothing from google or other search engines.

The weird thing has been that my site has basically not appeared when looking for “visual studio vi emulation” (I know I looked for that when I had the need myself.) And, even if I didn’t do it on purpose for SEO, the main site must be filled up to death with the phrase!

As a weirder thing, my blog post on the release of ViEmu is on one of the first pages with that search phrase, and even Ian Landsman’s post is on the second page! How come www.ngedit.com does not appear on Google searches?

I set up a google adwords campaign yesterday (please, if you see the add, and you already know about the project, do not click on the add :) I’m doing it with a very limited budget). Ads are not appearing either (although google reports 6 impressions with 0 click-throughs).

Weirdly, today I found out that if I wrote it in another order, such as “vi studio visual emulation”, the site appeared… on the second page! Come on, this is not such a crowded market niche!

Today, I’ve found out something which I believe is the key to all of this: as I was preparing a new page for the site, I found out with terror that my html pages were full of html syntax errors! Well, actually not full, there were about two or three on the main ViEmu product page, all pages were missing the DOCTYPE line, and, by some accident, I had removed the opening <html> and <head> tags from over half the pages. Duh.

Please don’t take me wrong - I do all my html and css by hand, with a lot of love put in every html tag and every css style. I don’t have much experience with html (although that’s rapidly changing), and I prefer to do it this way by now. I check everything with Firefox and IE, and I pay a lot of attention to proper html - but had simply forgotten to actually verify it with something such as the w3c validator.

So, now everything’s corrected (the new content section is not uploaded yet), and I hope to get good google search results in a very short while (couple days?), unless they really punish you for having lowered the average quality of html on the web.

And a happy fact is that I actually used NGEDIT to convert all the files from CRLF terminators to LF terminators, so that they don’t have to be converted by ftp each time I upload them :)

On other news, yes, I will be adding an “Articles” section to the main site, with some new content which is ready now, and I’ll publish there the main articles instead of on the blog - leaving the blog for shorter and more day-to-day entries, and announcements for the articles posted there. I really don’t think the blog is the right place for the long articles I tend to post.

9 Responses to “Entrepreneur: Get your HTML right!”

  1. JD Says:

    I had seen that and I was about to write you and tell you about it, somehow slipped of my mind! Glad that you found out.

    And when is NGEdit going to come out?

  2. J Says:

    JD, I’m also really glad I found out :) If I’m right in my pressumption that _that_ was the reason for few search results, I’ll have learned a valuable lesson, and also will have helped others know about it.

    As it’s easy to tell from the blog, I haven’t done any development on NGEDIT for over a month. I will be busy getting the word about ViEmu out for a few weeks, studying how the traffic, evaluations, and even sales work. It will give me some time away from sheer development, which my brain really needs now (even if I may prepare a point upgrade of ViEmu with some small yet interesting things). One other thing: one of these !$%# days I’ll have a new design for the blog!

    NGEDIT 1.0 will take a few months yet, it’s a large project.

  3. Ian Says:

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s most likely not your bad HTML that’s the trouble. It doesn’t help, but it’s not enough to keep you from showing up on those phrases which you should be high on. You’re probably running up against a few things:

    1. You just put that page on viemu up recently right? Google doesn’t index nearly as fast as it used to so it can take weeks to get a new page in, unless…

    2. You have lots of inbound links like blogs do, but that new page you put up doesn’t. You might already have this fixed if people have blogged about that page and linked to it. Unfortunately the JOS forums won’t help you there, because he has it setup for the search robots to not follow links found there.

    Really you should focus 100% on building some inbound links to the site in general and that specific page where possible. That will help you the most. It’s really not to hard, just try and spend some time each day doing comments on blogs, forums, etc and try and build up your links. along the way you’ll pick up some people who blog about you on their own and before you know it you’ll have a bunch of links.

    I also wrote up an article on SEO a while back which might be helpful.

    http://www.userscape.com/blog/2005/03/24/search-engine-optimization/

  4. J Says:

    Thanks for the link, I skimmed over your article it and it looks good, will give it a good read.

    On the other hand, I’m not expecting (yet) for the page to appear in a search for “vi emulation”, but I’m definitely thinking that “vi emulation visual studio” should bring it first page. Conceded, I’m a newbie to SEO and I may be blatantly wrong. Anyway, I don’t (want to) believe so. Why? Because the search phrase I’m after right now is very, very specific, and the current results for the phrase are either hardly related, appearing on low-pagerank pages, or several years old.

    It was not, say, in page 3 or 4 of the results, but even nowhere to be seen after 20 pages! Weirdly, earlier today it was #13 (page two) for “visual emulation vi studio”, which nobody in their right mind would search for.

    It seems it is working better just in the few hours since I wrote the post - it is now #36 (page 4) for the “visual studio vi emulation” phrase, and that seems much better. And I’ve checked, and googlebot hasn’t crawled the site yet. Now I have some plans for worthly inbound links :)

  5. JD Says:

    Just like Eric linked to you, get Joel to link to you. [I would guess some easy to read Unicode article might do the trick.]

    My PR went from 5 to 6 after Joel linked to me. I have heard that getting PR 5 is not that difficult but moving it

  6. J Says:

    JD, I have PR 5 on the blog and 4 on the main page. I’ll be looking for some links, but I’ll better focus on actually “making it happen” by creating interesting stuff.

    Anyway, I’ve thought about it and the whole post I did above is pretty stupid. I plan on blogging about it tomorrow, as soon as I have a while.

    PR 6, cool. I like your stuff about “10 types of people in the world” :)

  7. JD Says:

    My previous comment got cut off. Anyway..

    Yes, you are correct that creating interesting stuff is the best way to get people to link to you. I would guess that if you write about interesting features in your editor which other editors either don’t have OR they have poor implementation, that should get people to link to you. [I know, I will.]

    BTW, when are you planning to release beta of ngedit? Why the name ngedit?

    JD

  8. J Says:

    JD, the name comes from “Next Generation Editing”. I hope to make the program worthy of the name :)

    I don’t want to do beta until myself alpha-testing it have ironed out everything. Once I’m happy with it, I will be starting some external beta testing. Both bug reports and suggestions help improve the product a lot, as has happened with ViEmu.

  9. The growing pains of NGEDIT » Blog Archive » Focusing my development effort Says:

    […] Long time readers of my blog already know about my tendency to get carried away with stuff. I’ve got carried away with something in the past, just to have to retract the following day. The second post mostly deals with this tendency to get carried away. To sum up: I don’t think the lesson I need to learn is “constrain myself more”, as that takes away a lot of the energy as well - “learn to acknowledge my mistakes happily and as early as possible” seems a much more valuable lesson for me. And that applies in many other fields. […]

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