We’re happy to announce that we’re almost ready to launch version 5.0 of Analytics SEO (3 years and a month on from our very first public beta), and we’re so excited we’re going to give you a sneaky peek of the update before the launch next week. We expect this to go live on Monday subject to final testing.
I’d like to personally thank all our customers that have been with us from the very beginning and those that have joined and contributed along the journey. It’s your feedback and ideas that keep us motivated every day – thank-you all!
We’re 100% committed to delivering an SEO platform that really does transform your working lives and support you to grow your businesses. V5.0 is the next step in that direction.
We’re Upgrading – What’s new in Version 5.0?
At first glance you may not notice that many changes but they are there! However, we’ve made many more changes behind the scenes, to better prepare us for a host of great new features for v5.1 and beyond in 2013.
When we started we didn’t have the resources to build a massively scalable system on day 1. But three years on, we are closer than ever before to achieving this….although there is much more work still to do.
What can we learn from upgrades on the London Underground?
I was thinking of a good way to illustrate the kind of things we’re working on, and the difficult decisions and trade-offs we have to make about what we do and don’t do, when I saw the above poster on the London Underground. In many ways, we face similar challenges to TFL (Transport for London) when determining their investment and upgrade programme for the London Underground (albeit on a smaller scale). For example:
- We both need to cater for millions of customers^
- Our users expect our trains^ to run when we say they will
- Our users expect next to no downtime and get frustrated when services are closed (even for reasons beyond our control)
- We want to ensure everyone loves using our service
^ For comparison purposes; a customer = a site; a train = a scheduled job for each site
OK, there are major differences too. TfL is a national institution and a problem with the London Underground makes the news. Unlike TfL, our staff do not seem to get too hassled or threatened at work; which unfortunately seems to be an occupational hazard at TfL. Health & Safety is not such a big issue for us – we just keep tabs on our backlink profile from time to time!
Comparing our platform to the London Underground may not be the most obvious comparator, but bear with me. We’ve got over 20,000 sites on the platform which we analyse daily. Each site has hundreds of associated jobs that need to run on schedule every (daily or weekly) – these are our trains. We need to keep them running as fast as possible.
Just like TFL (Transport for London) we have to juggle competing priorities with limited resources (and our budget is considerably smaller than the £Bn budget TfL has every year). There’s essential maintenance, major infrastructure projects, capital investments in operational items (new carriages, air conditioning – wouldn’t that be nice?) and operational expenditure (seating, cleaning, etc) that all need to be prioritised.
As users of the service, we’d all like shiny new trains, a/c and free Wi-Fi (or in our case lots of new features); but sometimes these investments need to be made on top of a much more solid infrastructure.
In 2012, with more and more sites being added to the platform we have had to make a whole series of infrastructure changes to help us scale the platform for future growth. Some of these changes are not very glamorous or even apparent to our users, e.g. Back-end Database configuration changes or Server upgrades. But they are all important and by making them now we’re laying the foundations for a much brighter, faster future.
Today, we’re pleased to be launching what we’re calling Analytics SEO V5.0. There are two main objectives with this launch:
1. Make the pages much, much faster to load
2. Make the system less overwhelming for new users
Just like TfL we cannot possibly roll-out all the new things all at once. Apart from anything else this can be confusing for existing users that have developed a good cognitive map of the system’s navigation.
So we’re not making all the User Interface changes we plan to make right now. We’re not changing the design elements now; the fonts, colour scheme and main drop down navigation are all staying. However, we do have plans to make further changes in Q1 next year.
In the example mock-up below you can see (hopefully!) that we’re attempting to streamline the interface, remove clutter and unnecessary information and use techniques like progressive disclosure to make the interface as simple, fast and functional as possible. Most importantly this helps you to get your tasks done as quickly as possible.
We’ll also be taking a few things away. As with train companies, sometimes services that are not used very much need to be withdrawn to make way for better features for everyone else. So in this release we are also going to be retiring a few old, redundant components that don’t add much value but take up a lot of space.
Keywords in Domain – This was not actionable and so it has been removed
Domain Age – you can still see this information in the Competitive Site Audit tab
Alexa Rank – you can still see this information in the Competitive Site Audit tab
Page Rank – you can still see this information in the Competitive Site Audit tab
What’s New in V5.0?
Single Item per Page
This is the biggest change we’ve made both behind the scenes and in the UI.
Previously, when you clicked on a tab we loaded all the components on a tab even if you only wanted to look at one thing. Whilst this had a few advantages (like being able to scroll down the page and look at everything in one view), this caused many more disadvantages such as slow performance (hundreds of database queries + a large HTML page = slow performance and high memory usage) and overloading users with data.
1. New Tab Names & Structure
2. New Menu Order
3. Next/Previous links (because of new Single Component views)
From now on, when you select a component from the dropdown menu we will only load that component. In tests this has been much, much faster. We’ll post an update (post-launch) on the speed changes we’ve noticed from this end, but please let us know what you think. It’s essential that we get this right for you.
We’ve changed what we call the Main Tabs and the Navigation (changes to the Information Architecture & Naming Conventions)
We ran a card-sorting research exercise earlier this year and it was clear that our naming conventions were confusing for new users and that the ‘Keyword Research’ and ‘Keyword Ranking’ section were hard to find. We’ve changed our IA to better reflect how the majority of users describe each activity. We hope this makes better sense.
Dashboard – This Site
Highlight the most important parts of my SEO campaigns for my sites so that I can quickly get to what matters most.
Dashboard – All Sites
Competitors & Keywords
Analyse the market I am competing in to assess my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and identify the right keywords for me to target.
Identify and monitor the technical issues that might hinder my SEO campaigns.
Help me optimise my pages for the right keywords.
Help me build the right links and relationships for the right pages.
Show me whether what I am doing is working and suggest corrective action.
Tasks – This Site
Keep track of the tasks and deadlines for a specific site and campaign.
Tasks – All Sites
Keep track of what the team needs to do across all our sites and campaigns.
Important System Functions and Favourite areas
NB: For technical reasons, we have changed ‘Competitive Position’ to ‘Competitors & Keywords’ but it is our intention in a subsequent release to split ‘Competitive Position’ into two separate tabs; ‘Competitors’ and ‘Keywords’.
New Quicklinks Menu
We changed this to include what users were having most trouble finding in the system:
Persistent Site & Campaign Dropdown Selectors
You can now change Site and Campaign from anywhere in the system. This was not possible before on ‘Task’ pages as not all tasks existed for all sites. In 99% of cases this will now allow you to switch site from within a task page without going backwards and forwards in the app to select another site. (I know how much this used to annoy me when doing keyword research across lots of sites).
In the unlikely event the task does not exist for the new site and campaign, then when you switch to another site you will be switched to the Dashboard section for the new site if the task does not exist. This should only happen now for ‘Custom Tasks’ that only exist for one site.
New ‘Tasks > All Sites’ tab on the Tasks (formerly Workload) section
We’ve made this tab consistent with the Dashboards > All Sites tab. So that you can quickly see all the tasks you have for the particular site you are interested in; or you can switch to the new ‘Tasks > All Sites’ tab and see all your tasks, users and deadlines across all sites.
Previously, the old ‘Workload’ table contained tasks for all your sites and campaigns; and whilst you could filter to the individual site you were interested in, it still slowed you down as you had to load hundreds (even thousands) of tasks for sites you were not interested in.
Summary of V5.0
These are the major UI updates were rolling out now. There is much more to come. But please do give us your view. Do you like the changes? Is it much faster? What else could we improve?
Product Roadmap Plans for V5.1 & Beyond
Clearly, for commercial reasons, we cannot publicise too much of what we plan to do next.
Suffice to say, there will be another major update in the last week before Christmas.
This will be an enhancement to our Link Building tools.
Social media will be coming in Q1 2013.
There will of course be many minor feature updates and improvements in between.
What would you like to see? Have your say?
By: Laurie OToole