Google Search Console now lets you group your sites together with property sets

One of the most asked-for Google Search Console feature requests is now live. It is new features of google search analytics and is called property sets and lets you group things together for Search Analytics reporting.

google-search-console

Recently Google announced that, now you can group together multiple properties within the Google Search Console, so you can get aggregate data in the Search Analytics reports.

The main purpose of this is, because Google Search Console has always reported Search Analytics data — such as impressions, clicks and CTR — on a property-by-property basis. And since each property had to be added individually — such as the HTTP vs. HTTPS version of your site or the WWW vs. the non-WWW version, your apps and so on — there was no quick way to get a snapshot of the whole site in one report.

With Google Search Console Sets, you can now create sets of and then see all the Search Analytics data for that one set in one single report.

Google wrote:

Mobile app, mobile website, desktop website — how do you track their combined visibility in search? Until now, you’ve had to track all of these statistics separately. Search Console is introducing the concept of “property sets,” which let you combine multiple properties (both apps and sites) into a single group to monitor the overall clicks and impressions in search within a single report.

To create sets, just log in to Google Search Console and click the “create a set” button at the top right. Then you will be given this dialog to choose a set name and the properties you want to add to it:

google-set

When you group the set, it will display in your overview section as a “property set.” Here is a screen shot:

google-sets

For now, this will only lump together the Search Analytics report. Do Keep in mind, you probably do want to spend time not just looking at your sets but also individual properties to properly debug issues and do more detailed reporting. But this is a feature request that many many webmasters and publishers have been asking for, for a long time.

CSS4 – The Next RELEASE

CSS 3 is slowly still making its way onto the web world, but the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the known governing body that oversees the development of web standards, is already plotting the future of CSS with new launch of CSS 4. The W3C recently released the first draft of CSS 4, adding dozens of new rules to make web developers’ lives easier. The Internet is constantly evolving and changing continuously — it’s so hard to believe rickrolling is six years old, Internet Explorer 6 is twelve years old, Bootstrap is releasing their 4th version and CSS is nearing the public release of version 4.

The CSS 4 spec is completely brand new and no web browser actually supports any of these rules yet, but if you’re curious what the next few years will mean for CSS, the first draft offers a sneak peek at what’s in store for web developers.

css4

What’s new in CSS4?

The biggest news in the current draft of CSS 4 is support for the much-requested parent or “subject” selector. In CSS, rules are typically applied to the innermost selected element. That is, given the chain body header h1, the actual CSS rule will be applied to the h1 element at the end of the chain. CSS 3 offers no way to, say, style the header tag but only if it has an h1 child element. CSS 4 changes that. So what’s new in CSS4? we’ve taken a look through the entire CSS4 spec, hand-picking the best parts. Here are just a few of them.

 

New and OLD Properties
With the advent of CSS4, some old properties have been reintroduced and some have been given to the world for the very first time.

Among the resurrected properties are text-decoration: blink, text-decoration: marquee, font-style: wordart, and font-family: “Comic Sans MS”, which are designed to bring typography up to the standards set by the Gutenburg press of the thirteenth century.

The newer properties include retina: true (which automatically enhances your images, CSI:Miami-style), background-music: muzak (which gives your eCommerce sites a true shopfront feeling), and -webkit-typos: false (which utilises iOS’ hyper-accurate spellchecking software to automatically fix typos in YouTube comments).

 

Controlling Elements
CSS 4 includes a means of controlling which element in the selection chain is actually being styled. The easiest way to understand the “subject” selector is by example. Say you want to style a list (ul), but only when the user has clicked on an item in the list. You add a class “clicked” to the item (ul li.clicked) when the user clicks on it, but how do you style the whole list from that class?

With the subject selector it’s simple:
$ul li.clicked {
background: white;
}

The “$” means that the rule is applied to the ul, rather than the li.clicked as it normally would.

The dollar sign may not end up being the subject indicator and the exact syntax will likely change before the spec is finalized. But regardless of the way it ends up being implemented, the subject selector opens up a whole new realm of CSS possibilities.

Other highlights in CSS 4 include some new pseudo selectors like the :matches() pseudo-class which greatly simplifies the process of writing complex, nested CSS. For example, you could write:

:matches(section, article, aside, nav) h1 {
font-size: 3em;
}

The :matches() syntax eliminates the need to write out section h1, article h1 and so on. It’s handy for even simple nestings like the example above, but it becomes really powerful when you’re selecting elements that are two or three levels deep. For more info on :matches(), check out our earlier write-up on Mozilla’s :any() selector, which is the basis for :matches().

 

Presponsive Layout
Responsive design is undoubtedly has turned the big thing of 2013. With @media queries, it’s never been easier to adapt your site for multiple devices and screen sizes, giving your user a better experience. The only real obstacle left in the responsive way is page loads: connection speeds are still worryingly slow for a large proportion of visitors, and the W3C are aware of that. That’s why there’s a proposal for presponsive design, which would let you apply preload states for slower connections.

Of course, this technology doesn’t come cheap. You’ll need a fancy new flux processor chip, which only comes with the latest fibre-optic connections.

@media (flux-capacitor: true) {
88mph {
body { background: url(‘loading.gif’); }
}
}

 

Cascading Scriptsheets
This feature was actually introduced by Internet Explorer under the term behavior. If you’ve ever used a PNG fix, you’ve used this before. It’s incredibly useful for enhancing interaction like never before, and it’s helping to bridge the gap and feud between JavaScript and CSS developers. It uses unobtrusive, function-style syntax, and looks like this:

*:hover {
script: script(alert(‘hello world’));
}

Here’s the equivalent in JavaScript:
var doc = document;
var star = doc.all;

window.hello_world = function(message) {
message = message || ‘hello world’;
alert(message);
}

for(var i = 0; i < star.length; i++) {
if(star[i] && star[i].nodeName) {
star[i].onmouseover = function() {
if(window.hello_world) {
hello_world();
}
}
}
}

 

Proper Email Styling Support
CSS is overrated anyway – W3C.  Yes, you did just read that right. The W3C are working with a range of email providers to give you a consistent, modern approach to styling and authoring HTML emails. This could mean we can finally start using semantic <article>, <section>, and even <div> tags, stop using inline stylesheets, and finally move to a centralised, external stylesheet system — really get things up to date with the rest of the web.

However, they all agreed that “tables were alright”, quoting that “CSS is overrated anyway”, so nothing’s changed. Ah well.

 

Server-side Stylesheets (CLISS)
If you’ve ever had to work in a command-line interface before, you’ll notice that it’s a bit – well, boring – to look at. The CSS4 spec attempts to amend this by introducing the CLISS module. CLISS stands for Command-Line Interface Styling Scriptsheets, and it follows a very similar syntax to the CSS we’re used to working on with websites, but can now be used to make your Terminal a little bit brighter. Currently, there’s support for the Unix, OS X and Windows command-line applications, provided an optional module is installed. Unlike existing styling options within the application, CLISS allows the entire CSS property set, allowing full customization. Right now, the selector stack is very limited (terminal, line, and error), but there’s a lot more in the works.

The syntax looks like this:

terminal {
background: url(“puppies.gif”);
color: #f0f;
transform: rotate(-90deg);
}
terminal error {
display: none; /* Never write bad code again */
}

 

PARENT SELECTOR! LINK
This is the long-awaited Swiss Army knife, the holy grail of CSS. It is the most discussed aspect of the Selectors Level 4 specification, and it gives you a lot more power with CSS. Thanks to the parent selector (also referred to as the subject of the selector), you can easily style elements other than the default last ones in a selectors list. This can be super-useful when styling generated menus, and you avoid having to add classes for styling purposes only.

Let’s see it in action with the most basic example. Suppose we have a menu, a simple list of links. We want to be able to style it, but the PHP on the server is generating the menu, so we can’t change it. The problem arises when we want to style the li element based on the active class added to the anchor; we can style a using a.active {}, but we can’t get to the li element. The easiest thing to do would be to add the active class to the list element, not to the link itself — like so: ul li.active a — so that we can style both the list and the anchor if needed. The problem is that the menu is generated by a script over which we don’t have control, so we end up with ul li a.active.

In the normal structure of a CSS document, we always refer to the last item in the selectors list. In ul li a.active, that would be the link with the active class; in article p span, it would be the span; and so on. Thanks to the parent selector, we can change the subject of the used selector. This gives us incredible power and flexibility when styling:

ul li! a.active {
color: red;
}

Now we can style the li element according to whether the active class has been added to the link. When we add the parent selector, we are saying that we want to style the li element instead of a.active.
We can also manipulate the background color of the whole page just by adding a simple link somewhere in the document:

body! header a.styleSwitcher:hover {
background: red;
}

This applies a red background to the body of the document whenever the user hovers over an anchor with the styleSwitcher class. To do this without the parent selector, you’d have to add custom classes in JavaScript. It’s not impossible, but the native one line in the CSS is definitely the best solution for this.

Note: The first draft of the specification document (dated 29 September 2011) targets the parent selector with a dollar sign before the given selector ($li). The latest draft (22 June 2012) uses new syntax in which the subject of the selector is indicated by an exclamation mark after the given selector (li!). Of course, this could change (it’s just a draft), so don’t forget about it. What matters is that the parent selector will be implemented sooner or later, and the exact syntax is just a matter of preference. It doesn’t matter to me what it looks like, as long as it works properly in the browser.

 

What Are Selectors?
The specification explains selectors as patterns that match against elements in a tree. Most of the selectors from the Level 4 specification are pseudo-classes. Selectors have been with us since the beginning of CSS, but now they are at the fourth level and have gotten a lot of cool new additions. Let’s jump into the action and see what’s interesting. I won’t describe the entire document — only the new additions in Level 4.

LOGICAL COMBINATORS: :MATCHES, :NOT
Let’s start with logical pseudo-classes. The first, :matches, some of you might already know from Mozilla’s :-moz-any(), which was implemented a long time ago in Firefox 4. Thanks to this selector, we can group and match items in our CSS document. Why is it so useful? Well, the most basic use I can think of is to gather multiple definitions of anchor states into one. So, instead of this…
ul.menu li a:link,
ul.menu li a:hover,
ul.menu li a:visited,
ul.menu li a:focus {
color: red;
}
… we can just do this:
ul.menu li a:matches(:link, :hover, :visited, :focus) {
color: red;
}
Simple, right? Although this example might look silly, it shows the power of the :matches pseudo-class, and it can be used in more complicated situations:
article:matches(.active, .visible, #important) {
background: red;
}
The second logical combinator we’ll look at was introduced in the CSS3 specification, but it became even more powerful in Level 4. I’m talking about :not, the simple negation pseudo-class, which now can take a list of selectors as parameters:
p:not(.active, .visible) {
color: red;
}
The code above will apply red to all paragraphs to which the active or visible class are not assigned in the markup.

 

LOCATION PSEUDO-CLASSES: :ANY-LINK, :LOCAL-LINK
Thanks to the location pseudo-classes, we will have more control over the styling of links. First, :any-link (a temporary name that could change) gathers definitions of a:link and a:visited into one, so you don’t have to write them both:
a:link,
a:visited {
color: red;
}
Now, it won’t matter whether a link has been visited or not. It will be styled the same either way:
a:any-link {
color: red;
}
Our second pseudo-class, :local-link, is way more interesting. You could, for example, give a different style to the links that target your home page, leaving all others untouched:
nav :local-link {
text-decoration: none;
}
Thanks to this line of CSS, links pointing to the current page will not have the text-decoration style, so they’ll look different than the others in the menu or breadcrumb.
Let’s see another example:
:not(:local-link(0)) {
color: red;
}
This style will apply red to all external links. (You could add, say, an icon or background image to them if you’d like.)
As you can see in this last example, :local-link can be used with a parameter. The number in the parentheses determines the level of the URL path that will be checked and matched against every given link. Sounds a little complicated, but an example should clarify:
nav :local-link(0) {
color: red;
}
nav :local-link(1) {
color: green;
}
nav :local-link(2) {
color: blue;
}
nav :local-link(3) {
color: yellow;
}
nav :local-link(4) {
color: gray;
}
Suppose the current address is http://end3r.com/2012/10/20/some-title/, and you have these links in the breadcrumb:
Home
http://end3r.com/
2012
http://end3r.com/2012/
October 2012
http://end3r.com/2012/10/
20 October 2012
http://end3r.com/2012/10/20/
Article
http://end3r.com/2012/10/20/some-title/
The first link will be red, the second green, the third blue, then yellow, then gray.

 

TIME-DIMENSIONAL PSEUDO-CLASSES: :PAST, :CURRENT, :FUTURE LINK
This pseudo-classes is very handy for users of screen readers. With only one line of CSS, the word being spoken can be given a different style (think karaoke-style):
p:current {
background: yellow;
}
This will highlight the word being spoken in yellow.
The second use case is styling subtitles for the WebVTT video format, changing their color and other properties. The :past and :future pseudo-classes refer, respectively, to elements that have been selected and ones that will be selected.

 

UI STATE PSEUDO-CLASS: :INDETERMINATE
While the UI elements of online forms can be given many interesting pseudo-classes, such as :enabled, :disabled or :checked, one is quite new: :indeterminate. As you may know, checkboxes and radio buttons have two states, either checked or unchecked. Either state can be enabled using the :checked pseudo-class (and :not(:checked) for unchecked). But what if you want to style inputs that haven’t been used? They’re neither checked nor unchecked, so their state is indeterminate. Easy, right? We can give nice styles to these inputs that haven’t been used yet or for which a default state hasn’t been set:
input.checkbox:indeterminate {
background: #ccc;
}
Similarly, a progress bar could be given an indeterminate state when its percentage of completion is unknown:
progress:indeterminate {
background: #ccc;
}
In this situation, we can target the default state and style it to indicate to the user that the time left to load a resource can’t be determined.

TREE-STRUCTURAL PSEUDO-CLASSES: :NTH-MATCH, :NTH-LAST-MATCH
Tree-structural pseudo-classes are also new and interesting in the Selectors Level 4 specification. With the help of :nth-match, you can now achieve more than ever. Curious how it works? Well, if you take the :nth-child pseudo-class, which selects an item, and combine it with the power of :matches, you’ve got the answer.
Suppose you have a list of links, some of which have the class active, and you want to select only the even-numbered items from the active links. We could use :nth-child(even) to select all of the even-numbered children in the list, but that’s not what we want, because then we wouldn’t be accounting for the active class. Nor is :matches(.active) sufficient, because then we’d be targeting all elements with the class active. This is where :nth-match comes in:
li a:nth-match(even of .active) {
color: red;
}
Thanks to this one line, we can finally select only the even-numbered items from among those that have the active class.
This is just a simple example. We can achieve a lot more using the complex syntax An+B, like so:
p:nth-match(2n+1 of .active, .visible, #important) {
color: red;
}
This combination of selectors we want to match here is more complicated. The :nth-last-match works exactly the same as :nth-match but starts matching from the end of the DOM structure.
GRID-STRUCTURAL PSEUDO-CLASSES: :COLUMN, :NTH-COLUMN, :NTH-LAST-COLUMN LINK
Let’s apply some pseudo-classes to tabular data. We all know that tables are bad for layouts but good for data that warrants it. An HTML table is row-oriented (<tr>), so columns are missing out. Creating a column-based table is possible, but then you’d be missing rows because you can’t have both at the same time, and row-based tables are more popular. Being able to use CSS to style the columns in a table that is row-based and created in the DOM would be useful when you want to, say, alternate background colors. Of course, we could use additional classes or markup; but with a little help from Selectors Level 4, we can do it with grid-structural pseudo-classes.
:column(.total) {
background: red;
}

:nth-column(even) {
background: blue;
}
This will set red as the background color of every cell in the .total column, and blue for every even-numbered column in the table.
Now we can select columns just like rows, and even get crazy with something like :nth-column(3n+2). Just remember that columns are styled based on their order in the DOM structure, not how they are displayed on the page. Of course, a table isn’t the only thing that benefits from grid-structural pseudo-classes: column-based layouts are on the way.

Conclusion
It’s a great time to be working on the web right now, and it’s getting better and better; evolving from strength to strength, enabling people from around the world to connect and make great things like this.

Li-Fi, a technology 100 times faster than Wi-Fi

In future the world might eventually  shift its reliance on Wi-Fi to Li-Fi, an alternative invented technology, that scientists say and believe can reach a speeds of 1 Gbps in real-world use — which is 100 times faster than average Wi-Fi speeds.  At those speeds, one can download a high-definition movie in just a few seconds.

li-fi

A company called Velmenni told the IBTimes UK that it took the technology out of the labs and into real-world offices and industrial environments in Estonia, where it was able to achieve those speeds. Li-Fi transmits data using LED lights, which flicker on and off within nanoseconds, imperceptible to the human eye. It was invented in 2011, and in the lab, has been able to reach a mindblowing 224 Gbps.

Unlike Wi-Fi signals which can penetrate walls, Li-Fi is based on light and can’t, so its range is theoretically more limited. However, because of that limit, Li-Fi is also potentially more secure from external sniffing. Li-Fi also opens more possibilities for smart home appliances. In the future, LED lightbulbs for the home could serve two functions — lighting up a room and helping to create a network in the house for devices to talk to each other.

Besides Velmenni, several companies have already sprung up to bring Li-Fi to customers, like Oledcomm and pureLiFi, the latter established by Li-Fi’s inventor himself, Harald Haas. Both companies offer kits to early adopters to install Li-Fi networks in the office and home, and pureLiFi claims speeds of 10 Mbps with his current offering.

Watch Haas talking about the technology in 2011:

UX and SEO

The first and foremost goal of all doing SEO endeavors is to attract visitors to your website. Yet all the traffic in the world won’t help you if your site is failing at conversions. The heart of any site’s ability to turn a visitor into a customer lies in the overall UX. UX is crucial aspect of SEO and Google has even been quoted as saying its “goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience.” It’s the secret to its own behemoth success, and it’s the biggest factor! of current technology requirement.

ux-SEO

For your site to meet the expectations of all, it must and should provide a unique and enjoyable encounter for its visitors, that is highly intuitive and easy to navigate. Yes, the keywords, images, meta tags, and so forth are still absolutely critical, but must also infuse elements that provide a second-to-none user experience. There is no one-size-fits-all usability solution, however; to nail this, it need to know that the audience you are serving.

Here are the basic rules to help you coalesce a powerful UX with your thoughtfully crafted SEO blueprint.

  1. Establish Your Goals
  2. UX and Website Design
  3. Engage and Inspire
  4. Measuring UX

1. Establish Your Goals
Before any progress can be made on site design and UX, SEOs and Web designers must come to an agreement on what the goals of the website are. This will help push forward the ideas for design, content marketing strategies, and overall success.

Create buyer personas that will to help guide the questions and decisions that will be confronted in order to develop a premier UX. If there is ever a disagreement, simply refer back to the buyer persona outlines and ask a few key questions about the decision you’re making:

  • What goal does this help to attain?
  • Is this the best route to achieving this goal?
  • Will the user enjoy this feature?
  • How will this affect the visitor’s decision-making process?
  • Will this drive conversions?

2. UX and Website Design
The very foundation of a great UX is a great website design. Major sites like Amazon, Zappos.com and such other sites are constantly redesigning and testing various elements to their sites for peak UX and, therefore, peak conversion rates can be noted. By doing this, sites like these are directly responding to consumer habits. When weak areas of the experience are identified, changes are made and tested. If folks are abandoning the process or bouncing off the site, you need to find these discrepancies, test alternatives, and get the process ironed out.

If your site is unattractive, difficult to navigate, or cluttered, you should most certainly consider a redesign. Your metrics aren’t lying to you; plug these holes or you will keep sinking.

To gain a clear understanding of which areas of your site are less than desirable, ask friends, family, employees and customers for their feedback on which portions of the site they found problematic. Additionally, websites like User Testing can provide an unbiased view of how visitors perceive your site.

3. Engage and Inspire
By now, you should understand the massive benefits that blogging puts forth toward SEO. Not a blog here or there, however, but a full-fledged content marketing effort. But there is one largely underutilized facet of this tactic that many businesses aren’t taking advantage of; the opportunity to engage with your visitors.

UX isn’t just about the design of the site, it’s also about making connections with people. By posting content on a regular basis, you open up an awesome opportunity to engage your following in a meaningful way. Answer questions, respond directly to comments, and add additional value by discussing current trends in your industry. This demonstrates that you have some serious knowledge about your niche. Don’t just start the conversation; continue to engage with those who chime in, and brand loyalty will start to quickly emerge.

4. Measuring UX
Your first indicator of unsuccessful UX is bounce rates; if you are experiencing a high level of bounces, try to determine why. What page is leading to the highest numbers? Figure out what it is about these sections that is turning off visitors. If it’s a straight up mystery, ask them. Place a one question poll on the offending page and ask about prices, content, site experience; whatever you suspect might be the culprit. Your audience always has the answers.

Your second clue is the granddaddy of all metrics: Conversion rates. If you are not seeing the volume of conversions that you aim to produce, establish why this is. Does your site guide visitors through the conversion funnel? Are there clear and prominent calls-to-action on each page? What is it that you want your visitors to do next after arriving on a particular page; and is that clear to visitors as well? You essentially want to hold your customer’s hand through the site experience. Don’t make them think; make it obvious where to go next.
Much like SEO itself, UX is a constantly evolving and improving process. Never allow your site to become sedentary; always seek out new ways to innovate and improve. Conduct A/B tests to see if different versions produce superior results. Send out surveys to your audience to find out what they would like to see. It is imperative to generate the most outstanding user experience you can possibly muster; UX is the cornerstone of SEO success.

How have you recently improved your site’s user experience?