To be clear, I’m excited about Wolfram|Alpha and its potential as a game changer for the internet and the search industry. WolframAlpha.com is a fun concept, and I think it will catch on over time. I laughed when I typed in hello, and it responded with Hello, human.
Despite the fact that I really like this website, I still have to call them out for one thing: a network timeout when users don’t type in the www for wolframalpha.com. If you directly navigate by typing in www.wolframalpha.com, the site loads correctly. However, if you simply type in wolframalpha.com, you get a network timeout error:
The SamSpade header status checker reports a Socket Error when trying to retrieve http://wolframalpha.com:
I see this error a lot for retail websites. Most marketers are typically unaware of this error because they are more concerned with search and display links malfunctioning. But what if people direct navigate to your site and see a network timeout screen? It’s terrible for user experience. It confuses customers. From an SEO standpoint it’s awful because the non-www version of your homepage usually has a ton of links and a relatively high Google PageRank. The worst part is that this error is typically caused because some box didn’t get checked or unchecked in the server settings. It’s a damn shame is what it is. It’s like you are throwing away all of those inbound links and some direct navigation traffic. This type of thing makes me sad, so go forth and make sure it’s not happening on your site!
UPDATE: A few minutes after this post was published, the error was resolved. Coincidence? Definitely. I mean, seriously, who reads this blogs anyways?