SEO Fail: WolframAlpha.com Not Loading without WWW

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.

Wolfram|Alpha: Hello, human.
Wolfram|Alpha: 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:

Wolfram|Alpha: Network Timeout Error
Wolfram|Alpha: Network Timeout Error

The SamSpade header status checker reports a Socket Error when trying to retrieve http://wolframalpha.com:

SamSpade returns a Socket Error for http://wolframalpha.com
SamSpade returns a Socket Error for 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?

The Wolfram Alpha Search Engine, an Internet Revolution for the Next Generation

Wolfram Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine
Wolfram Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine

You may not know this, but Wolfram|Alpha is launching in May 2009. What is Wolfram|Alpha? For starters, it’s a new software that will give tailored answers to specific questions. In the grand scheme of things, WolframAlpha is predicted to revolutionize the internet and how we search for stuff.

From an SEO standpoint, the site already has a PageRank 7. When was the last time you saw a PR7 site that had not even launched? Yahoo is currently reporting 12,000+ backlinks. PR7 is pretty surprising until you realize that WolframApha.com has an awesome link distribution from many sites with PR6 and up. Also, if you go to StephanWolfram.com, you’ll notice his site has been live since 1995. It’s also a PR7. This guy doesn’t even need our links, and I’m definitely not the first one to report on this website. That’s for sure!

Dr. Stephan Wolfram of Wolfram Research
Dr. Stephan Wolfram of Wolfram Research

WolframAlpha was developed by US-based physicist, Stephen Wolfram and his company Wolfram Research. [Note: The Wolfram Research site looks like it is full of amazing stuff. To me, the company looks like it is straight out of LOST, the TV show. There is just something magical about the stuff on that site, and I really don’t know why I think that. Maybe I’m just enamored by physics and math.] WolframAlpha will only provide answers to questions that have factual answers. I suppose if you asked it “Why are we here?” – you might not get an answer. But if you asked it “How far is it from Earth to Mars?” – WolframAlpha will likely have an answer for you. And what’s even cooler is that for some questions, the engine will graphs and charts to provide visuals. For people who like pictures and graphs, it’s going to be awesome!

Furthermore, it sounds like these guys hate Wikipedia and all the mis-information on the Wikipedia site. With WolframAlpha, information is first looked over by a team of experts. The entire system is based on the Mathematica software, software that apparently holds the key to life, love and the universe. But I jest. Stephen Wolfram knows what he is doing. The guy has a PhD in Particle Physics! I’m not going to doubt him. But if he turns out to be Richard Alpert, Charles Widmore or Benjamin Linus, and his “team of experts” are the Others, well, I’m going to be pissed. Okay. I am finished with the LOST references.

For more on Wolfram|Alpha:
http://www.wolfram.com/
http://www.wolframalpha.com/
http://www.stephenwolfram.com/