Elementary SEO: All about robots.txt

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SEO is about making your pages rank higher on search results. But there are certain pages on your website which you don’t want users to arrive at from search results. The robots.txt file is used to exclude such pages from showing up in search results.

Search engines use bots or robots to crawl websites and learn about them, so that they’ll know which websites should show up for a particular keyword. Whenever such bots arrive at a website, the first thing they look for is the robots.txt file, because it contains instructions from the website’s owner. Now, there are good bots and bad bots. The bad ones especially, like the malware bots that are on the lookout for security vulnerabilities, pay no attention to the robots.txt file.

What is the role of robots.txt?

It contains two important information. Which bots are allowed to crawl this website, and which pages on this site should not be crawled.

How to create a robots.txt?

It can be created using any text-editor. The name of this file is case-sensitive, so it should be lower-case only. The robots.txt file should be put in the root folder of your website, along with the index or welcome page, so that the path of this file always is, www.yourdomainname.com/robots.txt .

It usually has two commands. User-agent is to specify the bot to which the following instructions apply. Disallow specifies the pages which are restricted.

A simple example of a robots.txt file is as below.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

So, in the example above, the “*” beside User-agent says, the following commands apply to every kind of bot that lands on this site.
The “/” beside Disallow, represents all sub-directories in the root folder are restricted to bots. That means, no page inside the root folder should be crawled, by any bot.

Here are a few examples. To permit select bots, and keep the rest out,

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

To restrict select directories on a website from being crawled, the commands would be,

User-agent: *
Disallow: /directory/

To block files of a specific type,

User-agent: Googlebot

Disallow: /*.gif$

To block a particular directory, and everything in it,

User-agent: Googlebot-Image

Disallow: /images/dogs.jpg

Alternate method – META TAG:
You can also include a robots <meta> in the header of every page on your site. The syntax is,

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, FOLLOW”>
<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”INDEX, NOFOLLOW”>

The FOLLOW / NOFOLLOW attribute is for the links on that page. If it is NOFOLLOW, then bots should not be following any links on that page. If no meta tag is included, then it implies INDEX and FOLLOW, so there is no need to explicitly mention this.

As with Zoho Sites, you can access the crawler specification in the SEO settings page.

The commands entered here will automatically be saved in the robots.txt file of your website, and can be accessed at www.yourdomainname.com/robots.txt .

Zoho Office Integrates with Google Drive

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Recently we have seen our friends at Google open up their SDK for Google Drive letting third parties integrate their apps into Google Drive. We excitedly pounced on it and we are now thrilled to announce that Zoho Office is now integrated with Google Drive.

What does this mean? To start with, Google users can now open their documents using Zoho’s Writer, Sheet & Show – our word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications. Of course, this integration is not just for viewing your files using Zoho’s apps, but you can also edit your documents and save them back to Google Drive. Better yet, you can also create new documents using Zoho’s editors and save those documents in Google Drive…all without needing to create a Zoho account.

But wait…it gets better. You can even collaboratively work on documents with other Google users, inside the Zoho editors. As all your documents are saved in Google Drive, you have the inherent advantages of Google Drive where your files are automatically synchronized between your various devices.

Taking advantage of all this goodness is actually pretty straightforward. Users just need to install Zoho apps from the Google Chrome Webstore.

Once installed, get over to your Google Drive and click on “Manage Apps” in Google Drive settings menu and check the box next to “Make [App Name] the default for files it can open”. This enables users to access Zoho apps with just a click from Google Drive. In the contextual menu of each document, users will see options to open the document with the respective Zoho editors. Of course, if you prefer to use Google’s editors, that is also possible. Just that you have an additional option with this integration.

If you are trying to create a new document in Google Drive, choose ‘New’ option and you’ll find Zoho Apps under the ‘More’ option. You can edit an existing document by just right clicking on it and choosing the Zoho app.

When you save, the modified document will be saved in Google Drive as a new document, thereby leaving the original document untouched. This new document comes with extensions recognized by Zoho’s apps. For example, a text document, BusinessProposal.doc, from Google Drive, when edited in Zoho Writer and saved, will be saved as BusinessProposal.zdoc in Google Drive. Similarly the extensions for Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show are .zsheet and .zslides respectively.

Collaboration is also simple. You can invite your Google contacts to collaborate on their Google Drive documents and edit them using Zoho editors in real time.  Based on the permissions, you will be allowed to access the document for collaboration.

If you have the Google Drive app installed on the Mac or the PC, you will also be able to access Zoho documents right from the desktop.

To get started, do take a look at the presentation that explains this integration,

We hope you like this integration.  We are excited to bring our powerful Office suite to Google Drive, complementing Google’s applications. As always, we look forward to hear your feedback, questions. We are all ears!!

Update: Our friends at Google gave us an opportunity to share our technical experience about the Zoho Office – Google Drive integration in Google developer blogs. You can take a look at it to know how the integration started, what are all the technologies used behind the scenes etc.,


Just In: Read-Only Mode for Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books

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Continuing from where we left off on the Read-Only mode update for Zoho services, we are happy to announce that Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books services too are now running in read-only mode from our secondary data center in the New York metro region. You can access the services via the below mentioned URL’s.

Zoho Invoice: https://invoice-ro.zoho.com

Zoho Books : https://books-ro.zoho.com

What you’ll see here is an exact replica of your data which is stored in our secondary data center. If an unexpected outage renders the primary data center inaccessible, you’ll still be able to access the read-only mode of your account.

What you can do : Search any record you want,  run unlimited reports and also export various entities like the invoices list, estimates list, Items list etc.,

What you can’t do: As this is a read-only mode, you will not be able to add, edit or delete any record. Integration with other applications like Zoho CRM or Zoho Project is also not possible as it involves adding or modifying records.

We understand the importance of having access to your data all the time, therefore we wanted to kick in the read-only mode to our customers as soon as possible. Go ahead and bookmark (Ctrl+D) the website links and access it anytime you want.

Join Zoho on a 9 Day Cutting-Edge Tech Road Show for Small Businesses

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Small Business Technology Road Show is being organized by the Sleeter Group across 9 cities in the United States. The mission is to empower accountants and small business owners with the knowledge of the latest technology which will improve their business process workflow and boost productivity.

Leading technology companies along with Zoho will be presenting their solutions at this event. There will be sessions by accounting thought leaders and plenty of opportunities to discuss, learn, share and network with some amazing business leaders.

The road show kicks off in Tampa, Florida on 17th July, 2012. The cities covered are:

July 17th       Tampa, FL
July 18th       Atlanta, GA
July 19th       Newark, NJ
July 24th       Dallas, TX
July 25th       Chicago, IL
July 26th       Denver, CO
July 31st       Los Angeles, CA
Aug 1st         Seattle, WA
Aug 2nd        San Rafael, CA

Brainstorming sessions and drill-down workshops on:

  • Cloud solutions on the mobile
  • Online Accounting Software
  • Document management solutions
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems
  • Accountant-Client collaboration tools

Clock is ticking and the seats are few. Register quickly on the Sleeter Group’s website to enjoy a day to learn about smart solutions that’s going to change the way you do business.

Now register your custom domains with Zoho Sites

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We have made minor changes to how you select a domain for your website. We believe this will streamline the process, and make it easy for you to choose between options. And of course, it is yet another reason for you to pick our PRO Plan. PRO users can now register their custom domain with us. When a domain is registered with us, all the mapping and configuration is automatically taken care of. The domain is ready to be used soon after registration.

When you attempt to publish your website for the very first time, you’ll be prompted to choose a unique domain name. Choose from the three options as in the image below.

Free subdomain:

This is ideal for beginners to get started with. You can learn the ropes of website building with a subdomain.

Map the custom domain you already own

Choose this option if you have an existing domain that was registered elsewhere and you want it hosted with Zoho.

Register a new domain now

Choose this option if

  • you don’t have a custom domain already
  • you are a PRO user.

By registering your custom domain with Zoho, you can escape the process of domain mapping and configuration. We handle it all for you.

Whether you choose a custom domain or subdomain, there are no restrictions on your creativity to building a great website with Zoho Sites.

 

Why Mobile Websites Matter

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Couch commerce is another term that is gaining a lot of attention in recent times, just as mobile internet. Thanks to the exponential growth of smartphones and tablets, people are no longer chained to their desktops. Both, commerce and communication, are carried out on the go. Of the consumers in your locality who web-search for a commodity or a vendor, nearly 50% are likely to do so on a mobile device. And mobile web usage has been predicted to surpass desktop internet usage by 2015. That’s how fast mobile web is taking over the browsing arena. If you still don’t buy it, eBay sells 4 Ferrari cars in a month, through mobile. So, without a dedicated website to cater to mobile internet traffic, you might lose to your local counterpart who is no better than you, but was smart enough to be mobile device friendly.

Why have a separate website for mobile devices?

Why not the same one for all devices? Mobile devices have relatively smaller screens, but their users are as potential as desktop users. That means you’ve got to deliver the same convincing browsing experience, in a much limited space. Mobile websites do just that.

The regular website, with all its images would take an awful lot of time to load on a mobile device. Despite that, the horizontal scroll bar makes it hard to navigate through the pages, and requires you to zoom in for better viewing. On the contrary, mobile websites are thumb-friendly, have compressed images, are easily navigable, and load much faster. This certainly enhances the mobile web experience of users, and lets you make the most of the rising mobile web traffic.

Websites for everyone, and every device

That is one of the best thing about Zoho Sites; it gets you ready on the mobile front, without any extra effort from you. When you publish your regular website, a mobile website is generated automatically; NO CONVERSION SOFTWARE. Both these versions believe in one URL. Prospects using mobile internet, need not access a different URL. The same URL, when accessed from a mobile device, takes the user to the mobile friendly version. See for yourself. Create your free mobile website.

Customer Spotlight : Sebastien Loves The Most Efficient Invoicing Software

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Over the years Zoho Invoice has proved to be an efficient invoicing software for small businesses. Sebastien Guardiola, the co-founder of KAPT, an award-winning mobile apps start-up in Southwestern France, has been enjoying using our invoice software for a long time.

Sebastian, who loves skiing in Alps had a lot of things to share about his company and experience using Zoho Invoice. KAPT which has been always innovating since its inception has come out with marvelous applications. Ou Dormir, an accommodation finder app and KAPT Touch, a communicating kiosk are those i can think of as of now.

 

KAPT has been able to easily organize its billing and streamline its invoicing process using Zoho Invoice. A mobile apps lover himself, Sebastien uses Zoho Invoice’s iPhone app to invoice his customers on the go.

 

As Sebastien says “Most of the times, we travel to our client places by bike or train. That time the iPhone invoice app comes handy. The app is easy to use and is very much efficient.”

If you’re interested to find out more about Sebastien’s love for Zoho Invoice, click here to read the complete story.