So what’s been happening in the Mindwork Labs office lately?
Well, Monday 28th May was a big day for us as we removed our holding page from www.mydeals.com and went ‘live’. It’s only for the search engines though, so don’t expect to see anything pretty, we’re still finalising the design!
When we first removed the covers and unveiled the site, there were some pretty obvious things wrong with the site, largely the search not being so useful, but also other things such as the UK visitors seeing the US site and Google not liking our Sitemap structure.
What was wrong with our search?
At Mindwork Labs, we always want to use the best technology available, sometimes this is proven technology, sometimes it’s stuff others haven’t even tried before. For our vouchers and deals site, MyDeals - we use SOLR.
SOLR, by default doesn’t allow wildcard searching - this means that when searching for ‘Tesc’, you may expect offers for ‘Tesco’ to show up. Well, this wasn’t happening for us, so we had to change it to use the ‘edismax’ defType. This is configured in the solrconfig.xml with this line, ‘<str name=”defType”>edismax</str>’. There are many other options to configure what fields you wish to search by, and how to rank - but in essence that’s all we had to change. In addition to some tweaks and cosmetic changes, our search is now much better than it was on launch day.
Why were UK visitors seeing the US site?
We actually knew this would happen, but it’s simply down to the fact that our offer site is targetted at the US audience by default; so if you did not have a current session or any cookies intact, then we showed the US site. All we did to rectify this was to create a simple Location API, which we pass an IP address to. This API returns the country code and city (where possible), and from this we can set the session so that the user sees the relevant country. For more information of obtaining this data you can visit MaxMind, as they are the ones which provide this data for us.
What about Google? Why didn’t they like your sitemap?
In Google Webmaster Tools, we have multiple sites; mydeals.com/uk, mydeals.com/us, mydeals.com/ca, etc. This meant Googlebot was trying to access a sitemap location in the subdirectories (the countries). A simple mod_rewrite rule in Apache sorted that one.
We’re constantly encountering exciting challenges and problems and we’re having a great time solving them. Where possible we will try to blog about them, just so you know what we’re up to. If you want more information on a topic, please comment below and we will try and expand further.
If you’re interested in joining the Mindwork Labs team, check out our Careers page or send us your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s I said we’re just finalising the design, well here it is: