This lesson will surely give you an upper hand in having your Google gadgets be seen by more people.
It explores the best practices of how to effectively describe and spread your Google gadgets via the underused method of complete ModulePrefs.
Guide to ModulePrefs
What are ModulePrefs?
ModulePrefs are the “metadata” of a Google gadget.
On a web page you define the title of that webpage using meta data, with Google gadgets however, the title is defined using ModulePrefs. You also define things like the height and width of your gadget with them, if you have a Google gadget, you already have a ModulePref section in the code of your gadget as it is required (prefs stands for preferences).
Why are ModulePrefs important?
Without the ModulePrefs code, your gadget wouldn’t be defined in anyway and probably wouldn’t even work.
What can be done with ModulePrefs that I am not already doing?
Here is the important part, most people (as in the vast majority) are under utilizing what can be done with ModulePrefs and are absolutely missing out on the many SEO benefits and, just as importantly, the directory benefits available to them. To display the different possibilities we will use this gadget as an example…
If you use all the ModulePrefs availible to you, then Google will create four different pages (in addition to your gadget itself) where information about your gadget can be found and linked to.
What is found on these pages is defined by what ModulePrefs you use in your gadget. These four places are the places where most of the things defined by your ModulePrefs will be displayed. By knowing where and how your preferences are displayed you can strategically optimize your gadget to be used by people and you can use some basic SEO strategies as well.
The good news is you already are using Moduleprefs in your gadget. The section of a gadget that is called “ModulePrefs” is a required element of your code. The trick is to use all of the ModulePrefs available to you. You are likely only using the minimum, required prefs. Most Google gadgets have the common ones defined like “title”, “height”, etc.
Moduleprefs are the part of the gadget code that lies between the <modulePrefs> and </ModulePrefs> tags. Let’s examine a common set from a Google gadget…
title=”Ferret Virtual Pet”
This is self explanatory, the “title” field sets the title and is displayed within the Google gadget and also on the gadget description page. The title is important and should be accurate and descriptive of the gadget, but it is also important to consider what people are looking for when they search the directory. In this example I am using “ferret virtual pet” for a title. By calling it this I am improving the odds that this gadget can be found not only to those searching for “ferret” and also those searching for “virtual pets”.
description=”A funny little ferret pet for you to play with. Feed it some eggs, and see what happens when you pet it (make sure to hold down your mouse button while you do so).”
The description is obviously a description of the the gadget. It is displayed in all four pages Google creates about your gadget and is also required to submit a gadget to the iGoogle gadget directory.
Descriptions should portray what your gadget is and why someone should use it.
This sets the height of the gadget and is not displayed anywhere but determines how your gadget will display. This value is defaulted to pixels.
The screenshot is a larger image of your gadget. Gadget screenshots should be 280 pixels wide. The height of the screenshot should be the “natural” height of the gadget when it’s in use and can be .gif or .jpeg, but .png is preferred. It should be about this same size as your gadget is. The screenshot image is displayed in three of the four pages Google creates about your gadget. The iGoogle description page, the gadget syndication directory page, and the add to Google page. It is not displayed on the author page.
The thumbnail image is displayed on the author page and in the iGoogle gadget directory results.
The thumbnail is a small image that previews your gadget pleasantly and descriptively. Gadget thumbnails should be 120×60 pixels and can be .gif or .jpeg, but .png is preferred.
Okay, we have defined the ModulePrefs that are commonly used. The ones defined above are already existing in most Google gadgets. Let’s get to the ones that are not used as often and discuss their usefulness for search and directory optimization…
This ModulePref is one of the more important ones, particularly for spreading your gadgets. Using this ModulePref you can make your gadget title into a click-able link that points wherever you choose.
I can not stress enough that this is one of the most important ModulePrefs to use.
Using the “title_url” allows you to guide users of your gadget to another page. By planning out your gadgets well, this can create enormous traffic to your gadget page. The vitual pet gadgets I have all use this and link to a page where other virtual pet gadgets can be found. This page receives tens of thousands of visits a month, not through search engines, but from gadget traffic (people clicking the link in the gadget or the link in the title of the gadget).
This is particularly important if you or your business have multiple gadgets. Using “title_url” you can have your gadget link to your gadgets overview page and enjoy serious direct traffic. To learn more of this strategy, see my old post “3 Ways to get money and traffic from Google gadgets“.
Author related ModulePrefs:
The next few ones we will define are all author related. Simply put, these create a new Google page that displays information about the author of the gadget. The author page is very useful in many ways for both businesses and personal authors. See my example author page or let’s get to the ModulePrefs for authors…
In this example I used “Gadzi” which is the nickname I use for my example gadgets.
By properly utilizing the author and author related ModeulePrefs (more described below) I have an author page which lists and displays my example gadgets for this account. This author page carries pagerank and can be used as a very powerful SEO tool that allows your quality themed gadgets to rank better in the iGoogle gadget directory. You can use your name, a nickname, or if you have a business name I recommend using that for this field.
The author email is actually the field used to define your author page. This is an important one to keep universal across all your gadgets. If you use different author emails in different gadgets, you will have multiple author pages even if you keep the author name the same.
This also allows people to contact you about the gadget via your author page.
The author_photo let’s you display an image on your author profile page. As can be said of any profile page, it is useful to have an image, whether it be a photo of you or your businesses logo.
The requirements of the author photo are a little bit geared towards photos because of the dimensions of the photo, which is basically a tall rectangle (see image on right). The image must be 70×100 , PNG format preferred, but JPG/GIF are also supported.
author_aboutme=”My name is Patrick Sexton I am a consultant for gadget strategies for brand promotion. I discuss Google gadgets at SEOish.com”
The author_aboutme field defines the content for your author page. This can describe yourself or your business. I keep mentioning businesses and the reason I do is because the author page is an excellent and useful business profile page that can link to your website.
The more author related ModulePrefs that you use the more content rich your author page can be. with the author_aboutme one, you can really create a meaty page. Resist the urge to just put a sentence and really describe yourself or your business. The more text that is used in this field, the more content rich your author page will be.
You can link to your website from your author profile page. To do so include the author_link ModulePref .
This link does not pass much juice but it can result in much direct traffic, and if you are a business this link can bring in the users of your gadgets to the place you desire them to come. Consider making a page specifically designed for your Google gadget users.
author_location and author_quote
author_quote=”Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. – Douglas Adams”
These are simply more details you can enter about where you are at and your favorite quote or tagline.
These are good to have if only to make the page more full and interesting.
There are even more ModulePrefs to use and more are coming out often with the new gadget documentation. Here are some of the places to look for more details: