Site Framed in by Hootsuite

Why did I pick Hootsuite when there are others that are much worse?

  1. Because Hootsuite is very popular and lots of people are sending tweets with Hootsuite and the Hootsuite toolbar
  2. Because I like Hootsuite and I would like them to find a way to do this without using Frames.

Not just Hootsuite, but all toolbars that frame in results are not what I want. Some are very bad, others like Hootsuite not so bad, but annoying.

I have been seeing these links with headers on them so I can retweet (RT) or in some other way share information about a blog post. But not until today did I take a closer look at what is being done.

Maybe it is being a Geek.

  • I don’t like having my site framed.
  • I want to see the PR of a site in the toolbar.
  • I want to see the title tags and URL address change as I navigate the site.
  • I want to look at the page source and not see framing information and meta-tags
  • Framing in someones site without getting permission from that site has unethical connotations

I sent a tweet about this and should have said “Hootsuite distorts traffic instead of takes traffic”.   It does take the traffic since your site is framed in but it passes on the clicks.   However, it does more than just pass them on.

Putting Hootsuite and Woopra to work at the same time

I decided to see if Hootsuite was passing through clicks to analytics.   None of the clicks were showing up on screen since the Lab was inside a frame.   The title Tag and URL never changed no matter where I clicked.

I was surprised to find that the clicks WERE being passed through to Woopra analytics.   So maybe being framed this way wasn’t so bad after all.   But then something strange started showing up in Woopra.   Clicks were being reported that I wasn’t making.   In fact double the clicks were showing up.

Showing more traffic than you are receiving is in many ways worse than not showing the traffic that you are getting.

Below is a screen capture of the Woopra results coming in from the Lab


Woopra is showing 12 clicks and pageviews. I only made 6 clicks and pageviews.

I came to the site on the post at the top, then clicked on About the Author, I did not click back to the original post, I clicked on the Sitemap page followed by the Comment Policy page.   I did not click back on those three pages a second time.   I did click home, but only once and did not click on the Archive page.   I’m not sure what was going on with the Hootsuite toolbar in control but it wasn’t me making those clicks.

The end result.   I’m showing 6 more pageviews from my visit to the site than were actually made.

If you like having a distorted number of pageviews reported then I guess you should tweet link all your posts on Twitter with Hootsuite.   But if you want to know what your true traffic is for the day.   I would honestly avoid using Hootsuite to send post links in Tweets.

In Defence of Hootsuite

Hootsuite does one thing very well when framing in a site. If the link is activated from a mobile browser it passes the visitor right through to the site. Toolbars like Twit-O-Matic simple leave you hanging. (Twit-O-Matic is one I would really stay away from)

I like Hootsuite.   I often recommend it to clients and friends as a great browser based way to manage your Twitter account.   I really like the way you can schedule tweets instead of tweet bombing your stream.   I’m not a fan of the green and blue interface.   Too pastel for me, I want to be able to pick the skin.

I like a lot of things about Hootsuite.   I don’t like my tweets framing in my links when I include them in a tweet made from Hootsuite.

I like the way TweetDeck handles this.   It shortens the url, makes it easy to RT and it sends them directly to my site.   Short and sweet.

What is a Frame

Framing in another site is how some IDX maps are put some sites.   Framing of a competitors site on your site is Taboo.   Framing makes it as if the content is yours when it isn’t.   Framing in a site means when you right click and say view source you don’t see the information for the site being framed, you see the information for the site doing the framing.   Framing is a form of embedding, not really but if you have ever embedded a video on your site you understand how content from one place is being viewed on your site while existing somewhere else.

This isn’t very elegant and it is obvious that it is framed in, but you can see how it works.

Here is the Lab inside the Hootsuite Frame If you look at the Page Source (right click and select view page source in FF or view source in IE) you won’t see the Lab, you will see Hootsuite meta tag and the framing code.   Even though you can move around on the Lab you won’t see the Address bar change or the Title Tag change as you do so.   If you have the Google Toolbar showing PageRank it won’t be displaying anything because you aren’t really on the Lab even though you are viewing the content of the Lab.

The decision is yours. But I thought you should know what is going on when you see those “helpful” toolbars at the top of a site. A quick right click will tell you if it is a frame. Now you can make an informed decision.

The wibiya toolbar I have on the Lab lets any visitor retweet, the tweet this button lets you retweet. Neither of these use frames or interfere with site analytics. If they did, I wouldn’t use them.