5 important search developments of 2007

December 31st, 2007 Jason

I’m not saying these are the ‘top 5 most important’ changes of 2007, I’m just pointing out some things I’ve seen as significant. There’s certainly more (like the whole paid links debate), but I’m on holiday, so I’m stopping at 5 I find worth mentioning. In no particular order:

  1. No more supplemental index
    Supposedly, this means more relevant results for all searches, all the time. (Interesting, since I thought that was the goal anyway…) But probably a key thing here is more relevance for foreign language queries as well, which may ‘translate’ into Google getting a bigger slice of the bits of foreign search they don’t already have. I think it will also mean less confusion about just how deeply/thoroughly a site is indexed.
  2. Sphinn
    Sphinn is no Digg. Only SEO’s are going to see any traffic boost from Sphinn; it’s not something that Bob’s Widgets is going to try to game for traffic and links. But it has quickly become invaluable as a means of connecting the vast network of search marketers out there and bringing attention to important and interesting news or opinion…without having to monitor eight hundred blogs every day.
  3. Universal search results
    Of course, with Google’s acquisition of YouTube happening this year as well, it followed that YouTube content would start getting a higher visibility in the SERPs, but Google and Yahoo! both started integrating video, news, and image results into the ‘main’ results page this year, and it all seemed conspicuously timed as a response to Ask’s big facelift. But it’s much more than a presentational change; it’s really completely affected how search marketing works and shifted the focus of what’s important to get noticed and rank well.
  4. Facebook?
    Sure, Facebook has been around for a few years, but it was this year that anybody with an email address (i.e., not an academic one) could join, and it blew up into the place to be. And now everybody and their dog’s company thinks they need to build a Facebook app. I think it remains to be seen whether a good Facebook app has real SEO benefit, but it can a big deal for brand recognition, which of course can have a real downstream impact on what people are searching for.
  5. I got a job
    Okay, this is a cheese-out, but it’s true. Landing in SEO seems to have really taken all the bits of technology and marketing and general geekery I’ve been cobbling together over the years and focused them all into a very clear path.

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Bebo opens up to application development

December 13th, 2007 Jason

It’s all the rage today: Bebo announces the “Open Application Platform” which will allow existing Facebook applications to easily port into apps for Bebo as well.

Good on them. While the article notes Bebo is a “distant third” in the US market, in the UK Bebo is generally seen to have a bigger reach than MySpace (supporting article on NewMedia.com from August 2007, though by some accounts it’s down to how you slice the data – see September article on paidContent.co.uk). For everyone who’s been banging away on Facebook apps being the new “must-have” marketing tool, the opportunity has now just doubled.

Here’s what caught my eye, though:

“Deployments of the same applications on both Facebook and Bebo will have the potential to link up with each other. For example, Facebook users of Bunchball’s Nitro gaming application will be able to play against Bebo users of the same application.”

As I think I’ve said before, needing to keep track of a dozen different online network profiles is a total pain in t’ass. With the recent announcement of Google’s OpenSocial APIs, and the opening of the Facebook platform, we’re two steps closer to having online networks really start mirroring the interaction and crossover that happens between networks in real life.

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Social networking and keeping it all straight

October 10th, 2007 Jason

Like almost everyone I know, I have accounts all over the internet at various ’social networking’ sites: Livejournal, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, and so on, some of which I use more than others.

I’ve also got the standard assortment of email accounts at Yahoo!, Gmail, and MSN, which also get used as logins for various other places like Google Reader, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Digg, StumbleUpon, and on top of that, as I’m doing research for things at work I’ll end up with more logins for more sites, and a lengthy list of sites to try and keep up with.

How the heck do I keep all this stuff straight?

It’s mighty helpful that browsers will remember passwords, I’ll say that. And I have a small stock of regular usernames and passwords I use, so if I haven’t saved the login for a particular site, there’s decent odds I can come up with it from memory.

I also have a private wiki set up for tracking my daily tasks and some other information, so I’ve got a page there with a table of account info.

But keeping up with all the various sites on a day-to-day basis, particularly the networking sites, is a little more tricky.

Google Reader gets a lot of use for keeping up on a load of invdividual blogs all at once. Livejournal has customizable reading groups, so I can hit one page and see the latest posts from a filtered list of my entire network. Most of the sites have some little alertbox or email functionality. But I’ve realized that what I really want is a way to hit a variety of my sites from the same place in a single go, with a minimum of effort. I want a social network aggregator.

Conceptually, the new personalized portal sites like iGoogle and My Yahoo! could do this via gadgets or whatever, but what I’ve seen thus far is at best clunky and at worst would involve building my own custom widgets. Too much work!

Last week I came upon 8hands, which apparently accesses a variety of different social networks all at once. I thought, “Hey! Perfect!” But then I realized it is an installed application and not a web-based service. I can’t for the life of me understand the benefit of this. Not Perfect!

So I started digging around, and came across a really useful article on mashable about social media aggregators. Seems like I am not alone in realizing this would be handy, and it appears to be quite the developing wave in this whole Web 2.0 thing.

So far I have checked out several of the options, and haven’t found a clear winner yet.

Spokeo has a great interface and is pretty easy to use, but I don’t like how it doesn’t allow you to actually interact with the different sites. It is essentially a feed reader of my contact’s activity. Close, but no cigar.

MyLifeBrand seems promising, but if I’m required to acknowledge reading and understanding the TOS, I’m waiting until it’s not a blank page.

Most of the list appear to be more about controlling profiles and assembling links to the various other sites, and most seem to suffer from a lack of interactivity with the source sites. Not so useful, really.

The most promising of the bunch seems to be the as-yet-unrealized SocialStream project, which appears to consolidate all of your online networks into and lets you to post, read, respond, and connect with new people, all in a single online interface.

I am waiting.

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