Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A to Z of Google Instant

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Of course, the list below will vary by user and location, but here’s how Google Instant reacted to the alphabet and single numerals. This may have changed by now.

Google maps
John Lewis

5 day weather
6 music
8 ball
9 11

This list from Google UK, as should be apparent. Three results return Google’s own products – and guessing “Utube” for “U” (which returns Youtube as the top result) seems a little cheeky.

Other than that, it’s quite a commercial list it is. Apart from the Google items, they are mostly brands, and mostly people who’d want to sell you something.

Notable exceptions to this are the BBC (which also owns “Weather” and indeed “5 day weather”, at least in my locality), 24 (wikipedia link for the TV series), 6 music (more BBC) and 9 11, which goes to the Wikipedia page for the attacks. I’m guessing this one might be seasonal.

It would be interesting to see how this varies for other users and other territories. Also would be interesting to see the Adwords spends for the companies so favoured…

Yaab autoblogging test results

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

And the results are in:

1) Duplication of content: I set up an autoblogger using the BBC news main feed, with an interval of 10 minutes. It published four separate posts, all with identical content. So, Yaab does not check for new content before publishing a new post. To be fair, the author doesn’t claim that it does – but this goes on the wishlist for the future. The perfect autoblogging tool would be something that you could leave alone entirely, without having to make guesstimates about how often the sources were likely to be updated.

2) The SEO Smart Links plugin works fine with Yaab. I have set it to publish only on individual posts and not the main page. I will post separately about this plugin, which is itself a fine piece of work.

3) The plugin worked beautifully with an RSS feed from Flickr, displaying pictures from the feed along with links and credits.

4) Multiple feed URLs worked well: although differently sourced RSS content displays differently. In particular, the content from a Google News RSS feed looks different. This may just be a feature of those feeds, but I think such issues could be ironed out with greater configurability of the data coming in from the feeds, as already suggested by another early adopter in his useful feedback post on Yaab, all of which I would agree with.

5) Adsense content units have gone on to the individual blog posts: they are mostly showing generic ads at present, but there is an advertisement for some sort of Goth/Emo dating site on the aggregated “glam rock” entry, so it seems that Google is picking up the content (as I would have expected). In time I am sure that I’ll see more relevant ads on all pages.

So, pretty impressive so far!

Yaab PS

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I should probably also mention two other things: I’ve not installed the plugin on this blog, but on another one, but there’s not much point looking at it at the moment because although the Yaab autoblogger worked when I fetched the feed manually, I removed the piece that it posted because it was a full-feed post, republication of which would be against the T&Cs of the Guardian newspaper.

WP-o-Matic and “linkbuilding”

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Following my experiment yesterday – downloading RSS feeds about US politics, then replacing and autolinking certain words, it seems that a few repetitive entries on an obscure blog can get picked up.

I put a stupid, made-up phrase to replace the name Sarah Palin – scaryspiceus – and linked every instance of it to Palin’s Wikipedia page. 

Unsurprisingly, yesterday there were no results for that phrase. Today, the wikipedia page comes up as the sole result – that is to say, the blog posts themselves don’t show up for it.

I’ll keep an eye on this and report any changes.

WP-o-Matic – early experiences

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

I’ve been having some fun playing around some more today with this plugin. The first thing that I should say is thank you Guillermo, as it really has been enjoyable. 

I’ve successfully managed to do what I suggested would be possible earlier, which was to take a specific RSS feed – I created a BBC news feed based on the phrase “Barack Obama”, and as the news items arrived, I set the plugin to find the full names of Obama, McCain and Palin, to change them into some stupid words/phrases, and to make each one of them a link to another site. 

You can see an example blog post here. As you can see, this could very easily be abused. The beauty of swapping out names and nouns is that with minimal effort you can ensure that you are sufficiently different to avoid duplicate content penalties, but also, because the original content is likely to make good semantic sense, the variant version will also look like proper English to a machine, even if it might look odd to a real person.

What could you do with this?

Here’s an example. Say you decided, on the basis of this old data, that you wanted to pick up some of the traffic that might be attributable to the most popular misspelling of “Britney Spears”.

Well, you could mash up whatever feeds you could find about Britney Spears, change all the instances of Britney to Brittney (or Brittany), pick on some other likely words to occur and change them as well, to try to avoid being seen as a duplicate – so “chanteuse” replaces “singer”, “fling” replaces “marriage” and so on… You could also link all instances of the full misspelling back to your main target page. The possibilities are endless, although one might argue that you would not be adding much to the richness of human experience.

I have had a few issues. Whatever setting I used to control dates (ie whether I gave precedence to the feed’s dates or not) I found that importing my delicious feed put the older posts at the top on the initial load. Once it was in there, and I added a new bookmark, the new story appeared in the correct place at the top as I would have expected.

Feeds from Yahoo Pipes seem not to work yet, which someone has already reported. I’ve also had some problems sorting out automatic updating using Cron, but that’s nothing to do with the plugin.

It’s worth noting that this plugin is currently a release candidate, which means that it still has a few issues to be ironed out. Good luck with getting to a full first release.

Splogging and search

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

I’ve been experimenting with the WordPress plugin WP-o-Matic on another blog of late. In combination with the SimplePie plugin, it allows you to automatically post to blogs using RSS feeds. 

The plugin allows you to create campaigns, into which you can place multiple RSS feeds – or just a single one if you prefer. For each campaign, you allocate a category, and the plug-in will post items from the feed as individual blog posts categorised accordingly. 

You can control how often each campaign checks the feed for new items, although I’ve had some teething problems getting this to work exactly as I would like. Ideally, you would want to organise this so that it published stories on a drip-feed basis pretty close to their publication dates, so you want to set the check time at about the same frequency as new items are published.

Incidentally, I’ve also had some difficulty getting the campaigns to refresh. I think it is something to do with being a bit new to cron jobs. More on that later.

So, why would you want to republish someone else’s RSS feeds as if they were your own blog posts? Isn’t this (a) a rather unethical theft of content and (b) unlikely to do you any good for search optimisation, as it will all be duplicate content?

I’ll leave the ethical questions for another time – for now, let’s just remember that the second S in RSS stands for “syndication”.

So, what possible benefits, including SEO benefits, could flow from republishing this material? The idea of each item in an RSS feed being reproduced as a new, individual post is definitely just dupe content spam, right?

Not really. There are all kinds of possible legitimate uses for this. For example, you might want to do some judicious selection of RSS feeds, perhaps filtered automatically as well, and combine them so that your particular blog carried every story that you thought was going to be of interest to your audience. Provided that the posts have links to the original story, your users could be reading the truncated RSS summary in your blog and then deciding whether to go to the full post.

Another possibility is that you effectively own the RSS feed – for example, it could be something like your feed, which you wanted to turn into a linkblog without doing any more work, but creating a post for each one.

However, from an SEO point of view there are some further uses.

First, although the posts themselves will not be unique, the permutation of them may well be, so that your main page – and in particular your category pages – can contain themed content in a combination that is not to be found elsewhere on the web. If reasonably well-linked, these pages could have a chance of ranking for those terms.

Second, there is a very nice feature in the plug-in that allows you to process the feeds as they come in using a search and replace function.

This is separated into two functions for ease of use: the first is a simple word-swap. The example that the author gives is that you could have the plugin search for “ass” and replace it with “butt”. Incidentally, this kind of auto-bowdlerisation is a risky business – witness the embarrassment of the right-wing Christian site that decided that “gay” was too euphemistic (and happy-sounding) for them, and then ended up publishing a number of stories about the Olypmic sprinter “Tyson Homosexual”.

The second element enables you to automatically place links behind certain specified words/phrases. This is obviously pretty powerful for building lots of links with the right anchor text, quite quickly.

I’m not sure whether the two would work together – I will give it a go – but on the assumption that they do, it would be possible to pick a news feed filtered on say, Barack Obama, and republish all of those stories with the words “digital cameras” automatically replacing “Barack Obama”, and linking to your digital cameras site. You might even avoid some of the duplicate-spotting in this way…

Warning: very much of any of this kind of stuff is pretty likely to get your site banned by Google.

Claiming the blog on Technorati

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

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