Optimization For RelevanceMonday, April 26, 2010
From the beginning I have stuck to my initial plan that my blog was going to be a personal diary and a place where I could show off some of my photographs. From about the second day when I started mid January 2006 I knew I did not want to accept comments. I had seen how our BC based on-line news magazine, The Tyee had been laid siege by anonymously named commenters who ranted and insulted. They were obsessed with conspiracies and almost went as far as declaring that global warming was a neo-conservative generated problem. It soon became evident that even the venerable Globe & Mail was also laid siege and both publications established standards and controls for behaviour.
Others with blogs had counting programs that told you that you were the one million, two hundred and fifty thousandth viewer. Such sites as technorati gave bloggers and indication on which blogs were the most popular.
If you have a blog you get, at least, the one weekly email where someone tells you that they can ethically (whatever that may mean to the person offering you the questionable service) help you optimize your blog’s readership. I trash those every time.
I am going to the 2010 Northern Voice - Personal Blogging and Social Media Conference, May 7-8, 2010 in Vancouver, BC to be held at Vancouver. One of the lecture/conferences is called The Nuts and Bolts of Search Engine Optimization. It is about this.
I may go for curiosity but I am not really interested in trying to optimize my blog. I even question my attendance to these usually packed and fun days. While I will meet up with fellow bloggers (many of which I know) and a few interesting computer language gurus, I feel that that there is nothing in the conference that could possibly help me to “improve” my blog. But I will go with a fairly open mind and see what happens. It was three years ago that the “big thing” was twitter. Then two years ago it was about “the cloud”. I was unable to register last year (I tried much too late) so I do not know what the “next big thing” was.
There is one blogging “item” that I do confide in. It is called Google Blog Search. It gives you two choices. One is called Sort by Relevance and the other Sort by Date. The former lists the blogs where my name or my blog has appeared in name or by link. The latter lists those by date. As an example after I post a blog, if I click on Google Blog Search, Sort by Date it will usually have something like: 5 minutes ago, … and it will have the coordinates to my blog and the initial few sentences of part of the blog. How those sentences are chosen only Google would know.
I have a theory (unfounded as far as I know) that the extremely good search engine optimization of my blog is partially due to the fact that Blogger (and my blog while it is a custom URL blog attached to my web page is Blogger generated) is owned by Google. Do they favour their own?
My friend the former Sun Microsystems XML guru Tim Bray, in picture above, who recently switched to Google Android tells me this is not true. “Alex, your blog is popular (high optimization) because you post every day and you write about interesting things.” I am not all that sure about. There is no way of knowing because I don’t accept comments so I have no idea who reads it.
What is interesting is that if Tim Bray mentions my name (and he always links that to my blog) in his extremely popular blog ongoing, immediately Google Blog Search will list that as a number one on the Sort by Relevance section. And it will stay somewhere in that list for weeks.
In fact Tim Bray could earn a little bit of pocket money (not that he needs any of it and considering that he has enough Air Miles points to fly several times, return to Jupiter) by sending me an email: Alex I could help you optimize your blog in an ethical manner by…
And of course Mr. Tim Bray will know of this blog within minutes that I post this one.
Which brings me to the coda for this blog. A couple of weeks ago I had a lecture class at one of the photo schools where I teach in the morning. That afternoon I routinely checked (is this a minor obsession? I remember some years ago that I was interviewing William Gibson at his home and he would leave every few minutes to check his email. He would get up with a smile on his face and show lots of gusto for this action. He was a man obsessed.) Both the Search by Date and Search by Relevance showed that one of my students had blogged about me. Fortunately (and a bit of an embarrassment for me) the blog was glowing on my teaching capabilities. Much praise was thrown to describe my photographs.
I had, you who read this, two courses of action and one variation. I could remain smug and not mention this to my student or I could reveal the fact to the student. That third variation was to make the revelation a private one. I immediately rejected the third option and decided to wait and see.
My students must see me as some old guy who has no idea of what digital cameras are all about and must think that I a luddite on all things related to the web. I decided that I had to give them at least a notion that I was not yet completely over the hill. I went for broke.
I told my student (I had been projecting some digital files with a projector in semi darkness) in the presence of other students, “Let’s turn on the lights because I am going to make you blush.” And this I did. “You blogged about me and I knew just a few hours later.” There was a quizzical look on my student’s face and the student’s mouth formed a round “how did …”
It all ended up as being lots of fun and I do not believe anybody was offended.
But I wonder about all this. Consider that curiously as put this blog to bed when I checked on Googgle Blog Search under relevance was this. I am sure that Borges would have been intrigued.
this was number one on the list :