Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Getting your business in search

This new updated version of the old guide I did a year and a half ago to getting your business parcel in search takes account of several key factors which has changed the face of the hallowed "All" search page.

1: Profile picks no longer have any wheight on a search listing - Linden Labs removed Profile Picks from the Inbound Link algorithm.

2: The new GSA (Google Search Appliance) Version 6 which was introduced 2 months ago has much more stringent keyword spam filters, cross that line, your parcel is demoted.

3: GSA 6 now has introduced "Simmilar" keyword searches.  If someone searches for Victorian, results for Victoria also show up.  Single worded searches are much more harder to get into the top 5.  More folks using search now use search strings, two or more words in search to narrow down the listings even further.

What does this all mean?  Well, it means those loads of profile picks you worked your rear ends off to get means squat all for your search rank now.  It also means that keyword stuffing will automatically get your parcel demoted MUCH more quicker than it did with the older GSA system.

What follows is the story of an imaginary man from New Babbage, his name is Mr Cholmondley-Warner (so sue me, im a Harry Enfield fan).

PART 1: GETTING THAT PARCEL REFRESHED
Mr Cholmondley-Warner has just recently bought a new parcel of land from the Mayor of New Babbage.  The Mayor sold the land to Mr Cholmondley-Warner with of course rights to manage the parcel which Mr Cholmondley-Warner bought.  Mr Chol...ok im getting sick of typing this guys full name out...lets just call him "Fred".  Ok...Fred has decided to start up a business in New Babbage selling Victorian era furniture, an already saturated market with lots of other good builders out there, but Fred thinks he can make a name for himself.

The first thing Fred has to do is to prepare the parcel for search.  This is where it can take two different roads for Fred.  Luckilly enough for him, the parcel was empty, no other buildings or prims are on the parcel.  If however Fred had bought an existing build WITH the parcel he would have to make sure that no other stray prims that have been set for search are on it, if they are they must be returned because they can dilute the search result.

The first thing fred has to do is prepare the actual plot name (the "Title") and the plot description (the "content") so that the twice daily GSA crawl of the grid will latch onto his parcel and relist the new search terms.  He does this in the land management window...


The "name" and "description" of the parcel is now THE most imporant part of getting your business into search.  In the old days badly worded parcel names could be overlooked by a lot of peoples picks pointing to the parcel, but this is not the case now.  Fred has to be very carefull of what he does next.

His ship is selling Victorian Furniture, these two words will be the two "keystone" search words.  It;s also the two search words which most people will use as a "first glance" search term in "All Search" but getting into the top 5 or even into the first page for those two search terms alone is going to be hard with so many other businesses out there making victorian furniture.

Fred decides to go for a "catch all" parcel name, he names the parcel "Freds Victorian and Antique Steampunk Furniture".  Fred's naming convention introduces a third "keystone" search term...Steampunk.  This means people searching for "Steampunk Furniture" or "Victorian Furniture" or even "Steampunk Victorian Furniture" may end up coming across his business.  Fred also realises that the use of pure ASCII code in the title is a no go area, and instead uses the whole word "and" instead of the shortcut "&" in the title. 
The next thing Fred has to to is balance keyword density with natural paragraphs in the all important land description.  Fred uses the following.

"Freds steampunk, victorian furniture store.  Selling classic antique victorian and steampunk furniture in the steampunk city of New Babbage.
Sofa's, lounges, chairs, tables and all sorts of classic victorian antique furniture is available here"

Fred managed to get his three keystone words in, Steampunk, Victorian, and Furniture.  Fred also relaises that a lot of people type in "New Babbage" in search, and has included New Babbage in his description and a new subset of "catch all" phrasing.  The three keywords is what has the most word density in the description and title.  The words "New Babbage" is a new subset of keywords which will play a more prominent role in phase 2.  For now though, fred is happy with his decision and has decided to now finish the job of including his parcel in search via the land management window...


Fred makes sure that "Show pace in search" is checked.  For now, he leaves it in "Any Catagory".  He also includes his business logo so theres a nice image in the actual search page.  He sets a landing point at the entrance of his store (this is VERY IMPORTANT) as parcel with no landing points set sometimes gives people searching in Viewer 2 problems when teleporting.

Once he has done all this...he waits...for 2 full days.  The GSA system scans all parcels in the entire grid once, sometimes even twice in a 24 hour period.  It takes 48 hours maximum for a new parcel to embadd itself in the system and for all the old data of the parcel to be flushed out.  While this two day wait is going on, fred set up his shop and lays out all his items MAKING SURE that NONE of his items has "show in search" checked in its edit properties.

48 hours has passed, its time for...

PART 2: SUBSETTING THE PARCEL SEARCH TERMS

Two days has passed for fred.  Most of his store is now set up for search.  He switches from Viewer 2 back to Emerald/Viewer 1.23 for a simple reason.  Viewers based off of 1.23 give MORE info on the search page than Viewer 2 does.

He opens up search, clicks on the "All" tab and does a search for his actual parcels name...Freds Victorian and Antique Steampunk Furniture

He finds it, this means that google has updated that parcel.  He then does a catch all search for "Steampunk Victorian Furniture" and notices his store is on page 1.  However his store is not there for the two other search terms "Victorian Furniture" and "Steampunk Furniture".

This is where fred starts to seed the parcel itself with subset search terms embedded in prims. In viewer 2 it doesnt give you a listing of objects set for search in the parcel.  Linden Labs hid most of that in viewer 2, however in Viewer 1.23 and its variants (phoenix etc) you can still see it.  Fred rezzez 3 ordinary cube prims and names the first one as follows...

Name: Victorian Furniture Steampunk
Description: Steampunk sofas, victorian chairs, lounges, table, chaize

He names the second one as follows...
Name: Victorian Steampunk Furniture
Description: sofas, chairs, tables, beds

He names the thrid one as follows...
Name: New Babbage - Steampunk
Description - New Babbage - Victorian Steampunk

This is where that subset in the description comes in...people searching for New Babbage.  Fred now edits all three of the prims, sets them to "show in search" and then buries them under the ground.  He now waits for 24 hours.

24 hours later, he runs a search for his parcel.  In the search info windows for his actual parcel at the very bottom Linden Labs gives you a link to the browser version outside of SL, it looks something like this...
http://world.secondlife.com/place/3e00808a-244a-19ac-26d8-11b4df195c7f

That is the main search page, and it holds a key secret which fred knows about...the meta bonus tag at the top of the code.  Fred right clicks on this browser window and clicks on "View Source".  He see's this at the top...

metaname="boost" content="0"

This is the most important number at the top of that code.  The number must ALWAYS be at 0.  If the number is in the negative like -2 it means you are being demoted two points for keyword spam.  ANY negative number is bad, the higher the negative, the worse it gets and the LONGER it takes to correct the problem.  Right now Fred is still at 0.

Fred will wait for a further week to let his new parcel firmly settle into the search listings.  During the following weeks he will start to add more bare prims..one at a time...and bury them under the ground with keywords remembering to ALWAYS check that metaname in the search page 24 to 48 hours after he makes a change.
Eventually his store will reach a balance point.  The point at which the GSA system makes his parcel climb to the top 3 of the search ranking, or maybe even first place.  It's at this stage that Fred can stop worrying about search and start to relax.

This folks is how the new search works.  Gone is the relevance of picks, now its more down to how well you can balance those keywords within the confines of the new sytem.  The above plan is the basic plan that i followed myself.  Next time your inworld, go into search "all" and type in new babbage...brunel is second under the actual new babbage sim.  Then search for Victorian Hotel or Steampunk Hotel...Brunel is first place.  Then do a search all for Doctor Who, the Doctor Who Experience is first place (thats the dr who sim i co-own).

Search is tricky, the metaname boost line can be triggered at any time, just by having ONE too many of the same word.  The trick is to NEVER let that number go into a negative, cause if it does it literally takes 2 to three weeks for GSA to like your parcel again...i know, cause i fell into that problem with the doctor who region.

Some of this knowledge was gained from Sea Linden (head of search) after i had a few chats with him about the search problems the Dr Who Experience was having.  The new GSA 6 system is still not fully implemented into the search system, so you may find days where your parcel will suddenly vanish...only to reappear 24 hours later.

Sea Linden did give some more info out which drags failing parcels who have followed my guide up above over the fold, ESPECIALLY if your parcel has been demoted for a very long time, or you have taken over a plot of land which was heavilly demoted due to the previous owner.  The basics of "resetting" the parcel once you buy it, clearing out everything and starting from scratch, usually fixes that problem...but sometimes it doesnt.

In the future there will be a second part to this guide which will go into more detail of the world.secondlife.com map URL's and way's in which you can use that link to your advantage without being hammered on the head with a -5 penalty...

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