Wednesday, 29 September 2010

An old gem...recut

Totally forgot to post about this when the launch party was on...DOH!

One of the oldest buildings in the 10 sim big City of New Babbage has been given a make over, Miss Elleon Bergamasco recently took over the old Paleozoic Museum.  Although the museum building itself still stands (more especially the well known glass front) the entire back half of the museum was given an overhaul by Elleon.

The inside of the museum was overhauled by myself...

Have a look around!

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).

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...


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...

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 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 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...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Avatar United closes

The big venture of Linden Labs buying the facebook for gamers site "Avatars United" comes to a quick close since they have now announced that they are shutting the site down on the 29th of September...

So, all the folks from world of warcraft, eve online and the other MMO's will be left with a bitter pill in their mouth.

Linden Labs is nothing more than a vulture...they buy up competition and cherry pick the dead carcass...cause once they buy something they intentionally kill it.  Linden Labs already has a bad reputation in the other MMO communities, and are a laughing stock in the gaming industry as a whole, the closing of AU and the merging of its best parts into SL is not only a slap in the face to the folks outside of SL who used the service, its a slap in the face to the folks within SL who supported this take over.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Big Malls = Smaller Sales?


As a lot of you know I co-own the Doctor Who Experience region which is based in the Katrina sim.  The sim itself is, well, its a place for Doctor Who fans to go to but the one biggest draw is of course the Millennium Centre, its one of the biggest malls in SL which predominantly sells nothing but SciFi items, from Star Trek to Star Wars, from Stargate to Doctor Who...youll find it there.

Retention in the mall itself is very good, sure there are a few empty wall spots on the upper floor but renting out mall spots on upper levels is always hard.  The mall itself helps cover about a third of the sims tier fees.

Also in the sim is the main Dalekanium store.  Its a store that sells...well...Daleks.  Specifically Dalek avatars.

As the guy who is single handedly running the marketing for the entire sim and for Dalekanium i've been renting out shops in a variety of sattellite stores across the grid, places like the Zogalo in Babylon 5 Station for instance, and more recently a more "general" walk around rented store on the mainland, its ran by Ravenglass Rentals...Prok's rental group...

There's the small walk in shop above...

The rates are actually quite good, been renting there for about a month now.  The store above is the 5th sattellite store that I've opened.  I didnt expect it to get much custom...boy was i wrong...

The sattellite store that Dalekanium had in the Babylon 5 station for the past 5 months has closed, it got a total of 1 sale in all that time.  The store i had open in the GLC Sandbox which had HUGE traffic, had ZERO sales in 3 months...

The store thats been open for only a month in one of prok's ravenglass rentals places?  It's so far got three sales, thats more than DOUBLE the other SciFi malls i've rented out in over the past year.  Someone once said to me that niche malls or new malls that are popping up will have a hard time competing or getting any major commerce interested, after today I tend to agree.  The one thing thats kept the 80+ vendor space Millennium Centre going is the fact it's been there for more than 3 years now (DWE celebrated 3 years in SL last month) it's become a fixture of the SciFi community.  The smaller sat stores i had in Babylon 5's small mall and the GLC sandbox was in places that are not well known for a "shopping spree".

The thing is though...Prok's new walk in stores are out in the middle of nowehere on mainland, but it still got those sales, enough to cover the monthly rental on theplace and give back to the Katrina sim's tiers with almost 100% profit ontop of all that.

Maybe its that linden road next door dragging all the new folks in...who knows...

Dalekanium @ Refugio...

Too many dang sites!


Here I was minding my own business, going through some threads in SLU and I see one of the posters hae mentioned yet another new SL "networking" site...2ndhub...

One question here...WHY?

Really, WHY?

Ain't there enough dang facebook/blog/forum "network" sites out there already? I mean seriously. So many new "SL Networking" sites out there already wanting bigger cuts of the pie for themselves but all they are really doing is diluting the userpool even further.

Ohhhhhhhhhh shiney!


I figured it was about time i actually done a blog that was about my daily fumbling about within Second Life. My other blog which is has been mainly dormant since the Doctor Who based timelord roleplayers have been...well...really dormant :p

There's a stack of well known bloggers out there in the Second Life world but this blog will basically be me...babbling, which is what i'm good at to be honest. Over 10 years worth of ranting and raving on my old Star Trek site and i still can't get enough of it.

So, anyway, a little about me...

I'm in my 30's, from Scotland and have lived in Scotland my whole life. Back in the 80's and 90's I plied my trade in the PC gaming industry working in companies like Interplay (before the Hasbro takeover), Activision (before the merge with blizzard) and several other smaller game companies. From the late 90's into 2001 i worked part time in Google at their UK based offices. Fast forwarding to recent history I sitting around getting fat infront of my computer running around in Second Life cause now, im unable to work due to being disabled.

As for Second Life itself...

I'm co-owner of the Doctor Who Experience (Katrina) region and i also have a few holding in other sims like Isambard Kingdom Brunel Hall in New Babbage...

...and Zenobia Time Station in the Marti region...

The pictures really don't do both places justice, ya really have to go look at them yourself.

So...what do you, the reader expect to find in this blog if ya ain't already bored with it and ya actually do decide to follow? Well, daily or semi weekly goings on in my little corner of Second Life I suppose. There may be articles in the future covering such things as SL Search (it really isnt all that hard to go up to the top if ya know how to do it) or just me ranting about how Linden Labs manages to wreck the grid anytime they touch yeah, its just gonna be "another one of those SL blogs" I suppose...