Archive for December, 2008

Sphinn Weekly – Week 13

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

22nd December – Search Engine Land’s New Look and Introduction to Premium Memberships (saadkamal)
Sphinn’s sister site, Search Engine Land, has undergone a facelift for the new year. As well as updating the website’s look and feel, the new site also moves over to a WordPress based platform and a re-worked navigational structure. The biggest news comes in the form of a Members Only section, featuring premium content including news archives, How-To articles and videos.
Direct Link: Search Engine Land

23rd December – Twitter Has Made Dell $1 Million In Revenue (graywolf)
Sphinn moderator, Michael Gray, points out a post on VentureBeat that highlights a claim made by computer giant Dell, that Twitter resulted in $1 million in revenue over the past 18 months. Dell operates an alert service for its Home Outlet Store, allowing people to follow them on Twitter and get instant notifications on heavily discounted products. Twitter has been swamped with auto-notification accounts, set-up by blog owners and online retailers to try and capture the interests of an instant gratification society.
Direct Link: VentureBeat

24th December – 8 Ways Clients Can Help Their PPC Agency Succeed (saadkamal)
Brian Carter explains why outsourcing PPC management to an agency isn’t a one-sided process. Keeping the agency informed about seasonal trends, new product launches and issues with certain product lines can significantly effect the ROI achieved from any campaign. Ultimately communication, collaboration and competitiveness are key (oh dear, those “3 Cs to success” sound like bullshit bingo).
Direct Link: Search Engine Journal

26th December – How to Massively Increase RSS Subscribers: One Method You’ve Never Used (ViperChill)
A short and sweet post by Glen Allsopp explains how he managed to achieve a 10% visitor to RSS subscriber rate on his blog. Targeting visitors from high profile sites (such as Digg and StumbleUpon) that are most likely new visitors, Glen showed a banner to them which gave a call to action and pointed out the method for subscribing to his blog. A handy tip (and some code) for people looking to increase their blog readership base.
Direct Link: PluginHQ

30th December – Only display SphinnIt on an SEO post (kevgibbo)
Richard Baxter helps out fellow Sphinn members who want to use the popular wp-sphinnit plugin for Wordpress, but don’t want it to appear next to off-topic posts. Personal posts are often submitted to Sphinn without the blog owner’s knowledge by their readers who are trying to be helpful. This sometimes reflects badly upon the blog in the eyes of other Sphinn members who see the off-topic post pop up in the What’s New section. A very handy tip.
Direct Link: SEOgadget

A slow week due to the Christmas holidays, with no big news stories from the search engines being released.

New Anti-Spam Measures – Kill All Robots!

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Although Sphinn has been extensively customised from its original Pligg platform, we still experience a stupendous amount of spam submissions and comments. In order to combat this issue and give moderators more time to help the community, we’ll be trialling 2 new anti-spam measures.

Storyteller – Are You Human or Robot?
You may have already noticed that a new CAPTCHA challenge has been put in place on the Sphinn submission page. This requires you to solve a simple maths question before submitting your story to Sphinn. Previously, all anti-spam measures had been focussed on user registration, although Pligg spamming software could still theoretically be used for the submission of articles once an account was verified. Our Sphinnmaster, Michelle, has confirmed that initial results have proven promising and the measure has put a significant dent in spam submissions.

Please Find Photo Attached
Most user accounts used for spam are created with speed in mind, many by Indian outsourcing companies (as shown in the IP data). Creating a full user profile takes time, although genuine users are happy to do so in order to make the most of Sphinn. With this clear distinction in mind, we have decided to make it a requirement for users to upload a valid avatar to Sphinn, before being allowed to submit new articles. This requirement will most likely come into affect from Wednesday morning. If you do not currently have an avatar uploaded – don’t worry, your user account is not at risk. We simply ask that you upload a picture of yourself (or a graphic if you’d prefer) in order to continue submitting articles. You can do this by visiting your profile; selecting “Modify Your Profile”; and uploading an image. More information on what an avatar is, can be found on the Wordpress Support Site.

We hope these measures do not inconvenience you too much and that they will result in a much more enjoyable experience at

Rob Kerry
Sphinn Editor

Sphinn Weekly – Week 11

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Apologies for the pause in our weekly updates, but we’re now back on track for the run-up to Christmas. In case you missed them, here are the highlights from last week’s search news.

1st December – Google Launches a Sweet Competitive Research & Keyword Research Tool (mwilton13)
Aaron Wall blogs about the launch of a new Google Keyword tool with some very cool new features. The Search-based Keyword Tool is similar to the existing keyword tool found within AdWords accounts, allowing the advertiser to enter a URL or set of keywords and expand out a list of (mostly) relevant and related keywords. This tool offers extra data however (especially if logged into a Google Account attached to AdWords), including search numbers and both the organic and paid search share for your website on each term. Filters such as max/min search volumes, bid prices and competition, as well as negative keywords are given. One element missing appears to be Geographic targeting and non-US data, which was made available on Google’s last keyword tool. I gather that this element will be added once the tool comes out of BETA. Well worth a look for some extra data insight, plus none of those pesky CAPTCHAs to worry about ;)
Direct Link: SEO Book

2nd December – Link Building Strategies: 69 Solid Tactics For 2009 (BrianChappell)
Weip Knol published an extremely popular article on Tuesday, offering tried and tested link development techniques and strategies. Although I personally question some of the recommendations, the article is certainly a mind-jogger and a source of ideas. Whilst most of us talk about buying links in the SEO community these days, there are certainly more creative ways to build link popularity – especially useful for sites on a tight budget.
Direct Link: Wiep (pronounced Veep – sorry for getting it wrong at SMX London, Wiep :) )

2nd December – Making Geotargeted Content Findable For the Right Searchers (MattMcGee)
Vanessa Fox writes a fantastically detailed and comprehensive guide to optimising geo-specific content for search engines and users. It follows a very well-received session at SMX London which Vanessa moderated this year, covering the topics brought up and expanding upon them. If you work on international sites or are interested in capturing a new non-domestic audience, this post will give you all you need to know.
Direct Link: Nine By Blue

3rd December – Where the SEO jobs are (TimDineen)
In the current economic climate, redundancies are occurring everywhere. SEO from my experience is continuing to boom, with recruiters calling me every day and industry publications filled with job vacancies. This blog post studies 1,000 recent job advertisements and plots the demand by US states. Conclusion – If you’re in Arizona and looking for a job, move! If you’re living in New Jersey and job hunting, enjoy the train into NYC :)
Direct Link: Exposure Online

3rd December – It’s time to raise the Sphinn bar (Sugarrae)
In a debate that featured the most ever comments on Sphinn, former Sphinn moderator Rae Hoffman argues that it takes too little to reach Sphinn’s frontpage. Rae feels that requiring more votes (Sphinns) would reduce the affect of people begging for Sphinns over social networks and Instant Messenger. As I mentioned in the post comments, we do regularly review the number of Sphinns needed to reach our homepage, and try to keep it to a number that keeps the page fresh but doesn’t circulate stories too fast for casual users to see.
Hat Tip: Sugarrae

3rd December – Beginners Guide to Sphinn (streko)
As a Guest Author on ProBlogger, Deanna deBara offers a very well balanced and helpful guide to people visiting Sphinn for the first time. The post includes information on navigating the site, submitting articles, taking part in the community and making the most of your time on our site. Thanks for the great guide Deanna!
Direct Link: Pro Blogger

3rd December – Flickr Axing Business Use of Photos for SEO (UtahSEOpro)
Richard Burckhardt reveals that Flickr are now cracking down on the use of their site for commercial means. Sessions at conferences such as SMX and SES have covered the use of Flickr as a source of traffic, using their authority domain to rank your photos and advertise your site. Richard posts an email response from Yahoo after a commercial account was shut down, which stated that the commercial use had violated their Terms of Service.
Direct Link: Search Engine Journal

4th December – Google Was Three Hours Away From Being Charged As A Monopolist (graywolf)
TechCrunch sources claimed that Google was just hours from being named as a monopoly by the US Department of Justice. The DoJ already views the world’s largest search engine as a “near-monopoly” and has stated on numerous occasions that it will not hesitate in taking action if the situation worsens. Does this only leave Yahoo with Microsoft as a suitable ad partner or buyer?
Direct Link: TechCrunch

6th December – New Media & Old Media Are Not So Different After All (Michelle)
Toaster-loving Michelle from the Sphinn admin team Sphunn an article featured in UK’s Guardian newspaper and online last Saturday. Aida Edemariam examines how search engines affect today’s society and the part that SEO has to play in attracting online traffic and fame. The double-page feature in one of Britain’s biggest newspapers featured our very own Editor-at-Large, Danny Sullivan.
Direct Link:

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