Happy social media week! Did you know that this week is international social media week, as sponsored by the fantastic Meebo? A whole week dedicated to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and the like. As almost a follow up to my last post, this has involved a number of tech meetups.
Last night was the official kick-off for the week in London where the who’s-who of London technorati came together to network, chat about the industry and drink while tonight was the 10th Shoreditch Twit, the Twitter meetup for Shoreditch (the area where the Spoonfed offices are located) locals.
The idea behind social media week, I believe, is to show case an industry that was in its infancy in 2009 and will grow in both scale and professionalism this year and decade. I’m lucky in the sense that both London and Spoonfed seem to be embracing this trend and I’ve met a number of local tech-savvy marketers, PRs, entrepreneurs and tech consumers who are interested in driving the industry forward.
For social media week, why not take a look at Twitter if you haven’t before, or see how Flickr can help you share photos with friends. At the very least visit Meebo and see how they can simplify and consolidate your online communication, just to get in the spirit of the event. Have a great Social Media Week and welcome to the consumer-created web.
Lately around the London tech scene, a hot topic of debate has been the role of women in technology careers, especially compared to their male counterparts. One woman has decided to skip the petty debate and go straight to featuring some of the exciting projects and backgrounds of other women in tech on her blog Girls’n’Gadgets. Leila, founder of Girls’n’Gadgets, is dedicating the entire week to featuring the females that make our industry so great.
I was incredibly flattered when I got invited to do a guest post on Girls’n’Gadgets and be featured as one of the women of tech this week and today, my bio goes live on the blog. Here’s an exerpt of my bio, which goes on to recap a bit about my background in tech and my current projects with Spoonfed.
I sit staring at source code in an empty computer lab, trying to embed a flash animation of a fish into a website for my sixth grade science project. If I could go back and speak to my eleven-year old self now, the message would be clear: don’t fight it, Meg, you’re destined to be a geek….
Read on at G ‘n’ G Women in Tech Week – Meaghan Fitzgerald, Spoonfed and be sure to check out some of the other great women of tech featured this week.
I wrote a post earlier about SEO and the English Langauge that described the ways text can influance search engine placement and I want to talk briefly about one of the other factors that can affect search engine optimization and that is backlinking. A backlink is a link from any other website to your own. If I were, for example, to link to Spoonfed that would be considered a backlink to the Spoonfed site, an external link from my own. The more backlinks a website receives, from more reputible sources, the higher Google ranks them in the search results, and the higher page rank (PR) they are awarded. PR is an artificial indicator, created by the search engines, that indicates how important a page is perceived on the web. PR can go from unranked, which is lower than 0, to 10 which is the highest.
Of course, the trick becomes finding ways to get sites with high PR to give a backlink to your site. Of course, you can create content that other sites find interesting, causing them to link to your interesting information; you can contact them directly and ask them to place a link on your site, especially if you think they might find your content valuable – this is what I am currently working on for Spoonfed; you can purchase high quality backlinks OR you can find places where you can actually post your own link on someone else’s website. That might sound counterintitive – why would someone allow you to change their page to add a link? – but it’s actually more common that you might imagine. Blogs have comment fields where you can enter your own comments, forums as well allow visitors to take part in a conversation. By placing your link in comments or forum posts, you can manually increase the number of backlinks to your site.
Things become a bit more complicated, however, with something called the Follow tag. When you typically create a link in HTML code, it looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.name-of-website.com”>Name of Website</a>
However in that code, you can add special tags that cause the link to open in a new window, to open in a new tab, or even a tag that tells Google robots (discussed in the previous post) not to visit that page at all. Most blogs (including mine) include “no-follow” tags as a default setting in comments, so spammers can’t take advantage of the exact manual backlinking strategy I described above. However many forums and blogs have “do-follow” tags that allow Google robots to explore your site after you manually create the link, thus passing the high PR from their blog or forum to your page.
There are many directory listings of forums and blogs that are do-follow, so I won’t go into those lists here. What I want to discuss is how to find high PR pages within the forum or blog where you can post your link. Because each page on a domain has an individual rank (for example, this blog post alone is unranked while the homepage at www.thetopfloorflat.com has a PR of 3), sometimes it can be tricky to find high PR places to link even within do-follow domains.
The first step is to download the Firefox addon, SEO for Firefox, a fantastic tool that will show you, directly in your search results list, valuable SEO information about the pages your search has returned. This information includes PR, the number of backlinks that page itself has, and age of the site. Once the addon has been installed, you’re ready to find some high PR target pages to add your backlinks.
Pick one of your favorite do-follow forums or blogs – if you don’t know of any you can start with my favorite web developer’s forum, Digital Point. Go to the Google search engine and make sure your SEO for Firefox addon is turned on. Then, do a search for the phrase “site:forums.digitalpoint.com” of course replacing the URL forums.digitalpoint.com with whatever forum or blog you plan on using. As your search loads, the SEO for Firefox addon will show you the PR of each page indexed on the site, while the Google results will show you how many forums posts are on the page. A quick scan through the results can indicate some valuable results, such as this one here:
This image shows a result with a PR of 3, a fairly high PR, and only six other posts on the page. This is an excellent target – I can go to the page, add a post to the forum thread, and instantly have a PR3 backlink to my site. Then, I can return to the search results to find more easy targets and high PR backlinks. Once you’ve exhausted one site, there are thousands of other do-follow blogs and forums to explore.
One note – Google does not allow you to run limitless searches on their cached site pages, so it may be useful to do a few searches under one domain, then another, switching between them as you look for high PR backlink options.
This is a departure from my usual, less technical posts, and I do hope to start including more of my tech experiences in the blog here. If you have any questions about this information, feel free to leave a comment below. Didn’t understand a word? Don’t worry, the usual fluff will return to a blog near you soon :).
As promised, I want to explain a bit about StumbleUpon which I mentioned with regards to Oh How Lovely! the other day. This will also give you a bit of an idea of one of the many things I do at work all day.
StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking tool which means that it is a social network (like Facebook or MySpace in that it allows millions of users to connect through shared interests or backgrounds on the same website) based around your favourite sites on the internet. At it’s most basic, StumbleUpon stores your web favourites and bookmarks online so that you can access them from any computer. But where things get interesting is when you bring in the rest of the social network.
When you register with StumbleUpon, you enter your interests and install their toolbar to your web browser (which adds another row of buttons to the top of your screen when you’re on the internet). That toolbar includes a little graphic that looks like this: and when you click that button you are taken to a random page on the internet that someone else who is a member of the site had added to their list of favourite bookmarks and tagged with an interest of yours.
For example, let’s say that I discovered a page on this blog, saved it to my favourites on StumbleUpon and tagged it with the word ‘London’ (you need to provide tags for all bookmarks you save). Then, let’s say you registered for StumbleUpon and listed ‘London’ as one of your interests. When you click the button, you might see my page appear on your screen – simple as that! Of course it gets a bit more complicated… in the tool bar you can give sites a or which makes it more or less likely that others will see it again.
Where this all gets very interesting is when you look at how StumbleUpon can be used from a marketing perspective. With millions of people out there using the button, you want to make sure your page appears when they are looking for interesting sites. It’s a very simple way to reach people who are interested in your content who may never have heard of your website. On Spoonfed, we have hundreds of articles including great music reviews, writeups of art exhibitions, theatre commentary and more that’s not necessarily unique to London – we’d like people around the world to start noticing our quality content.
StumbleUpon has a pretty smart algorithm and you can’t just favourite your own site thousands of times hoping other people will see it. The more diverse your own account is, with lots of different favourite sites from a number of interest groups, the more likely it is that a new find will appear to lots of other Stumblers.
Confused? The important things are that StumbleUpon lets you save your bookmarks online so that you, or any of your friends, can always access them from any computer AND it helps you find sites throughout the internet that match your interest but you may never have heard of. Keep clicking around and if you see The Top Floor Flat or Spoonfed pages appear, be sure to give me a !
Tonight I went out to dinner at a pub called the Churchill Arms. I pass by this place nearly every day on my way home from work and can’t help but notice it. If you didn’t know it was a pub you might well be mistaken into thinking that it’s some sort of botanical garden shop, or horticulturalist club. The entire building is completely decked out in baskets of hanging flowers and the effect is quite beautiful.
I had been told that inside, in addition to your standard English pub, there was also a remarkably tasty and quite reasonably priced Thai restaurant but until tonight had never gone inside to visit either. Upon walking in, I was completely overwhelmed by the Winston Churchill and other period memorabilia on the walls. It was like an Applebees extreme but not kitschy or junky. You couldn’t even see the walls for all of the hanging posters, framed pictures, postcards, and for some strange reason, the occasional ocean buoy. But all of this was no where near as odd as walking past a few bar tables and finding myself in a proper Thai restaurant, complete with the front takeaway counter with people yelling at each other in Thai and piling delicious-looking food into Chinese take-away containers.
The food itself was wonderful. Because most of my cooking at home doesn’t end up particularly spicy (unless I just pour on red pepper flakes which does happen occasionally) I always love getting some food that’s got a kick to it and the pad thai definitely did the trick. This was no Waterville’s Pad Thai Too, folks, this was the real deal and it was wonderful to have a meal outside the flat.
In other news, I use the StumbleUpon social bookmarking tool (something I’ll explain more fully later this week, as well as how I use it to market Spoonfed) with some frequency and today I added my 1000th ‘liked site’ (imagine it’s like all of your saved favourite pages on your web browser, but online). I happened to find a really adorable website for my 1000th pick and I highly recommend you check out Oh How Lovely! which is a blog/online store that finds adorable things all over the internet and puts them in one place. The site also has wonderful weekly give-aways with very nice prizes (I wish I had found it when they were giving away a cupcake print apron! I would have loved that!).
Definitely stop by Oh How Lovely! and check out the lovely things they’ve got.