User:Qie Niangao/Optimizing Parcels for Search

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This article is a compendium of information from a "sticky" posted on the Resident Answers Forum, started by Cristalle Karami with generous contributions from other residents.


Posted by Phil Deakins

The idea of creating hundreds of prims, all with different names and descriptions, to gain in the All search is limited. The webpage has a limit on the number of object details that it contains. E.g. mine has 148 objects listed, and there are a lot more there that are set for sale. 148 is a strange number to choose, but I have to assume that it's the limit. So not every object is listed, and taken account of in the ranking algorithm. Note: This paragraph was later corrected by the poster, who termed it "totally wrong". From other posts, it appears that hundreds or thousands of prims may be on a page listing.

Somebody mentioned that the Title is an important ranking factor, and that's true. But it's nothing to do with object names/titles. It's the HTML page's Title which isn't seen by the user. SL repeats it at the top of the viewable page, adding to its ranking power because it's in an HTML heading tag, and it's the parcel's name.

Google puts very heavy weight on page Titles (that's an HTML tag, and isn't seen in a browser), and on inbound links (IBLs), to the extent that those 2 things are all that is needed to rank pages very highly in Google. In fact IBLs are all that is needed. I won't go into the technical reasons for it in this post - unless asked. A page has just one Title (in SL, it's the parcel name), and multiple IBLs (that's why IBLs have more ranking power than Titles).

In Google, page content isn't even looked at if they can get a large enough set of results from those 2 things.

The SL system will be a bit different. There are 4 basic ranking factors that I can see:-

  1. HTML page Title tag (parcel name)
  2. HTML page Description tag (parcel description) - (the Google engine ignores this)
  3. HTML page content (names and descriptions of objects on the parcel)
  4. IBLs (a simple count of IBLs)

SL will be able to adjust the weight given to each of the factors. They said that they would be tweaking it, and I'm sure that's what they mean.

SL mentioned things like word proximity (how close the words in the searchterm are on the webpage), and they may have adjustment knobs for things like that as well, but those are the 4 basic ranking factors.

Since the number of objects listed in the webpage for a parcel is limited, and since the heart of Google's concept is to put a great deal of weight on IBLs, effort is better spent by increasing the number of IBLs, although using objects shouldn't be overlooked, because it does get rankable content onto the webpage - up to a certain limit.



Posted by Phil Deakins

How it works, in a nutshell - I hope:

There are a number of ranking factors, and each of them can be given a different weight. For instance, a single IBL could count for more than the searchterm (the words you searched on) in the page, and it probably does. A score is calculated for each matching page, and they are listed according to that score.

A simplistic way of looking at the page score calculation is something like this. For every link that points to the page, add 1. For every instance of the searchterm in the page, add 0.75. If the full searchterm is in the page's Title, add 5. And then list the pages in score order.

That should give you an idea of what's going when a search query is being processed but, in reality, it's not as simplistic as that

This is Google technology, and Google weighs page Titles (the parcel name) heavily, so the chances are that SL does too, and it's likely to be a default weighting. Also, pages will match if they have only 1 of the words from the searchterm in them, and if they have more of the words but not continuous, and so on. The proximity of the words in the page is calculated and pages that have the exact phrase, for instance, will score better than those that don't.

In Google, the weight of a word or phrase is decreased with each instance of it in the page, until any more instances of it won't add anything to the score. I.e. the score for the page increases by a smaller and smaller amount with each instance of the word, until any more instances add nothing to the score. Imo, that's likely to be in the SL system, so adding hundreds of prims with the same phrase in them is likely to be a gross waste of prims. Adding some for various phrases - yes.

So the way to improve rankings is:

  1. Craft the parcel's name and description carefully, with the most important searchterm(s) in the name, and the most important one at the front, because that's what is put into the page's important Title tag.
  2. Get people to add the place to their Picks, and to LM it. That increases the IBLs, which probably weigh heavier than the words on the page, simply because they can be seen as votes for the place - that's something that Google's whole system is based on. I've tested the words in people's Picks, and they aren't used, so getting them to change the place name to suitable target phrases is no good. IBLs are merely counted, as was stated in the blog.
  3. Add various searchterms in the names and descriptions of the objects on the land, and make sure that the objects are set to show in search. That gets those phrases onto the page where they will improve the page's score, so add at least several instances of each phrase. Existing objects can have the names and descriptions modified for the purpose. It doesn't necessarily need a load of extra prims.

Keep on with 2 and 3 until you move up the rankings. Don't forget that there may be quite a gap before you catch the ones ahead of you, and they may be doing the same things too

The All search is updated every 12 hours, so it never takes long for changes to show any effect.


Posted by Kitty Barnett

At the risk of exposing yet another way to keyword spam: that doesn't seem to be true. You can "Google bomb" the new SL search.

Consider this search for "future perfect" (exact):

If you look at the two places matches (Bliss Gardens and HooterVille Saloon), you'll notice that neither has "future perfect" in their title, description or objects.

The reason it turns up is because two people have a pick named "Future Perfect" that links to "Bliss Gardens".

The reason it's associated with HooterVille is because someone else has a pick named "Future Perfect" that links to "HooterVille Saloon".

If you're selling skins, you'll want people to name their pick "skins" rather than your store name to increase your ranking for that keyword.


Joining Parcels Posted by Solomon Devoix

According to the blog, it's the LARGEST parcel whose land settings get used; so it's size, not order, that determines it.


Traffic Posted by Kitty Barnett

What they seem to do is create a list of *all* parcels listed in search across all of SL, sort it by traffic and cut it off at a certain point to make a "top xx" page (there's 12 of them apparantly):

  1. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.10.html
  2. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.20.html
  3. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.50.html
  4. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.100.html
  5. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.200.html
  6. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.500.html
  7. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.1000.html
  8. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.2000.html
  9. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.5000.html
  10. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.10000.html
  11. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.20000.html
  12. http://world.secondlife.com/start/traffic.50000.html

So if you're #5 on the "most traffic in SL" list, you have 12 traffic webpages that reference you, giving you an extra of 12 inbound links, boosting your search ranking. If you're #2004 you get 4 extra inbound links. If you're not in there at all, no boost for you.

On the other hand, profile picks count as an inbound link as well (cue the armies of disposable alts who are logged on just to set a pick and then never to be seen again). Whether it counts as much as being on a "top" page is anyone's guess probably.

If you ever had (or have) a website, it'll make more sense than if you're still trying to look at search from an SL perspective because all places, classifieds, profile are just a collection of webpages now and searched the same way as you use Google to search the web.

(Disclaimer: the above is my guess on the whole search thing, not a summary of anything "official"

Note: In a later post, Phil Deakins points out "Traffic can be forgotten about. Its effect is the same as a few Picks, and it's so much easier to get a few extra Picks."


Landmarks

Although the Linden blog article claimed that Landmarks counted, the consensus seems to be that they don't, and that there are just no links back to the parcel in the current webpages.


Posted by Scott Hifeng

Okay, got it. Thank you for these clarifications.

New question: Could somebody give an example of an optimally named parcel?

Or tell me if this is correct: Let's say I have a furniture store called HiConcept Designs. As I understand it, anything in the parcel name field is of high weight AND the first word matters more than the second or third words. So to maximize search, if I believe people will be looking for what I sell more than for my company name, what is an optimal parcel name? "Furniture Modern HiConcept Designs"?

Or do 'modern' and 'furniture' belong in the land description field?

Many thanks, once again.


Posted by Johan Durant

Personally I would go with "Modern Furniture from HiConcept Designs" because that's a pleasing balance between optimizing for search and having a grammatically correct name.


Posted by Vittorio Beerbahm

I've found that mixing different keywords (position) would have a different effect (result), so we say (in example) that the limit is just 1 repetition per keyword, and we have two keywords "worda" and "wordb", if you use two prims with a name: "worda worb" and the other with "wordb worda" both would be considered because the search engine does not keep just the word alone but the algo has a sort of word association function (for simplification: it keeps "phrases"). I agree on the point of how much weigth (scoring) those objects have, it is very limited, the title and the parcel description does counts greatly more. But the key to score high in the search it's the backlinks (it's the same for the real google too): more page you have referreing back to yours (your land page) more you would score, so "picks" (of your customers) playing an important role, but none seems to have talked yet how to boost your search position paying for it, it's the classified: each classified (50L$) is gonna give you a backlink, it's the same "trick" used with the "events" (LL eliminated that "exploit"), where ppl were gonna spam fake events to generate fake backlinks "for free".

To respond to the OP question (wich name to use), i agree with Johan, a fair name would be: "Modern Furniture by HiConcept Designs" ...good compromise between "looking" and the main keyword position, then you would start your parcel descrition again with the word "Forniture".


Posted by Kittyn Fuhr

I have found also, it helps with having those same blocks at other places. I went around to all of my markets, and changed my sign and LM giver to say "House of the Axe Gorean Market Treasured Lily Designs" (and set for search). That brought be from about 55 to 48 in the new searchfor the word "gor" (my land has the word "gor" in the description). when I added the word "gor" to those same prims...it jumped to page 8.

Now...I have noticed something...not all of the parcels that I have placed prims on, are showing up when i do a search for "house of the axe" (and yes, they are set for search). I have 2 private parcels of land, and several markets that don't show. Any idea why some show, and some don't?


Posted by Phil Deakins

Word repetitions on the page: The way that Google stated how they treat them, it didn't sound like the number of repetitions, before any further instances are of no value, is anywhere near as low as 2. AlatVista used to count only 2 instances of a word on a page, but Google counts more - lowering the ranking value for each one.

Proximity: Proximity is how close together the words in the searchterm occur on the page. The closer the words are together, the better they will score. Perfect proximity is when the exact searchterm (phrase) is on the page, and we can ensure perfect proximity by naming and describing the parcel and its objects accordingly.

Prominence: The nearer the top of the page a word/phrase is, the higher its prominence, and the better it scores. In the case the the parcel name (as used in the page's Title tag), the nearer the front of the name, the higher its proximity is, and the better it scores.



Posted by Phil Deakins

For an av's Picks to count as links to places, the av must have an html page for the links to be on. Only certain types of avs have html pages, so adding picks to general bots is useless. We had a whole thread on the topic, including doing tests.


Posted by Kitty Barnett

The/a "master page" (it looks like the one I found is the root of the crawler, but there could be more of them I guess) has 6 links:

  • agents
  • classifieds
  • events
  • groups
  • regions
  • traffic

(Which would suggest that places are only found through either avie picks, the region page or if it has enough traffic to warrant listing on the traffic pages)

Agents: this one is a bit odd. It has a major header for each day of the week, each followed by 30 links to pages full of avie names.

Classifieds: subcategorized into All and 13 "Top XXX" categories (would suggest that the top 10 paying classifieds used to get a total of 14 incoming links and so on, but all the end pages linked to don't exist anymore so it's essentially useless)

Events: a page with 4 links to all events happening on that day (at this time May 19th through May 22nd)

Groups: 256 links (based on the first two "letters" of their UUID)

Regions: 16 links (based on the first "letter" of their UUID)

Traffic: 12 links of "Top XXX" categories (I already found out about this a while ago so that was to be expected)



[Ignore this... just a test edit by Qie's idiot alt.]