Sunday, September 17, 2006

Stomp Eludes Search Engines

If you haven't already come across rana's posting on how Stomp - Singapore's flavour of participatory journalism - isn't listed highly on Google searches, you should definitely have a read. Rana didn't mention anything about MSN, so I checked it out. Guess what? Stomp came up tops for the search term "Stomp Singapore".

Google Who?

Extrapolate - obviously no one really looked into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or worried too much about uploading a Site Map to Google. But should they?

Today's Sunday Times reported that Stomp has hit 6 million page impressions and the numbers are still climbing. Who needs Google when you are the incumbent newspaper?

Popularity?

Incidentally, one should note that the site is indexed by Google. If you search for "IMF site:stomp.com.sg", Google does search and retrieve listings from stomp.com.sg. So why doesn't the site come up tops on Google searches for "stomp singapore"?

One of the "secret" ingredients of getting a good search ranking from Google is having lots of sites link to you. Could it be, despite the 6 million page impressions, there are few sites linking in? Probably not as lots of blogs have mentioned and linked to the site.

No content?

The more likely reason is that there is no content on stomp.com.sg. Or should I say, there is no indexable content. If you check out the homepage, it's 90% graphics and 10% text. The same goes for the "Star Blogs" and "StompCast" section pages. Strange for a media company not to realise the importance of text!

That's probably why rana's post and blog faired much better. Just 10 days after posting "Singapore's Stomp not yet on Google", her blog entry was the first listing on www.yahoo.com and on the first page of www.google.com search results.

No quality content?

There could be yet another reason. Experts in SEO have always emphasized that Google's secret recipe includes ranking sites with quality content higher. No one knows exactly what Google defines as quality content but a few things have been established: good grammar and spelling.

A site like stomp that thrives somewhat on topics like "Angmoh Uncle" might find it hard to explain to Google that it's good content in good English. Likewise, user-generated content which includes phrases like "Don't so sian la" is just part and parcel of being a true Stomporean.

X-files Conspiracy?

How Stomp climbed the charts at MSN to come out tops is anyone's guess. About 4 months ago, someone at MSN told me their corporate motto was to beat Google and all employees should report irrelevant search results to the development team. Perhaps there is a Stomporean in the midst who has helped to elevate its rankings.

If there is a conspiracy theory in that, then maybe Google's engine is conspiring with bloggers. Many of whom have been very critical of the site. This calls to mind something of great fun to do.
  1. Go to Google
  2. Type in "miserable failure"
  3. Enjoy the search results

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