KillerStartups Killed?

*Please note the important update at the end of this post

One way that a new blogger can get story ideas and make a name for themselves is to report on new and interesting startups, the problem has been how do you find out about a startup early enough to get the scoop? The main service that I was aware of was KillerStartups.com, they saw the need, the niche, and acted with great success.  The problem that appeared was the sheer amount of new startups interested in the publicity made it impossible for detailed coverage of any of them.  The cookiecutter information that became the standard fare on KillerStartups, while still useful, left open a door for competition that could do a better job providing coverage.

TechCrunch’s Crunchbase has been steadily gaining users in this arena and with the recent addition of an API and KillerStartups’ decline, has taken the lead according to Google Trends (it’s recent integration into Zemanta means you’ll see more of it from me):

Google Trends Data for Startup Info

Google Trends Data for Startup Info

Still, it’s hard to scoop TechCrunch with their own database, so other startups have entered the field, two that I’ve used and think are notable are TradeVibes and YouNoodle.  If you check out the Alexa data you can see that YouNoodle is enjoying a spike in traffic among Alexa users.  And while Alexa data is generally considered less than ideal, in this case it might be a better indicator of where web-savy users are getting their information:

Page Views by Alexa Users

Page Views by Alexa Users

The Alexa data also seems to show some hope for KillerStartups, but the Google Trends data is showing a clear flatline.   So, we get back to the title of this post, does the way KillerStartups delivers information still have a place?  Can they bounce back or has KillerStartups been killed?

*Update! – Please be sure to take a look at the comments and note that the Quantcast directly measured results back up what the Alexa results show, a significant bounce back up in traffic and a hefty lead in readership over Crunchbase.

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Disqus SEO Looks Good From Here

I was a little hesitant to install the Disqus comment system, but I took the plunge to see how I liked it and I find many of the features so helpful and superior to WordPress‘s native comment system that I’ve decided to make the switch permanent. The Disqus dashboard, the universal login for all other sites using Disqus, and the ability to reply and delete comments by responding to the notification e-mail are all major reasons that I’ve decided to stick with the switch. There were two concerns that I had that almost had me hit the uninstall:

1. SEO - I’m not an expert in SEO but I have explored the basics and have seen the value that comments on a post can add to your search ranking, so I was concerned about losing that traffic source. In looking into the subject this issue was one that many bloggers had expressed and is one that Disqus is taking seriously. For WordPress users, the Disqus plugin uses their API and there doesn’t seem to be a problem. I did a little experiment to make sure that the Disqus comments are being indexed correctly, and while I can’t say they have the same value as a WordPress comments, what I see is good enough for me:

WordPress comment w/ #1 rank from my post helping people having trouble opening files with an .efw extension:

#1 Google rank from WordPress Comment

Disqus comment w/ #1 rank from my interview with Profy VP, Svetlana Gladkova:

#1 Google Ranking from Disqus comment

Obviously not heavily searched terms, but it’s what I could quickly pull from my existing comments, I encourage you to try the same thing for yourself. You’ll also note that there is no duplicate content from Disqus showing in the searches.

2. Not Hosting Comments – The problems with not hosting your own comments were made clear this past week as a database error at Disqus made all comments unavailable for a short time. Hopefully this point will be moot in a month or so as Disqus implements the export to WordPress feature that’s in the works. If Disqus goes down, you’ll still have all the data. It will be a huge reduction in risk and should help sway those bloggers who aren’t quite sure about making the change.

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RSS Belongs on Everything!

iPhone WebClip bookmark icons

Image by aqhong via Flickr

Since participating in RSS Awareness Day I have found myself much more aware of the lack of RSS! There are so many things that are pushed to me by e-mail that I would rather have the option of pulling by RSS reader. I know both technologies have a push and a pull aspect but the bevy of e-mail notification tools make e-mail the pushier option of the two. I’m not after a mass switch here but options, give me more options! Anything on the web that can change should have an RSS feed available.

Here are some advances I would like to see:

  • Social Networks – RSS is starting to show up more, but what these networks need are the options to filter by each item that can be updated and to create multiple feeds. For example if you are on Facebook you should be able to subscribe to an RSS feed(s) that you set up from your newsfeed. You might want one feed for everything and I might want everything in one feed except to peel off status updates to second feed.
  • A widely implemented SRSS (Secure RSS) – Feeds of from your bank, credit card companies, and investment firms are among a few useful places for Secure RSS feeds, there are any number of other uses including private corporate feeds. If there is one single item needed to push RSS more to the mainstream, this is it.
  • Advertisements – The ability to mass ignore posts in RSS also makes it the perfect vehicle for the spammy type e-mail services you may tolerate.  I like to see what Dell has for sale and the current prices on all the random computer gear at the new CompUSA.com, but I delete those e-mails unread for the most part, it would be much better to scan them and trash them in bulk in an RSS feed.
  • DRSS (Dynamic RSS) – I don’t know if this is a coined phase or not, but this is a feature that’s just starting to pop up and that I hope to see a lot more of, an RSS feed that builds itself from a site’s content and your interests.  I currently get an e-mail from Bankrate.com when they write about 529 college savings plans, make this an RSS feed for me instead! Call it filtering or call it search, either way you’re making the feed dynamic for my interests.  With RSS bloat and purges this type of focused RSS will keep me reading and less frustrated.

These are my major wishes for RSS, what are yours?

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Looking Beyond the Google SEO Announcement

English:

Image via Wikipedia

If SEO, or search engine optimization, is of interest to you then you probably saw the recent Google blog post Introduction to Google Search Quality, if you didn’t then take a look – one of the most interesting parts of the announcement was this paragraph that breaks down some of the tools that Google uses to rank search results:

The most famous part of our ranking algorithm is PageRank, an algorithm developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google. PageRank is still in use today, but it is now a part of a much larger system. Other parts include language models (the ability to handle phrases, synonyms, diacritics, spelling mistakes, and so on), query models (it’s not just the language, it’s how people use it today), time models (some queries are best answered with a 30-minutes old page, and some are better answered with a page that stood the test of time), and personalized models (not all people want the same thing).

As a searcher this just means that Google is trying it’s best to get you the best results it can. As a new blogger this means that you should really spend your time writing quality content and think about SEO later because until your site and posts get some age and respectability, you’re just not going to get great ranking. For the more established bloggers and SEO experts this sounds like Google gently trying to sway people away from schemes with a firm statement that Google is interested in the best content for the query, and if you can deliver then you’ll get the best rank.

I don’t think that anything ground breaking was revealed in this post no matter how much coverage it’s been getting, but I did notice one link into the article that peaked my interest, and that was someone who worked on the search team posting on their personal blog. Who better to get ideas about SEO from than someone who works on the team? And even if they aren’t telling any secrets on their own blogs, then maybe their site source will shed a little light on the subject. This particular search team member’s blog was a little used and fairly barebones install of WordPress that offered no insights, so I went looking to the only other source I could think of,  Matt Cutts.

Matt works for Google and is well known for his SEO expertise and antispam work. I expected a search on Google SEO to put Matt at the top of the list and figured that if you looked at Matt’s blog and his source you could probably get some great tips (I’ll leave this as an exercise to the reader) One surprising thing popped up on those results – at the time I ran the search Matt is listed after a Google help page on the subject and by a site titled Google Ranking Factors – SEO Checklist. A page that lists many of the top confirmed SEO tips and tricks along with the rumors that seems to have some backing. Any site that outranks Matt Cutts on a Google SEO search is certainly doing something right so take a look and I’m sure you’ll learn something useful!

Interview: Svetlana Gladkova, Profy Vice President

Profy logo

Svetlana Gladkova is the Vice President of Business Development at Profy.com. Profy is a new and exciting entry into the hosted blog market that is aiming to outdo the current heavy hitters by building from the ground up as a one stop blogging, social network, and RSS reader. The social features and the greater customization and monetization options should put Profy in a good position after the service exits beta. There’s a lot more to recommend Profy and as long as users won’t scoff at Profy placing an ad on their free blogs, I think we’ll see a steady rise in traffic as users switch or supplement their other blogs with Profy. I do have a few Profy invites if you leave a comment I’ll see what I can do. If you want to see a Profy blog you can take a peek @ KnightKnetwork.Profy.com. Svetlana was kind enough to talk to me about Profy and share some of her thoughts about blogging in general:

What benefits do you see in going with a hosted blog service over self-hosting? Why should users choose Profy in particular? (more…)