My catchphrase is ‘they have an algorithm!’ How does Twitter work out its top tweets? – an algorithm. How does Google know what results to show? – an algorithm.
I thought we should take a look at the history of this elusive tech formulae.
Sometime circa 1990 early search engines began cataloging the web. To register, all web people had to do was submit their URL address to the engine which would release a ‘search spider’, like something out the Matrix, to extract links to other pages and return the information to be indexed.
A large part of the search formulae relied on meta tags, labelling your webpages with keywords, and your site would slowly work its way up the listings. But this lead to keyword dumping or to a ‘high key word density’ and pages that read like this:
“We have a variety of inflatable palm trees in stock and these inflatable palm trees are for sale at $14.99. Be sure to pick up your inflatable palm tree today before all the inflatable palm trees are gone. Our inflatable palm trees are flying out the door”
Annoying. And Google thought so to.
It also meant search rank listings were easily manipulated, causing search terms to throw up completely irrelevant pages. Key word dumpling is a technique belonging to ‘black hat’ SEO. (Tactics search engines disapprove of, as opposed to ‘white hat’ methods, like web design, which will cause higher rankings long term.)
So the search engine giant evolved its elusive algorithm to include a trust and credibility measure – that is how many third party sites linked back to content on your webpage. In the ever-waging battle between SEO manipulators and Google, ‘link farms’, which manufactured backlinks, littered the web to boost rankings.
Now this is where it gets clever, in April 2012, Google released Penguin (named after the black and white hat SEO techniques). The latest algorithm, which not only includes meta tags, backlinks but now social influence. Essentially how many social networking sites you’re linked to, how many people engage and organically spread your content.
Google’s algorithm is now so well-tuned it can provide you with personalised search results which means if we were to both Google ‘Inflatable palm trees’ I can guarantee our top 10 would be different. Google computes your location, what browser you use, age, other sites you visit to help you find the information you need. Knowledge is now more accessible than ever before.
Guest blogging for us today is our amazing intern, Amy Tortoishell, who’s been working with the Twelve team over the last month. Here she takes a look at that pressing debate – Are you Instagram loyal hipster or trendy Vine convert?
The many varieties of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and so on) have been buzzing with the ongoing battle of the video apps this summer. Following the launch of videos on Instagram, comparisons between it and Vine have been popping up all over my various newsfeeds.
The only one that’s stuck with me is their video lengths. Instagram’s 15 second videos allow those artsy creative types far more to work with than Vine’s 6.
But in reality, aren’t they, like so many forms of social media, just the same or similar service with a different name?
Granted, Instagram started off in a different format. When I bought my iPhone last year, it was Instagram, not Facebook or Twitter, that I was really excited about downloading. I love the filters and I love the photos.
But in my mind the videos service is an add on. I enjoy watching the videos my friends post on Instagram (once I figure out how to make them play), but it’s not why I use it and I don’t know if I would ever put one up.
Equally I don’t want my iPhone clogged up with yet one more app I don’t use, which is why I wouldn’t download Vine.
So that’s why my money’s on Instagram to outlast the competition in a heavily saturated market.
Instagram has updated its services whilst still keeping those foundations that have attracted 130m monthly users. I may not want to upload a video, I may not want to download an app specifically for videos, but I will watch them once I’m done editing my photos.
Big brands wanting to make a hit with the new video trend should remember this vital feature, rather than stats on video length and filter quality. Instagram has a bigger user base; almost ten times that of Vine.
A question for all those brands and companies that already have an Instagram profile and advertise with it, why would you start all over again on a service that does half as much?
If you have already spent the time building up a following on Instagram, sharing photos and videos, why would you try again on Vine sharing only videos?
Call me lazy but that sounds like a waste of time.
I’m not bothered about how many videos are uploaded a week from Vine or Instagram, or how many new users each has, and neither are many other everyday users. I, like virtually every Instagrammer I know, am interested in the picking the perfect filter that makes my lunch look like something rustled up in a Jamie Oliver inspired moment, or turns my hair that perfect shade of blonde.
Yes, once I have finished with that, I will watch a brand’s video of their latest campaign, or admire the accents in their photo, but only because I’m there already.