Second Life, Facebook, and Search

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In my quest to explore Second Life, I’ve been using the Search function to try and find new places to go.  However, I wasn’t really having much luck finding anyplace to which I wanted to return.  I began asking around and trying to figure if search was broken and/or not really worth using (like the events listing).  It led to conversations about traffic, how traffic is figured, and what ‘search’ uses to rank places.

I use the Firestorm viewer and I know there are differences between different viewers.  However, even though I have attended many classes to figure out how to best use the viewer, there are still things I’m discovering.  For instance, FS has a little button on the left side of the screen that brings up the Destination Guide.  I’ve used it several times for exploring.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that if you access the Destination Guide from that button, it does not display all of the listings that are actually in the Destination Guide.  To discover more destinations, you access the Guide from within the ‘search’ window of the viewer.

How did I discover this? Serendipity.  While I was having a conversation about traffic, how it’s figured, and how search works (or if it does work), I got a notice about an impromptu class on Search Ranking from one of my groups.  Hurrah!  Perfect timing!  I quickly tp’d to the class and started taking notes.  I wanted to know what things can affect your search ranking – good or bad.

I learned a few surprising things.  Now, for those of you who have been around for some time, this may be all old news to you.  However, much of it was new to me.  I have been in SL off and on since 2009 and I remember things that have come and gone – vote boxes and campers, just to name a few.  Vote boxes and campers were around to help businesses improve traffic (and thusly, search rankings).  So, of course, LL changed the way search was figured and vote boxes and camping disappeared.

Traffic, while still used in figuring search rankings, is apparently not as important as it used to be.  Other things that can affect your search rankings (according to the class I took):

  • Classified ads – paying for a classified ad can help boost your rank in search. (I don’t think anyone would be surprised that paying money could improve search rankings.)
  • Text from your profile and picks – text from your profile and picks can show up in search (if you choose that option).  So if you have a business and you put information about that business in your profile and/or picks, it may help your search rankings.  Just be sure not to use any crazy ASCII text, because someone searching for ‘dance’ might find you, but they won’t find you if you use ‘ðαηçε.’
  • Picks – having people add your business/venue to their picks will help boost your search rank. (I’ve had people/businesses ask that, but it never occurred to me it was to help with search rank – I figured it was more like ‘word-of-mouth’ free advertising.  I guess it’s both!)
  • Parcel name – parcel names can be quite long, because keywords that are in your parcel name can help boost your search rank as well.  Just don’t go crazy, because too many keywords can negatively affect your rank.  (How many is too many?  No one really seems to know.)
  • Objects – it used to be (in the era of vote boxes and camping), that objects on your parcel which contained keywords in the name and/or description would affect your search ranking. (So, for example, you might have objects on your parcel with words like dance, burlesque, etc., in the name.)  People began to abuse this (doing things like burying objects laced with keywords underground on their parcels), so LL changed the search algorithm again.  You can still do this, but again, no one seems to know how many objects like this is too many.
  • This last one is the one I don’t understand.  Apparently Facebook ‘likes’ can affect your ranking in search as well.  Given Facebook’s record of deleting avatar accounts as ‘not real’ and the growing upswing in people looking for alternatives to Facebook, ‘likes’ affecting your ranking seems odd.  Facebook Pages (which many businesses have) are (presumably) safe from deletion, so perhaps it’s not that odd.  But I wonder then if other social networks are included as well (and if not, why not?).  What about Twitter? Plurk? Google+?

It leaves me with the feeling that all of this (searching for events, searching for places) is made much more difficult than it needs to be.  But, now that I am better informed, perhaps my searching will produce better results. 🙂

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the following links:

Guidelines for creating search listings

Search FAQ – Second Life

In the meantime, I’ll be experimenting and exploring.  Wish me luck!