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January 7, 2008

Weekend Update 01/07/2008

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Is Facebook Copying Twitter?

Why is Facebook suddenly asking me what I’m doing? Isn’t that Twitter’s thing? Little by little all the social networks are starting to replicate one another.


Wikia Launches, Founder Admits It’s Not So Great

This is new. Typically when a new search engine launches, the founders try to convince you that it’s the best thing since sliced Google and it’s only until you read everyone else’s less biased reviews that you realize it probably isn’t. However, this time even the founders aren’t so impressed with their own creation.

Jimmy Wales flat out told the New York Times that his new Wikia search engine he’s created and has been raving about for months is no Google killer. And the critics seem to agree. Michael Arrington called it a complete letdown, CenterWorks Allen Stern said it wasn’t ready yet and Paris Lemon referred to the search results as hit or miss. How’s that for a glowing endorsement?

Regardless of how powerful Wikia may or may not become in the future, I think the whole thing is a bad idea. Creating a search engine where you leave it up to the community to decide the perfect search results page is dangerous waters. Too many people have nefarious ulterior motives and personally, I don’t want my SERP looking like the front page of your typical social networking site. I don’t want it gamed. I want to be able to trust my search results. Jimmy Wales seems to think its "unhealthy" for our information to be controlled behind closed doors, but I think it’s far unhealthier to give the keys to the kingdom to a bunch of poor intentioned spammers and self promoters. I’m not sure how Jimmy thinks his team will be able to control the massive influx of spam he’s about to see (apparently he didn’t learn his lesson through Wikipedia), but I think he’s in far over his head with this one.

Using human influences to "perfect" an otherwise algorithm engine is one thing. Handing my SERP over to the "wisdom of crowds" is another.

Right Hand vs Left Hand Navigation

There’s an interesting conversation brewing over at Cre8asite Forums asking people to make the case (or not) for right hand navigation.

I’m of the belief that your navigation should be in the place your audience expects it to be, whether that is on the left, on the right, up top or directly in the center of the page, makes no difference. Some users are trained to look to the left for navigation; others realize that now that people have bigger screens, putting navigation on the right hand side is A-okay since (for the most part) we no longer have to worry about pages getting cut off. Site owners should also keep in mind what of business they’re running. Informational sites tend to be put navigation on the top to get it out of the way and allow users to focus on the content, while most retail sites like to keep the navigation on the left.

All things being equal, I don’t really think it matters where you put it as long as it’s consistent throughout the site and easily accessible to users. You don’t want to hinder a searchers experience simply because they can’t figure out how to navigate your site. Navigation, like good site design, should be intuitive and invisible.

Search Engine Journal Blog Awards

Search Engine Journal has crowned the winners for several of its 2007 Blog Search Award categories. Matt McGee took top honors in the Best Local Search Blog, Search Engine Land was named the Best Search Industry Blog, and Search Engine Roundtable was named the Best SEO Blog. You can find the rest of the winner announcements over at Search Engine Journal. Congrats to all the winners and hopefully Loren will give us the full winners list shortly. My little blogger heart can’t take all this anticipation.

Fun Finds

A video that Gizmodo says makes Bill Gates look cooler than Steve Jobs.

Tamar Weinberg has paired up with Dan Perry to give away a totally sweet Google mini fridge. You should all enter. And then send me the fridge when you win!

Not particularly search engine optimization-related, but timely nonetheless, Real Simple helps you decide which financial records to keep and which ones you can safely throw away.

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