I just relaunched my personal blog a few days ago, moving it from nonviolence.org/martink to quakerranter.org. I plan to write a whole big piece about it in the near future. But my access logs just picked up something amazing.
important part of the redesign was an automatic keyword generator.
Posts were run through a script that automatically pulled out keywords
from the text. My 2003 article, Going all the way with Movable Type generated the following tags, which appear as links after the post:
Following the links takes you to similarly-tagged articles. At least
that’s the conceit. When you follow a tag’s link you’re simply doing a
site search for that keyword. A little htaccess rewrite magic is making
the result look like it’s a static category page.
“Fine and well” you’re thinking, “big deal.” Well, here’s what’s
cool. There are 225 entries on the QuakerRanter blog. Google’s just
gone through and indexed the site and is now claiming it contains 1300 pages.
Each tag is being indexed as its own page. Every time I mention any
interesting term, it becomes a page that Google indexes and delivers to
Which brings us to today’s cool piece from the access logs. In
December of 2004 a rather innocent post on Quaker Ranter became the
center of a mini-whirlwind on the political blogs when it mentioned
that I had gotten a call from a CBS News publicist interested in Nonviolence.org.
All political blogs get publicity calls from news and opinion think
tanks trying to suggest (or plant) stories but no one’s supposed to
talk about it. I only mentioned it because it was so unusual. One of
the blogs denouncing the liberal conspiracy my post revealed was the
somewhat slimy Little Green Footballs. After a few weeks the
denunciations died down.
But this morning, someone looked up littlegreenfootballs in Google and came to my site. Because of my automatic keyword generator, tags, and static-loooking links, I’m now the number two entry, on two three-year old posts, now relocated to a days old quakerranter.org. Cool.
This mixing and matching of content and rich manipulation of data is sometimes lumped together in the cool bu zzphrase folksonomy.
Note that none of what I’ve done is a tricking of Google. Every tag is
really going to a page with that content. These are “natural” and
“organic” search results in the lingo of SEO. I’m just presenting my information in multiple formats that appeal that the widest array of audiences.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think I deserve #2 status for
“littlegreenfootballs” and I don’t think Google will keep it there for
long. It’s a bit odd that they have elevated that particular term so
high and no others tags seem so stratospheric.
As of February 2007, Google indexes 3,540 pages
on QuakerRanter.org, a blog of only 239 posts. In December 2006 30% of
my Google visits were to one of the “tags” page. Reconfiguring the blog
in this kind of tag-intensive way has more than doubled search engines
visits, again in a very natural and organic way. Adding tags has simply
made what I’ve written more accessible to search engines. Very cool.
Shortly after installing this new system, my servers started
periodically crashing (about once/week). The problem would be multiple
MT-Search processes overloading the memory.
My guess is that a search engine spider came along and started
indexing all of the tags. Each link initiated a search query in Movable
Type. The built-in search for Movable Type is just not able to handle
this volume of traffic.
I installed Fast Search to solve the problem (tip of the hat to Al-Muhajabah). It took awhile: Fast Search required a MySQL upgrade at my host. After that I needed to install these plugin fixes.
Then it was fine-tuning the htaccess files. It was been more work than
I initially expected and the tag results now forward to a funny URL that Google doesn’t love as much.