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Ireland’s Lost and Found Dogs, Cats & Other Pets Now on Google+

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

In our continuing drive for complete Web domination  for our lost and found pet listings we are happy to announce that you can now find  our official page on Google+ (or Google Plus if you prefer).

A screenshot of Lost & Found Pets Ireland on Google Plus

Our engagement with Google’s social networking efforts has been relatively sparce up until now.  We did have a Google Buzz account to which we piped our listing Tweets and we also had a dedicated Google Wave, I even went so far as to code a bot to automatically respond to listing requests from our Wave participants but both these services have since been axed by Google.

However, it looks like Google+ is here to stay, particularly with the fundamental seachange in search to a social model.  Now when users who are logged into Google (including GMail users as well as those using Google Plus) conduct searches, the results they see are increasingly influenced by the activities of others in their social circles that Google is aware of such as friends, family and colleagues, in an attempt to increase personal relevance of the results.  Much like the Facebook ‘Like’ button, the Google +1 button aims to fuel a recommendation engine for the entire Internet to make its search results, more relevant and therefore more useful to its users, and more users equals more advertising revenue for them. To put it another way, if one of your friends ‘+1′s a particular web page or site, you are much more likely to see it in your results than if your friend had not ‘recommended it’.

So, what does this mean for Lost and Found Pets Ireland and more especially the visibility of the listings here in Google search results.  Well, as with our listings on Facebook, in order to maximise the reach of the listings in people’s searches and their news streams on Google Plus, those who list here should ‘like’ and ‘+1′ their own listings and make a concerted effort to get their family and friends to do likewise in order to get the listing out there to the maximum extent possible.  All pages on the site, including the listing pages, include a ‘+1′ button as well as a ‘like’ facility and I cannot stress highly enough the importance of using these.  While I have done my best to automate the distribution of listings around the web via our networks, the change in search I spoke of above now gives YOU the power to make the absolute most of the technology.

Similar to Facebook Fan Pages, this week, Google opened up facilities to businesses and organisations to create Google+ Pages.  As mentioned above, users = advertising revenue for both Facebook and Google and therefore it is difficult to imagine that Google will not use its substantial lead over Facebook in providing search to promote its own social network by favouring its own ‘pages’ in search results and that is basically why we are now on Google+.  Its also worth noting that our presence on there makes accessing the listings from mobile devices somewhat easier for folk as there are Google+ apps now for all the main phones out there and these will compliment our own mobile site.

At the moment, I am posting listings there manually while I await Google to provide a facility to automate that process as Facebook have.  With on average around 10 listings per day, this is obviously quite a time consuming activity and  I will be closely monitoring (both in terms of user engagement with our Google+ page (whether folk are adding it to their circles and +1′ing the listings & site and in terms of performance of listings in the Google search results) whether the extra effort is really worth it or if I should simply wait until an automated solution is possible so again, you basically get to decide on the resources I put into this.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on Google+ and any ideas you may have to make it even more useful for folk using the site.  Just drop a comment below.

New iGoogle Gadget Published

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

The Lost and Found Pets Ireland Latest Listings iGoogle GadgetThe Lost and Found Pets Ireland Latest Listing gadget is now published for all those using a customised iGoogle homepage. The gadget automatically lists up to 5 of the latest listings on the site and the listings displayed can be filtered by status (lost or found), county and pet type.

It is also worth mentioning that this kind of Google gadget can be embedded in any other web page with just a couple of lines of cut n’ paste code.

For more see The Lost and Found Latest Listings Gadget page in the iGoogle Content Directory.

Live Gadget Preview

Irish Lost & Found Pets Now on Google Wave

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

More as an experiment at this point than anything else, given the limited user base on Google Wave at this point, I have started certainly Ireland’s and possibly the world’s first ‘Lost & Found Pets’ public Google Wave.

I’m hoping those using Google Wave will use this wave as a resource for sharing information on lost, missing, stolen and found dogs, cats and other pets in their particular area. Time will tell how useful this resource will be.

You can jump on this wave now by heading to The Lost and Found Pets Ireland Public Google Wave.

As always, let us know what you think and if you have any ideas for features you would like to see on the Wave, let us know.

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So What Happens When I Post A Pet Here

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I have just realised I have never explicitly outlined on the site what happens when a new lost or found pet is posted to the site.

Basically when someone completes the relevant posting form for a lost or found pet, I receive an email alerting me to a new posting. I then log in to the site’s administration section, review the posting, making any changes I feel will make the posting more useful to site visitors and indeed the search engine spiders who index the content on the site frequently, and then mark the posting as approved which in turn initiates the following actions.

  1. The geotagged  posting goes live on the appropriate section of the site. We are currently seeing around 9,000+ visits per month.
  2. The site contacts the major search engines (Google, MS Bing, Yahoo, and Ask) and alerts them that there is new content to be indexed and tells them explicitly where they can find it. It is only when these search engines come in and index the posting that it can appear in the search results.
  3. A text message with geolocation information is sent out on our Twitter account which appears in our followers (currently numbering around 3,250 Twitter streams and is also publicly available from both our Twitter page and from our own site where we republish our Twitter stream.
  4. If the posting is accompanied by a photo, this photo is sent to our Twitpic account so that people using Twitter can easily view it – currently we are seeing an average of about 50 views per photo this way.
  5. If the posting is accompanied by a photo we also automatically publish it to our Flickr account along with its geolocation information which allows it to appear on our Flickr map and also to our own Flickr group and to other relevant Flickr groups we are members of such as the Irish Flickr Users group. This brings a potential audience for the posting to about 4,000 people on Flickr alone and in addition makes the posting even more visible in search engine results.
  6. If a photo is included it is also published automatically to our Google Picasa account.
  7. The posting is sent to our Facebook page and will appear in all our fan’s activity streams unless they explicitly prevent it – almost 6,100 more sets of eyeballs seeing a posting.
  8. Full details of the posting including the photo if included are posted to our MySpace account.
  9. The posting appears in our main RSS feed (geolocation information once again included) and all relevant filtered feeds so is automatically distributed to individuals and other sites such as Galway SPCA, Topdog.ie and TailsandTrails.ie – we have provided some tools and help to easily display our feeds on third party sites so we hope more sites will syndicate our feeds in time.
  10. Listings are also exposed via our Google gadget to those who have installed it on their personalised iGoogle homepage or indeed on any other web page where it is installed.
  11. The individual submitting the post is informed that it has been approved and published and they are provided with the direct URL for the posting where they can then share it via their own social networking sites and, if the posting includes a photo, print out a custom poster to distribute locally.
  12. I am now also manually publishing the listings to Google Plus where we have a page at http://gplus.to/lostfoundpets – be sure to add us to your circles.

I also carry out a number of other actions to ensure that the posting is indexed in as timely a manner as possible. Since I use these techniques on some of the commercial sites I have built and/or maintain I can not discuss them here but in general, a listing will be available in the Google search results within 30 minutes of approval and often less.

With current monthly traffic of around 9,000 monthly visits to the site alone,  I believe that currently no other site offers the breath of distribution and therefore exposure of postings this site offers. It is also worth noting the extra benefits in terms of exposure one gets by including a photo with the listing.

I will be updating this post as I add more features – we are a long way from done!

Extending Our Reach – Now on Google Picasa

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I’ve just thrown some code together that will automatically post lost and found pet listings with photos over on to our Lost and Found Pets Ireland Google Picasa account.

Given that it is a Google property it will be interesting to see how it impacts on our search rankings. However it works out, a few more sets of eyes will get to see the listings which can’t be a bad thing.

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