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Archive for the ‘Listing Tips’ Category

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.

What’s the Story? Lost and Found Pet Listing Outcomes

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Several times during the life of this site so far, one question has come up again and again; what happens all the lost and found dogs and cats and other pets listed on the site? Up until now unless those posting took a proactive approach and contacted me to inform me of the outcome of their listing there was no way to answer that question for many of the pets that are listed here.

When I started the site, the focus was on getting the maximum exposure for listings possible.  This involved making the process of posting a listing as easy as possible, building out the mechanisms for posting the listings to the third party social networking sites we connect to and working to build up communities of active and involved followers and fans there, optimising the listings for accurate and efficient indexing by the search engines and putting tools in place for site visitors to easily share listings both off and online.  With all that to do, outcomes had to take a bit of a back seat.

But not anymore.  Now when a listing is removed manually, the user is presented with a form which they can complete to let myself and the community know the outcome of their listing – good or bad.  I’m hoping that presenting the form as an integrated part of the removal process will encourage people to let us know how things worked out in their particular case – happy ending or other outcome, we want to know.  However, in line with our ethos of not obliging users to engage with the site any more than strictly necessary to publish a listing, completion of this form is totally optional.

In addition, listings that expire automatically after the 30 day active period will now be flagged with that particular outcome.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be working on mechanisms to automate the communication of these outcomes back to the community which, in additon to keeping you all much more informed, should free up some time for me to start work on building out the next phase of the site.

Twitter Hash Tags for Irish Lost and Found Pets

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Update

Having had positive feedback on both Twitter and Facebook to this idea I have since started adding these tags to the listing tweets.  I hope others will do the same.

Undoubtedly one of the big problems for people trying to locate their lost pet or trying to find the owner of a pet they have found in Ireland is the scattered nature of listings online. A listing may appear on one site but not another and so it is easy for one to be overlooked or missed.

One of the ways I had hoped to get around this scattering problem was by sharing the listings from Lost and Found Pets Ireland but for various reasons which I won’t linger on here, this is proving challenging.  On Twitter we now could be facing into a similar problem, unless you are following the right account, listing tweets can slip through the cracks.

This is where hashtags come in. For those of you who don’t tweet, a hashtag is a simple label you can include with a tweet to associate it with a particular subject, event etc. They take the form of a pound sign followed by a short combination of characters. These hash tags are searchable so if there was a hash tag associated with a particular event for example, I could locate all tweets relating to that event by searching on the hash tag and would see tweets regardless of whether I was following any of  the people who tweeted about that event or not.  To see the idea in action, here is a link to a search using the found Irish pet listing tag #fpie and a search for the lost Irish pet listing tag #lfpie.

Today, I’m proposing that we do the same thing with Irish lost and found pet listings as they now seem to be coming from several different accounts. My suggested hash tags are as follows:

#fpie for found pets
#lpie for lost pets

The thinking behind these is to let people get a complete overview of the listing tweets with the ability to filter them by lost or found status (thanks to @tehkittehkat for that suggestion) while keeping the hash tags short so to reserve the maximum characters for listing details.

If this idea makes sense to you or you have any further thoughts or ideas on this I would love to hear them either in the comments area below or on Twitter – @lostfoundpets.

I hope all parties posting listings can reach some agreement on this to make the lives of those dealing with lost and found pets a little easier.

Geotagging Your Pet Listing Just Got Easier

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Following on from my previous post announcing the addition of geolocation information to the free lost and found pet listings we have been watching how people are coping with marking the location of their loss or find on the map.

It seems that most people found the process of manipulating the map to get an accurate location quite tricky and when I got a submission this evening which placed a poor lost cat in the sea off the coast of Cork, I decided it was time to take a look at what I could do to simplify the process.

I have now added an interface below the map where posters can enter an address, street or road name, suburb or townland and county and we will have Google try to locate that area on the map and zoom in on it which should take most of the trickier manipulation out of the geolocation process for users.

Hope it helps.

Lost and Found Pets Ireland – Now Without Borders

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Just a very quick post to announce that we are now accepting UK mobile numbers for lost and found listings which means our friends in Northern Ireland can now post their listings. I had originally intended to do this as you can see from the counties displayed on the site but somehow the validation of the phone numbers got put on the long finger with everything else that has been going on. Pets don’t pay much attention to borders and I think that’s a pretty sensible position.

Anyway, spurred on by Evie from North West Pet Rescue and having consulted the relevant Ofcom document on the matter, I have enabled numbers starting with the digits 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 077, 078 and 079 to be submitted.

If anyone in Northern Ireland has any problems submitting with their particular UK mobile number they can contact me and I will do my best to resolve the issue.