Many people have noticed during the last 12 months that Sphinn has gradually become less of a force within the search industry. I have to admit, I’ve been one of the users who used Sphinn heavily in the early days – but during the last 6-12 months have found myself visiting the site far less frequently.
Having been involved in a Sphinn meeting at SMX Advanced last week and following Matt McGee’s announcement of Sphinn 2.2, I thought it would be a good idea to list some ideas about why you should still be using Sphinn.
1) Traffic – yes, traffic may have tailed off recently, but there’s very few website’s out there which will send as much targeted and high-quality traffic as Sphinn.
In 2009, Sphinn was the fourth biggest traffic source to SEOptimise with an impressive 14,322 visits. An average bounce rate of 81.86% is also excellent for a social media website referral (especially considering they are looking to just read a single news item), suggesting the quality is high. This should be a good enough reason alone to use Sphinn!
2) Links – at worst, for a homepage story you get a followed link from Sphinn.com. But if you can generate that much targeted traffic, it’s likely to be picked up by other bloggers too and mentioned in some weekly roundup posts.
3) Keep up-to-date on latest news – for many people visits to Sphinn and subscribing to blogs via RSS has been replaced by the sharing of links on Twitter. However, tweets are easy to miss – if you keep an eye on the Sphinn homepage it’s easier to pick out the main stories of a day or week.
4) Train your SEM team – similar to the above, but everyone wants their team to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and news within the industry. The downside is that this can be very costly and time-consuming. Sphinn stories are generally aimed at all levels of understanding, so monitoring homepage content can be a great way of making sure your team picks up a few tips and tricks.
5) Get involved in some great discussions – homepage stories can generate some great comments and debates. This is something which smaller SEO blogs may not have the influence to generate themselves with such an audience, so it’s a great way to get some feedback and discussion started.
6) Build relationships within the industry – Twitter’s very good for this too, but if you can interact with industry contacts and promote each others content, then this can be a great way of building some very useful contacts.
7) Build a reputation as a top Sphinner – you don’t necessarily have to write great content to become recognised as a top Sphinner. But by picking out stories which frequently make the homepage, you can start to build a reputation which may be useful both within the industry and to potential clients.
But what does Sphinn need to improve?
Matt has asked for feedback on the Sphinn blog, but here are some quick thoughts which I think would help to get Sphinn back on track:
- Continue to mix editor choice stories onto the homepage – sometimes it can take 3 days for a story to be promoted to the homepage of Sphinn. For news and time-based stories this is too slow, this may have been and gone by the time you get to read about it otherwise. Some stories submitted towards or over the weekend need a little push too, as getting votes Friday to Sunday can be too difficult sometimes.
- Bring back the top users list – this is currently behind the paid members area, but having this freely available makes the site more competitive and gives a greater motivation to submit. This should help to improve the number and quality of submissions.
- Better integration with Twitter - Twitter is clearly one of the main reasons why the popularity of Sphinn has suffered. If there was a way in which Sphinn could be integrated to reward Twitter users in a similar way to Tweetmeme – then it gives more of a reason for users to use both Sphinn and Twitter – as opposed to one or the other.
- Sphinn iPhone app – I’m not sure if this is just me, but I would find an iPhone app to be an easier way to read Sphinn on the move, rather than having to use the browser instead. Or perhaps I just need an iPad! :D