Many of us in the SEO industry bemoaned the decision of Sphinn, the only social news community for search marketers, to remove the voting option. This way a community turned to a completely editorial site. That may be not as bad for for the Sphinn team, instead of fighting spammers and voting rings they can focus on seeking out valuable stories now. On the other hand it has been a huge blow to the
global SEO village: Where can we convene virtually? On the manifold forums, Twitter or Facebook?
This opportunity was quickly seized by some of the most active Sphinn users and prolific social networkers. They created a new social news community for us out of scratch. It’s called SERPd and it seems to work well from the start from the user perspective.
I’ve been using SERPd for a few weeks now and I really like it. It’s not perfect but it offers plenty of useful options and features to enhance your industry news reading experience.
The SERPD team still struggles with some minor design issues and bugs but overall they made many things right already. Let me review these features:
Number of views
SERPd displays the number of views a submission gets. This number does not equal the number of visitors or pageviews you get on your site though. It’s most probably the number of views an item gets on serpd.com itself. Despite this shortcoming this number is very helpful to determine true popularity. You can easily distinguish between artificially voted up links or those that barely made the frontpage at the last minute and the truly successful postings many people click.
Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon integration
SERPd also includes Facebook “likes”, a Twitter button (no number of retweets) and StumbleUpon views of the source page. This way the site is not an island but very much part of a larger social media ecosystem. You can spread the news on those other sites most people take part already.
serpds.us UR Shortener
Another welcome feature is the SERPd owned URL shortener serpd.us – clicking on the “Tweet This!” button will result in the shortening of the URL. Clicking on the short URL will lead to the submission page on SERPd.
Upcoming and latest posts
Right now there you can see upcoming posts (those almost popular or with most votes) and latest posts (those just submitted) in the frontpage sidebar. This is quite helpful to gain a quick overview of the news.
Almost every action gets displayed on the FP as well, be it a vote, a comment or submission, called “bookmark” here. There still seems to be some kind of confusion here between social news and social bookmarking we’re used to from Delicious. SERPd, like Digg, doesn’t make sense as a social bookmarking service. You can’t organize or search your own bookmarks using tags for instance. SERPd is clearly a niche social news site. The latest activity on the frontpage sidebar allows you to follow a short stream of what other people did on SERPd. This helps a lot as the popular items don’t change much by now.
Follow and get followed
You can follow people on SERPd and get followers as well. You can also see the latest activity of the people you follow and your followers too. Unlike on Facebook, Twitter or the new Digg you don’t see a stream of activity but the latest action of each user you follow (or follows you). This way you need to take a close look to see what’s new. Also the people you have followed most recently get shown o the first page then. To see your older friends you need more clicks. While following works better than on Sphinn where it didn’t make much sense at all to me at least it’s not as advanced as I’m used to these days. Hopefully SERPd will expand this concept.
Frontpage and popular stories
There is a great way to determine current and historically popular submissions by ”day, week, month, year, all time” using the according links on top. On the other hand the frontpage has the typical drawback of all social news sites: It’s not always the best content that gets popular but the content most people know about, approve of or understand.
The categories reflect a traditional spectrum of internet marketing disciplines, ranging from blogging, SEO, SEM, PPC to social media, searching and copywriting. You won’t find some of the modern disciplines like local SEO, mobile SEO, video SEO or viral marketing though.
The site title of SERPd says “Search Engine Marketing & SEO News”. This does not sound very inclusive. Only SEM/SEO news? What about internet marketing as a whole? Blogging and copywriting has been added later and the broader “social media” is there as well but it seems that most people who are not part of the SEO industry will not feel like taking part. Sphinn at least started with the broader scope of internet marketing as a whole and ended up quite limited to search marketing. The SEO niche might turn too small to gain enough momentum for SERPd.
Will SERPd stand the test of time?
Frontpage based social news sites like Digg, Mixx or Propeller all struggle while the stream based mode of social networking and non-hierarchical link sharing sites (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) has proven the more popular way of socializing on the Web recently. This is also one of the most important reasons why Sphinn failed.
The frontpage metaphor leads per definition to abuse. You can’t abuse Twitter or Facebook as easily as there is no central hub for the popular links. So you get only popular with your friends and followers not due to a frontpage.
The frontpage as such has been adopted from print. Today we know that there is no real frontpage on the Web. All pages of a site are landing pages and the homepage is just meant to organize information.
Said that and given the issues Sphinn had to deal with SERPd works quite well as of now. It needs more active users to stay afloat though. Right now I’m one of the most active ones just by checking it out two or three times a day. So you have the opportunity to become a valuable user people listen to without too much effort.