Yesterday I posted about how SilverPlatter.info could do a few things better with regards to how their site is structured. One of the things that came up is how they need to optimize their profile pages. Personal search results are very important to people these days. Some have even coined the term ‘online reputation management’ to describe the process of making your personal SEPRs better. Lets take a look at how websites can be optimized for their member profile pages.
If your site is trying to foster community, or if you allow people to create profiles, there are things you can do to get those profiles to rank when someone performs a personal search. Personal searches are a perfect example of a Long Tail keyterm. Not a lot of people are searching for ‘chase granberry.’ According to LinkedIn, my profile has shown up in search results nine times in the last week. Lets assume that five of those times people were actually searching for ‘chase granberry.’ So, on average, I’m guessing my name is searched for 20 time in a month.
I’m going to use Pandora as an example here, because I love the service and want their profile for me to rank better. They need to change a few things before my Pandora profile is even going to have a chance to rank above my Twitter account. Pandora has over 7 million registered users according to CruchBase. Lets guess on average any one person will have their name searched for 10 times in a month. That’s 70 million searches Pandora has a chance of ranking for in any given month. That’s a lot of potential, but one they haven’t even tried to realize.
With any decent sized site you should always have a sitemap file. When you have a sitemap file, you’re telling every search engine out there which pages are ‘officially’ under your domain. You can associate priorities with these, and content update frequencies. The update frequencies are important. The more your site is updated the more relevant you are. For a site the size of Pandora a Sitemap file is a must. This file can easily be generated dynamically and updated daily, as new member profiles are created, and current member pages updated. So … Pandora http://pandora.com/sitemap.xml????
It’s also going to be beneficial for Pandora to create a member directory with a link to it from the homepage, so that spiders can reach any member page within only a few clicks. You want Google to find your content as easily as possible. Having both, a Sitemap file and an HTML directory will do the trick.
Just for kicks, lets take a look at how many Pandora member pages Google has in it’s index. Not even close to 7 million.
So, now that we know Pandora needs a sitemap file, and an HTML member directory, lets take a look at how they’ve structured their profile pages. I’ve been pretty active on Pandora lately, you can find my pandora profile here. I’ve actually gone through and filled out a decent amount of account info. More than most I think. When you sign up for Pandora all it asks for is an email address, and that’s how they’re classifying account ownership. They don’t make people fill out their full name. They need to start. Here’s their signup form …
It looks like they’ve kept the registration process as simple as possible, but they should at least make people give up their name.
How lets take a look at how their search result looks …
Lets take a look at how Facebook’s profile looks on Google …
First, Pandora is using my account nickname in their title tag. The only reason this is ranking for me at all is because I chose to use the nickname ‘chase.granberry.’ They need to use my name in their title tag and their description tag so Google will display these when my name is searched.
Recommended title tag for Pandora: Chase Granberry | Pandora
Recommended description tag for Pandora: Chase Granberry uses Pandora to discover new music. He last listened to LCD Soundsystem Radio on February 3, 2009.
This puts our target term first in the title tag and the description tag. This also updates the description tag every time I listen to Pandora, so not only is the content on my profile going to be fresh, which humans can see, but my description tag content is going to be fresh as well.
The URL structure that Pandora uses is also based on member’s nicknames. The URL for my profile should be …
I should have a favorite songs page at …
I should also have a favorite artists page at …
I should have a friends page at …
This page should be sorted by most recently active friends so that when Google crawls my favorites friends page it take their spider to different profile pages each time, and that content is always fresh.
I should have a station page at …
And obviously all these pages need different title and description tags.
I was to cover one more concept here that’s very important … profile completeness. Getting people to fill out their profile encourages massive amounts of user generated content. Pandora easily allows people to create user generated content from the songs and artists they bookmark and the stations they listen to, but incenting people to develop a complete profile is important. It’s going to be even more important for Pandora because a good amount of their subscribers don’t even have full names on their profile. If they want to take advantage of this SEO technique they’ll need to get creative about getting people to update their profiles.
So, if you’re reading this and know someone at Pandora please forward this post on. I’d really like them to do better, because I don’t want their service to go away, and ranking for personal searches will help a lot.