Facebook Closed The Doors on Page Usernames

July 20th, 2009

So the landgrab came and went, you got your facebook username – didn’t you?

Most did, others didn’t.

I got mine - which is just my name. For some disgusting reason that I’ll never understand, others didn’t choose their names. Instead they grabbed buzzwords, keywords, trademarks and even other peoples names.

One instance of the stupidity that some people went to was for one user to set their username to “default.aspx”.

Yeah, yeah, I get the joke. Ha ha. Its the default page of a .NET web application. Of course only programmers and technology folks are going to get this – so if you hang around with anyone outside of this industry they are going to look at you funny.

It has been said that some people have grabbed the valuable keywords in order to sell the account later – but most people have actually built up a personal account already and then done set their username. What this means is that whomever purchases the account will then have 210 random friends, a tonne of useless and unrelated notes and updates along with numerous pictures of the previous owner on nights out on the tiles.

Effectively you have a mess. Which devalues the keywords dramatically and hence makes buying the account a non-starter.

For those that are not going to sell their accounts – they just thought it would be cool to set their username to something random like “musicnews” when they seem to exhibit no musical interest at all. On top of that, their privacy settings are set to only show the account to friends.

This makes me frown a lot.

The only reason to set your username to musicnews should be for SEO reasons. The keywords are valuable if your contents are musically inclined.

I’m sure, down the line, a lot of people will abandon their accounts and create new ones with their actual name as their username, so that they’d get:


The fad will fade, they’ll realise that their username is stupid and jump ship. Since Facebook doesn’t allow you to change your username after you set it, they are effectively forcing these people into creating another account. Maybe this makes their stats look good, but it costs them money to store the extra data – so they are getting bitten for no gain.

This in turn leaves valuable usernames dormant. They could have been put to better use on user pages – which are usually places that would actually warrant the keyword attention.

Take MusicReviewZone.com‘s Facebook page, here, as an example:


I wanted to make this pages username :


… as the keyword value passed through to the domain would re-enforce that my site provides music news. Hence – great SEO. Instead, someone called Roberta Ferguson from Cleveland, with her locked down account has the username. Brilliant value.

When the username landgrab became available in April, pages with less than 1000 fans were excluded. Facebook stated at the time that these pages would be able to set their usernames after June 28th. That date has come and gone yet Facebook is still exluding them from setting their usernames.

So what gives?

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Categories: My Sites, SEO

How To SEO-imize Your Blog Posts…

January 30th, 2009

Writing, proof reading and editing posts is a time consuming task – but we all gotta do it.

One of the most important parts of creating a blog post is to think about the value to the user, but also the value to the little bots/spiders that search engines send out to trawl through your content. Clearly – I’m talking about . Search Engine Optimisation.

So what parts of my blog post can I SEO-imize? I hear you fictitiously asking.

Well, here are the areas that I think about:

  1. The Title
  2. The content
  3. The tags
  4. The Images
  5. The links

The Title

When you think of SEO, you should really be thinking ‘keywords’. Keywords are what you type into Google when you are searching for something. When you are thinking of the title for your blog post, don’t just slap in something nonsense. Think about how someone will search Google and come across your post. The title is the link that they will see in the results so you have to make it catchy, descriptive and most importantly what your readers are searching for. I have SEO in the title of this post for this reason as this post is about SEO and that is also what people will search for on Google.

The Content

The content section of your post is where the most value can be gained. If you are writing about Britney Spears then you sure as hell better write her name a good few times in the post. Don’t over do it though. If you do you are basically saying to the spiders that you are deliberately trying to game the system. If you over use your keyword(s) in the post you will be penalised – which is obviously not a good thing. Notice how I have managed to avoid writing the acronym for Search Engine Optimisation in the section – I have already written it 5 times already in this post – I don’t want to over do it.

The Tags

Every post in every blog should have tags associated with it. It makes things easier to find. It also gives the spiders further places to reference your site for the keywords you are using. On top of that, guess what, you get to repeat your keywords again. Sweet.

The Images

Google and the other search engines of note (Yahoo, MSN, Ask) cannot read images – yet. This will inevitably be possible in the future but at the moment they need a helping hand. 

By adding title and alt tags to your images you are lending your post more credibility. Your title and alt tags, associated with your images, describe the image as well as your post. It is another way to drop in your keywords. By doing this, and naming your images (i.e the file name) properly, you can also increase your traffic streams from images.google.com.

When you go to Google, click on images in the top left hand corner and search for your favourite star – where do you think Google gets the list of images and how do they know that they relate to the star that you searched for? It’s because the filenames, title and alt tags were properly set.

The Links

This is one of the best tips I can give: Link to as many of your previous posts in the new posts that you are writing as possible – and choose your link text carefully.

This is called deeplinking – another buzz word in the realm of Search Engine Optimization. When you go off your site and beg people to give you a backlink – they are usually only linking to your homepage. This means that your homepage has a Pagerank of X but the rest of your site has nothing. You need to distribute that Pagerank to the other pages in your site as much as possible.


I’ll answer that with another question: How do you think the search engines determine the first result when you search? Answer: Relevancy and Pagerank.

Relevancy is based on the keywords in your post – we’ve covered that. Pagerank is the amount of other sites linking to your page. The more pages with pagerank that link to your posts the better. That means that you have to link to the other pages within your site in order to pass on your homepages’ Pagerank. This distributes the Pagerank evenly throughout the site and has the added bonus of enticing your readers to click through them to read other stories on your site – which has the further added bonus of lowering your Bounce rate.

It all makes sense – right?

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Categories: Google, SEO

The Economics of The Big Word Project

May 13th, 2008

I just came across an article on Wired that lead me to ‘The Big Word Project‘ – which has been created by fellow Northern Ireland-ers. Keen to explore – I dived in.

Basically – you buy a word in the English dictionary and pay $1 for each letter in that word. The word, on the big word project’s website, then has a permanent link to any website/page of your choice.

I flicked through the site, nicely designed, and blog for a while and then started to think…. Isn’t this a massive case of text-link-ads?

Text-Link-Ads is about buying a text link on someones website. When someone clicks on the link – you are taken to your website. Sweet. Prices vary depending on the popularity of the site you advertise on.

The Big Word Project seems very little different. You buy a word which links to your website.

The value of buying a word that links to your website needs a little thought :

  1. How much does the word cost
  2. How many visitors will click through to my website
  3. What additional benefits will I get from buying

How much does the word cost

The cost of the word is simple. Count up the number of letters in your word and that is how many dollars it will cost.

How many visitors will click through to my website

This question has a positive and negative aspect. Since the site is so new and the self proclaimed ‘Viral Guy’ , co-owner, is pushing all the right buttons to publicise it – you can be guaranteed some early traffic as website owners scramble to pick up the shoddy remains of the English dictionary (after all the good words are gone).

The problem comes when the initial clamour of interest wanes – the novelty wears off and site traffic deminishes – that your investment seems short lived.

What additional benefits will I get from buying

The pagerank and link text are key here. You talk about money on your site and a page with good pagerank links to you with the keyword ‘money’ and you are quids in. Google will like you a little more.


Buy a word, link it to your site and watch the traffic flow in – but it will mostly be novelty and short lived traffic.

The fact that most companies have names and not English dictionary words causes concern for me. I would want my word to be ‘McNicholl’ – but its not a word in the dictionary so its not allowed.

Google hammered blogs not so long ago for their irrelevant links – which posed to similarity to the content of the site that they were linking from. Bloggers the world over cried and called the end to Text-Link Ads as a revenue model. Their Pageranks crumbled. So how will ‘The Big Word Project’ give you good pagerank when Google wont pass the Pagerank love through to your site?

One way the guys over at ‘The Big Word Project’ could help out would be to have an individual page for each word that is text customizable by the person buying the word. That way they could make it seem a lot more relevant and the Pagerank would be passed through.

Fair play to the guys for the idea as it seems to be bringing in the money. It’s the simplest ideas that pay the biggest dividends.

Categories: Ads, General, SEO

Simplifying template changes…

March 15th, 2007
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In programming my website, I have broken each component down into their individual sections. By this I mean that I have simplified the ability to update an area of the website by simply changing one file. Here is how my file structure works :

  1. Header module
  2. Footer module
  3. Sidebar module
  4. main content

The sections above shouldnt really require any explanation. By modularizing how the webpage is created I can then ensure that any changes I wish to implement in the future are made all the easier – because I simply have to update one file.

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Categories: SEO, Website

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