New Social Media Sphinn On Social Bookmarking By

Even though the body isn't cold just yet, a few new start-ups are showing some real moxy in attempting to become the successors of Digg, once the preeminent social bookmarking service. While Old Dogg is doing a full frontal attack (see "Social Media News Service On A Shoestring Introduces Old Dogg With New Tricks") - is a new platform that focuses on stories that serve the search engine optimization  (SEO), Internet marketing and social media communities.

For those that are unaware, all Web sites benefit from high rankings from SERPS or 'Search Engine Results Pages.' Any one with content on the Web is impacted greatly by SERPs as the higher the ranking, the more traffic a Web site can derive via search engines (particularly Google since it garners the highest number of Internet searches).

SERPs can achieve high rankings when certain keywords for a site are optimized. For example in the case of a hotel in Honolulu, to attract travelers to become hotel guests, their Web site might focus on optimizing the keywords "Honolulu hotels," "Hawaii Hotels" or "Hawaii vacations." The same holds true for news sites that optimize stories based on their content. The more popular the keywords, the more important it is to optimize them.

By turning the term SERP into an action (SERPD), expresses their desire to serve the SEO and Internet marketing communities so users of the site can share, comment, vote and collaborate on the site while helping to boost visitors to Web sites and publishers of content.

Up till now, has been serving this demographic as the "Digg of the SEO community." It was a great service alternative since Digg was known for burying SEO-related stories. For the past three years, it allowed users to submit and vote on posts that could become popular enough to make the front page. However, with its latest iteration, Sphinn has decided to eliminate the 'democratic' voting process, replacing it with a self-review by site's editorial staff to choose what stories deserve the most attention on their site.

Gerald WeberGerald WeberIn interviewing Gerald Weber (aka @the_gman), co-founder of SERPd, he noted that he couldn't quite understand Sphinn's rationale for making this change that has proven very unpopular with the site's users, even though "they have given several explanations." Weber says, "They have made reference to 'voting gangs' voting each other contents to the front page and not being happy with the quality of the content on the home page as a result. Another reason they gave is that people just don't vote very much." He also added, "they have also mentioned the hassle (perceived by company) of having to play referee between users and Sphinn moderators."

In addition to filling the 'voting' void that Spinn created, Weber made point they would also be presenting users with an enhanced feature not offered by Sphinn. "We will be conducting a weekly roundup on our community blog, where we will showcase some of the best submissions of the week, which eventually will evolve into a weekly Web cast show - where submitters with popular postings may have a chance at  a little Internet fame by being featured speakers and presenters" noted Weber.

A voting button is available now for anyone that would like to post it to their blog or Web site. "While we aren't working exclusively with any specific publishers at the moment, many people are already using the button on their blogs," noted Weber.

What's most important to Weber and his co-founder Chris Burns is that their site not be perceived as a service for "SEO elitists." Users at all levels of Internet search understanding are open to use the platform as a valuable resource. Too often in the past, sites like Digg and Sphinn developed functionality based on the needs and desires of the their staffs versus those of their user base. IMHO, I think this is one of the major reasons both sites have lost the interest from their once large audiences that were attracted to these sites when they first arrived on the scene. They lost their Web 2.0 democratic appeal.

Only in Beta since September 15, the site's already tallied 300 users, 349 posts and 288 comments, which indicates to Weber and Burns (both SEO specialists for the last several years) there is definitely still a need for an SEO voting community. Check them out and let me know if you don't agree? 

Oct 7, 2010
by Anonymous

Reasons for the successful Sphinn change

It's disappointing you took time to ask Gerald about why he think Sphinn made its changes without giving anyone at Sphinn that opportunity. So I'll fill you in, as I'm one of the founders of Sphinn.

First, the change isn't unpopular with our users. It's actually very popular given that practically no one spokeout against it. We have over 2,000 visitors per day and continue to get those. We probably had about 20 to maybe 30 people at most, who spoke out very opposed. The vast majority of those people were not regular users of Sphinn nor people who regularly voted on anything (and that would include Gerald, by the way).

Voting has declined as a social activity in general for many sites (witness) Digg, largely due to the rise of Facebook and Twitter. Sphinn has seen fewer votes over time, and a survey we did of users found most of them didn't care to vote.

But, with few votes, it was possible for a small number of people in voting gangs to push whatever they wanted to the home page -- which is hardly democratic. And when poor quality content hit the home page, we would hear complaints.

Since we made the change, our visits have continued as before plus we've had people tell us they like that we're getting higher quality stuff. If Gerald and his team at SERPD can make voting work there, as I've continued to say, I wish them the best. Over at Sphinn, after doing that model for three years, we simply found it wasn't going to be the best solution going forward.

Danny Sullivan

Oct 8, 2010
by Anonymous

Hi Danny


I know some people like to make a comparison of Sphinn vs SERPd and I guess that is just human nature. I don't see it that way. I see it as we are neighbors in an awesome corner of the internet.

Sphinn is an editorial site and SERPd is a voting site.

Now that being said I will correct you here.

"The vast majority of those people were not regular users of Sphinn nor people who regularly voted on anything (and that would include Gerald, by the way)."

I may not have been the most active user on Sphinn, but I did visit the site daily and I also voted on many stories ands submitted lot's of content from many different domains (including search engine land btw).

Take a second look at my stats.

All the best..

Gerald Weber

Oct 8, 2010
by Anonymous

Thanks Gerald

I stand corrected, I'd remembered it differently, but I think you had two different accounts at one point. I see you did seem to vote every few days and plenty of submissions. You were unusual from most people in voting.

And agreed. There are going to be people who continue to feel they need to compare the two sites. That's kind of inevitable. I'm with you. They're both neighbors, and I'm glad that SERPD is picking up the voting model for those who want that type of thing. If you can make it work, that's great.

Oct 8, 2010
by Anonymous

Sorry you felt unreplied to

Ron, I get hundreds of emails per day. I can't reply to them all. I'm sorry, you took that as a lack of courtesy. It wasn't meant to be. I do try to reply to what I can, and I do try to offer advice or thoughts as I can, and I actually do a ton of that.

I've scanned through my email on Gmai for your first and last name, and just your first name. I got no matches at all. Nothing about the cartoon, nothing at all, actually.

I'm not saying that you never emailed. I'm just saying I don't see anything, and that would include anything that you might have sent through ANY of the contact form that I have or which address Search Engine Land editors in general or Sphinn editors in particular. Nor do I see any comments from you at Sphinn itself.

In fact, your account over there simply illustrates everything we've said that's been an issue. You started it in April of this year. You submitted nothing. You voted on nothing. Maybe it's a site someone else started under your name, and you did have an active account. If so, my apologies. But if not, Sphinn was actively taking submissions and voting during this time. It's not that we had a "lack of interest in readers' contributions." It's that most of our readers had no interest in submitting for voting.

That's all I can tell you. We ran a site for three years using that model. We worked very hard to try and make it work. We surveyed our readers, and in the end, we made a decision that we thought was best for our actual readers.

Oct 8, 2010
by Ron Callari

Danny, I registered on the

Danny, I registered on the SPHINN site in early 2008. After submitting articles and voting on your site, I noticed at one point late last year that I could no longer get in with my UN and PW - I tried several times to change it but kept going into a loop that indicated that I was already registered.  So I gave up - until April of this year. That's when I re-registered.The reason you see no activity since April is because my job responsibilities changed and I no longer had a need to focus on SEO.

I am very pleased you have taken the time to address mine and Gerald's concerns - and I wish you the best in the future.

Ron Callari

P.S. The cartoon has been posted into my earlier comment - it apparently didn't take earlier.

Oct 8, 2010
by Anonymous



Let me explain the reason I had two different accounts since that admittedly sounds kind of odd.

When I first started sphinn I wasn't very active and I forgot my password. So I used the forgot password feature and it didn't work. So I was forced to create a new account.

Thanks for taking a look at it.


Gerald Weber