Horror Website – An Insight Perspective – Database Domination

He (or she) who has the biggest database wins!
It’s funny as you evolve as a web site and begin to take the marketing study end seriously, you also learn of what makes a web site tick and what is needed to move ahead into the market. Now of course this doesn’t take away more important things like “quality writing”, “a staff who are NOT viewed as ass holes and insight into your own expertise (web site genre). It also doesn’t take away factors such as keeping content flowing, improving your presence (and design) as well as just staying alive long enough for others to find you. (Note, this is usually in years, than months)

We as a whole, have experienced all the mistakes, and all the lessons…and tried to make adjustments in our growth. On the most part unless you have a seasoned veteran mentoring you, there really is no other way. A well known web site doesn’t want other sites competing with them, so much of this is kept…”well protected”.

But as often as I see things progress on the site and the market, it all seems to point to a basic principle. He who has the largest database has much more success as a web site.

Now by database, this could mean pages, but mostly it means pages that are under a “content management system (CMS)”. (examples would be WordPress, Zoomla, Tridion..or other)

Take for instance mega sites like “Amazon”, ” Wikipedia” and “IMDB”. All maintain databases that show in search results when you inquire on something specific. They now have mega dollars behind them, a well paid staff of writers (wikipedia…a slightly different model of course) and a legitimate established presence that they have built up over the years. For quite some time, in fact Amazon seemed to be the “only” way to learn about movies and products. They since have had to make room for other sites in the already competitive market. But getting down to basics, without the content (in their database) they wouldn’t amount to much. Wikipedia seems to have no boundaries, now covering films, culture, and anything thing of historical value (our modern encyclopedia). Guess who helped them archive that? We did (you the public), we submit everyday claiming our little piece of author territory on the planet, helping them grow and consume ever spot available.

Question: Why does Wikipedia rank for SO many terms as #1 results”
Give up? – ok, here is why………..

1- They pretty much write about everything
2- every page on their site contains “numerous” cross linking (anchor text linking, in context linking) reinforcing link relevance and link juice.
3- bare bones design, plain, simple, fast load times with minimal graphics
4- An obvious knack for keeping content that is well written (or else its discarded or deleted)
5- No ads, no crazy pops ups, …again fast load times
6- kept marketing free (in theory)

Though breaking things down, how the SERPS work is simple. The more quality pages you produce, the more avenues there are to be found. For instance a site of 100,000 pages has that “many opportunities to be found in a search result (if done correctly). A site with 10 pages has potentially 10 (maybe less due to SERPS disinterest in their content)

The key of course is quality. If your sh*t sucks, no one will care. You might get the traffic from browsers, but in the long run those browsers may not return. This notion is a constant fine tuning. writers get better, articles get re-written, and content gets more credibility. It also means that more will potentially link to you increasing your ranking in the search engine as well.

So with so many sites, how can you possibly get ahead?
Keep writing for one…the key to growing your base (and database)
Shoot for long tail material, rather than always taking the quickie breaking news article (I’ve since learned that a balance is also necessary)

Where I’ve seen web sites fail?
It’s funny, but the rules of the 90’s no longer apply. In fact, every page of you site not only has to meet the above criteria but has to be of SEO value. I won’t go into the details on that as it’s an art in itself…however, old sites some times are too far gone to reenter all their material into the new format. What happens is a gradual reduction in search engine value making way for those who ARE savvy.

Assuming you are indestructible!
I wanted to use an example as a case in point.
Note: Not to pick on them or reflect negatively, but only to demonstrate WHAT not to do.

A site who had a pretty good ranking at one time, decided that the work (influx of material) was too much to do for free anymore. You can in fact read the page here

Needless to say, their ranking has dropped considerably.

I do understand WHY they would do that, but the result is far more damaging than the initial issue.

Being in this business for a few years, i know that not only do filmmakers NOT want to pay to be reviewed, they consider sending you a product as payment enough (DVD, postage, special delivery , email follow ups). This is why WE as a site try and accommodate every product sent in to us (AND REVIEW FOR FREE). Sure it would be nice to get a film with $20 dollar bill wrapped around it, but that just doesn’t happen.

The reality is, if you start change the rules and the public doesn’t like it, there is literally hundreds of sites who would be glad to review their product (and not charge) They also have the power to get your film reviewed and “ranked”, thus eliminating any need for (example site of choice) that charges.

So while, you might get disillusioned on your status, folks simply will go elsewhere.
(aka Myspace….case in point)

ok, that enough for today, I hope this helped shed a little light.
Oh, and remember always BACK UP YOUR DATABASE… sh*t happens.

Written by Michael BoneDigger

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2 Responses to Horror Website – An Insight Perspective – Database Domination

  1. Film Threat says:

    Michael,

    Since you decided to use FilmThreat.com as an example of how not to do something, and in the spirit of honesty that you’ve got going here, I feel inclined to respond:

    Note: Not to pick on them or reflect negatively, but only to demonstrate WHAT not to do.

    It sounds to me like using a site to demonstrate what not to do is a form of negative reflection.

    A site who had a pretty good ranking at one time, decided that the work (influx of material) was too much to do for free anymore. You can in fact read the page here

    Needless to say, their ranking has dropped considerably.

    I don’t think it is “needless to say,” because I’m not sure what ranking you’re talking about, or how it connects to our submission system. If we’re keeping with the rest of your article, and talking about database size, we have thousands of film reviews on our site, and thousands of other non-review material. The number of reviews we write hasn’t decreased at all; if anything, we’re getting through the queue of films faster, while covering even more film festivals than before.

    I do understand WHY they would do that, but the result is far more damaging than the initial issue.

    Damaging how, exactly? To a SEO ranking? Traffic? Our database? While I don’t think there is damage, I will utilize the comparison which was the aftermath of the policy versus the need for the policy. In the latter, it was either come up with a way for the unsolicited material to continue, or not accept it at all. Closing the doors to unsolicited submissions period would be far more damaging to what we do, in my opinion, than changing up the policy. The decision always ran the risk of being unpopular, but something had to change. And the number of filmmakers who have utilized the system (and continue to use it) have shown that my own fears were unfounded.

    Being in this business for a few years, i know that not only do filmmakers NOT want to pay to be reviewed, they consider sending you a product as payment enough (DVD, postage, special delivery , email follow ups). This is why WE as a site try and accommodate every product sent in to us (AND REVIEW FOR FREE). Sure it would be nice to get a film with $20 dollar bill wrapped around it, but that just doesn’t happen

    Likewise, FilmThreat.com has been around for about 14 years now (Film Threat itself has been around for 26), and I think it is generally expected that no one wants to pay for anything if they can help it. And for 13 of those 14 online years, we did not charge for unsolicited submissions. Unfortunately, for the reasons detailed on the page you linked, this policy couldn’t stay as it was. I know this pissed some people off, and I expected it to, but it wasn’t as bad as even I suspected it could be (and to the extent you’re theorizing that it is).

    The reality is, if you start change the rules and the public doesn’t like it, there is literally hundreds of sites who would be glad to review their product (and not charge) They also have the power to get your film reviewed and “ranked”, thus eliminating any need for (example site of choice) that charges.

    This was a risk, and I’m sure some filmmakers have checked us out and gone elsewhere, which has always been a choice, but we’ve gotten a number of submissions through our system (more than I expected, honestly) and the theory behind it all is bearing itself out. I can see how people can consider the change in policy to be a negative thing, and I’m sure there are many out there who keep that opinion. The reality is, however, that it hasn’t been all negative and filmmakers continue to utilize the system. I’m not sure if you’ve heard specifically from filmmakers, or are theorizing based on the policy in general, but things are actually fine.

    And I’m not sure which rankings you’re using as an example for our decline, or how you’re connecting these rankings to a review submission system. In cases where a decline has occurred, say in traffic, I’d correlate it more with that fact that, as an example, at the end of 2009, before I purchased the company, the site had been offline for roughly two months and change before it was re-launched in February 2010. As a website owner, I’m sure you can understand that even a week offline can do severe damage to a site, and a couple months can be akin to complete nonexistence. The site has had to recover from that, and has been doing so, but it takes time. I’d be lying if I said the traffic the site got in 2008 when I was just Editor-in-Chief, for example, was the same as it was when we re-launched in 2010. But it IS recovering.

    Finally, while I understand the value of what you’re doing with these articles, and appreciate the honesty of keeping your readers informed of the inner workings of a popular film website, I don’t understand the need to call my site out in vague terms and make negative connections about “rankings” and “damage” to our submission system based entirely on theory without any knowledge of whether the policy has or has not been successful, or what other factors could exist. I would think that a website that has existed for 14 years, and continues to exist, would be something to use as an example of how one can endure, as opposed to singling out one policy change and acting like we’re about to go out of business because of it.

    Respectfully,

    Mark Bell
    Owner/Publisher, Film Threat

    • yes, no intention was meant to pass any negative value towards yours or any sites who took this route of review management, though I do stand by the fact that it’s not recommended for reasons mentioned. Clearly there was a bigger picture intended on the subject of how films are reviewed and the process. Perhaps this is used by much larger sites as a way to filter or profit (though I wouldn’t know personally of all these sites), for instance EW or perhaps MTV. We have solved this issue by just acquiring more writers to accomodate the surplus, as speaking for myself I can maybe fit in about 3 a week out of about 40-50 submissions. Though there is a message that shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is filmmakers will link to sites more that show them respect and don’t require payment. Any measure to bank on this could backfire (the site that is) thus resulting in less links and loss of status in SERPS. Its a means to an end.

      The traffic comment is just a research overview using online metrics. (aka compete, quantcast, alexa and others) Not an actual “precise” analytics (which I wouldn’t have access to), though as a marketer, I have a keen eye of website analytics and the historical space they occupy. (thats meant as a helping hint) The decline is not meant in your online “interest” as an entity (meaning – that we still believe “yours” is a professional and well established site , but rather a decrease in SEO rankings for reviews in the online space in general. Sorry if that’s a bit cryptic…..the mention was small part of a bigger point. There will be other articles that will break things down a bit more (though without mention of your site as example) – I think that our audience probably has less interest in marketing jibber jab, than reporting on horror

      We appreciate your response on this article, which will be a fair rebuttal to readers who can make their own determination of the state of the online space and review process. If anything it may be a research option for your own site and measuring online saturation. I also tend to think sites have different needs…..aka (profit, seo, roi, online visibility, branding, reputation or even thought leadership – of which all may not be of importance to all configurations)

      Best – HNN

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