What’s hot in Blogs

I just showed the new pulse for eBay I launched a couple of months ago on the Jane and Robot developers meetup. Back then, nobody in the SEO community noticed the launch. Now that I showed the tool, and how it’s set up, I got a lot of positive feedback on the idea.

Where the hell did they get that picture for my bio...?

Janeandrobot-agenda

Let me just take a step back and explain what I’ve done here.

Background

The eBay Pulse pages have been around for a long time. It shows the most popular searches, most popular stores and the most watched items per category.

A screenshot of the old Pulse is below here, and you can check out the old Pulse page on: Pulse.eBay.com.

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We launched the new site  on September 12th. I was so exited as it was a project build on an idea that I got, and I had the chance of building this as a side project. Read here the announcement.

However, we had to roll back the new pulse pages to the old version based on user feedback. Our users didn’t like the new Pulse pages that much. Here is the announcement, and here you can read some of the comments we were getting on our corporate blog.

Our users were using the old Pulse pages to drill down into a category to see what people might be following. This is what they would use as a strong signal of what to start selling on the site. Not having this functionality was a loss for our users, and we decided to roll back the old pulse pages.

However, I still found a way to launch my project on a different location, so I could continue to iterate on the idea.

The Idea

eBay is such a broad site, we always have something for sale for your specific needs. However, we cannot be the experts in every single category our users have an interest in. What’s how now in a category might not be reflected on our site, because we simply don’t know.

To be able to know what is an upcoming keyword in any category, you can follow the experts in that category and read what they come up with. To make this scalable, you would need to build an automated system, which processes all the data the experts are putting out there for people to read. Looking at books here, is not an option, as it would take an army to go through all the new books or magazines that are published. Moreover, the keywords might already be outdated at the time these were published.

Bloggers in any niche market all compete for the same audience. Blogs like Gizmodo and Engadget are competing for the latest scoop, and are subject matter experts in their niche. So why not leverage their knowledge on what is hot at the moment, and use the keywords.

i.e. just check out how you can spot seasonal keywords/products.

RSS is the tool

All bigger blogs are publishing a RSS feed. This is the feed I’m looking at to determine what are hot keywords at the moment. Off course you would need to do a lot of post processing to clean up the feed, as in a typical title you can have a number of words that you don’t want to take into consideration. Stop words, filler words, swear words, porn terms or protected brand terms (brands that will sue you if you rank for their brand… you know who thy are!).

Site Input

I’m taking a couple of existing functionalities from the old Pulse application. There are two site inputs here:

  1. Most popular site searches
  2. Most watched items

Unfortunately, because of category changes, I cannot go deeper than the level 1 category to pull popular searches and most watched items.

Schema of the application

Below you can find a simplified schema of the application.

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Admin panel

Next to the user facing application, I have an admin panel that will allow me to control several actions on the site.

  1. Blacklisted words
  2. RSS feeds
  3. Footer links

Blacklisted Words

I don’t want to have all words that I pick up integrated into the application. Some are just not valuable or some brands are sensitive for legal reasons.

In real time you can check which keywords are blacklisted, and which ones are not. A neat AJAX functionality will allow you to search on specific keywords, or partly keywords. To show off the functionality, below you see a screenshot on how this works for a partly keyword search for old. Obviously I don’t want to have a list of keywords displayed as shown on the screenshot below.

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A lot of people have asked me why certain terms have not been blacklisted. Keywords where I do want to rank on, just because we have plenty of items for sale on those keywords. Keywords like: Facebook or Google. Just check out the number of items for sale for these terms.  There are plenty of Facebook for dummies for sale on eBay!

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RSS feeds

In the admin panel, I can also add or delete RSS feeds per category. There is even an automated job scheduled to check if the RSS feed failed the last time we pulled the content. If it did, the feed is put on in-active after three times it timed out. This could have been caused by a blog that went offline, or they moved the RSS feed. This will allow my processing to run smoothly, and my cron job is not spending a lot of processing time on RSS feeds that don’t respond.

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Bulk Actions

Both the blacklist & RSS feeds have bulk download- & upload actions. This makes it really easy to set blacklisted keywords in a scalable way. You can also react very fast if anybody need to get your blacklisted terms words.

Other Functionalities

Two other functionalities are less interesting, but handy for the application. One is footer links per category, which can be used to link back into the core site. The other is user admin, which is also pretty straightforward.

New eBay Pulse

So the page right now will show you these three data points. Blog hot keywords, eBay search keywords and most watched items.

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Everyday, the page is rendered with new keywords in the blog keywords section. I build a database full with keywords, where i can see which products are hot or not. Obviously I can do more interesting stuff with this data, which is on the roadmap.  The more value the application is adding to the users, the better it will rank, the more keyword/product pages I will get discovered.

Positive Feedback

Some positive tweets during and after the session:

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During lunch, which was excellent BTW, I got a lot of questions from people regarding the application. Also a lot of people thought it was a cool  idea, and wanted to know where I got it from. Luckily I can take full credit for it. It was all cooking in my brain!

More to come, so please check out the New eBay Pulse, and come back often to see if the new ideas are already rolled out.