Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Second Life - SEO and Search

Our Position on the old "Places" list. Page One
Ever since Linden Labs introduced "All Search" over 2 years ago we have had problems to the degree that at one point I actually started to wonder if it was a conspiracy against "big stores"
I wondered if Linden Labs were deliberately holding us back on page 25 of All Search to give smaller stores some visibility!

All Search works like Google does, unlike the original "Places" list which goes off traffic I think.

For two years we wrote to Linden Labs, wrote to All search Feedback, had the Lindens come to the sim to see if there was a technical issue, tried various tests as advised by All Search feedback, spent a fortune on classified adverts and none of them moved us up or down.
We even paid for SEO services with SLBiz after seeing a friends texture store using the same service and getting a good response. Again, it had no effect for us at all.

I gave up in the end but I was bitter that I was paying $380 a month for a business platform that was not working and getting no help or attention from those I was paying for the same service.

All I could do was keep making more texture sets and try and improve on the quality, make sure they were seamless before I set them for sale.
For those 2 years we remained hidden on All Search as other tiny rented stalls that didn't even sell textures were pages ahead of us. Thank God for word of mouth, for without that we would have disappeared literally out of SL.

Two weeks ago I happened to be browsing the Second Life forums and saw a chap named Darrius Gothly who had written a post about ANS and the SL Marketplace boxes.

I contacted him with no real expectation or hope of a result.
I asked if he could help me see what we were doing wrong or if indeed he felt there was a technical glitch. He said he wasn’t representing anyone in the texture category in SL so he could and would help me.
(Which was nice to know. I know some of TRUs customer won’t reveal the source of their textures because they don’t want people creating identicle products using the same textures. I understand that but am ever so grateful to those who gladly tell customers where they got their textures!)

Without taking a penny off me upfront,  he pointed out why TRU was not being picked up by Second Lifes search and it had nothing to do with key words or rezzing 100 boxes and naming them "textures"
We changed nothing at all. The product names and descriptions remained the same and we didn't change the land name or description either.

It made total sense when he told me his feelings on why we were buried by non texture related locations and so we followed his advise.
In less than 24 hours we shot up from page 25 to page 1 in one swoop,  under the keyword "textures"

I was ecstatic! At last,  we were able to at least play the game of SEO and marketing in Second Life, we were on equal grounds with other stores in the texture industry were as before, our hands were tied.

I am now tweaking different things to try and get our store further up on page one. It's trial and error but its also very interesting to learn a few tricks and see the results either negative or positive.

I "could" purchase some SEO tools but I am not comfortable rezzing prims with key words added to the name and description. Just as I am not comfortable in gaming traffic either by leaving my own avatar in busy mode on my sim or creating alts to do the same (Which is actually against Second Lifes TOS) and I have noticed some texture stores with 10k traffic and I know for a fact that is not true customer built traffic. If I can't do it, why should they?

I am a firm believer that traffic should reflect your products reputation and anyway, we all know traffic does not equal sales. Some of our best days have been with low traffic and worst days with high traffic.

Whilst I am relieved we are at least now visible on All search, I can't help but feel miffed that we were a non entity for 2 years in the new search system and through no fault of our own.

How much damage two years of being unseen in All search has done is anyone's guess and I am not even sure many people use All search anyway.

I know the majority of new TRU customers come by word of mouth which is good, of course.

The last I heard, new Second Life users are by default using the SL viewer 2 and only have access to All Search unlike people using Viewer 1.7 who still have the options of both All Search and the original Listings.

What amazes me is Linden Labs couldn't have pointed out the obvious technical issue we had.
They just replied with generic auto response letters about how they couldn't reveal SEO tricks on the occasions they responded at all.

I wasn't asking them to slip me a few tips, I just wanted them to look at our store and layout and see if there was a technical issue not associated with keywords or names of products or how we set up the SEO
It took one person a few hours to look over the store and point out what the likely issue was and he was right and I paid him despite the fact at that stage he was not officially working for us. He had just offered us his opinion.

Our current position on Page One of All Search


  1. Yay, that's really cool!

    I know who you are talking about and I had a chat with the same gentleman in December. Within 8 hours I went from not being listed anywhere at all to being at the top of page 1 for all my relevant keywords.

    After 6 years of creating good prefabs in SL I feel I deserve to be on page 1. Not necessarily at the top of page 1 but somewhere on page 1. I feel I have earned that right and so have you.

    I was always on page 1 or 2 before they rolled out GSA 6 in April last year but after that I was buried in obscurity. I have never relied on search to keep my business profitable just like I have never relied on any other one factor. But search is an important tool for bringing in new customers especially new players. Using Viewer 2 makes it even more difficult for customers to search through multiple pages of search listings so being on page 1 helps combat the new V2 inadequacies as well.

    Thank you "Mr G" for helping me and my favourite texture store achieve the search rankings we deserve :)

  2. Hi Porky,

    I feel a little crappy not mentioning his name :( but you know what it’s like, your competitors would be up his trouser leg like a rat up a drain pipe trying to get on page one too!

    Like you, I don’t rely on one type of marketing and word of mouth is and should be your more important type.

    Principle was as important as profits for me and this revelation.

    Like you, I felt after almost 7 years in SL and paying for land tier/uploads/classifieds and RL taxes in all of that time, I felt we should be on page one and in the current economy set backs like that can be enough to break you.

    As I am sure you can relate, in the current economy, you have to work 4 times harder for 1/4 of your past income just to keep the engine oiled and have some chance of being around when the dust settles. Its very time consuming with less and less time free to create as more time is spent in admin and marketing.

    I don’t want to be number one, my ego isn’t that fragile but I guess I am a little obsessed atm having been mute for so long so I am tweaking all the time and we moved up 4 places over night after I fine tuned a few things. Still a way to go yet but learning fast!

    Glad you too are where you should be Porky :)

  3. I’ve added Darrius’s name in the post, I was being anal by not including it. Good work deserves recognition.