Google Base goodness
For those who don't know, Google Base is a new service from the search giant. They describe it thus:
Google Base is Google's database into which you can add all types of content. We'll host your content and make it searchable online for free.
What sorts of content? Well, jobs, events, courses, reviews, cars for sale, and so on.
Although Google can host the content for you, if you've got existing web content you can feed the Base 'bulk uploads' using RSS over FTP, and just point it at your content. Since I've got a bunch of RSS feeds for ClacksWeb, it was a breeze to repurpose the feeds for Google Base, setup a daily cron on a PHP script to FTP the stuff onto Google's servers.
What's most interesting is the effect this appears to have had on our Google search rankings. For example, one of the Base items included in the RSS uploaded from the site today was a vacancy for a headteacher at one of our primary schools. Search Google Base for headteacher and there it is, 1st item of 2. Search Google for headteacher and there it is, currently 5th item of 2.4 million.
Coincidence? Possibly, but unlikely. ClacksWeb does do well on Google due to nice URLs, valid, semantic XHTML, reasonable use of headings and so on, but 5th of 2.4 million for what is effectively an ephemeral page?
It's too early to conclude that Google are using Base data to adjust the algorithms used on Google itself, but it would make sense - if it proves to be true it will drive traffic through Base, and a lot of that will be well-classified and tremendously more valuable than data gathered from trawling the web.
I'll be pushing more feeds to Base tomorrow, for events and general vacancies, only this time I'll do some searching beforehand...