Sunday, October 23, 2005

How FanFooty led to Tinfinger

As I said in an earlier post, the idea for Tinfinger came out of FanFooty, the AFL fantasy football site Tai and I launched earlier this year.

Looking through the site logs, as you do for a new site, I was interested to look at the search terms which users had typed into the various search engines to reach us, primarily to help with search engine optimisation (SEO) so that we could rank highly on key search terms. I tried to make certain pages rank highly for what I thought were the most important keyword phrases, like "fantasy football", "afl dream team", "free afl fantasy" and similar - after all, that was what the SEO gurus all said was the best strategy. After a couple of months of operation, I went back and looked at the logs, and they looked much like the example on the right. Okay, so the top search term was the name of the site, that was to be expected I guess, and the site's URL was also there lower down. But Brett Deledio as #2? Travis Cloke as #3?
These were names of footballers who had just started playing senior AFL games this year, so they were not well known. Of the footballer's names in that list, maybe four were stars. Drew Petrie is by no means a household name, and Steven Salopek had hardly played at all. Where were the big superstar names? And where were the hot keywords I had planned my content around?

So then I go looking for those names in the various search engines, and find to my astonishment that without me doing much at all in the SEO field for FanFooty's player profile pages, they managed to get very highly ranked for some player names-as-keywords, some as high as #1. Why was this? FanFooty had a player profile for each player on an AFL team's list, even before they have played a senior game, but there just wasn't that much information about low-profile players anywhere else on the Web. Sure, if you wanted to find pages about the big stars like Shane Crawford or Barry Hall then there are thousands of those, but how many about some kid from the country who got drafted at pick #75? I had a page for that kid, but not many other sites did.

If you want to get all "Web 2.0" about it, I had just discovered the Long Tail of people. That was the germ of the idea that will become Tinfinger.

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