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Old May 2nd, 2011, 10:12 PM
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The other night I went to a seminar at the National Press Club on the topic of search engine optimization. Strange, you might say, but in November we launched the website for The Red Circle, the Sherlock Holmes scion society here in Washington in which I've maintained membership for more than 30 years. I'm the founding webmaster, and I must say it was a kick designing a site from the ground up, writing most of the copy, creating the graphics, and seeing it garner great early praise from the Sherlockian world (and I mean world). Of course I couldn't have done it without the help of my pal and internet guru Bob, who actually knows stuff about html code and all of that nonsense.

One of the the things a startup website (and its naive webmaster) has to deal with early on is getting a good ranking in Google searches--in other words, being seen fairly high up on the list of results when people enter a variety of relevant search terms into Google. Bob helped me with some of these issues, but I thought I should go to the seminar ("search engine optimization" is the term used to define all this).

The speaker was a young lady who just left Google to start her own consulting company. While at Google she was one of the few who was privy to the top-secret "algorithm," the set of critera that defines how well you'll do in the search. Although aspects of what's in the algorithm are pretty well known, they're always refining it because people are always trying to game it, often in unethical ways.

In addition to what I learned about the actual subject at hand (which would probably bore you), I learned some interesting tidbits that might not.

1. There is now almost no search term you can enter that will not yield a reasonably valid result. When Google coughs up a site based on your search term, that is called a Google-Yup. In the far less than 1% of the cases where it can't find a legitimate site for you, that's a Google-Nope. Google-Nopes are rare and getting rarer every day.

2. A significant number of people actually go on Google and Google "Google." This got the biggest laugh of the evening. Somehow it seemed vaguely naughty to most of us. You'd think at the very least it would cause a short circuit of some kind. But apparently not. Google is a Google-Yup.

3. There is a nefarious thing going on in the paid advertising side of Google and other search engines (these are the ads on the right side that are obviously ads rather than actual search results, but they're contextual based on your search term). These ads are paid for by usage. The advertiser pays each time the ad comes up on your screen based on what you say you're looking for, and you click on it to see what they're offering. So now we have something called "click fraud." This is where one company will figure out how to click on their competitor's ad over and over and over in order to blow their budget and make them stop appearing for legitimate users. The Googles of the world have spent a lot of time figuring out how to fight this abuse, and have been somewhat successful. Cyberspace is no place for sissies.

Anyway, those are my Cliff's Notes on "SEO," as those of us in the know like to call it.

If you'd like to look at our Red Circle site, it's at www.redcircledc.org. I guess I'm allowed to post it since there's no advertising on it. I write just about all of it except for Black Peter's Logbook, which is written by my great friend Peter Blau, Washington's foremost Sherlockian and probably one of the top 10 "black belt" Sherlockians in the world. You might get a particular kick out of the March meeting notes writeup. We had a forensic geologist from the FBI as our guest, and she was great. I also recommend the welcome page, including the "Red Circle Fast Facts."

And if you care about the Great Detective at all, you might want to look at the links page, where Peter and I have referenced some of the very best Sherlockian online resources.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 09:52 AM
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Interesting post!

I'm very interested in SEO mostly for maintaining my own company's site. There are all kinds of approaches, and yes, the google algorithm is always changing!!!!

I do some pay-per-click (right side of google) advertising. But I've yet to see it pay off. The left side of google is where we get most of our site hits.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by AR View Post
The other night I went to a seminar at the National Press Club on the topic of search engine optimization. Strange, you might say, but in November we launched the website for The Red Circle, the Sherlock Holmes scion society here in Washington in which I've maintained membership for more than 30 years. I'm the founding webmaster, and I must say it was a kick designing a site from the ground up, writing most of the copy, creating the graphics, and seeing it garner great early praise from the Sherlockian world (and I mean world). Of course I couldn't have done it without the help of my pal and internet guru Bob, who actually knows stuff about html code and all of that nonsense.

One of the the things a startup website (and its naive webmaster) has to deal with early on is getting a good ranking in Google searches--in other words, being seen fairly high up on the list of results when people enter a variety of relevant search terms into Google. Bob helped me with some of these issues, but I thought I should go to the seminar ("search engine optimization" is the term used to define all this).

The speaker was a young lady who just left Google to start her own consulting company. While at Google she was one of the few who was privy to the top-secret "algorithm," the set of critera that defines how well you'll do in the search. Although aspects of what's in the algorithm are pretty well known, they're always refining it because people are always trying to game it, often in unethical ways.

In addition to what I learned about the actual subject at hand (which would probably bore you), I learned some interesting tidbits that might not.

1. There is now almost no search term you can enter that will not yield a reasonably valid result. When Google coughs up a site based on your search term, that is called a Google-Yup. In the far less than 1% of the cases where it can't find a legitimate site for you, that's a Google-Nope. Google-Nopes are rare and getting rarer every day.

2. A significant number of people actually go on Google and Google "Google." This got the biggest laugh of the evening. Somehow it seemed vaguely naughty to most of us. You'd think at the very least it would cause a short circuit of some kind. But apparently not. Google is a Google-Yup.

3. There is a nefarious thing going on in the paid advertising side of Google and other search engines (these are the ads on the right side that are obviously ads rather than actual search results, but they're contextual based on your search term). These ads are paid for by usage. The advertiser pays each time the ad comes up on your screen based on what you say you're looking for, and you click on it to see what they're offering. So now we have something called "click fraud." This is where one company will figure out how to click on their competitor's ad over and over and over in order to blow their budget and make them stop appearing for legitimate users. The Googles of the world have spent a lot of time figuring out how to fight this abuse, and have been somewhat successful. Cyberspace is no place for sissies.

Anyway, those are my Cliff's Notes on "SEO," as those of us in the know like to call it.

If you'd like to look at our Red Circle site, it's at www.redcircledc.org. I guess I'm allowed to post it since there's no advertising on it. I write just about all of it except for Black Peter's Logbook, which is written by my great friend Peter Blau, Washington's foremost Sherlockian and probably one of the top 10 "black belt" Sherlockians in the world. You might get a particular kick out of the March meeting notes writeup. We had a forensic geologist from the FBI as our guest, and she was great. I also recommend the welcome page, including the "Red Circle Fast Facts."

And if you care about the Great Detective at all, you might want to look at the links page, where Peter and I have referenced some of the very best Sherlockian online resources.
Is it true that Arthur Conan Doyle initially wanted Sherlock to be assisted by his brother Mycroft and not Dr.Watson ?
Secondly is it true that the initial writings described in great detail Holmes' opium addiction but when the adventures were transferred to film that subject was a no-no ?

I have read every Sherlock Holmes story . I've viewed every adaptation on both TV and in film .Many years ago I joined a group of Sherlock Holmes fans .It was called the 221 Baker St.Association but that has not existed for more than 40 years .
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 11:04 AM
AR AR is offline
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Is it true that Arthur Conan Doyle initially wanted Sherlock to be assisted by his brother Mycroft and not Dr.Watson ?

I've never heard that.

Secondly is it true that the initial writings described in great detail Holmes' opium addiction but when the adventures were transferred to film that subject was a no-no ?

It is true that his cocaine (not opium) addiction is referred to a number of times in the original stories. And it was carried over to film on many occasions: At the end of Basil Rathbone's "Hound of the Baskervilles," Holmes' exit line is "Watson, the needle!" And it is mentioned a number of times in the famous Granada TV series with Jeremy Brett, and in other stage, screen and radio adaptations as well. There's been no concerted effort to sweep it under the rug.

I have read every Sherlock Holmes story .

My friend Peter Blau says that the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who have read the Holmes stories, and those who will.

I've viewed every adaptation on both TV and in film .Many years ago I joined a group of Sherlock Holmes fans .It was called the 221 Baker St.Association but that has not existed for more than 40 years .

Not to quibble, but I can assure you that you have not viewed every adaptation. That would be essentially impossible. Holmes has been portrayed more times and in more places than just about anybody, and every time I begin to think I've covered the waterfront, something else pops up that I've never heard of. Heck, I have five DVDs of different versions of "The Hound" alone, and it's nowhere near comprehensive. And when we go past English language stuff, there's just no end. FYI, the sequel to Downey's picture will be released this coming December, and there will be three more episodes of the BBC's "Sherlock" next year starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AR View Post
Is it true that Arthur Conan Doyle initially wanted Sherlock to be assisted by his brother Mycroft and not Dr.Watson ?

I've never heard that.

Secondly is it true that the initial writings described in great detail Holmes' opium addiction but when the adventures were transferred to film that subject was a no-no ?

It is true that his cocaine (not opium) addiction is referred to a number of times in the original stories. And it was carried over to film on many occasions: At the end of Basil Rathbone's "Hound of the Baskervilles," Holmes' exit line is "Watson, the needle!" And it is mentioned a number of times in the famous Granada TV series with Jeremy Brett, and in other stage, screen and radio adaptations as well. There's been no concerted effort to sweep it under the rug.

I have read every Sherlock Holmes story .

My friend Peter Blau says that the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who have read the Holmes stories, and those who will.

I've viewed every adaptation on both TV and in film .Many years ago I joined a group of Sherlock Holmes fans .It was called the 221 Baker St.Association but that has not existed for more than 40 years .

Not to quibble, but I can assure you that you have not viewed every adaptation. That would be essentially impossible. Holmes has been portrayed more times and in more places than just about anybody, and every time I begin to think I've covered the waterfront, something else pops up that I've never heard of. Heck, I have five DVDs of different versions of "The Hound" alone, and it's nowhere near comprehensive. And when we go past English language stuff, there's just no end. FYI, the sequel to Downey's picture will be released this coming December, and there will be three more episodes of the BBC's "Sherlock" next year starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
I meant that I viewed every adaptation that was available to see over the years on TV . While enjoyable ,the movies that brought Holmes into the 1940's were a bit farfetched in my opinion .
A number of years ago I received as a birthday gift The Complete Works Of Sherlock Holmes (book) .It was wonderful .
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Old May 7th, 2011, 02:52 PM
AR AR is offline
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While enjoyable ,the movies that brought Holmes into the 1940's were a bit farfetched in my opinion .
Yes, many object to the Rathbone/Bruce Universal films of the 40s that had Holmes and Watson chasing after the Nazis, driving around in cars, and so forth. Interestingly, that series started at Fox with two films starring Rathbone and Bruce that were done in period, and are really quite good. Those are The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It was when the series moved to Universal that they updated them to the then current environment. For many, the biggest objection wasn't the "modern" milieu, but the portrayal of Watson by Nigel Bruce as a bumbling fool, which the "real" Watson clearly was not. But those were the days of the "sidekick," and Bruce essentially played the role of Gabby Hayes, Pat Buttram, and all the other comic foils of the day. It was part of the formula, if not true to the character. Even so, to this day, a lot of people think that Rathbone was an excellent Holmes.

And now the BBC has done it again, with last year's premiere episodes of "Sherlock," where we have Sherlock and John doing their thing in today's London. I found them fascinating, and they got monster ratings both in Blighty and here. Three more episodes are due this fall.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 09:45 PM
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I liked Jeremy Brett's portrayal of Holmes but I thought Rathbone was excellent .
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