Meet Glamlife's new feline assistants!

Kitten April Fool's Joke - photo by Sergiu Bacioiu

Kittens?

Allow us to explain: In 2012, Google changed its search algorithm. Previously, the most important factor in determining the page ranking of a Glamlife page was the links leading to that page:

  • How many other pages link to it?
  • What text do they use in the links? (The blue text that users click on)
  • How popular are the pages that link to our page?

All that is changing. Google has started prioritising something they call “user engagement” – and the biggest measuring stick for that is whether users share our page on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn.

Here are some quotes and articles that talk about these changes:

But what does that have to do with kittens?

We’re always putting effort in getting Glamlife pages to be informative. You may have noticed us blogging about efforts to make our pages easier to find.

Unfortunately, we suspect not all information on Glamlife is so exciting that students will want to share it. Students might find tips for living in shared accommodation useful, but the topic does not exactly have sufficient fun-factor to justify a tweet, does it?

photo of kittens by Balint Kleri Well, thanks to a phenomenally inspired Glamlife Team member, now it does: from today, our page comes with a dose of cuteness!

We have added images of kittens (and, occasionally, ducklings, owlets and even baby raccoons) into Glamlife pages because research shows that people love cute animals, and, more importantly, they love to share photos of cute animals.

Hence, having kittens on Glamlife will boost the search rankings of those pages – and as the Glamlife Search is powered by Google, this will make it easier for you to find the information you are looking for on Glamlife. Without this addition, Glamlife news items (which get shared on Facebook and Twitter a lot more at the moment) will dominate our search results – and, for example, that means you might find last year’s news item about an exam timetable before you can find this year’s exam timetable.

But I HATE kittens!

Oh.

It’s important to us to get this right, so we’re running a Quick Poll on the Glamlife homepage. While we believe cats and kittens are likely to be the most popular source of cuteness for boosting user engagement, we’re open to other views and suggestions. However, we did not just pull these cats out of a hat. Here’s our shortlist and logic:

Kittens and cats

Pros Cons Cat by Clarissa Rossarola

We shouldn’t mess with a formula that works. Cats, in internet marketing, work.

  • Some people have cat allergies
  • Gender imbalance: male students might be less engaged by cats than female students
  • Everyone else on the internet uses cats: Glamlife might stand out more by using a different variety of cute.

Owls and owlets

Pros Cons owlets by Sumet Moghe

  • They can be super cute
  • Traditionally linked with wisdom and education
  • Very trendy!

The traditional view of owls as symbols of knowledge is a powerful argument.

Ducklings and ducks

Pros Cons duckling by James Stanier

In other words, they are the perfect all-round animal. Cute and tasty – maximum efficiency!

  • There’s less variety of pictures and poses to choose from
  • They aren’t as universally loved as kittens

Visit the Glamlife homepage to vote and let us know which cute animals we should be using in Glamlife! You can also check out the results of the poll so far.

Here, kitty, kitty!

Because it’s Easter, we decided to turn this into a game:

We’ve placed the first batch of pictures of kittens (and a small number of other endearing creatures) on selected Glamlife pages. They’re all in pages on the Glamlife Directory. Our work is not yet complete – we won’t stop until every page on Glamlife has a kitten!

You could treat them as Easter eggs and go looking for them (and indeed, we encouraged you to do so earlier). If you find one, share it! If you tweet it, include a hashtag (#glamcats) to spread the joy!

Sadly, April 1st is now over, so here is a series of screenshots of all the cuteness we’d added:

The future is bright, fluffy and cute

All our efforts are first drafts. But, if our efforts are successful and popular with students, there is huge potential for future developments.

  • Later in 2013, we will start taking our own, custom-staged photos of cute animals. As soon as the quick poll results are in, we will pre-order baby animals from a reputable supplier.
  • From 2014, we may branch out into producing cute videos.
  • To maximise usefulness of the cute animals, we are looking into the option of creating a support service based on the psychological comfort of brief animal companionship (a petting zoo).
  • For more information about why we posted this story, please read about April Fools’ Day on Wikipedia