Here’s a quick tip for all you kids obsessed with ORM. As you probably know, Google launched a new Toolbar feature called Sidewiki a couple months ago. Sidewiki is basically another ridiculous Google product whose underhanded purpose is to force everyone on the internet to use Google’s Toolbar and open a Google account. At best, it’s a novelty; at worst, it’s a megaphone in the hands of an irate customer standing in the middle of your store.
Tarnishing someone’s reputation or some company’s brand name is already pretty easy. Trust me…I do it all the time. But Sidewiki aims to make it even easier, and what’s worse…Sidewiki delivers the shit straight to your doorstep. If this feature becomes mainstream, then your potential customers will have to look no further than the left side of your home page to find out how many people you’ve pissed off.
Fortunately for me, I’m an incredible SEO consultant and my clients only get irate when I refuse to work on their sites. However, I have been known to offend people from time to time, and consequently…there’s a chance that one of these apes will drag their knuckles over to my place and start screaming all type a’ hooey and hokum.
So I guess I need some kind of online reputation management tool that monitors my Sidewiki comments–not to protect my brand from the haters, but to make sure I don’t miss any opportunities to offend them further. And wouldn’t you know it…Google delivered such a tool just this morning!
Google Sidewiki Data API
If there’s one thing Google loves, it’s structured data. So it’s no surprise that they’ve made Sidewiki data available through their nifty Google Data API. To Web developers and nerds, that means it’s possible to create web applications and mashups that use Sidewiki data to perform allegedly-useful functions. To apes like you, it means you can type a super-special custom URL into your browser, and Google will give you a page of XML content that contains all the Sidewiki comments for your entire domain. “What do I do with this XML data,” you ask? You subscribe to it!
How do I subscribe to my Sidewiki comments?
Start with this:
Then change YOURDOMAIN to your domain, and delete the www. part if you don’t use it. Annnnnd…you’re done! You now have your feed URL…subscribe to it like you would subscribe to a blog. For example, try clicking the RSS feed icon on the right. See how easy that was?
Why am I still reading this?
You might be wondering which API URL parameters I chose for you. Here, have a look at the alternatives…but I’m pretty sure I made the right choice for you.
This returns data that’s “suitable for RSS readers.” It omits information that your RSS reader wouldn’t display anyway. The alternative option is /full.
You view the entries in the order that they were last modified. The newest Sidewiki content appears at the top of your feed reader, just like it would for blog entries. The alternatives are sortorder=quality and sortorder=published.
When Sidewiki users see an irate or offensive comment from someone, they’re going to vote that comment down, regardless of how true or useful it is. This is especially true if your site has “fans” that blindly defend your company (e.g. SEOmoz). Therefore, if you leave this parameter as the default includeLessUseful=false, then your feed could be omitting the comments that matter most to reputation management. In other words, the less useful a comment is to other visitors…the more important it is for you (the site owner) to know about it.
Alright, that’s a wrap. Go grab yourself a banana and start managing that online reputation.
The data API also lets you subscribe to Sidewiki comments for a particular page or a particular author. Those don’t seem relevant to ORM (unless one author in particular is talking shit about your company all across the internet), but if you’re interested in those feed options, check out the Google Sidewiki API reference.