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Interview With Ken Ilio
Ken Ilio of Tanikalang Ginto
Dr. Ken Ilio is the founder of
Tanikalang Ginto (www.filipinolinks.com), which has been on the Web since
1994. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to "pick" his
brains, and to share his valuable insights with you.
Joel Mangilit: Can you share with us just a little
DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), University of the Philippines
MPhil (Master of Philosophy), Massey University
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Postdoctoral Studies - Northwestern University
Currently on faculty at Columbia College Chicago.
Hobbies: surfing the net, photography, writing
Joel Mangilit: When did you put up www.filipinolinks.com and what was
your goal for the site?
www.filipinolinks.com was (still is) the link page of, originally, The
First Philippine Page of Trivia established sometime in September 1994
which eventually became Tribung Pinoy (www.tribo.org). Since the
beginning, the links page was already called Tanikalang Ginto, but only in
1997 that I bought a domain name (www.filipinolinks.com) for it. Last
year, 2001, Tanikalang Ginto became a registered trademark.
The goal really since 1994 is to collect in a directory Philippine-related
websites. In the beginning, I listed sites without organization - I listed
them when I found them. In mid-1996, the list became huge (and popular -
it even got listed in the now defunct Netguide magazine) that I had
categorize the links to have some kind of organization.
Joel Mangilit: Have you achieved your goals for the site?
Basically yes. The database is huge - I don't even know how many links are
in the database. And it is in transition - as I am moving the links from
straight html file to a flat database that can be accessed by a cgi. It's
a huge undertaking. There are about 9,000 links in the new database and
more in the old database.
Joel Mangilit: How many hours did it take to build the site, and how
many hours to maintain?
My last re-design was in August 2000. It took me about 4 hours (hand edit)
to redesign. You can track the redesigns of filipinolinks.com at
www.archive.org. It's soo coool.
Since the site is updated every day, maintenance could be anywhere
(depending on how much I enjoy surfing that day) from 1 hour to 12 hours.
Joel Mangilit: How many visitors has your site gotten to date? What is
the average number of visitors per month?
About 1 million for the front page. For the whole site, I have no idea. I
get more than 4,000 hits a day for all the pages in Tanikalang Ginto. On
the average, the front page gets about 700 unique hits a day. My other
sites (Tribung Pinoy, Pinoy First, madeinthephilippines.com etc.) are also
popular and colletively they probably get more than 2,000 hits a day.
Joel Mangilit: How did you promote your site (e.g. search engines,
affiliate programs, banner ads, mailing list, offline promotion, etc)?
To tell you the truth, I really didn't. Because the site is one of the
early sites out - it has always been listed in the major search engines -
it used to be ranked high too - but no longer. I really haven't done
anything much to promote the site in last two years except requiring
submitted sites to put up a link to filipinolinks.com in their sites. No
reciprocal link, no listing at Tanikalang Ginto.
Joel Mangilit: Of the various ways of promoting your site, which brings
in the most traffic?
The reciprocal link is a very effective way of promoting the site. This is
why I stringently require this now. The reason being, the more a site is
linked in other websites, the higher it is ranked in search engines. It is
both a plus for the site being linked and the site that links it because
the linking site becomes recognized by the spiders of the search engines
and thus incorporated in their database.
Joel Mangilit: Is your Web site a profitable endeavor, or just a labor
It used to be profitable - during the Internet boom with so many start ups
sprouting, the banner ads that I had on my sites were making money. It
used to be that you can earn as much as 40 US cents everytime the banner
is clicked. Now it's something like 5 cents a click. My click rate then
was also very high. Filipinos are very faithful and loyal audience. :-). I
also used to design websites but now everyone is doing it.
So now, it's a labor of love ... a hobby gone berserk. I love it though.
Joel Mangilit: How much does it cost you to maintain the Web site (e.g.
web hosting fees)?
I have now my own server that doesn't cost a lot which allow me to host
other sites for a fee :-). I don't promote this service that much though.
But the server pays for itself.
Joel Mangilit: What are the factors that made your online endeavors
Because I have a niche (Filipino) and I started early and I stuck to it.
Joel Mangilit: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are
exploring the possibilities of the Internet for their business?
Have a gimmick and be passionate about it. Be original. Don't be ningas
cogon. I am guilty of this (as some of my sites have not been updated) but
they're not commercial. I've seen Filipino commercial sites though which
promise a lot of stuff but don't deliver.
Also a pleasing design of the front page is important -
should be a balance between artistry, functionality and speed. Java
applets, and Flash animations are nice but they are annoying and many
readers don't have the time to wait UNLESS they really want to visit the
site and unless the site is a graphic arts site or a web development site
(so you have to show that you do know how to use these programs etc.).
However, some web designers are so mayabang to show that they know how to
do flash and applets and whatever and design commercial sites with all the
borloloys for the sake of having borloloys. Most of them are really
beautiful - Pinoys are very good at designing websites - we really excel
in this area - but there's a but - a site with a lot of borloloys - the
download is slow and for many readers who probably are just sneaking into
the net during their break time or so, time is important, so many would
just go on to another site instead of waiting. Many access the net still
with 28.8 modem - so you have to design to the least common denominator.
Also, a high percentage of readers are using old browsers which don't have
the capabilities of reading applets and flash animation. So as much as
possible, if your site is not a showcase site, stick to fast loading front
pages (or at least offer the readers a choice).
The model really is Yahoo. They stuck to their design since the start -
drab, gray but somewhat pleasing to the eye and most of all, fast loading.
Same thing with amazon.com.
I am guilty of slow download because my site has a
Filipino-oriented photograph on every page, but I don't care. Tanikalang
Ginto and especially Tribung Pinoy are also galleries of my own
photographs (as well as my friends' and readers' who send me their
beautiful photos to be featured on the site). You can't imagine how
many of my own photographs are being "stolen" and used by other
sites without permission. Even commercial sites. And also because I really
would like to show the Philippines. Most of the photos are of the
Philippines ... I may sound altruistic in this goal, but since the start
... it has always been about the Philippines.
Again, my thanks to Ken for taking the time to share his valuable
insights, and invite everyone to visit Tanikalang Ginto at
Joel R. Mangilit
Joel R. Mangilit
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