There are a few niches of the "new Internet" that are just about full. Social networking that doesn't gear to a particular sub-group is one of them (though I'd argue that there's still ample room for niche social networks, like this one that we looked at a few days ago). So is broadband video. But start-ups in both those categories keep trying to find ways to stand out: one of those, I've seen, is by putting an emphasis on search engine optimization (SEO). In the video category, we saw this with Veotag. And on the social networking side, this is the philosophy of Ziki.
Ziki is, in many ways, a very basic social networking site. It consists pretty much exclusively--though there's no telling whether or not this will expand--of member profiles that aggregate links and content from other social media sites. This way, you can put links to your podcasts, videos, blog entries, and photos on your Ziki profile and have them all accessible from a common "hub." This is nothing new: other sites like OnXIAm are also based on this concept, though Ziki offers more social networking functions, like contact and personal information on profiles and an RSS feed. Plus, profiles can also be created for companies or organizations. But where Ziki really promises to be different is in the aforementioned SEO features. The site is currently, as a temporary promotion, sponsoring links at the top of Google, Yahoo, and MSN searches for free. So, if someone went to Google and typed in my name, the top link would be my Ziki (if I had one). It's not clear whether there are more SEO capabilities to the service, or if it's limited to the sponsored links.
The site is ad-free, at least for the moment, and it looks like Ziki's monetization strategy will be focused on premium content offerings. Beginning next month, members who cough up a few bucks will be able to buy their own search engine ads and customize them to their needs.
And there you have it: Shameless Self-Promotion 2.0.