SEO and the Written Word

19 05 2009

In the rush to populate web copy with keywords the most important thing is sometimes forgotten.  The copy needs to well written, lively, interesting and relevant.  It is astonishing how often this is forgotten in the charge to upload text that will rank highly in Google.   

Engaging content can have a direct impact on search engine rankings and consequently on traffic.   Some websites sacrifice the need for good written content because their search engine optimisation advisors have influenced key words and their placement in the text to such an extent that the site no longer informs or entertains.

What this process fails to acknowledge is that the quality of the content is critical to receiving high rankings, because it will affect the number of pages viewed and the stickyness of the site.   Crafting words is a core skill for the majority of PR people.  We also need to consider how to deliver quality content in all of its other forms – still images, audio and video.  Whilst using the agency or in-house digital camera is useful for the old application for important work we will still tend to use a professional photographer.  The same should apply for audio and video content. 

Words still lie at the heart of all of this.  The right words will bring audiences but in the the wrong alignment they will drive them away, perhaps never to return.





Swine Flu Pandemic & Web Viral Panic

27 04 2009

Whether or not the current outbreak of swine flu translates into a world pandemic, we are already seeing information and and data spreading around the web at a staggering pace. 

The speed at which information travels brings opportunities and threats and we need to treat information we see on line with caution and respect.  The social web will deliver information on which we can rely and data which will deceive. 

Many news organisations around the world today are linking to a Google map showing almost live data on reported cases. Whilst this may be a very useful tool, what few of the news organisations report is that it appears to have been created by Henry Niman, a biomedical researcher with a history of using the internet to forecast doom. Niman has claimed global pandemics were under way several times before.

The spread of disinformation does not mean that there is no risk.   The truth is at this point we just don’t know the scale of the threat.   A much better source of information may come from Google.  ‘Google Flu trends’ which I wrote about in PR Media Blog  last November, uses search terms to predict how many people in a particular area are searching for relevant information about flu.  There is a high correlation between the searches and numbers of actual cases of flu and they can show incidence faster official channels like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   Google believes it can accurately estimate flu levels one to two weeks faster than published CDC reports.

The problem at the moment is that the data covers just the US and is only updated weekly.  If Google were able to update faster and use the technology to cover the whole planet we would have a much better picture of what is actually happening.





Obama and the Social Web #1

14 01 2009

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The United States presidential election of 2008 was the first major election anywhere in the world where social media played a significant role.  Half of the candidates in the primaries including Barack Obama had blogs. 

The number American citizens who regularly went on line for news about the presidential campaign more than doubled from the previous presidential election. As well as news sites like MSNBC, CNN and Yahoo News voters used social networks like Youtube and MySpace for updates as well as blogs like the Drudge Report.

Interaction with social networks became very much a two way process in the run up to the election.   On the day that Barack Obama announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee in January 2007, a student leader created a group on Facebook called “One Million Strong for Barack”.   Opponents created a group on Facebook called Stop Barack Obama (One Million Strong and Growing).  This reached the one million total in Summer 08 whilst the original and older pro-Obama group still had only 600,000 members.   

Involvement in social networks was significant from the earliest days of the primaries. Republican Mitt Romney was the first prospective candidate to launch a Facebook profile,  Democrat John Edwards set up a campaign headquarters in the cyber world of Second Life which resulted in one of the more unusual web 2.0 occurrences when it was vandalised by the avatars of his political opponents. 

Barack Obama was a prime mover from the outset.  He actively engaged with most of the high profile social networking sites including MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Eventful, Twitter as well as Blackplanet.com, a community with over 20 million members.








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