Tips on tweaking your text in order to be Google/search-friendly

Here’s a blog post with some useful tips about tweaking your text and pages in order to be found by people searching on Google.

Try running this very specific Google search – “Manhood” by Mels van Driel review – and you will not find the L.A. Times among the results – at least not within first three pages that humans would care to flip through. How come might you ask? Well the answer is simple – there is nothing whatsoever that tells Google that this post is a book review about this particular book…
from ReadWriteWeb

Substitute book reviews with whatever you’re discussing on your own site or blog. Popular tech blog ReadWriteWeb should know. Their search engine optimisation proved to be so good recently that searchers mistook an article about Facebook for Facebook itself.

And here’s another post of tips, from the blog of Google’s Matt Cutts…

Don’t just use technical terms–think about real-world terms and slang that users will type. For example, if you’re talking about a “usb drive,” some people might call it a flash drive or a thumb drive. Bear in mind the terms that people will type and think about synonyms that can fit naturally into your content. Don’t stuff an article with keywords or make it awkward, but if you can incorporate different ways of talking about a subject in a natural way, that can help users.
from Matt Cutts’ blog

Conversation about National Theatre Wales around the web

We’ve been working with National Theatre Wales and people who belong to their community – including office staff, production staff, cast, venues and “people formerly known as audience”.

Last year we built the community side of NTW’s website on Ning, with graphic design by the folks at Elfen. (Hoffi made the front page and listings pages.)

It’s worth noting that members of the community have the clear choice of making their posts public (open to be read by anyone who is looking) and many are doing so. The community is open to anybody on the web who wants to sign up.

But obviously with the web as it is, people are publishing their own stuff about National Theatre Wales and its productions around the web – not just on NTW’s community. We want to encourage this, it’s part of what NTW wants to achieve.

In fact, with NTW we have purposefully assigned a short tag to each production for use around the web – of the form ntw01 for production one, ntw02 for production two and so on. People are starting to use these tags already, in order to make their thoughts and posts more findable.

We also want to help the community to be aware of this other interesting stuff – videos, Twitter posts, blog posts, photos, audio – where relevant. “Online conversation” is a metaphor that has become popular on the web – and it does have some explanatory power. We want to give that conversation the best chance of being seen by groups of people who might be interested, so they can take part if they wish – wherever they choose to post their responses.

Here’s Tom’s post on the NTW site about the production tags and how posts, photos, videos and so on are collected on the NTW group for each production (and also a Netvibes page):
http://community.nationaltheatrewales.org/profiles/blogs/talking-about-national-theatre

Take a look at the group for ntw01, A Good Night Out In The Valleys for an example of live search results from around the web. If you’re wondering how the live searches work on the groups, we made them with Yahoo Pipes. There is a chance of a few false positives turning up, as with any web search. But on the whole we like the way they’ve turned out.

We’ve included the services which seem to be the popular ones for discussing theatre. In theory more publishing services, e.g. Audioboo, could be added to the results if those services start to become popular.

So there you go, one small part of NTW’s online strategy which we’ve been working on.

Building an online reputation? Slow process. Having it destroyed? Much quicker process.

Matt Cutts of Google receives a lot of requests to remove pages from the search engine’s index. This is his standard response. In short, Google don’t remove pages from their index unless there are extremely good reasons.

What he didn’t mention this time (although he obviously does know it) is that it’s vital to maintain your own web presence to overcome any negative or defamatory treatment you might be getting online.

This means monitoring and responding to people’s grievances in a timely fashion on various networks and platforms. Twitter is just one (read the Motrin story from last year for just one example).

It also means having your own site or blog which you regularly update. There are many benefits to this – idea development, more “content” to pull people in, maybe a dash of promotion and a nice, recent “last posted” date to reassure new visitors you’re still on the case. Plus you will probably get a better search ranking from a frequently updated site.

But the benefits for reputation are what I’ll focus on here. With your own blog, you can respond instantly to any trend of opinion that might be emerging – highlighting the good stuff and rebutting the bad stuff.

It’s possible to nip something at an early stage and make your stance clear. Ideally each blog post would have its own permalink so people can use it to respond in turn and – if you deserve it – support you. Here’s the permalink to this post.

Depending on the situation you might need to take it on the chin and admit a mistake, the earlier the better. Most organisations can expect a sensitive and potentially reputation-damaging event at some point. You can’t “bury bad news” in this space, sorry!

Here’s this week’s good example – Spotify’s honest admission of a security breach. Spotify are a tech company and they seem to know about this stuff. But it’s just as applicable in other industries. And will become more so.

Building an online reputation is a slow process.

Having it destroyed is a much quicker process.

Make sure you’re prepared.

If you want another angle, I’m also reminded of a seminal blog post from Anil Dash of Six Apart – about privacy and identity control, an oldie but a goodie.