Monthly Archives: November 2008

BBC and Google juice: the BBC responds

Demonstrating once again why journalists should not only blog but monitor incoming links, the BBC’s response to the recent story about ‘holding back Google juice’ in its linking came to my attention as I was scanning the incoming links to this blog. John O’Donovan, Chief Architect, BBC FM&T Journalism, says “nothing sinister”, and:

“We are rolling out improvements to the way this works, as already used on some other parts of the website. Essentially we use JavaScript to retain SEO (“Search Engine Optimisation“) and Google juice for external sites, while we will still be able to track external links. Search Engines, casual observers and those without JavaScript will still see the original URL.”

Will alternative voices get pushed off Google’s first page of results?

That’s the question bumping around my mind after reading this post at SEObook.com:

“if you are not an AdWords advertiser, are not in universal search verticals (like news and video), and are not wikipedia, then you don’t have many organic search results that you can rank for on the first page.”

The image makes it clearer:

google results

In some ways, blogs are better placed than ordinary websites, as Google may be indexing your blog as part of its news search. But that isn’t particularly comforting. The wider move towards mainstream results that keep you within Google doesn’t look particularly healthy. 

Here’s what SEObook suggests:

  • If your site is fairly close to what it takes to be considered in some of Google’s verticals – like Google news, then consider upping your game a bit and submitting an inclusion request.
  • Try to make some video content. Not good for everyone, but most sites could use some, and the competitive bar with video is much lower than it is with text – though I wouldn’t expect it to stay that way for more than a couple years.
  • If you have some top rankings that are bouncing around consider focusing on promoting that content again – when stratification occurs you are going to be better off focusing on owning a few ideas rather than being average to slightly above average at many. Top ranked sites also benefit from self-reinforcing rankings. Read up on cumulative advantage if you have not yet done so.
  • Usage data (and/or brand searches) may become a big part of future algorithms. Get ready for that by reading about BrowseRank then invest in advertising, branding, and user experience.

The only upside? Google may be making itself less relevant, and more open to competition.

US election coverage – who’s making the most of the web?

Elections bring out the best in online journalism. News organisations have plenty of time to plan, there’s a global audience up for grabs, and the material lends itself to interactive treatment (voter opinions; candidates’ stances on various issues; statistics and databases; constant updates; personalisation).

Not only that, but the electorate is using the internet for election news more than any other medium apart from television (and here are some reasons why).

PaidContent has a good roundup of various UK editors’ views, and decides blogs, Twitter and data are the themes (more specifically, liveblogging and mapping). Continue reading

Elections08: Storytelling with public databases

Written by Wilbert Baan

Today is the day of the US elections. I don’t think we ever had a live event on the web that will get so much live coverage. This means incredible amounts of information will be published over all kind of services and social networks. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, WordPress, Blogger and many more.

Most popular web services have programmable interfaces. These interfaces allow developers to extract information out of the system. This creates a whole new genre of storytelling: storytelling with public databases. You can aggregate the information you need and sort it the way you want.

To prove the concept I made three small mock-ups. They all use search.twitter.com to see how people voted.

When I made the first the first animation Erik Borra replied by developing the idea into something that stores the data retrieved from Twitter in a database. I made a new interface that shows a graph based on what people say they voted on Twitter. And the result is a Twitter Poll.

These three examples are not representative data, it is extracted from Twitter. But it shows you how much personal and valuable information is in the public database. All you have to do is ask yourself what you want to tell to your readers and if this information is available.

I voted

This animation gets the latest twitter message where someone says they voted on McCain or Obama. It automatically refreshes. Continue reading

The biggest deal for online video this year

Anyone interested in video on the web – and particularly making money from video on the web – should pay close attention to the partnership between MTV and MySpace, which uses fingerprinting technology to allow the broadcaster to identify video being ‘pirated’ and shared on the web.

So far, so old news. The significance is this: the technology is being discussed not as a way to stop people ‘ripping’ and embedding video material, but to actually encourage them. Why? 

The money. Continue reading

3 lessons in community #5: Laura Gluhanich of Ning

In the latest in my series of interviews with the people who deal with online communities as part of their job, I speak to Ning‘s Laura Gluhanich. Laura started at Ning in 2007 as a Community Advocate.  Prior to that, she spent 4 years in restaurant management in her native Michigan.  As acting Manager of Support at Ning, she manages the front line of community feedback regarding the platform.  She spends her time at http://help.ning.com, http://blog.ning.com, and http://twitter.com/lauragatning.

Here are the 3 things she’s learned about community management:

1. Know and treat your community as individuals

Each person on our platform has created a network or belongs to one. Each member of my team is familiar with hundreds of networks and their Network Creators. This familiarity leads to better support because we know a fan network for a band is different from one that is used to collaborate in the classroom, and can respond to their needs better with that knowledge.

2. Be flexible

Community guidelines are there for a reason, and consistency is key to providing a great environment for people to engage. That said, there will always be unique cases where you will need to be creative with a solution that benefits all involved.

3. Show your humanity

The larger your community gets, the less you are looked at and treated as a real person. It is important to provide context and explanation for changes and decisions, and to admit mistakes to your community. Your communications and online presence should reflect your personality.

BBC pledges to link out – but holds back the Google juice

In the same week that the BBC’s head of editorial development for multimedia journalism was quoted as saying they must do better at linking to external sites, it’s been revealed that the corporation is using a convoluted linking mechanism which means those sites will be denied any benefit in their Google ranking.

Pete Clifton is quoted as saying “It’s not about people slavishly coming back to the BBC. This is a real change in our view that we feel much more part of the web. Continue reading