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Real life tips for changing newsrooms

Here’s my contribution to this weekend’s Carnival of Journalism, on the theme of practical tips for changing newsrooms for a new media age:

1. Set up your systems so that journalists get emails when someone comments on their stories. Nothing kills a conversation like someone who doesn’t listen.

2. Make an effort to meet social media users in your community/beat in person at least once a month (it helps if you set up a meeting or join one that exists). Failing that, have a video conversation. Both strengthen community more than just text. Jo Geary does this brilliantly in Birmingham.

3. Make 30 minutes every week to think about how you do your job, identify problems or frustrations, and blog about it, inviting suggestions on how you can do it better, or asking if others can help.

4. Try a new toy every fortnight – online services like Seesmic, Twitter, blogging, Ning, social bookmarking, Dipity, Yahoo Pipes, Shozu; hardware like the Zoom H2, Flip camcorder, and N95. IF you don’t have any ideas check out TechCrunch.

5. Regularly distribute information internally to all reporters and editors about what is happening on the website – popular stories, most commented on, bookmarked, old stories getting new interest, most visited on mobile, what times most accessed, where traffic is coming from, what search terms are most popular, what stories are getting a ‘long tail’ of small but consistent traffic.

6.If the online side of things seems like ‘extra work’ find out ways to make it less onerous and more automatic – explore Firefox extensions, bookmarking buttons, shortcuts; using ‘downtime’ to update via text or mobile web; and how to syndicate an RSS feed from one place to another (e.g. Twitter’s feed or Delicious feed to your blog).

7. If you are lucky enough to spend most of your time away from a desk and computer, work to keep it that way. A good mobile phone and Shozu may come in useful.

I’d welcome your ideas and reactions.

(Posted from my mobile, so apologies for no links)

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Wordcampuk – notes on SEO

Second talk: Search Engine Optimisation, here’s the headlines:
Code your website so content is first thing search engines see after meta tags, but not users (e.g. floating divs)
Big corps will steer clear of WordPress due to security concerns.
Get Google webmaster console
Google is all about data acquisition – the more they know about you, the more they can do with you. Never use Google Analytics for commercial data.
If you are getting over 60% of visits from search engines it’s not healthy – you should be getting referrals and directs.
Think about international SEO, which is “soft”, apparently
Get into forums, but ignore directories
“If you’re a web developer, get to know writers”: “journalists are cheap”. They “never ask for enough money” A lot of link builders are journalism students
Google algorithm has around 400 variables; we only know around 200. But Google’s black box is us and what we users do.

Useful links
SEO for wordpress
www.seomoz.com
Google Ranking factors
SEOdigger.com
Google webmaster central blog
Google keyword finder
www.sepguy.com

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Worcampuk

Notes from today’s conference:
If you’re using Akismet on a commercial site (or are making over $500 per month) you should be paying for a commercial licence. See Akismet.com.
Bad Behaviour plugin also recommended as a pre-Akismet filter to save bandwidth if you get a lot of spam.
If meta tag description is same on all pages (default), Google seems to think they’re all ‘similar pages’ and omits from initial results.
WordPress creates a lot of duplicate content which Google doesn’t like. AllInOne SEO plugin allows you to noindex archives to prevent that.
BackUpWordpress plugin – I should really have backup habits. WPDmanager recommended by some, which includes scheduled backups. The biggest it’s worked for in this room is only 500 posts. I’d need to test on mine (1000 posts). Some web hosts allow you to schedule database backups too.
MaxBlogPress ping optimiser plugin prevents you being classed a ping spammer but asks for email address and sends you junk
cForms plugin allows you to set up more accessible verification processes rather than captcha. Also allows you to set up form with upload functionality.
RoleManager also recommended. Can also deinstall and the customisations remain.

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