Thursday, July 19, 2007

Intranets '07, Sydney

The Intranets '07 event has been finalised for Sydney for Wednesday, 19 September.

It is a focused one day conference with two workshops on the following day.

The previous couple of years have been great. Lots of great views from intranet managers and this year presentations include Telstra, National Australia Bank and Heinz.

To its credit it has little vendor involvement.

I will be chairperson of the event as well as presenting on content strategy and management.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Strategic Intranet and Portal Management conference - Auckland

The Auckland Strategic Intranet and Portal management conference has been finalised for th 28 and 29 of August at The Rydges in the city.

As always it features lots of great speakers and case studies, some usual faces and some new ones.

Cairo Walker from Step Two will be running a separate workshop on the 30th on a new model of theirs 'Intranet Honeycomb'.

I'll be doing a presentation on content management strategy focusing on users and governance and will also participate as a panelist in the open panel discussions at the end of day two.

Hope to see you there.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blogs ARE the new information medium

Jakob Nielsen is starting to show his age.

I've been a big fan of his since his 'Designing Web Usability' book and have on occasion defended the fellow from detractors.

But his latest article Write articles not blogs is one of the most boring reactionary things I've read around online communication for quite some time.

I'm sure all those big graphs in the article are all valid and the research behind it perfectly fine.

The problem is that it's boring, not engaging and I don't have time to read big long boring online article (no matter how valid) on a particular subject, especially when I'm at work and I tend to avoid getting online at home.

I like blogs as they provide 'snippets' of good information (if of course they are good blogs) or links to other information. It helps build a collective and wide personal knowledge of a subject over time without the need to do in-depth study.

The social and interaction aspects of blogs should not be overlooked for the valid value they provide which articles do not.

Articles certainly have their place and there are people that do both but blogs have opened up knowledge sharing beyond what traditional articles have and shouldn't be compared with something as structured as an article.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Donna Maurer IA workshops in Auckland

Well known IA expert Donna Maurer will be in Auckland running two one-day session covering aspects of IA. She is being brought to Auckland by the good people at Optimal Usability.

This full day workshop will provide you with a thorough overview and
understanding of information architecture theory & practice.

It will cover a wide range of information architecture issues, including an
understanding of how it fits into a project, fundamental skills & knowledge required for information architecture work and current information architecture issues.

It will be theoretical and practical and allow you to immediately apply ideas to your projects.
Great opportunity to get expert advice and upgrade your skills.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Search engine optimisation and content searchability

Demise of the meta keyword

I am still working with a lot of content authors who think buy stuffing words into their meta keyword fields and writing massive page descriptions are somehow going to increase their site/page searchability and ranking within search engines. They don't.

As mentioned in a previous post even my CMS vendor believes (even in this day and age) that somehow managing meta keywords is the key to SEO.

When Search Engines first kicked off (dark ole' pre-Google days) meta tags were the key information used by search engines to identify page content. This lead to all sorts of e-marketing scammers making millions spamming keywords and page descriptions.

Obviously the sophistication of SEO has greatly improved with the advent of Google style Page ranking, link popularity and the actual searching of content and not just meat fields and titles.
This too has lead to all sorts of e-marketing scammers but Google really has done a great deal to protect the integrity of its ranking technology to avoid these types of things (i.e. the white text on white background, domain name squatters using link pages etc etc).

Perhaps the only good use of meta keywords these days is a general indicator for other content authors in your organisation as to what the target keywords are and thus that they should be used in your keyword maps.

Good content - good searchability

With more internal search engines following more of a Google model (indeed many are now adopting the Google app) this applies to web content and intranet content in equal measure.

I'll reinforce my position that good web content and intranet content is fundamentally structured the same way (leaving aside to a degree social/ web/enterprise 2.0 collaborative stuff).
  • Accessible sites are searchable sites
  • Well written web content is searchable content
  • User-focused content is searchable content

SEO marketing and natural searches

It's important to highlight the difference between search engine marketing (Google adwords etc) and natural search optimisation (free listings).

What I'm concerned about here is natural search engine optimisation for websites and intranets and I'll leave the e-marketing stuff to someone else.

Searchability and Findability

I'll highlight the separation between searchability and findability here also.

When I mean 'searchability' I'm talking specifically about a search engine (either internally or externally) indexing a site and producing relevant results for users of that search engine. 'Findability' is a larger concept.

Basics of good SEO

  • Use keyword maps - Page titles, headings and keywords in first paragraphs need a common thread. The link/navigation to the page has the keyword focus.
  • Links should not be images, not Flash, not Javascript. Simple accessible text links is the way to go.
  • key content is in text. Text! not flash, not image not fancy java apps. Good ole plain HTML/XHTML rendered text. Otherwise forget about indexing.
  • CSS can be utilised to great effect for good SEO. Use it to structure your site in divs. Don't use tables.
  • Pages are coded following W3C standards and guidelines. It is generally web developers themselves that keep pages from being indexed and ranked. Crappy code means unsearchable content.
  • Content is of a quality that makes other people want to link to it. Links are good.
  • Link to content don't duplicate it. Really important especially internally. Have a single source and provide links through. This also benefits users as they are presented with multiple locations of exactly the same content. See CMS container issues.
  • URLs are clear.Most search engines can index URLs with variables but they do tend to avoid them on occasion. Do URL rewrites to form nice readable URLs if you've got a dynamic content site. Again it's also good for your users.
  • Content is written for users and uses user-focused words and language (for intranets as well).
  • Forget short-cut scams. Follow good development and content basics. Focus on natural search optimisation not marketing optimisation. Get free listings!
  • Write lots of good content that people want to read. This is what gets indexed highly.

SEO links:

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