Relevance; that old chestnut.

An amazing thing has happened to me over the last month, I’ve become re-inspired by content, but more specifically, search and content. I should preface this with the fact that I have always had a love-hate relationship with Search, SEO, SEM.

I have in the past worked with unethical marketeers who will pad a website to within an inch of its life, just to get a good ranking in google. Thank god google, yahoo, bing (yes even BING!) have cottoned on to this and started yanking sites down the page- based on irrelevance.

So relevance- how do you get it?

Well, I’ve always been a great believer that web really is just another communications channel and the same old principles should apply. You have to know your audience and your message, and what it is that you want your audience to do. It’s an old principle- that is slowly being turned on it’s head. Like me!

We now have so much information available, and so much we want to share that we forget that web content management is not so much about what you want to push out, but more about aligning your content with what people are looking for.

We’ve always had to marry the needs of the business with the needs of the customer, but it’s only really been in the last 2-3 years that the business is being shaped by the needs, thoughts and actions of the customer in an online environment.

Fine-tuning your content relevance comes about by researching your markets thoroughly, understanding your competitors and providing a point of differentiation. For an organisation, (like the energy company I work for) the differentiation is about positioning of products and how we conduct ourselves in the community.

Here’s the thing I’m noticing though. The point of differentiation in the print, TV, radio, outdoor world can be a major pain point in web.

Internally, we’ve gone and named our products to be visually recognised as different.
Let’s use the example of ‘GreenPower‘. Simple, easy, green, right?

Search engines see this as being one word. Well, it is, for us.

Relevance to users?

Well, if they have the ‘smarts’ or ‘telepathy’ to just outright type ‘GreenPower‘ into a search engine, then they might find it. I’d give them a prize for being able to read minds.

Right now, the big-ticket items out in Energy land are all to do with “Green Energy“, “Renewables“, “Carbon”, “Carbon-offsets“, “ETS“.

Imagine that your website could come unstuck by the space between two words.

I wonder how many other relationships have come unstuck by such a thing?

Thankfully, we’ve got a cluey webteam that understands how to implement SEO well enough to still get results, but a space between two words really can be the difference between thousands or hundreds of new interested web users.

So, I apologise for prefacing these following items with aforementioned waffling, but sometimes, all you need to do is a little research on word association to save some time and face. Oh, and help that potential customer, investor, student, blogger, tweet fanatic, you name it actually find you in this big old web world.

  • Google Wonderwheel; whatever word you think you know, someone thinks it differently.
  • Google local business centre; more and more people are searching by keyword and locality. If you are a business, this is a free listing with maps, youtube, images, description and testimonials. Worth checking out.
  • Tianamo; this is a 3d visualisation of your search term, aggregated by Yahoo search, news and blogs. Pretty funky tool, but you’ll need java 1.7 to run it.
  • Pageflakes; a place to start monitoring what your key markets are doing by customising widgets such as facebook, twitter, myspace, news, RSS feeds etc to your needs. Pretty cool- and I’ve only just started playing with it.

Published by Claire Spencer

Senior social media specialist combining mindfulness with content to build a better world.

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