ECM, eDiscovery and the Social Media problem

24 02 2011

Today I read briefly that social media access may cause governance problems for corporate using such sites as Facebook. Now this could be a real big issue, especially as more and more organisations are using Social Media to not only connect and engage, but to actively interact with customers and solve customer issues even.

You can read the article here http://www.eweekeurope.co.uk/news/social-media-access-may-cause-governance-problems-21424

A simple view

If we step back and think about it, any content that we place in the public domain as an organisation needs to be discoverable, and if necessary, produced to meet certain governance rules. Now this is fine for outlets the organisation controls (their own website, published press releases etc), but what about content that was created on, and essentially resides with a third party. This is typically how we use Facebook and Twitter for example.

Now in our more traditional scenario we can have our published content stored within our ECM repository, that’s fine. But since the content was stored on a third party solution, and essentially is up there on the web, how do we ensure we have it for our records? How do we find that content again if needs be (especially if it’s now a couple of years old)

What we have to remember is that not only do we need to retain access to that content, but we also have to protect ourselves (the organisation) from that “original content” going missing. Let’s face it, as an organisation do you trust Facebook to store all of your status updates for the next 8 years? Probably not…

How we create content and how we discover it

Ideally we need to maintain a link to all that content sitting with Facebook, Twitter, mySpace or whoever. We also need to protect ourselves from that content going missing. So the real answer is to not only keep a record of that contents location (typically a URL or post ID with that provider), but also a copy of the actual content itself (in our ECM repository). If we do this, then we can discover all our social media interactions and produce them on request.

Essentially we have two options of doing this. The first is to create the content via your own software solution. If you do this, then you can take a copy of that content, store it in your ECM repository along with a link to the location on Facebook / Twitter for example. This approach ensures all content is kept and you can then take control of your retention periods that may apply to that content. The second is to constantly discover content from the source and either store links to that content, or again store links and copy that content (into your ECM repository).

My personal approach is a mixture of both of these.

The first option makes life easier for agents, it ensures they have a better view of all the content and discussions going on and allows them to quickly do what they need. It also short cuts the need for discovery while ensuring the end user isn’t getting side tracked with their own Facebook status updates (personal related content). There is also an added benefit of working this way, and that is protection of the content itself. If Facebook was hacked, and false status updates made, or status updates modified, these can be related to those stored in our secure ECM platform. This is a form of protection…The second option ensures nothing gets missed. So this is our “belts and braces” approach. From time to time a user may well interact with Twitter or Facebook directly, or via an application such as tweet deck. Now the whole holistic and adaptive approach means we need to adapt to that need, so using such tools (especially if on the move or done out of hours) needs to be expected / allowed for. Our discovery then makes sure that content is brought into our ECM repository and not “lost”. In this scenario we can also “see” status updates / tweets etc that have been made. So in the case of a “hacker” ruining our online existence, we are quickly made aware of the issue and can address it sooner rather than later. Once in the ECM platform, we can always cross check content and essentially ensure its credibility.

 

Conclusion

Governance may scare some companies into not engaging with social media, but this will be a big mistake. With social media providing so many big wins to organisations (and in some ways a necessity just to compete), it is something organisations cannot do without now. With this in mind, organisations need to adapt and understand that governance will apply to social media content, just as much as any other content, so they need to take control of it and start getting it in their ECM repositories.

The content challenge is one that is ongoing. Content only grows within an organisation and as such, social content will no doubt be one of the fastest growing areas of any company. Investment into platforms that allow management of that social content and discovery of it will prove to become more and more vital as more and more interactions occur via social media sites.

All content is the responsibility of the organisation, even if it is created on a third party environment. Organisations need to take control, ownership and responsibility for their social interactions, always, and this is easily done, if you have all your content residing in an ECM repository. The key, get all content, no matter its source and location, into your repository and you will meet governance requirements…





Why BPM, ECM and CRM struggle with Social Media

26 11 2010

There are a number of reasons why individual projects struggle with social media, hell there are many reasons why organisations continue to get social media “wrong”, but in this post I want to look at why these three “silos” fail to get to grips with social media….

Very much individual silos

Now this may at first not seem to be a bad thing. But when you think more on the subject you start to see issues. There are big areas of cross over amongst these three, massive even, yet they still are considered individual (and they should be for the time being, because almost all vendors see these as single silos).

Social Media though is very flexible, and the end user (customer) expects to be able to interact with the organisation via Social Media (especially Twitter and Facebook), and what’s more they expect whoever communicates with them to understand their “account”, or “details”. But this form of interaction within Business at the moment still wants to be highly structured. The comment may be viewed as content, but the process that may be kicked off by that interaction is very much in the BPM world of things. So immediately you have twigged that all three, ECM, CRM and BPM are required to deal with a single interaction…

So the first big problem here is that ideally, each “silo” (BPM, ECM, CRM) should know and understand what I term as CCS, and in this case of the other silo as well as itself.  CCS being “Content, Context, Status”. As individual silos though, this is hard to actually do. Sure we can put together some costly integration, but this integration is at certain points and offers certain information, so does this type of integration understand CCS?

Too structured too rigid…

Let’s now through into the equation that all three, ECM, CRM and BPM are very rigid. ECM requires that you know the type of content and often that you state its “type”. However, social media means we could be talking about anything, so a tweet could go over any number of “types” within our ECM platform, or it may warrant a new type, a new classification. This is where we have an issue, ECM is too rigid to adapt to the new requirement, that our agent has discovered there and then. This leads to a hell of a lot of content being dropped into rather large, and not that useful classifications, probably “Social Media” as its type…Great use…But this is nothing compared to the issue we now find with BPM…

BPM enforces strict processes on our agents, they follow (almost all vendors do this) a flow chart approach and as such, means we cannot move away from that process. How frustrating is that for an end user? Knowing that something different needs to be done, but having to allow the social interaction to trigger off a very strict process flow which could be completely wrong…

Finally CRM. Our CRM silo is often at this stage completely unaware of anything at all. If it is integrated it may have a “tab” for “Corres” which means a big old list of correspondence with the customer that is documented. That’s fine for 10 years ago. But now imagine the number of “corres” records stored that may make up a rather simple interaction between the customer and your business. You could have any number from 1 or 2, up to hundreds, and that’s just on a single topic being raised via social media….

The solution?

Here I have a couple of pointers for a far better solution….

A Holistic approach. As a business, demand a holistic approach, not just for social media requirements (though it serves as a great example of illustrating the problem), but in general. With a holistic approach, the solution delivers far more accurate information to the agent. It empowers them with all the information they need. Think of all the customer information they may need to have to hand to understand the customer, all the related content, the context and of course the status of the interaction. Now think of the variety of work this form of interaction could generate. What the problem could be? Is it a problem or a serious complaint? If a complaint, what areas of the business does it relate too? (The potential for work is huge, which leads me onto my second pointer…

Adaptive work processes. Note I haven’t said BPM here. BPM I feel is far too restrictive (based on the version of BPM put forward by most vendors and BPMS as a practice). However, we are talking about processes that the business executes. In this situation the agent needs to understand what process to kick off. However, it could be a brand new one. In this case that agent needs to be able to identify that processes, the work that needs to be done and then, kick it off.

Single Silo for ECM, BPM and CRM. As a business, a great opportunity arises to use vendors that provide a single silo for ECM, BPM and CRM. Not only does a single silo provide a far better solution to deal with Social Media, but it provides a far better solution full stop. A single silo will understand CCS at all times, be you in a process, simply looking at content or reviewing customer details. A single silo also simplifies the agents experience, while delivering flexibility to them to allow them to do their jobs. There are of course other big benefits, think of savings on licensing, think of savings on administration and think of savings made on integration costs / development / that classic which so many vendors term as config (which is development).

Conclusion…

Social Media has shown a real weakness in the way we currently structure a business in terms of delivered IT. We use IT now very much on a “product” basis. Business purchases a product for x, a product for y and if x and y need to talk, look at integration. However, a bespoke solution would have been better, one that incorporated x and y…But bespoke just isn’t something business wants to hear (probably because they cost more and because businesses have been burnt with bespoke development in the past)

…The solution is for “products” to deliver more and merge x and y itself. A break away from single silo approaches is required, and ECM, BPM and CRM are very obvious silos that should all be as one, the social media problem illustrates a bigger issue…





ECM : State of the industry

28 05 2010

I have just been going through some of my “Friday” reading, and cam across a couple of articles that look at the May AIIM report called, “State of the ECM Industry 2010”. For a look at one of the articles, visit http://www.formtek.com/blog/?p=1331 and read Dick Weisinger quick review of the AIIM report.

Reading this got me thinking a lot more about the actual state of ECM and the businesses that use it, or who should be adopting it.

Drivers behind implementing ECM

There are numerous business drivers for ECM, and I have posted about savings and business drivers on this subject a number of times ( I have a series of posts on True ECM Savings which highlight many business drivers). But what were the “highlights” from the AIIM report.

Apparently the biggest reason to adopt ECM is to optimise business processes, which for me shows the link between ECM and BPM growing stronger and stronger. I no longer see ECM as separate to BPM, rather see the two as a single entity. It is also worth noting that this business driver was with a ratio of 2:1 when compared to compliance…Which is interesting and I believe shows the state of the economy and its impact on business thinking and drivers for investment…

Compliance came in as the second biggest driver for adopting ECM, and this is no surprise. Litigation, regulatory demands, financial reporting, audits and of course fines for non compliance means businesses have to take control of their content in a big way, and the only real way of doing this is by implementing good ECM and BPM practices.

Backing up these two main reasons as that 60% of new adopters cite “Content Chaos” as a business driver in its own right. This is in some ways a pre-cursor to driving for greater efficiency, but does highlight just how problematic varying forms of content can cause businesses, especially as they grow.

Finally, 37% cite “Green IT” benefits of ECM as a driver. Again this shows the state of the economy, not just thinking of the green benefits in the longer term, but how being “Green” can actual make real monetary savings  across any organisation.

The Sharepoint factor

Microsoft Sharepoint gets its own special mention in the report, mainly because it is the new mover so too speak in ECM, though I don’t see this as a pure ECM solution, simply because it lacks so many ECM type functions (again this is something I have posted about in the past). However, it does show that sharepoint has reduced the barriers to entry for ECM, especially at a departmental level.  Apparently 32% of companies have implemented Sharepoint in some way. It is also worth noting that only 11% of these though use SharePoint exclusively as their only ECM solution, probably due to its short comings as an outright ECM platform…

Cloud computing and SaaS

Now this is an interesting area, especially when looking at the barriers to entry into ECM and why SharePoint has seen such massive growth at the departmental level. SaaS really does provide even fewer restrictions to organisations wishing to use ECM, especially at the departmental level. So does this mean with the trend of SaaS that we will see SharePoint face stiff competition at the departmental level of implementations? My own feeling is yes….I have myself already been in talks with organisations that are looking for quick SaaS based solutions, rather than opting for SharePoint.

Apparently in the next 18months the number of companies using SaaS for Document Management (DM) will double to 12% and the number for Records management triple to 6%. I am a little more sceptical about this, especially with Compliance being the second biggest driver for adopting ECM. There are many issues with SaaS, cloud computing and compliance which means for many uses of ECM, SaaS and the cloud will face many issues….However, if you think of smaller uses of ECM at the departmental level, then yes, I can see a massive growth in the use of SaaS for some ECM type functions. Please note some…..

SaaS provides a real quick implementation of areas of ECM. However, it is very restrictive, not just by potential compliancy issues, but also by application integration barriers. If the biggest driver for ECM is business optimisation of processes, then these businesses will be looking to integrate their ECM platform with many other applications within the organisation. Doing this means, you won’t be looking to Cloud Computing or SaaS, as this really does and will limit the potential of integration and therefore the effects ECM can have on business process optimisation. So when looking at the figures in the AIIM report, you have to think of ECM in different ways, with various requirements and regulations….

Open Source

This is a surprise to me, with more organisations looking to open source based solutions. I myself am not a lover of open source solutions, I have always argued that they can never deliver the real security needed for business, and I stand by this. In addition, their cost savings are never as great as initially thought, and there are real concerns with ongoing maintenance and product road-maps. Apparently though, this won’t stop 9% of organisations using open source solution by 2012 (I am not so sure…)

The enterprise 2.0 and Social Media

Though organisations want to be seen as “Enterprise 2.0” many don’t know what this is, or have any idea how to actually go about implementing this lovely idea. Social Media technologies, well their use, is on the up within businesses, you need only look at how many organisations use Twitter and blogging tools on the web. These are key tools to an organisations marketing, communications and PR, however for many they are overlooked as actual organisational content, which is wrong.

29% of respondents view enterprise 2.0 as signification to their organisations business goals, looking at such things as knowledge sharing, collaboration and coordination, making ECM a core technology for them. However, there is a down side to Social media, and that is the negative impact it can have on productivity, with, unfortunately, many employees wasting more time on these websites than actually doing work. The only surprise knowing this, is that only 45% of companies bar access to Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and instant messaging.

A good illustration of the lack of understanding that social media interaction is still organisational content, is that 80% of companies that use Twitter and blogs, do not archive the data, nor have real access to the data from their internal systems (ECM or others).

Last word….

All in all the industry looks set to grow, and there are many newish areas in which ECM can bring new benefits to organisations, social media being the most obvious. However, there are areas where things don’t add up in the AIIM report, the growth of SaaS compared to the quest for full compliance being just one area. In addition, I haven’t read anything about mobile based ECM and the need to access repositories and content across multiple devices, something I feel will become increasingly important in the next 24 months, perhaps more so than SaaS…

No matter what, the next 24 months will be interesting within the ECM market, with lots of new drivers and solutions bubbling to the surface I am sure…





Don’t use IT to provide SEO and SMO!

27 05 2010

Let’s face it, who hasn’t had an email stating that IT company x promises to get you No 1 in Google’s natural rankings….Its promises like these that really do give areas of IT a bad name….However, is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) something that companies should look to IT organisations to provide? In addition, should these same IT companies provide Social Media Optimisation (SMO)?

If you are someone looking at SEO and SMO for your organisation, then read this post, I think it will no doubt save you a lot of time and money, and ensure you get the right people for the job….

What is SEO?

Well first off, don’t think that investing in SEO heavily will necessarily get you ranked no.1 in Google, Bing, Yahoo or whoever. Technically it isn’t about rankings; rather optimising your website to ensure key content is picked up and found by the search engines. However, this does lead to rankings, if your valid content can now be found by a search engine, then your rankings will improve compared against a users search criteria.

The technical side of things is all down to your web design company. Technically they should be the ones who implement any SEO changes in your website. But that’s it. They shouldn’t be providing you with SEO services as many people think of them. SEO is now linked directly with trying to rank your website higher in a search engine, and this is a far wider thing than just optimisation of a web page….Here you are talking about ensuring your content matches peoples searches, and that your content gets the message across. You are also talking about building links and partnerships with other organisations, contributing to online discussions and engaging in Social Media activities. These are all things that need to be done in order to affect your ranking, and bluntly, there is nothing here for IT to get involved with. If you think an IT company, or one of these SEO IT companies can help you here, you are setting your organisation up for a fall. Website rankings is about marketing, communications and PR. You don’t let your web designers write your copy for a brochure, deal with public relations or put together advertising for you do you? So why let a bunch of IT geeks loose with your on line presence…

SEO and SMO

Unfortunately, SEO is now not just SEO, it is all about rankings and presence. In this case, SEO now includes more elements than just optimisation of your website and the marketing / communications you put out through your web presence. With the big rise in Social Media, and its effects on organisations, SMO (Social Media Optimisation) is now a massive part in aligning your organisations online presence, marketing, communications and PR. All of these things have a massive knock on to your web presence and your ranking in search engines…

Looking at the bigger picture like this, you soon see that SEO and SMO are now so closely linked that they must almost be treated as one in the same thing.

Who should be carrying out SEO and SMO?

This is simple. You need to use someone with good marketing, PR and communications experience and skills. Obviously people will specialise in online areas and these are the kind of people you need to seek out. These are not IT based people or companies; they are marketing, communications and PR specialists…

I must also point out that SEO and SMO is not something you just do once and that’s it. If you want real success this is something you need to do day in day out, ensuring your customers can communicate with you through social media sites, but also so that your web presence grows, stays up to date and constantly refreshed. This is really the only way to ever really achieve good consistent rankings in search engines now, without this level of long term commitment, you can be sure you won’t be number one…

Conclusion

If you want to improve or increase your web presence you need to invest the time and effort into it. Remember the internet is the most competitive market place out there, there is no passing trade past your bricks and mortar shop front, so you need to be constantly innovative in how you make people aware of your business and what you have to say…The tools are out there, you just need to ensure you use the right people and commit to it 100%. Only when you do this will your organisation achieve a lasting and highly ranked web presence not just within the big search engines, but in general….

If you are looking for a “quick win” and think the way forward is with an IT SEO company, then remember, you have been warned….





Integration is Key (ECM / BPM / Social media)

11 11 2009

For many years I have waved the banner for single application experiences for end users. If you can deliver a single application that allows the end user to carry out all their work, gain access to all the files they require, interact with many other LOB applications (without knowing it), just think what a positive impact that would have on any organisation. Think how better informed that user will be, how much improved their decision making will be, how much customer services will be improved along with customer satisfaction, and also, think how much of a gain that organisation will make in efficiency, productivity and ultimately profitability…

Integration has long been the key to this ideal, and ECM and BPM often show how this can work, integrating with key LOB applications.

Problems…

The problem is that people want everything to integrate without putting any effort in. This means that organisations spend a lot of money in getting applications to integrate with other companies applications and software. While this can be great for the customer (if you have the same selection of applications and software) it isn’t always practicle. Throw into the mix different operating systems, different versions of software and the daddy of all, different business requirements from that integration….All of a sudden you see how muddy the water can get and just how complicated system integrations can be, and why that single application experience is so hard to achieve…

Progress

With the bright invention of XML has come a whole host of ways of integrating applications. It has provided the bridge between old COM and COBRA components, interopability between application components, and most importantly, delivered us XML Web Services and Service Orientated Architectures (SOA).

I love XML Web Services and the capabilities these alone can open up to organisations. If applications deliver good APIs through web services, then integration is made so much easier, be it integration “out of the box” with connectors, or more efficiently through actual developers and professional services.

Is Social Media leading the way here?

Yes…There you go, a nice short answer. Basically Social Media is leveraging web services (especially RESTful services) to allow integration between web sites / applications. Take the recent joining of forces of LinkedIn with Twitter. LinkedIn can now pull in your “tweets” and have these shown as status updates within your LinkedIn profile. Now think back to a business environment and you can see how using one application therefore effects data / content on another application / area of the business. This type of seamless integration is what adds real efficiency gains across an enterprise.

One Degree of Separation

When I founded One Degree Consulting, one of my main aims for the consultancy was to be able to provide consultancy services and solutions that delivered a single degree of separation between the end user, the data / content, and the functions they required to do their job. This may sound a little idealistic, but it can be achieved and should be the goal of business decision makers in all organisations. To be blunt, to achieve this, application integration is key and should be at the forefront of any decision making when it comes to IT based projects and solutions.

If Social Media sites hadn’t have seen how powerful joining forces could be and had maintained a closed API that couldn’t easily be integrated, then the whole point of Social media and sharing may well have been lost….Businesses, take a leaf out of their book, think integration for everything…Its key….





Social Media needs moderation

30 07 2009

Social Media is a great way of engaging the public, getting involved with conversations and enhancing any online presence you may have. However, like all things open to the general public, it can be open to abuse.

There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter today about such abuse, mainly regarding spammers and “bots” (automated robot type applications) but also the actions of a minority number of actual users. You see, Twitter, like all social based websites, is open to abuse from anyone or anything that can get an account open. With today’s APIs and concept of sharing, it’s even easier for spammers to set up applications that latch onto people, discussions and basically hijack conversations going on sending out their load of rubbish to anyone and everyone…

Add to this that small number of people who seem to use Social Media to be abusive (just spend a little time on You Tube reading comments and you will see what I mean), you can see why large numbers of genuine users of Social Media get hacked off.

This is something we just need to put up with

Now this is a statement I hear far too often. Or alternatively we read something along the lines of “we provide users with tools that can combat abusive users”. The latter is true, on Twitter I can block someone if I feel they are abusive, I can also report a post as abusive on You Tube for example. However, how many of us actually take the time to help moderate? It also doesn’t help me with filtering out the amount of Spam I have to shift through when looking at a trending topic on twitter, or the amount of silly abusive comments I have to read on You Tube before I get to see something valid.

Websites that allow customer feedback are always prone to such issues, however, many of these (and I strongly suggest all businesses do this), moderate and check peoples posts before allowing them to be published to the world. I know this can be time consuming, but with a good business process behind this, it can be quicker and easier than you think.

Make it harder

Simple basics make a great difference. I am always surprised how many basic security features, or basic business common sense is missing with Social media sites. For far too long Social Media websites have been caught up purely with increasing the number of users that use their website. This drive for numbers has always been at the expense of security and funny enough, the ability to actually make money (the latter is a different post).

So what things can social media websites do to make it harder for abusive users and spammers?

First off, why do Social Media sites not always authenticate a genuine user? Let’s check that someone is actually at that web address and make them follow some instructions before allowing them to open an account. Let’s get some information including their IP address.

Secondly, let’s follow their first “x” interactions (tweets for twitter, status updates in Facebook etc), monitoring them for obvious Spamming / abusive activities. This could be seen as a probation period. This isn’t hard to set up though would require a human element at some point.

Thirdly, let’s set up some rules to at least try to flag content that may be viewed as abusive or again as Spamming activities. If possible let’s have a moderation business process in place so that as many as possible posts can be checked and moderated before being made public (I can see this wouldn’t work on Twitter)

Fourthly, if someone is reported for any abuse (spamming, abusive messages etc) lets investigate these claims and if true, ensure that account is banned and all content removed. If we have their IP address, lets see if we can follow up this user using this, maybe inform the users ISP?

Finally (well for this small list), lets monitor trending topics (Twitter specific) for Spam. Once something gets close to the top 10, why not increase monitoring or employ a human to keep an eye on this.

Conclusion?

At the end of the day, spammers and a small number of people / businesses with poor etiquette, have ruined the concept of mailing lists for eMail marketing. They now threaten to drown out valid content from within the Social Media sphere. Websites need to try to protect us, the users, against this behaviour. Its something they should have addressed from day dot, but since they haven’t, they need to address it as a matter of urgency…Facebook, Twitter, listen!

Lets try to ensure Spammers and the abusive few don’t ruin Social Media and destroy its potential…





SEO, it’s not for techies!

27 07 2009

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often seen by companies as a task for web developers, or specialised companies. You don’t have to spend long looking on the web to find techie individuals and techie companies offering such services, some making claims that they will get your site on the first page of Google, Bing and Yahoo….The point is, SEO is NOT something you should be asking your IT guys to provide, and it’s for certain not something you should be going to a “specialised” company for…

There is a common belief, which simply is wrong, that SEO is a highly specialised technical field. In the past there maybe some truth behind this as web development companies looked for ways to “trick” search engines in ranking websites. However, Google, Bing, Yahoo etc aren’t silly, they soon caught on to these tricks and in some cases (BMW) ban websites from being ranked.

The truth is, SEO has almost nothing to do with web development, and is not a technical field, rather it is a highly important part of your organisations communications and PR. In this post I will try to explain why…

The techie part of SEO

There are some aspects of SEO that are technical, and it is these aspects that instantly make business believe the SEO is for the techie guys. The technical part of SEO though is very small, and is simply as follows:

  • Websites need to have “Tags” set up correctly within them
  • Websites should be structured in a “search engine friendly” fashion

So what do these two things actually mean? Well let’s have a quick look:

  1. Websites need to have tags: Your web page should have at least 3 “meta tags” set up. These tags are just like normal html tags, however one holds the title of the page (this is shown in the bar across the top of your web browser), one the description (this is a description of the content on this page) and finally, one the key words associated with your web page (these help search engines associate search words with your web page). Please note this really isn’t technical, anyone with access to a web page can set these up with two mins of training…
  2. Websites should be structured in a search engine friendly way: Well your web page should not have un-necessary content cluttering it up. This could be actual functions and code that is present to help create the “style” of the website. Such code and style information should be linked to in separate files. The webpage should also be structured so that the web page links can easily be found and content navigated to. If your web site conforms to W3C standards (and it should for accessibility and compliance) then your website structure is already there for SEO.

For sure, you need a technical person to be structuring and implementing your website. However, they don’t write your content, so why expect them to realise your SEO needs. Techies should be used only to implement SEO for you.

 

If SEO is not technical, what is it really?

Well to put it simply, those two technical points just make the site accessible and understandable to search engines, nothing more. SEO is about optimising communications and relationships, by that I mean optimising your website content and your online relationship with your customers / market place.

If you think about it, the way in which we use search engines is very simple, we simply type in what we think will bring back our desired results. So if I want to find a tennis shoe, I will no doubt type in Tennis Shoe or Shoes for example. The search engine is, to put it in very simple terms, using our search words or phrase and matching it to sites that mention tennis shoes. This means that to optimise your website for a search engine, you are really optimising your website for what a customer may search for, the way in which your customer is trying to find and communicate with your website.

This means that SEO has very little to do with technical aspects, but a lot to do with communications and PR.

 

Factors for good SEO

There are of course factors for good SEO, all of which sit with your communications and PR teams. So what are these factors? Well here is a list of some of the main contributors to good SEO, but by no means the complete story:

  1. Content is king. Your website content has to be well written, clear, concise and relate to peoples searching behaviour. So don’t fall for some SEO consultancy or web techie guy saying they can help. The only help you can get is from Communications / PR!
  2. Your keywords have to marry up with words customers may use to find your business. So you need to understand your customers and how they communicate with you
  3. Keywords aren’t just words you place in a tag at the top of the web page, they are words that should be found in the content of your web page
  4. Don’t dilute your keywords and content by adding everything under the sun. Ensure your website and content stays as focused as possible
  5. Your Social Media contribution / campaigns (Social Media has a very large part to play in building relationships and getting your website out there. This means it has a big part to play in your SEO ambitions)
  6. In-bound web links (this is still very important, the more websites that have relevant content to your own, that link to you, the more chances you have of improving your SEO success)
  7. Length of time you have been online (this is actually quite important. We still find websites that increase to rank higher the longer they have been around. So don’t expect your brand new website to displace anyone within days!)

 

Conclusion

Well it’s simple, understand what you actually want to achieve with your website and how it will be found in a search engine. By doing this you realise that the technical aspects are all relating to the implementation of the website, nothing to do with its content and very little to do with how customers find you on the web.

A website is essentially an extension of your organisations communications, public relations and sales. This means that SEO starts and stops with your communications / PR teams. Once businesses realise this, they will stop wasting money on SEO with so called specialist companies and get the right people for the job.

If you are looking for SEO services, talk to companies that specialise in Communications and or PR, alternatively web companies that use specialised people from these fields. Of course, little plug here, you can always use OD Media Alternatively, speak to a specialised Communications and PR company such as  GBC or GBC Chocolate