Web Editors Authors Share Their Views on Quality Content

Webcontentblog regularly explores quality content, and recently its web editor, Web Editors blog contributor Gazalla Gaya, asked four of our other authors what they consider to be “high quality content.”

“All of them have spent their careers creating high quality content,” says Gazalla, explaining why she asked for their thoughts. Like Gazalla, Alan Eggleston, Jennifer Ford, Alison Lueders, and Anne Moreau are regular contributors to this Web Editors blog, “a blog that has some great tips on creating and editing quality content, seo and current trends in the web editing field.”

Some of Gazalla’s other Webcontentblog articles on content include, “7 Resources that Accurately Predict the Best Content for Your Audience,” “Top 3 Content Mistakes that Cost You Valuable Conversions,” and ” How to Optimize Your Content for Social Media.”

What do you think makes high quality content? As a web editor, what struggles do you fight to maintain quality on your website or blog?

Search – Google Isn’t the Only Engine in the Race

Nearly everyone knows that Google is the top search engine in the world, but it isn’t the only engine in the race.

Why is this important to you as a web editor? If you are planning SEO (search engine optimization), you need to be aware of where your readers will be looking for you. If they use a search engine, very likely they will find you on Google. But there are dozens of others, and readers are fickle – sometimes people use different search engines for different reasons. It pays to plan around readers finding you on other search engines, too.

Identifying Other Search Engines

The Search Engine List* is a great resource for both identifying and understanding the top search engines. You should take into consideration that while Google currently accounts for approximately 66 percent (in round numbers) of search traffic, Bing and Yahoo account for about 16 and 13 percent respectively. The traffic falls off sharply from there. You should also take heed of a recent rumor that Yahoo may soon drop out of the search race altogether.

So readers may Google but they may also use Bing or they may use Alta Vista. They may have a family computer at home and for family security reasons search on a family-friendly engine like go.com. They may be more tech-savvy and like hotbot.com. Or, they may use AOL and prefer to use the AOL search feature, powered by Google. (Note: Some “off brands” like Alta Vista and Go.com are powered by Yahoo.com, and Yahoo.com is powered by Bing.)  The thing is to watch your analytics for referral traffic and note where your readers are finding you and make sure you aren’t setting up roadblocks.

Preparing a Smart SEO Plan

How do you set up an SEO plan that prepares you for all these search engines (and, technically, for some, directories)? They all have rules to follow, and you can’t follow them all simultaneously. However, you can try to maximize your page across the search engines most important to you by identifying common rules that allow you to fit the engines of most interest to you.

Example:
There are word and character limits to elements like the page titles and meta descriptions. I consolidated from the various guidelines so that when I prepare a site for SEO, I plan for six to 10 words in the page title (but as many as 12 if absolutely necessary) and no more than 150 characters, including spaces and punctuation, in the meta description. Those will fit almost any search engine, and certainly Google and Bing, my main targets.

Consult a search engine’s Webmaster Tools section for information on how to optimize for that specific search engine.

Start with Google and Bing Webmaster Tools

Consult Google’s Webmaster Tools for their rules. They also offer a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide that is extremely helpful. They have a very helpful Webmaster FAQ, too. And for a quick-scan overview, you can check the Webmaster Guidelines. Here is a page on writing quality page titles and meta descriptions, key to effective SEO.

Consult Bing’s Webmaster Tools for their rules, and here’s a helpful site map of Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing offers Guidelines for Successful Indexing here. Bing also maintains a helpful blog, forums, and technical support. Note: Yahoo uses Bing Webmaster Tools.

*Search Engine List is a great list, but it isn’t 100 percent current. For instance, it lists cuil.com, which is no longer available. I recommend it because it is mostly current.

Next Up – A Diversion and then Pandas and Penguins

After a slight diversion to address graduates, my next SEO topic will be about Pandas and Penguins and Google’s attempt to rein in spammers. Join me for both!

The Internet Hall of Fame Lauds Pioneers of Global Communication

Wired reports that the Internet now has a Hall of Fame. Thirty-three influential people have been named to the Hall – among them:
 
  • Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
  • Phil Zimmermann, encryption guru
  • Vincent Cerf, creator of the TCP/IP protocol

And many other notables from all corners of science, technology and computer wizardry.

These are all technical pioneers, however.  “The inductees fall into three categories:

  • Pioneers who were key to the early design of the Internet;
  • Innovators who built on the net’s foundation with technical innovations and policy work; and
  • Global Connectors who have helped expand the net’s growth and use around the world.”
Nowhere is there mentioned a content pioneer. It’s nice to have browsers and computers and networks, and of course the World Wide Web, and all the gazillions of applications that are now springing up. But where would all of that be without content?
 
Think hard: Who would you nominate for the Internet Content Hall of Fame?
 
But even closer to home, who would you nominate within your own company? Is there someone who produces quality content above and beyond the call of duty? Anyone who is not only a superlative writer, but someone who understands the ins and outs of serving up that content – taxonomy, search, design, layout, navigation, etc.? Is that person you? Are you well-versed in what it takes to put together the very best content your company can offer?
 
Who influenced you? When you attend seminars, conferences, workshops – who is it that helps steer your work toward being the best it can be and helps you keep up with the latest trends in the web editing world? Who would you nominate to the Content Hall of Fame? Please share your influences in the comments

Journalists Investigating Military “Info Ops” Find Themselves Subjects of “Infocrafting”

For some web editors, danger may lurk around certain kinds of stories. Take USA Today Washington Enterprise Editor Ray Locker, who was working with Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook on an investigative piece about Pentagon propaganda contractors – “info ops” – whose work was allegedly of questionable quality.  In true cloak-and-dagger style, as the duo was conducting citizen oversight of government, someone was conducting a covert misinformation campaign against them, creating fake Twitter and Facebook accounts in their names, plus creating Wikipedia entries and dozens of message board postings and blog comments, all intended to sully their credibility. Websites were mysteriously registered in their names as well, although they were later taken down following Pentagon inquiries. It was a lesson in what Locker called “infocrafting” and the dangers of working in today’s world of high level technology and the cyberwar. Watch your backs, web editors.

The details, provided recently in USA Today, The Washington Post, and the Tucson Citizen, read like a military intelligence spy novel.

What dangers can you imagine might be lurking behind your efforts to publish The Truth?

Readers Tap Web Editors Articles from Around the Globe

Today, April 23, 2012, Web Editors blog welcomes readers from across the globe. In addition to the United States, readers have visited us from the United Kingdom, Canada, Philippines, Spain, Ireland, South Africa, and Colombia (listed in order our analytics report presents them).

We wonder how your experiences as web editors might vary from market to market. What are your thoughts?

Resources for Web Editors – What’s YOUR Favorite?

By Alison Lueders

While working, I rarely pause to think about all the different resources I call on in the course of a day. But one of the things I like most about web editing is the variety of questions that pop up – how DO you spell that? is that the right word to use? what IS a blitzheimer? – and all the different places to go to find answers. These include the basics like a dictionary and a thesaurus, but also Google and Wikipedia when I need to know more about a subject.

For some of the finer points of editing, I may go to a book like Copyediting & Proofreading for Dummies. I find the title embarrassing, but the book itself useful. More often, I check out Copyeditor.com (which costs $79 to for a basic membership) or Grammar Girl, which is free. Two recent tips from Copyeditor.com covered “Setting Editing Expectations” and “Defining an Editing Project“. I tip my hat to Erin Brenner, the Editor of Copyediting at Copyeditor.com., for these helpful summaries. And no, I am not a marketing affiliate for either of these organizations.

Other web editors are a terrific resource. Aside from the other members of the Web Editors Blog community, I have contacted all kinds of people through LinkedIn. More often than not they DO respond and I learn something new. For all the wonderful tools at our fingertips, it’s often people who often have the most up-to-date knowledge or expertise on a particular issue.

The most precious resource for web editing is time – time in which to think, to refine, to catch errors. Alan Eggleston wrote in a blog earlier this month about the “rush to publish“, which I suspect is a challenge for all of us. But just as there are movements out there around “slow food” and “slow money“, I try to practice “slow editing”. I tell clients – diplomatically – that their writing errors are often the result of rushing, and therefore I read their words slowly and attentively. It is a part of the value I bring. Not everyone wants that, and that’s OK.

What “tools of the trade” do you turn to on a regular (or even infrequent) basis? I suspect there are hidden gems out there that could benefit us all.

Next month, along with some of my fellow bloggers, I’ll offer thoughts geared to a “graduation” theme. Stay tuned!

Online Presence is Good Choice for Joyce

News –

InfoDocket posted this week that The National Library of Ireland is planning “to publish a major collection of James Joyce manuscripts free on the web after a Joycean scholar published the material in editions priced at up to €250.” A spokesperson for The National Library says they have been planning to put the works online for some time. The collection includes works like Ulysses and Finnegans Wake and will include notes and early drafts.

As a web editor, what do you think of having resources like this on the web now?