As we face the New Year, full of hope and resolve, let us ponder...
How to Improve Our SEO
A lot happened last year. We moved h2g2, for one thing. Some of the other highlights are, er, highlighted in the Announcements. If you check that post, you'll notice something: they've been reading statistics.
Now, the concern of the Management here is something called SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation – one of the techniques for increasing the popularity of our fabulous website. Unfortunately, we mere content providers are lacking in savvy in this department. When you look up SEO in the h2g2 search of Edited Guide Entries, what you get is an entry by anhaga on the Exeter Book. This makes h2g2 my kind of Guide.
According to statistics, however, our readers really like animal sex – at least, they like reading about it. They also love recipes and 'how-to' entries. We, on the other hand, love writing about quips, quibbles, oddities, and other marginalia. What to do?
My modest proposal here is that we get sneaky. Okay, we're already sneaky, so let's get sneakier. The ensuing 'Top Ten' list of suggestions is part of my proposal for how to get those unimaginative readers out there to pay attention.
The First h2g2 Post January Top-Ten List
- Include many 'Top-Ten' lists in the Post. 'Top-Ten' lists appeal to everybody. They are short, easy to read, and conveniently labelled for the innumerate. They also organise my disorganised thoughts, and allow me to be snarky.
- Recipes, recipes, recipes. According to statistics, internet audiences really go for culinary instructions, such as how to make a perfect cheese sauce. Can't cook? No problem. Find something simple and add the patented h2g2 formula of wit, humour, and historical background. Tell them more than they ever wanted to know about cheeses. Throw in a quote from the Monty Python cheese sketch1. Over the hols, your author covered up his woeful lack of Top Cheflike savvy by writing about black-eyed peas. A shabby dodge, but it worked. Dr Z had a similar approach for vegetarianism.
- Tell them how to do something they shouldn't, but which is not actually illegal. Embarrassment at cigarette rolling is a thing of the past. Check out Peer Review – we're teaching our readers how to play with their serviettes. Keep it up.
- Keep an eye on the calendar. Internet users are slaves to it. That means they'll click on the Entry on buying and cooking a turkey, but only the week before the holiday, because they are hopeless procrastinators. Get in there firstest with the mostest. Think two weeks ahead.
- In addition to watching the calendar, keep up with what's happening in the wider world – meaning, what interests the internet community. Now, some of us hoped that the dread phrase 'Current Events' had been left behind in school. Alas. We have to keep abreast of the Times. (Also the Guardian and the Daily Mail.) If it's up-to-the-minute, blog it in your journal. If it's not going to go stale in a month or two, write a Guide Entry.
- Obsess about health. Medical Entries are always welcome, and can be trotted out during 'flu season. Warning: Please be sure that you are accurate, you wouldn't want to kill anybody. Oh, and be careful of humour here. Not everyone knows you're joking when you urge them to 'take the whole bottle if one tablet doesn't work'. 'Nuff said.
- Turn your hobby into an Entry. If you haven't got a hobby, look one up and pretend you have. The caveat here is that PR can be a chore when the Usual Suspects aren't familiar with the craft, pastime, or pursuit you are expert in. Prepare to grin and bear it. Alternatively, go over there and help your fellow-sufferers. You probably know more about computer games and martial arts than half the old fogeys over there.
- REMEMBER THE OLYMPICS. (I should have said this sooner.)
It's this summer, remember? It's in London, remember? Get cracking. Before you say (again) 'I hate sport,' please check this out. See? The Olympics can lead lots of places. If you've run out of enthusiasm for the events themselves, find something shocking to talk about. Higher, faster, more titillating...
- Suggest, suggest, suggest. No matter what fascinating history or knowledge highlights you wish to impart, couch the Entry, as much as possible, in the form of a 'how-to'. Audiences love being told how to do things2. They particularly love being told how to do things they will probably never try for themselves. You can safely assume that, most of the time, they will not even attempt to follow your instructions, but will go and watch TV instead. In the meantime, you've imparted some of the knowledge you were bursting to share.
- When all else fails, remember the power of the Odd Factoid. Do you know why cricket and golf aren't Olympic sports? Well, you should. Have you ever wondered why we slip on ice? Of course you have – and so have many others.
On to Glory
These hints do not come from the Guide Editors (of which I am one) or the Community Editors (lazy lot, all of them)3. Oh, no, they come to you, courtesy of the more reliable part of the h2g2 Front Page, the h2g2 Post. We know what we're doing, because we are experts in our field.
Which is Taking the Mickey. Now, to write a Guide Entry about this...
See you in Peer Review!