I was honoured to be invited to attend the Association Of Local Government Information Management Inc (http://www.algim.org.nz/) Web Symposium at Rotorua 16 June 2007. I presented my SEO101 Three Simple Secrets seminar, customised to local Government. Very well received.

Day One notes - not present for day two of ALGIM Conference Rotorua. These are my personal take home notes, and my thought patterns during the seminar. Notes made during the seminar.

The Offer* An initial $499 + GST for a report on the SEO of your website including an hours personal consultation

  • Further consultation at an hourly rate to work with you through the process of Search Engine Optimising your councils website.
  • We prefer to be an enabler - to enable you to make the required changes, to training you through the redevelopment process
  • $100 + GST per hour There are many local Government websites that are done very well, but also many that are not search engine friendly.

I heard some great presentations about intranets. However when I went to their public facing website with a far greater audience, there were many opportunities for improvement.

One of the take home comments of my presentation that I heard from people: remember politically correct language is not necessarily the same language that people know - rubbish transfer stations may be phrased as rubbish dumps…

  • find out what people are searching for on your site
  • find out the zero results queries
  • what result was clicked on from the search, promote that one up the list.
  • Intelligent zero results searches, ie relax searches take 4 of a 5 word phrase till a result found.
  • publish popular queries

Chris South, Gen-i Reconstruction of Websites* Fresh content is critical - RSS is great, but you could be telling people that you are doing nothing. Make sure that you are regularly updating content.

  • Devolved content management - allowing many people to update content, removes overhead from IT department.
  • Combine with timed content updates or real time - the http://www.jojocms.org/ cms package certainly has this.
  • Workflow/Reduce manual workload - reduce manual intervention in the most common business processes. Workflow - make sure that there is good reponses to online contact-us pages.
  • cache search results - make them rss feeds so people can see updated results.
  • Identify business costs that can be reduced - analyse phone/counter queries and see what of them could be automated on the web
  • Phase the releases - deliver often, if its worth doing, its worth doing badly and often
  • Consult to stakeholders regularly
  • Evaluate any potential VMS with regard to how you escape.
  • Develop a release plan - ie soft release before officially released leaves time for problems to be ironed out before the traffic comes in big time.
  • Steal ideas from other people - ie list of last pages that you have visited per Amazon, good designs, css, …
  • Vendors are not there just to do the job, they should provide thought leadership, best practice.
  • Be careful it its going to be too popular - do you have adequate server resources, bandwidth, …
  • An example of “good SEO” that they have been involved with - the THL group of companies using the SEO expertise of FirstRate. It will be interesting to have a look at some of these websites.

Website Development Case Studies

Kylie Gibbon - Auckland Regional Council

  • Cardzort - with an existing website, how do you figure out grouping of elements of an existing website, seek input from people using the cardzort program
  • Training content creators, bringing them on board, seeing the vision ‘come to life’, they are volunteers so empathise with them
  • Working to not use pdf’s
  • Everyone has an opinion, stick to your guns. Cards sorting was a good fallback defense.
  • Schematics - website look and feel without the graphics, lets people focus on the content

Tracey Morris - Northland Regional Council

  • desk research - going through letters received, is the information requested on the net, can it be added
  • interviews and focus groups
  • card sorting
  • personas
  • wireframes
  • issue tracking system worked well
  • didn’t use lots of photos - many people on dial up
  • use a centralised library for documents rather than scattering around the website
  • don’t use rss as much as they also have daily subscriptions to certain sections
  • word to html publish button in word. Creates table of contents with links to content. Paginates with links. Uploads and places images into content. Need to use consistent styles in your word document
  • they use 4-5 staff that add content, and will be trying to use semi distributed content creation
  • episerver
  • heavily use related documents links

    John Lewis - previously of Intergen - Web 2.0

    All pretty old hat for me, but well received by the audience. Showed the Free Hugs you tube* users front and centre

  • re;imagine your ui
  • free your data
  • getting better the more people use it