I asked a senior government communications employee for their communications objectives the other day. Their response was ” to be on the cover of The Globe & Mail” (our national Canadian newspaper). A few weeks ago another client gave me a similar response: “To have an article written about us in the Ottawa Citizen” (our nation’s capital newspaper). When I asked them about their digital presence, they replied that they already have a website (which by the way, appeared on the 8th Google search result page for the most important key phrase relating to their initiative) .
This is usually the time that I take a deep breath…
Forgetting the fact that news of declining newspaper readership is all over newspapers themselves, I begin to wonder at moments like this if certain communications people have ever read a single magazine/publication/journal/article/blog from their industry. If they did, they would know that a few things have changed.
Let’s focus on the most important item…
People use search engines to find information (92% of the online population here in Canada). In fact, over 2 Billion searches are performed on Google each day. You now have access to tools that can tell you how and when people are searching (e.g. Google Insights for Search).
Your number one goal should be to ensure that people looking for information regarding your initiative can find you. And not just find your website, but rather find your “digital presence”.
What am I talking about?
If you’re not engaged in the discussion surrounding your initiative on at least one other relevant 2-way channel (i.e. blog, twitter, social network, photo/video sharing site, etc…), then you may as well not be present at all. Being on the cover of Globe & Mail will get you a big hit of traffic on that particular day, however it will quickly fade into oblivion as you have no place to sustain the discussion.
A solid digital presence will ensure that upon searching for relevant keywords, people will notice that your various web properties dominate the first few pages of Google, and thus you will easily be able to funnel in the majority of your target audience.
Need an example? Type my name “Mike Kujawski” into Google. Rather than having only my website show up, you’ll notice that Google brings up my various other web properties such as Slideshare, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube in addition to thousands of places that I have contributed content to. On all of these, I have content relating to my niche. I have also made sure to have at least a few listings on the first page of results for terms such as “government 2.0”, “public sector marketing” and ” social media in government”. The best part is that I can measure the quality of traffic coming in via each search term and closely monitor their actions (using Google Analytics).
This is how you create a sustainable holistic web presence. Why isn’t this a primary goal for everyone involved in communications?