Month: August 2010

I’m in Whitby – it’s stupidly windy, but I’m in a pub having fish and chips

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Books that have made me cry on public transport: a list

I was thinking about this this morning after having a weep while reading on the train. I thought that I didn’t cry at books that often, and I also thought I didn’t cry in public a lot. Evidently, neither of those things is true, as this list is a lot longer than I thought it would be, but by no means exhaustive.

The Collected Works of TS Spivet – Reif Larson

Sunday At The Pool in Kigali – Gil Courtemanche

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri

I, Phoolan Devi – Phoolan Devi

Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie

Brixton Beach – Roma Tearne

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf (this one was anger)

Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe(this one was boredom)
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Wallowing in blackberry-flavoured nostalgia

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I’ve been wallowing in blackberry-flavoured nostalgia today – blackberry picking in other words. I found tons of blackberries, sloes, plums, and a few apple and pear trees too – all growing wild in Brighton, which made me really happy! I used to go blackberry picking a lot when I was little, and even now getting rosy, juice-stained, thorn-pricked fingers gives me an end-of-summer, back-to-school, bonfires-and-conkers-just-around-the-corner kind of feeling. My mum was tall and didn’t seem to mind throwing herself at the prickliest of bushes, so she always got the biggest and best ones. Me and my brother would be left to get the ones lower down and we were always diligently careful about measuring if they were low enough to have fox wee on them. People in the village would leave their spare windfall apples out in crates on the pavement and we’d pick up some of those too, so mum could make blackberry and apple. My childhood sounds like something out of Enid Blyton when I describe it like this!
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Web ready copy?

I got an email from an agency today containing some ‘web ready copy’ based on research they’d done for a client, and inviting me to put it on the site I work for. The (very polite) email explained that the copy had been ‘fully optimised for the web to save you the trouble’ and said I could either leave in or take out the link they had included to their client’s website. I just thought this was a bit weird for several reasons:

1. Why would I want to publish content that other sites have? (I’m assuming that they’d sent this content to other sites too). Duplicate content’s not going to help me in SEO. If it was something they’d done exclusively for me, why not shout about it? I’d be more likely to use something and more open to working with them if I knew they’d gone to so much trouble.

2. The client they were writing for and linking to was an insurer and therefore a competitor of the company I work for. Why would I want to link to a competitor?

3. I really try to create good quality content, and I won’t publish something just because it’s free and ‘web-ready’. Why would you want a link from the kind of site that would be happy to publish duplicate content just because it was free and required no effort?

I’d rather they’d just sent me a press release, or better still, got in touch and just said ‘Hey, we’ve done this research your readers might like – could we collaborate?’
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Killing content

 

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday ??? sometimes good content has to die.

 

I recently did a content audit where I found lots of stuff that just wasn???t working ??? it had no value to the business and customers weren???t reading it either.

 

Despite this, I still thought it was good content. When I reviewed it, I actually quite enjoyed reading it ??? I definitely found it more interesting than some of the better performing pages which delivered more traffic and referrals in a week than this stuff did in a year.

 

The whole way through writing up the results of my audit I thought to myself ???It???s good content, I can save it ??? we just need to optimise it some more and take another look at how we link to it.??? I thought this right the way through the meeting where I presented my audit. Then we started to talking about what we could do to improve this underperforming but worthy content and I found myself saying ???Let???s just kill it??? and it felt good.

 

The fact was, no matter what we tried with those pages, it was never going to work. It didn???t matter that the writing was good ??? it was totally wrong for the business in question and couldn???t help them to achieve any of their aims. We could have spent hours on trying to make it work, set aside time and resources to curate it, restructured the whole site to make it easier to find, but it still wouldn???t have worked. 

 

Sometimes good content has to die ??? bring on the redirects!