Monthly Archives: October 2008

Third Annual Australian Web Analytics Survey is now open

Bienalto is running the third annual Australian Web Analytics Survey and asking for responses.

It will only take 15 minutes of your time.
When you complete the survey you are in the running to win an iPod Touch 16GB, valued at $419. You’ll also receive the survey results as soon as they are published.

Last year’s survey showed that 77% of respondents were satisfied with web analytics data. Where does your organisation sit now? Bienalto want to know what’s changed when it comes to measuring the success of your site.

You can download last year’s results

The survey closes on Monday, 24 November 2008.

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How you can increase traffic to Government websites with Government Press Releases

You are a government web manager. Imagine you live in a perfect world. (Suspend reality for just a few minutes!) Imagine you had control over government press release content – (wow like that is going to happen!) then you could optimise its content and potentially bring a substantial increase in traffic to your website.

Keep imagining – To do this successfully you must use keywords (especially those that your target audience are using), in the content of the press release, and link these to strategic content pages on your website(s).

For example, the following press release was published on 15 September 2008 on a State Government website in Victoria: "BRUMBY GOVERNMENT UNTANGLES PLANNING RED TAPE".

There is some really great content in this release, but there are no links to where people can find out more information. Here is how I would have written this release (in my imaginary world) using keywords with links to relevant content, provided by Victorian Government websites, while making the content useful to the citizens of Victoria:

Victorian Government untangles planning red tape

The Victorian Government has acted to remove unnecessary planning permits for some residential and commercial work, including rain water tanks and sheds in regional areas of the state.

Acting Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, said the Cutting Red Tape in Planning exemptions are part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to cut planning red tape.

It is estimated that up to 2,000 planning applications will no longer be required as a result of these changes. Victorians are encouraged to contact their local council to confirm what permits are required before they start any work so they fully understand the changes.

The implementation of Cutting Red Tape in Planning coincides with a reduction in permit application numbers from 54,788 to 49,587 over four years despite strong activity in the building industry.

During 2006-7, applications for residential alteration and additions, specifically targeted by the cutting red tape initiatives, dropped by over ten per cent. However, in the same period there has been ongoing increase in the number of building permits now at slightly over 100,000 reflecting Victoria’s growth.

The new exemptions will mean that:

  • Rain water tanks in rural areas no longer need a planning permit regardless of size;
  • Rain water tanks in industrial areas on longer need a planning permit provided they meet site and height requirements;
  • Domestic sheds under 50 m2 no longer need a planning permit in farming zones (This document requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader). You can also convert PDF documents into alternative formats; and
  • Minor domestic building work such as a pergola, deck, swimming pool no longer need planning permit in most areas that are not in a flood prone, heritage or environmentally significant area.

Cutting Red Tape in Planning is the Victorian Government’s plan from which key improvement in planning have originated including:

For more information visit the Planning section on the Department of Planning and Community Development website.

Forgetting search engine ranking for now, providing links to all this content provided by the Victorian Government achieves two things:

  1. the reader of the press release can find out more information about the topic very easily if they choose to; and
  2. visitor traffic is then driven out to the content providers. This is traffic they would not have received using the existing format of the press release

Which press release do you think visitors to this site would like to read and which one do you think will drive traffic to government website(s)?

Accessibility – Australian Government is naming and shaming Government websites publishing PDFs

During September, the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, published a media release asking all government departments and agencies in Australia to start complying with the Federal Disability Discrimination Act in relation to publishing information on their websites.

Basically he is tired of government publishing key documents in pdf format only and not in alternative accessible formats.

"Commissioner Innes noted that, generally speaking, accessible versions of documents are eventually supplied when people ask for them, but this often takes weeks. "That’s not good enough – people with disability have an equal right to participate in public debates about important issues, but they need to be able to get access to information when it’s published, not after the debate has moved on for everyone else."

When documents are only put on the Internet in PDF format, it usually results in inadequate or zero access for people with disability. "You can use HTML, Microsoft Word, or RTF formats", said the Commissioner. "It’s particularly depressing to see documents created in word-processor formats, which provide very good access, being converted into PDF, which doesn’t, then only being posted in PDF."

Australian Governments have policies that commit their departments and agencies to complying with requirements for publishing information so that it is accessible, including the requirements of the federal Disability Discrimination Act.

I’m not telling government publishers that they can’t use PDF, but I am telling them that they must provide the same content in other accessible formats alongside the PDFs on their websites," said Commissioner Innes. "I’m also telling them that, if this doesn’t begin to improve, we will start to name and shame.""

Since then the Commissioner has made good on his threat and has created a Name and Shame section on the Australian Human Rights website. The Name and Shame list is located at: Web Watch: Accessibility of government websites.

State and local governments within Australia should take heed. It wont be long before they are named along with their federal counterparts.

Fortunately, the Victorian Government has published the Accessibility Toolkit providing a section on PDFs and accessibility which you may find helpful.

So if you fall into the category of only providing information in pdf format – be warned – your website might be famous for all the wrong reasons unless you act now and provide accessible alternatives for the information you provide in PDFs.

Free tools you can use to do Keyword Research – Part 1 – Google Tools

There are a number of free tools you can use to do keyword research for your websites. In part 1 of this series, I am going to look at free tools which Google offers. I recommend you add these to your favourites and use them regularly.

1. Google Insights for Search – I have published something earlier on this one – its a great service! The tool lets you compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames. Google provides some good examples of how you can use this tool in their Insights for Search Help section. It is really easy to use.

2. Google Trends – lets you compare multiple terms and graph their usage in Google over time. Google returns broad search patterns. You can search for the last 30 days, 12 months, a particular year or month within a year.

Google Trends graph showing the differences in search volume for public holidays and school holidays over a 4 year period.

3. Google Trends for Websites – provides you with information about the traffic and geographical location of visitors to websites. It allows you to compare traffic for between one and five websites. It also gives you what other sites they visited and what they terms they search for. This tool appears to role all of the websites with a vic.gov.au domain into the one bucket – so it is a little difficult to compare eg., health.vic.gov.au with betterhealth.vic.gov.au. However, you can use it at the aggregate level to compare state domains and the keywords visitors are using to get there.

Google Trends for Websites graph showing usage of Australian state government portals.

4. Google AdWords Keyword Tool – Use the Keyword Tool to get new keyword ideas. You can tailor the results present to the language and country of your choosing. Because I am accessing this tool from Australia, when I first access the tool it defaults to the English language and Australia as the country. If you change this to United States as your country – you get a very different results set. It all depends on who your target market is as to what keywords you research. You are provided with match types to choose from which are broad, phrase, exact, and negative. Keywords shown will also give you search volume trends for the past 12 months – the month with the highest volume of traffic is listed in the next column.

5. Google AdWords Traffic Estimator – This tool will provide you with an indication of keyword search traffic and cost estimates for your chosen keywords/phrases. For each keyword you are provided with a maximum cost per click, search volume, estimated average cost per click, estimated ad positions, as well as an indication of the clicks your ad may receive for this keyword, and the average cost per day for this keyword. The estimates Google provides are based on how much you have bid and your geographical areas you are looking to target. You don’t need to use Google AdWords to use this tool. Use the keywords for your organic search engine optimization.

6. Google Analytics – your Google Analytics account will tell you the keywords and phrases which are driving traffic to your site from search engines. Also if you have Site Search enabled you will be able to see easily what keywords your visitors are are searching for in your internal search engine. Google Analytics provides help on configuring your profile to enable Site Search to appear in your reports.

Next time I will look at tools which are not provided by Google!

Enjoy!