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Picks of the Week: July 25-31

Annnnnd we're back with PR 20/20's Picks of the Week. Sorry to our regular readers for the hiatus. 

Read on for the week's top PR and marketing stories, including: tips to improve a site that was negatively impacted by Panda, a cheat sheet for writing great website copy, content curation in journalism (which shows potential for blending "new" and "old" media and reporting), and why companies shouldn't block social media (even though 54% of them do).

SEO & Website Usability

Replicate Google’s Panda Questionnaire [VIDEO]

In last week’s SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin sat down with Will Critchlow from Distilled to discuss a method Critchlow used to understand Google’s Panda algorithm update from a user point of view, and gain buy-in for site updates that would improve negatively impacted sites.

As Fishkin stated, Chritchlow’s process was to replicate Google's Panda questionnaire, send it out to people, and help them essentially improve your site, make suggestions for management, for content producers, content creators, for people on the Web to improve their sites through this same sort of search signals that Panda's getting.”

Following are some of the questions used in the survey, which survey takers were asked to respond to with “yes,” “no” or “I don’t know.” Note: some questions are intended to refer to a specific page, while others refer to the site as a whole.

  • Would you trust the information presented here?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis?
  • Would you expect to see this article in print?
  • Would you give this site your credit card details?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authority?
  • Does this site seem legitimate?

For more on Chritchlow’s survey questions and process, watch the video or read the transcript.

Key takeaway: Though specifics about the Panda update are unknown, if your site (or that of a client) was negatively impacted, you might consider employing a similar process to the one that Critchlow describes. This will help you understand how visitors view the site, and compile user-driven data to make the case for necessary updates.

Website Copywriting

A Template for Killer Website Content

This Content Marketing Institute post by Brody Dorland offers guidance, and a free downloadable template/cheat sheet, for writing effective website copy.

The template provides a great foundation, including questions to ask yourself before and after drafting a page, and covers the following key formatting elements:

  • Headlines: which should be optimized and catchy
  • Sub-headlines: for readability and SEO
  • Images: to help catch and keep the reader’s attention and provide context, and again for SEO
  • Bulleted and numbered lists: for readability
  • Calls to action: to drive results

If you’ve ever struggled writing a web page, or just want a simple refresher, I highly recommend checking out this post and downloading the template

Content Curation & Journalism

Curated Social Media Comes of Age During Oslo Attacks

In this Fast Company article, Gregory Ferenstein shares stories of how traditional journalism melded with social journalism and on-the-streets accounts of the recent attacks in Oslo, Norway, to provide valuable, real-time news updates.

By sifting through hashtags, Oslo-tagged TwitPics and other fast-moving social streams, some outlets curated the most relevant updates, from credible sources, and organized them into meaningful information for their followers. For example:

  • The Washington Post created a Twitter list of Norwegian journalists, a crisis management expert, and a translator that its readers could easily follow to stay up-to-date on the news.
  • The curation-driven news site Storyful “offered a mix of photos, on-the-ground commentary, and a video of public reaction.”

For more on following fast-paced news through social media channels, and its challenges and workarounds, see Ferenstein’s full post.

Social Media

Why 54% of Companies Are Still Blocking Social Media—And Why They Should Stop

Arik Hanson delves into new data on the percentage of companies that block access to social media sites at work, and shares several arguments for those that do to reconsider, including:

  • 94% of companies invest in social media for marketing and communications.
  • Social media can help employees do their jobs better, by helping them keep up with industry news and trends, turn to peer networks for advice and more.
  • 39% of millennial workers “won’t even consider working for a company that blocks Facebook.”
  • People work around blockages by accessing sites on their mobile devices.

See Hanson’s complete post for details on these, and more rationale for allowing social media access in the workplace. 

What were your top stories of the week? Comments are open for your opinions.

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