A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Tag Archives: analytical

My catchphrase is ‘they have an algorithm!’ How does Twitter work out its top tweets? – an algorithm. How does Google know what results to show? – an algorithm.

I thought we should take a look at the history of this elusive tech formulae.

Sometime circa 1990 early search engines began cataloging the web. To register, all web people had to do was submit their URL address to the engine which would release a ‘search spider’, like something out the Matrix, to extract links to other pages and return the information to be indexed.

SEO Spiders

A large part of the search formulae relied on meta tags, labelling your webpages with keywords, and your site would slowly work its way up the listings. But this lead to keyword dumping or to a ‘high key word density’ and pages that read like this:

 “We have a variety of inflatable palm trees in stock and these inflatable palm trees are for sale at $14.99. Be sure to pick up your inflatable palm tree today before all the inflatable palm trees are gone. Our inflatable palm trees are flying out the door”

Annoying. And Google thought so to.

It also meant search rank listings were easily manipulated, causing search terms to throw up completely irrelevant pages. Key word dumpling is a technique belonging to ‘black hat’ SEO. (Tactics search engines disapprove of, as opposed to ‘white hat’ methods, like web design, which will cause higher rankings long term.)

So the search engine giant evolved its elusive algorithm to include a trust and credibility measure – that is how many third party sites linked back to content on your webpage.  In the ever-waging battle between SEO manipulators and Google, ‘link farms’, which manufactured backlinks, littered the web to boost rankings.

Now this is where it gets clever, in April 2012, Google released Penguin (named after the black and white hat SEO techniques). The latest algorithm, which not only includes meta tags, backlinks but now social influence. Essentially how many social networking sites you’re linked to, how many people engage and organically spread your content.

Inflatable Palm Trees

Google’s algorithm is now so well-tuned it can provide you with personalised search results which means if we were to both Google ‘Inflatable palm trees’ I can guarantee our top 10 would be different.  Google computes your location, what browser you use, age, other sites you visit to help you find the information you need. Knowledge is now more accessible than ever before.

Is SEO Dead?

SEO Graphics by SEO Book


The Barcelona Principles founded by AMEC at the 2010 conference.

The Barcelona Principles founded by AMEC at the 2010 conference.

Whilst I was studying for my PR certificate last fall, we were required to put together a hypothetical PR plan for the (deep breath now!) international association for the measurement and evaluation of communication’s (AMEC – phew!) fictional conference which was designed to raise awareness of the Barcelona Principles. I felt that now would be a good time to spill the insights I gleamed from this assignment…

What are they?

Firstly what are the Barcelona Principles? They are not the rules to a Spanish drinking game (disappointingly) or the latest Mediterranean fashion trends; they are actually a set of guidelines designed by chaps like the CIPR, PRSA and ICCO at AMEC Barcelona Conference in 2010, which encourage PROs to produce more vigorous and quantifiable methods to evaluate and measure communication, something especially important in this  social media age.

If Moses was a PR man, he'd bring the Barcelona Principles down from the Mount.

If Moses was a PR man, he’d bring the Barcelona Principles down from the Mount.

The Principles

If Moses had been a PR man, this is what the big cheese would have said to him on Mount Sinai about communication measurement:

  • Goal setting and measurement are important
  • Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  • AVEs are not the value of public relations
  • Social media can and should be measured
  • Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results (outputs)
  • Organisational results and outcomes should be measured whenever possible
  • Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

What does this mean for PR?

Well, one thing is for sure, these principles definitely put the last nail in the AVE coffin; advertising value equivalent, AMEC argues, is an inaccurate and old-fashioned mode of evaluating PR activities, (think more old-school mad men) and it is no longer enough to attribute advertising value to how many column inches you secured.  We were taught that PR campaigns must have clearly defined goals which can be measured from the outset – whether that be how many key messages were included in an article or how many followers commented on a blog post.

Similarly, there has been a clear shift to measuring the outcomes of a campaign not simply the results; how many people changed their behaviour patterns  is a better method for evaluating the success of a campaign over how many followers you achieved or how many pieces of coverage you secured.  Lastly, adopting the same approach to measuring PR activities is crucial for creating robust and credible evaluation.

So there you have it –a summary of what makes good measurement!

So, the behavioral model has been adapted to all sorts of different applications, but what about social media?!  Here’s a look at what sort of Tweeter you are, through the eyes of the behavioral model – and with a little artistic license of my own!

Source: creativenerds.co.uk

  • Driver – loves to engage with the experts in their field.  Tweets are concise and to the point – only Tweets when they have something interesting and constructive to contribute to the conversation.  A confident no-nonsense tweeter.


  • Expressive –loves to tweet about everything and anything, likes to share thoughts and ideas via Twitter.  A frequent but thought-provoking Tweeter!


  • Amiable – a bit of a Twitter story-teller, relating their own experiences to Twitter rather than re-tweeting others’ articles.  Likes to engage with all of their followers, not just the experts.  A friendly Tweeter!


  • Analytical – likes to post data – facts and figures and links to recent online stories, including their own reflections on the information.  An informed and conscientious Tweeter!

So which category does your Tweeting style fall into?  I think I probably air on the side of an analytical Tweeter…but of course you should try to incorporate an element of all of these traits into your tweets, and many of the most interesting feeds do.

Who do you think is a good all-round Tweeter?  Try and identify which post falls under which category and you will come close to finding the ideal mix of driver, expressive, amiable and analytical.  Go on, give it a go….

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