Feed The Wiki, Which In Turn Feeds Search

PORTLAND–It’s quarter to five on Wednesday afternoon and I’m wandering the Olympic Mills building, a veritable castle full of creative enterprises. The new American Charcuterie on the ground floor looks enticing, but I’m headed to “5” where Wilderness and Mr. Aaron Draplin keep an office. Alas, no one’s home at Wilderness, so I head down the hall to AboutUs.org, even though I’m early for their after work shindig.
The AboutUs offices are industrial but welcoming. There are complimentary coffee mugs, recycled AboutUs pens and stickers for the taking. A table is set with three gourmet cheeses, specialty almonds, bread, crackers and a veggie tray. Beer and soda are chilling in a bucket. I help our hosts, Editor-in-Chief Aliza Earnshaw and Spotlight Editor Suzi Ziegler open two bottles of wine. Corey Gault and Rian Merrill from Edelman’s Portland office roll in. After several others join the party, Earnshaw escorts us into an adjacent conference room and jumps in to her slide show on search.
I didn’t enter the room thinking AboutUs was in the search business, but Earnshaw says, “Google confuses people. We want to people to find what they’re looking for.” One of the ways people find stuff is via search-optimized articles. Earnshaw explains the keyword search process and how it’s important to “think like your customer” in order to come up with the right search terms. Interestingly, Earnshaw uses Janet Champ’s copy from her Nike Women’s work as a counterpoint. She reads through a Champian passage and concludes that it’s poetic, and that it worked perfectly in print, but would not work on the web since it never once mentions “running shoes.”
Earnshaw says AboutUs is a site with authority and that the inbound links it provides are “votes for your content.” She then pitches us directly on AboutUs’ $349 Spotlight Service, where an AboutUs writer interviews the business/site owner and produces a “light feature” with search-optimized copy. Spotlight articles also rotate on the AboutUs homepage for two weeks and are permanently archived on the Spotlight page, all of which is precious “shelf space” for brands seeking online traction.
Earnshaw says a Spotlight article is not a stand alone search strategy, but that it is an effective piece in a larger strategy. She adds that several search firms use the Spotlight service to boost their own rankings, a solid endorsement if there ever was one. In fact, I’m thinking I ought to pay AboutUs to put AdPulp in their Spotlight. I see on their rate card that they also bundle and discount, so an agency might contract with AboutUs for a Spotlight article on themselves and one for each of their clients, or better yet, each of their clients’ various products or services.
One can also go the DIY route with AboutUs. Fundamentally, the company runs a Wiki that anyone can edit. Go there now and make a page for yourself and/or your site or company. It’ll boost your online cred. And the more search optimization you put into your pages there, the higher up they’ll rank.
I’m going to conduct an experiment. Right now the AdPulp page on AboutUs.org is coming up 13th on Google when one searches for the term “AdPulp,” but I’ve put no thought whatsoever into optimizing it for search. I’ll spend some time on that today and update the page with terms like “ad blog” and use H1 tags and all that good stuff. In a few months, I’m sure the page will rank much higher–which will also increases the value of the outbound links to AdPulp.com.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.