Twenty Years on: The Web Links Words not Pages
You have to have been hiding under a rock to miss that CERN - the organisation behind the first web site - have re-launched the original Web site. It's terribly hard to believe that the World Wide Web is no longer a teenager and is a full twenty years old this week. I entered the workforce around that time, and I can barely remember a time when the web did not play a fundamental role in my working life. However, I can remember that brief time. I also remember all the various developments that have made the web what it is today. The Browser wars. The first Advertising. The arrival of Flash. The dawn of Java. The advent of eCommerce and the debate about its security. At least two jobs were with web-only companies - America Online and Salesforce.com - and the web has made so much of the rest of my life possible too, from Hotmail.com to Friends Reunited, Facebook and Tripadvisor.
Something struck me when I looked at the original site and thought about the evolution of the medium since then. When you look at the original site you remember that the web then was all about linking pages together. Everything was about "The Hyperlink" and your strategy around the web was to link to and be linked from other sites as the web became labyrinth of links.
By 2003 Tim O'Reilly had renamed the web Web 2.0. Before long, by the time I had digested that re-birth, it was re-named again: Web 3.0. Now a strong argument is made by the coiner of Web 2.0 that web 3.0 is hot air. But the fact remains the evolution of the web is ever constant. What O'Reilly calls out as Stowe Boyd's definition of "a web without browsers" seems to be the most exciting commentary, given the advent of new mobile devices and intelligent apps.
However, I remember a PR conference here in Sydney in 2011 - PR 3.0 - on the future of Social Media where Servant Of Chaos founder, Gavin Heaton, described the chronology as one of links. Web 1.0 linked pages, he said, while web 2.0 linked people and web 3.0 linked words. This informed my understanding of The Semantic Web, and has driven my view of it ever since.
Of course the debate is furious and complex as it always is where computer scientists meet marketeers and PR people! But when I look at that first page I see the links and realise that now when we look a web page we see words. Or at least Google does! Therefore, we should all see words because SEO is what powers the web today and while we use the web to speak to people, people navigate it using search.
This is why when I think about writing for the web, I think about the science and the art:
- Science: The science of "Social SEO" pertains to the search mechanics of Google and other search engines like Bing. By focussing the main thrust of a Content Marketing campaign on certain strategically-chosen keywords and remaining consistent on those words in a regular content contriutions, you can begin to rank much higher on the search engines because of a steady stream of relevancy triggers sent out into the Social Web.
- Art: The art of Social SEO pertains to the dual advantages of not only carrying a succinct and relevant message to strategic audiences in a direct and targeted way via Social networks; but also of “gaming” the above search dynamics by attaching popularity meta data to certain keywords linking back to your online properties.