Information Velocity: Traveling at the Speed of Digital

Web Hosting, Online News, and Information

In case you haven’t noticed, your morning newspaper is shrinking. The publishing and information dissemination techniques employed for the last 300 years are giving way to new technology – digital technology or the world wide web.

Go ahead, check this morning’s newspaper. Not one piece of information is “today.” It’s yesterday’s news. Sure, for local stories, newspapers still provide broader, more detailed coverage. And you get the sports news, comics, a crossword puzzle and a bunch of coupons that more than pay for the cost of the newspaper subscription.

But it’s still yesterday’s news.

Today, you can flip on the 24-hour news channel of choice and watch a car chase in California (why is it always California?) as it’s happening. Information is delivered immediately – at the speed of digital.

Or, there are numerous blogs and web sites that post news events as they happen, again beating traditional media in many cases. Today, people expect information that’s up to the minute. And they want it NOW!

What’s New?

Now, not all web sites require hourly news updates. Maggiesknittingsupplies.com probably doesn’t need up to the minute reportage from the world of knitting. I mean, how much changes from one day to the next?

But that doesn’t mean that Maggie should hire a copy writer for her site text, set her sales pitch and hope for the best. If she’s a savvy business women (let’s assume she is) providing articles on types of yarn, on-line lessons for beginners, information on other handiwork, visitors will continue to visit Maggiesknittingsupplies.com for the information and, at some point, make a purchase.

Let’s call this slow speed news.

  • It changes.
  • It encourages repeat visitors and builds a site community
  • It creates good will among members who actually bookmark the site as members of the “family.”
  • It establishes the authority of the site owner. You’re the teacher, guru or mentor.
  • It delivers a useful service to the visitor by educating her.
  • It pre-qualifies visitors be delivering a better-educated prospect ready to convert from browser to buyer.
  • It makes search engines happy.

Search engine bots visit your site regularly. In fact, you can tell search engines how often to crawl your site. Google’s default is once every 30 days but that’s an outside number. Most sites are crawled within seven days.

When the site is crawled, a snapshot is taken. This is the cached view that appears on search engine results pages. The cached view is what the search engine saw the last time the site was crawled, which could be two or three weeks ago.

And for many web site owners, changing text isn’t a critical factor to site success. You can program your site code to tell bots that text will never change. This way, you don’t get penalized for the lack of fresh content.

You see, when a search engine bot happens by and crawls your site, it compares the latest information on site to the cached view – the snapshot that was taken the last time the site was crawled. If the text is identical and you haven’t told the search engine that your site text won’t change (part of the HTML or XML coding used to actually create the presentation layer that people actually see), the site will lose rank in SERPs for out-dated content.

The reason? Search engines are in the business of delivering the most relevant links to the most relevant web sites based on the keywords entered by search engine users. Well, if nothing has changed on your “up to the minute stock market analysis” in two weeks, search engine algorithms file that in the negative ranking category and your SERPs link remains on page 154.

When was the last time YOU drilled down to page 154 of search engine results pages? Like never. Search engine users rarely go beyond the second or third page during a web search. If they don’t find the information or product they’re looking for on one of the top ranked web sites they often initiate another search using different keywords – which may place you on page 876 of Google’s SERPs since the prospect didn’t enter a keyword for which your site is optimized.

Who Needs to Be Current?

Well, any site can increase the velocity of information if the site owner is cleaver. Want some examples?

Okay, a blog can be created with a few clicks and you have an immediate outlet to deliver current news, occasional news, enable site visitors to reply to blog posts and build a community of loyal followers and customers.

A local restaurant, optimized for local search can post, not only the full menu, but that day’s specials. News every day, and the kind of news site visitors will use over and over before deciding on where to go for eats that night.

A certified financial planner can run real time stock prices to keep visitors on line all day. Or, these CFPs can post market gainers and losers, sales volume of movers and shakers and other financial news of interest to the CFA’s local client base.

An oil and gas junior can post real-time video of activity in the field. It’s like watching a realty show and it builds trust and confidence in the fledgling company.

5 Ways To Increase Information Velocity On Your Web Site

Add an RSS feed.

RSS stands for remote site syndication and it simply delivers news on a specific topic at the speed of digital. Maggie (of Maggiesknittingsupplies.com) could add an RSS feed because she enters the keywords for the information she wants delivered to her site visitors. Maggie enters “knitting” and she gets the latest in knitting news (I can only assume there must be some news in the fast-paced world of handcrafts).

You’ll need a feed aggregator that collects RSS feeds from different sources like Google, Yahoo news or the New York Stock Exchange. Expect to pay for some feeds, but there are plenty of freebies and even the paid RSS feeds are dirt cheap.

Add a Blog.

Blogs are great because they’re simple, enabling the site owner to update site content without calling the programmer.

Blog posts can be as current as right now. Hear something or read something and you can write up a 400 word post and tell your site visitors the latest.

Add live video feeds.

Live video feeds of the space walk, the chess tourney, the sports news – whatever topics that draw visitors to your site. Search for “live video feeds” using a search engine and simply link up to the feed. Takes a couple of clicks and your site is current.

Do note that bots are unable to spider video or graphics content. However, add an HTML tag explaining to the bot what’s in the video feed and you’ll get a little extra credit.

Add real time updates within the topicality of your site.

One smart site owner at confidenttrader.com sells a microcap stock picking service. He keeps a portfolio of stocks that any visitor can see. No “opt-in” required.

Each day, the stock prices in the portfolio are updated, providing the site owner’s subscribers and prospects immediate updates to their own portfolio of stocks that parallel the owner of confidenttrader.com.

This keeps site visitors coming back every day to check their own portfolios because all of the relevant information as been aggregated into a single page of a web site – a real time saver.

Now, this kind of information isn’t free to the micro-cap stock site owner. He pays for the service but he also delivers a valuable service to his subscribers and the cost of the latest information is built into the subscription price.

This daily update draws repeat visitors, provides complete transparency (a trust builder), creates good will and entices subscribers to sign up for the Confident Trader’s picks. Win-win.

Add new site text.

Add informational articles to your web site and create a site archive section. When a bot stops by and compares your current site information with the cached view and sees all that new, fresh, juicy, “green” content, you move up in rank because the search engine determines that you’re providing good information regularly.

If you can’t write, hire a copy writer to populate your web site and blog with new content a few times a week. You’ll quickly discover the cost versus benefits equation tips in your favor.

Or write a few lines on what’s going on in your industry – an upcoming seminar, symposium or trade show. In other words, keep your site visitors up to date with the latest news.

This establishes your credibility and the fact that you’re plugged in to the latest news. And guess what…

…thanks to you, so are your readers.