Hunter S. Thompson turned me onto American politics. That’s probably quite a dangerous thing, but true. I wouldn’t really describe myself as a junkie, but this particular election I’m watching with great interest seeming it’s my first from inside America and I’ll get to see it all unravel like a badly crocheted bra first hand.
Of course, only 24/7 rolling news could turn a load of pig farmers popping round to each other’s houses and firing the first election shot from the equivalent of a spud gun into a world-shattering event. Yes, I’m well aware there’s another eleven months of this to go.
Thursday managed to do one thing due to Barack Obama’s total trouncing of the field – and that was to ensure every other candidate would now present themselves as an ‘agent of change’. Change has become such a strong early meme that a mere mention of you changing your underpants daily is enough to raise you a couple of percentage points in the polls.
I think Sir Mitt of the Romney might be leading the change stakes with a current 74% CMQ (changes mentioned quotient). At the moment I’m doing quite a bit of SEO copy writing – that means I’m rewriting sites to help them rank better in search engines for specific search terms. While you’d never try and rank for such a broad meaningless term as ‘change’ – ‘agent of change’, perhaps – search engines would think you were some kind of keyword stuffing spammer if you tried to slip the word ‘change’ into the text of a Web page as often as some of these candidates are currently slipping it into debates.
Keyword placement and frequency is a science that search engines have factored into their algorithms. This then translates into near perfect percentages in relation to other on-page factors. Then again, nobody is party to these algorithms. Subsequently, you need a bit of experience to learn how to develop a certain feel for slipping keywords into pages without spamming or making the page in question appear unnatural for the benefit of the reader. I’ll refrain from claiming it’s therefore an art!
We had a great example this last week in fact. A client had their host remove something from the sidebar of their site that we’d rewritten and we noticed a significant drop in rankings for certain keywords. It didn’t take too much investigative work to find out that the home page had been replaced by the old version and that had caused the rankings drop. Thankfully, these types of things are easy to sort out. In this case we just had to upload the home page again. The rankings should return promptly.
It’s probably easier to identify elements within a Website that require changing than it is elements within the governmental process as there aren’t different ideologies competing in order to facilitate the change in question. However, if this story in yesterday’s London Times about the West effectively selling its own nuclear secrets to anybody who wanted them (including rogue terrorist states) is remotely near the mark, then the talk of democratic change won’t just be a meme but something imperative to prevent the masses marching on Capitol Hill with pitchforks in hand.