09 August 2006

As printed in PRWeek PRToolbox, August 8, 2006


By Lisa LaMotta

"Accessible" sites and search engines: What does it mean?

About 54 million Americans, an increasing number of aging Baby Boomers among them, have some disability, says Kathy Wahlbin of Mindshare Interactive Campaigns.

"Visually impaired users need to increase the text size or use a screen magnifier," she explains. "People with mobility impairments use the keyboard, rather than the mouse, to navigate. And people who are blind use screen readers to listen to the site being read aloud."

Accessibility means people with disabilities can use a site or search engine as easily as people without disabilities. Google is the first major search engine to give priority to accessible sites by ranking them higher in their results lists, making it more relevant for persons with disabilities.

"To make your site more accessible and to achieve higher search ratings, you should follow W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines," adds Wahlbin, "including adding alternative text tags to images and multimedia, ensuring keyboard navigation, and allowing users to change font size."


As a marketing pro, I'm obsessed with measuring results from marketing and PR efforts. How can I determine the effectiveness of my article-marketing campaign efforts?

Like any other marketing/PR program, it is important to track your article-marketing efforts, says Eric Gruber of PRLeads Article Submission Service. You can track how many hits your article gets over a given time period. Many article directories will provide you with free article reports.

You can also look at how many backlinks your article creates, as well as how much traffic your articles are creating for your Web site, he adds. There are several affordable services on the Internet that can help you keep track of this.

"Before you begin measuring your ROI, you must understand that it takes volume to make things happen," says Gruber. "Anyone that tells you that if you submit one article online, you'll make quick, easy money is lying. You need to keep your name in front of the public on a regular basis to build traffic to your site and turn prospects into customers."

Online newsrooms

What can online-newsroom software do for me that a basic HTML Web page cannot?

"It's true that you can post press releases, photos, and media kits on a regular Web site page - and you should if that's all you have," notes TEKGROUP's Director of Marketing. "However, comparison will show that the advantages of using online-newsroom software far outweigh the presentation of PR-related materials on a standard HTML site."

The most illustrative comparison between using an online newsroom and a basic Web site comes in the form of reporting, she adds. Granted, a Web site provides standard statistics, such as number of pages viewed and number of visitors. Online-newsroom software delivers the same fundamental data, along with a level of identification of the visitor - in this case, the journalist - and what they accessed on the site.

This type of reporting provides the corporate PR pro with details on who the journalist is, what title they represent, and exactly what they want to know about the company. This sets the stage for more productive monitoring.

"Another advantage of using newsroom software is that you can run those reports, as well as post your releases and send out your e-mail alerts, without having to learn HTML," adds TEKgroup's Steve Momorella. "And no more waiting on your IT department to post that crisis-related release."


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