Do You Have An Online Strategy? (Shameless self-promotional post)

Jon Henshaw, the SEO guru (among many other things) at the web-development firm, Sitening, says some very nice things about the online strategy displayed on the Hammock Inc. company website, Hammock.com. (Yes, I do have a job.) Thanks, Jon. I feel like Sally Field.

There are subtle things about the site that Jon notes — simple things that took me years of blogging to figure out and that took several people at Hammock (not just me, but thanks for the credit, Jon) nearly a year to think through. Again, it’s a simple strategy that any business or association, large or small, could implement. But for some reason, very few do — perhaps because the “content” commitment such a strategy requires appears daunting once you start scratching the surface. (Another promo: Helping companies and associations do such things is our business.)

sallyJon observes one of things I’m very proud of (in a geekish way), but something no one else has written about: Every employee at Hammock has a “blog” designed to look okay even if it’s never updated. I’ve often said that if they weren’t called “blogs,” more people would have one. So internally, we decided to have a page for each employee, but to not use the B-word (or, come to think of it, any letter followed by “-word”). Internally, we call them People pages. On the site, at first, we didn’t call them anything. They were just pages for each employee that contain work-related contact info. Officially, they reside in the “About” category. Each of these pages have an easy-to-remember URL, like mine, Hammock.com/RexHammock. But as Jon noticed — and we have now acknowledged — each of these pages is also a blog built on Moveable Type with all the bells and whistles you’d expect on a blog — even a stealth blog. Recently, we did add them to the “blogs” category and put the word “blogs” at the top of each page. The first (and for several, only) “post” on each page is a bio that has another easy-to-remember URL, like Hammock.com/RexHammock/bio. Some employees have never made a second post to their page, but by design, such a page doesn’t look like a blog that hasn’t been updated — just something that provides helpful contact information. Some employees use them like a phone message — “I’m out of the office until Sept. 2.” Others do use them like a blog. Those who study online behavior would recognize the pages’ versatility in serving dual roles for identity and expression. As each “people page” (it’s a stealth blog, remember) has an RSS feed, it’s easy for them to be integrated with other services. For example, I have mine feeding into my FriendFeed page.

In Jon’s post, he speculates about the SEO mojo that our strategy generates. I’d share the before and after data (we have about nine months of data) but I’m not yet a true believer in all that radical transparency stuff. Let’s just say, it’s working.

In a future shameless self-promotional post, I’ll explain how the Hammock.com website embraces a variety of social media services in nuanced ways (APIs, RSS, etc.) and how we’re working with association and corporate clients to do the same.

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  • When I try to subscribe to the feed for any of the People pages, my news reader just subscribes to the main feed for Hammock.com. Am I missing something? I thought Summer had told me that the People pages didn't have RSS feeds yet…

  • Thanks, Cole. That should be fixed now.

  • Thanks, Cole. That should be fixed now.

  • Sorry if there’s some problems with the comments here. I’ve disabled Disqus until I can figure out the issue. Please email me if you’re having issues with comments. Thanks.

  • Thanks, Cole. That should be fixed now.

  • One of the ways we make it easy for our employees to engage with our website is through Twitter. If an employee is interested (which most are) we add their Twitter username to their profile on our site’s CMS. As a result, all of their tweets get published on their about page and we also float some up to the home page. We also have Twitter accounts for our services like Raven and Snipplr, and we make all of those tweaks show up on the home page too.