PM Blog?

BBC Radio 4's program PM is on every week day from 5-6pm and on Saturdays from 5pm to 5:30pm. PM is usually hosted by Eddie Mair, and the program gives a round-up of the day's news, with Eddie adding an occasional sly humourous garnish here and there.

The PM Blog, part of the BBC Radio 4 website, can be found here and has daily jottings from the PM presenters as well as comments from PM listeners. So what, you might wonder, is this page all about if it's not actually the PM Blog?

Not the PM Blog?

No, this page is not the PM Blog. It isn't even a blog of any sort, it's just a web page that was created as a slightly daft experiment in search engine optimisation. But why? And what has search engine optimisation got to do the PM program or it's blog? All is explained below. First, a few words on SEO.

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is, in a nutshell, a set of techniques used to help get web pages to appear near the top of the results pages when people use search engines to look for particular content. So, for example, if you wanted your cookery web page to be found when people use Google to search for "meatball recipes", you could use SEO techniques to strengthen the associations that Google (or other search engines) make between the keyword phrase "meatball recipes" and your page. If you do the right things, your page could end up near the top of the search results, and you should get more visitors to your website.

So what has all that got to do with the PM blog?

"Just search online for PM Blog"

It's becoming more common for TV and radio programs to promote their websites without actually reading out the website address. Unless the address is short and snappy, this is understandable: "visit us at double-u double-u double-u dot b b c dot co dot uk slash blogs slash pm" is a bit of a mouthful to read out each program. One solution is to give the address of the main site and then simply say "follow the links to PM blog".

A neater solution, which avoids having to read out any web addresses at all, is simply to say "search online for PM Blog" or, as PM's Eddie Mair tends to say, "just enter PM Blog in to any search engine". Some TV programs are starting to do the same thing. Seems like a sensible idea?

The problem is that, in some cases at least, the web page in question is not particularly well optimised for the search phrase in question (e.g. "PM blog"). That means that the page may start at the top (or near the top) for the search engine results, but is vulnerable to being knocked off this position by other pages that have related content with better SEO.

Let's hope that, in time, the people responsible for the TV or radio shows in question start to realise that a little SEO applied to the web pages they are promoting is a useful tool, which should help to ensure that the right content is found in the search engine results. It should also help to prevent upstart pages like this from muscling in on their chosen "PM Blog" search phrase.

Last updated: March 2012