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Smart Content and the Pull of Search Engine Optimization

One of the conclusions of our report Smart Content in the Enterprise (forthcoming next week) is how a little bit of enrichment goes a long way. It’s important to build on your XML infrastructure, enrich your content a little bit (to the extent that your business environment is able to support), and expect to iterate over time.

Consider what happened at Citrix, reported in our case study Optimizing the Customer Experience at Citrix: Restructuring Documentation and Training for Web Delivery. The company had adopted DITA for structured publishing several years ago. Yet just repurposing the content in product manuals for print and electronic distribution, and publishing the same information as HTML and PDF documents, did not change the customer experience.

A few years ago, Citrix information specialists had a key insight: customers expected to find support information by googling the web. To be sure, there was a lot of content about various Citrix products out in cyberspace, but very little of it came directly from Citrix. Consequently the most popular solutions available via web-wide searching were not always reliable, and the detailed information from Citrix (buried in their own manuals) was rarely found.

What did Citrix do? Despite limited resources, the documentation group began to add search metadata to the product manuals. With DITA, there was already a predefined structure for topics, used to define sections, chapters, and manuals. Authors and editors could simply include additional tagged metadata that identified and classified the contents – and thus expose the information to Google and other web-wide search engines.

Nor was there a lot of time or many resources for up-front design and detailed analysis. To paraphrase a perceptive information architect we interviewed, “Getting started was a lot like throwing the stuff against a wall to see what sticks.” At first tags simply summarized existing chapter and section headings. Significantly, this was a good enough place to start.

Specifically, once Citrix was able to join the online conversation with its customers, it was also able to begin tracking popular search terms. Then over time and with successive product releases, the documentation group was able to add additional tagged metadata and provide ever more focused (and granular) content components.

What does this mean for developing smart content and leveraging the benefits of XML tagging? Certainly the more precise your content enrichment, the more findable your information is going to be. When considering the business benefits of search engine optimization, the quality of your tagging can always improve over time. But as a simple value proposition, getting started is the critical first step.

Interwoven Announces Content Optimization Solutions for Global Enterprises

Interwoven, Inc. (NASDAQ:IWOV) announced a series of new solutions to help organizations turn content into an asset for improving customer relationships and driving top-line revenue growth. The portfolio includes Interwoven Segmentation and Analytics, a new solution for increasing the conversion of prospects to customers across online channels; Interwoven Collaborative Document Management, an enhanced solution for improving enterprise collaboration of document-intensive business processes; and Interwoven Brand Management and Interwoven Multi-Channel Delivery. The Interwoven Segmentation and Analytics solution includes Interwoven Targeting, a new product that provides online customer segmentation and a dynamic content-targeting rules engine. In conjunction with this announcement, Interwoven has partnered with WebSideStory, to integrate and resell WebSideStory’s HBX and Visual Sciences analytics products as part of the Segmentation and Analytics solution. Interwoven WorkSite MP 5.0, provides users with enhanced search capabilities and a richer user experience using Ajax and other new Web-based technologies and services. WorkSite MP 5.0 also includes capabilities for facilitating eDiscovery and email management, and improved language support including double-byte support. An upcoming release to MediaBin, Interwoven’s Digital Asset Management (DAM) product, will bring numerous performance, usability, and compatibility enhancements, including new Digital Camera Raw file support and 2D and 3D CAD file support. The Interwoven Segmentation and Analytics solution, Interwoven Targeting, and the Interwoven Collaborative Document Management solution will be generally available later this month. The Interwoven Brand Management and Interwoven Multi-Channel Delivery solutions will be generally available in the first half of 2007.

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