SEO: Great For Traffic & Conversions, But Can It Fight Terrorists, Too?
(No, this is not a holdover from our April 1 coverage, but I will be ‘optimizing’ the article with my own personal comments in parentheses.) A UK government agency charged with fighting terrorism has a new tool in its arsenal: SEO. (Take that, Calacanis!) According to The Register, the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism (OCST) […]
(No, this is not a holdover from our April 1 coverage, but I will be ‘optimizing’ the article with my own personal comments in parentheses.)
A UK government agency charged with fighting terrorism has a new tool in its arsenal: SEO. (Take that, Calacanis!)
According to The Register, the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism (OCST) plans to teach SEO techniques to pro-Western Islamic groups so that their web sites can outrank extremist web sites in Google and other search engines. (Someone tell them it’s not just about rankings. Please.) The idea is to promote mainstream messages so that terrorist wannabes might have a last-minute change of heart if they’re researching career options online. Says British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith:
“We will host a core network of people who will put forward positive messages from the British Muslim community on the internet, directly challenging the extremists that set out to groom vulnerable individuals.”
Critics of the plan (There are always critics when someone mentions SEO, aren’t there?) have already come forward. The International Centre For The Study Of Radicalisation And Political Violence (ICSR) recently published a report, Countering Online Radicalization, which lists a couple problems with the government’s SEO plans:
“…the overall utility of using such methods may be limited. Extremist websites are not normally found via web searches on sites like Google, but because people are told about them in web forums, at schools, universities or community centres. Moreover, web searches for ‘extremist’ terms rarely produce the desired results. When searching for the word ‘jihad’, [of] the first 100 hits returned by Google … only one of the search results could be described as problematic, having been accused of posting controversial and pro-extremist videos.”
(See, it’s the old “What good is it to rank highly for terms that no one searches for?” argument. Well played.)
The Register, meanwhile, says that UK officials are undeterred and believed to be in the “early stages” of their SEO efforts. (Let’s hope that means keyword research and benchmarking important data, not crafting reciprocal link emails and identifying do-follow blogs.)
(Found via FoxNews.com, which calls SEO “arcane.” Ha!)
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