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"Supporting the new branding..."

Several months ago, when discussing the value of librarians, I mentioned, in passing, Elsevier's experiment with using advertising to support an oncology portal.  Yesterday, I received an email from someone identifying herself as a "content specialist" for OncologySTAT, asking me to update the link.

OncologyStat has recently restructured its website and would like you to update our link. OncologySTAT offers an unprecedented array of professional cancer information and an abundance of educational resources for your students in one online destination.

The following page needs to be updated:

http://tscott.typepad.com/tsp/2007/09/valuing-librari.html 

Please use the following link and text:

Oncology by OncologyStat

The phrase “Oncology” should be the clickable link to http://www.oncologystat.com and the text “by OncologyStat” should just be text, and not part of the clickable link.

Thank you for taking the time out to update your site and our link. We appreciate your cooperation supporting our new branding and messaging. Please let me know if and when these updates can me made. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

I thought, at first, that they had changed the url, but actually, the link still works.  So the issue isn't the link itself, but the way that it is referred to and what part of the phrase is the clickable link.

It's a polite and pleasant message and if I had mentioned the name in, say, a list of resources that I was promoting, I'd probably go ahead and make the change.  Within the context of my post, however, given that I was just mentioning it in passing and that the link itself still works, I don't see any reason to change the text (although I suppose I could put in a parenthetical update).

It's curious, because, after a cursory look, I don't see the phrase "Oncology by OncologyStat" anywhere on the site itself.  If that's the way that they want it to be referred to, you'd think that they'd use it themselves.  Maybe they just haven't gotten to it yet?  More likely, they're trying to increase the odds of their site showing up near the top when somebody searches for "oncology".

This is the first time that I've been contacted with a request to make this kind of a change.  I suppose that in this age where branding is all the rage, it'll become more common.

Comments

 Tom R.

Scott,

Yes, that is a tactic for optimizing rankings in search engines.

Tom

David Rothman

Huh. The wording reads like instruction, not like a polite request. It strikes me as rude and not entirely appropriate.

walt crawford

I have to say, if I received a message like that, including this statement:

"The following page needs to be updated:"

and found that, in fact, my link still worked, was factually correct, and didn't have trademark issues, my guard would go right up. (And my link would remain as is.) If pressed, I would respond that it's not my job to support your branding, it's my job to say what I have to say. "Needs" is a strong word, one that doesn't apply in this situation.

Now, if they said, "We'd appreciate it if you would..." or something of the sort, or if the old link was now dead, that's quite a different thing.

T Scott

I was more amused than annoyed by the tone, but I guess that's just me. I certainly didn't feel strong-armed in any way.

When I initially thought that they were saying that the link was bad, I did wonder about what to do for a bit. I have an aversion to the notion of going back into posts and changing things -- it seems to me that they represent a particular moment in time and should be preserved that way -- later posts, comments, or, occasionally updates clearly marked as such within the text might be appropriate in particular cases. But revising a link that's no longer accurate? Doesn't seem like quite the same thing as revising text. On the other hand, if I tried to go back and "fix" every link I've ever used that no longer works, I wouldn't have time for anything else.

jessamyn

Yeah that's totally SEO language (search engine optimization) where they want to have a higher rank in Google for the word Oncology. All the cancer words are hard generally to get good Google rank in. I find that sort of email -- which I get from time to time -- very obnoxious because it basically tried to end-run Google's page ranking mechanism, to the extent that it understands it, and that's sort of antithetica to the way those things grow organically. I write polite but firm "nothing is broken don't email me again" emails to those folks.

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