Cervical cancer jab: SEO advice for the NHS and correcting scaremongering journalism

A campaign to balance inaccurate news reporting about the cervical cancer jab is working. Malcolm Coles, SEO consultant and blogger, informs me that NHS pages with information about the HPV immunisation are steadily getting bumped up the Google rankings, displacing misleading and deliberately alarming newspaper reports. He says:

“The three NHS pages I was targeting are now on 1st page, 2nd page and 2nd page of Google results so it’s working.”

To fill you in on the background: first of all Malcolm pointed out ‘that any concerned parents searching Google for information on the cervical cancer jab (in the tragic wake of a schoolgirl’s death) see a mass of negative and inaccurate information linking the girl’s death to the vaccine’. So summoning his SEO might, he called upon bloggers and Twitterers to influence the rankings in anyway they could, to get the NHS pages higher up the results.

Here’s how in full.

Or in one quick step (and this is me doing my bit):

“Ideally, use some link text like cervical cancer jab or cervical cancer vaccine to link to those pages, like this: cervical cancer jab information and cervical cancer vaccination and Q&A about cervical cancer vaccine.”

Finally Malcolm has some SEO tips for the NHS::

“The page I’ve suggested you link to is the one recommended by NHS Choices. However, it doesn’t have cervical cancer jab in the title – I suggest you change this.”

[To-do: find out to what extent those management consultants – (reportedly) brought into the NHS for around £300 million + last year – thought about SEO and online marketing in their efficiency analyses]

In the meantime, this from NHS Choices in the comments on Malcolm’s blog:

“Just to let you know that the marketing team here at NHS Choices are aware of the adwords campaign wording and are looking to make it more appropriate given the current scare. We’ve got lots of content on cervical cancer & HPV, but nothing ‘newsy’ at the moment which would supplant the newspaper headlines. The best page to push from an SEO perspective would be this one on NHS Choices – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hpv-vaccination/Pages/Introduction.aspx – good video on it too – anything that can be done to bump this up would be great! John, NHS Choices.”

For more background on the misleading media hype, see Ben Goldacre’s most recent Guardian column.

Professor Harper, featured in last week’s ‘Jab ‘as bad as the cancer” Sunday Express article that Goldacre bases his article on, has complained to the Press Complaints Commission:

Quite incredulously, given the Express article, Harper doesn’t oppose the jab. “I fully support the HPV vaccines,” she told Ben Goldacre. “I believe that in general they are safe in most women. I told the Express all of this.”

You can also complain to the PCC on this one, I believe. While the body doesn’t take complaints from third parties, there is this clause:

“In regard to complaints about matters of general fact under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code – where there are no obvious first parties cited in the article, who might complain – the Commission can, and regularly does, investigate complaints from any concerned reader.”

PCC contact at this link.



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