Archive for the ‘Bushfire’ tag
The Victorian bushfires in February 2009 demonstrated how Australians turned to the Internet to get vital information surrounding a crisis. Search data reflected strong community awareness of the Victorian Country Fire Authority, with ‘cfa’ the fastest moving search term driving traffic to all websites in February 2009. Searches that included ‘bushfires’ were three times greater than searches including ‘cfa’ during the height of the crisis, week ending 14 February 2009. The below figure demonstrates the peak of bushfire searches following Black Saturday and how quickly they dropped off.
· ‘Bushfires’ searches decreased by 76.5% the week ending 21 February 2009 compared to week ending 14 February 2009, and dropped a futher 44.3% a fortnight later.
· There was 4-week window for peak community awareness following the Victorian Bushfire tragedy. 6 weeks after the height of the crisis, search activity on ‘bushfires’ dropped to search levels preceding the crisis.
Bushfire Searches became more specific during and after crisis
A detailed study into the bushfire searches provide insight into what types of information requirements emerge at key periods during a crisis. Hitwise found that bushfire searches fell into the following 5 types:
1. ‘Appeal’ searches around fundraising efforts e.g. ‘redcross bushfire appeal’
2. ‘Education’ searches around historical knowledge and future planning e.g. ‘bushfire survival’
3. ‘General’ searches e.g. ‘victorian bushfires’
4. ‘Informational’ searches around news and geographical updates e.g. ‘bushfire map’
5. ‘Services’ searches around government and commercial agencies e.g. ‘cfa bushfires’
· ‘Informational’ searches were strong throughout, with timeliness the key in providing community updates. The top 5 websites to receive ‘Informational’ searches during the height of the crisis (week ending 14 February 2009) were the Victoria Country Fire Authority, ABC News Online, Google News Australia, Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, and The Age.
·The community were willing to provide support immediately with ‘Appeal’ searches prevalent during the week ending 14 February 2009. ‘Appeal’ searches however dropped off significantly 5 weeks after the crisis.
· News and Media websites attracted the most traffic from all types of bushfire searches apart from ‘Services’ following the crisis. However News and Media websites received a smaller allocation of paid traffic on ‘bushfire’ Searches (5.8%) than Government websites (8.7%) during the week ending 14 March 2009, suggesting that organic traffic was a more important driver of traffic.
·The proportion of ‘Education’ searches peaked 5 weeks following the crisis, suggesting ongoing demand for information to avoid a repeat of the disaster. Wikipedia was the top website to receive ‘Educational’ during the crisis (week ending 14 March 2009). While Government websites received a significant portion of search traffic with 8.9%, it is clear agencies need to compete with a range of sources in providing reliable and authoritative information to the public.
Making sure government websites are optimised for searches on key issues
Government agencies can use online behaviour surrounding the Victorian bushfire case study to understand the needs of the community, when information is crucial for saving lives. By investing in best practice Search Engine Optimisation, such as using keyword research to determine the language of the community, government agencies can ensure they are a key source of information. Government agencies can also work with leading online news outlets for information dissemination.
We will be releasing an Online Government report very soon that includes the bushfire case study so stay tuned. Hitwise Research Director, Alan Long and Product Director for Search Marketing Services, Stuart McKeown will also be speaking at this AMI event on 30 April: Best practices for government, community organisations and consumer marketing.