The U.S government and 'viewers like you' are actually doing something right for a change. We're referring to PBS, of course, the famed American non-profit public broadcasting television service. Since we first started tracking them in January 2010, PBS.org has improved their online brand performance by 70% as evidence by their Heardable Score increase from 339/1000 to 660/1000.
Yes, we were being a bit cynical in our opening statement because it's been our experience that government run websites (or government-influenced sites) generally score very poorly. For example:
- The U.S. Arctic Research Commission website, arctic.gov, earned a Heardable Score of 176/1000
- The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission website, medpac.gov, got a Heardable Score of 166/1000
- The US Department of State, state.gov, generated a Heardable Score of 310/1000
There is a long list of government websites with similarly low Heardable Scores. Perhaps we shouldn't expect government sites to have powerful online brands. But PBS managed to do it. To be fair, it should be clearly stated that PBS is only partially owned by the U.S. government. According to Wikipedia, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives about 20% of its annual operating revenue from Federal sources, 25% from State & local taxes, and the remaining 55% from private membership donations & grants.
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Let's take a quick peek under the hood of PBS to see how they are outperforming so many other websites, government run, or not.
They seem to be skilled at SEO, whether this is by design or not. They have 5,893,954 inbound links, which is an impressive number, and they index well for having localized content, which search engines like Bing and Yahoo love. Their website is written in a visitor-friendly tone, talking about the user more often than about itself. Thet seem to have enbraced the spirit of getting and giving -- with RSS, audio & video feeds found. The site is fairly measurable, with both Google Analytics and Google Adwords present. And their brand seems like a socially savvy player on most of the major social hubs.
International research company GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media recently named PBS the most trusted and unbiased institution among nationally known organizations. It's clear that PBS has a trusted brand that people want to engage with, and it's also clear that PBS values its viewers and has gone out of their way to make their website as appealing as possible.
Could the PBS online brand still be improved? No doubt. Being more mobile-friendly is one suggestion that jumps out at us. But overall, PBS is a brand trending in the right direction.