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Helping people find the TMS Wiki

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Ellen, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Forest,
    The issue of how people find the tmswiki is an important one. I considered myself to be someone who did a lot of research and reading during my 20 years of chronic pain and other symptoms, but I never heard about TMS or Mindbody Syndrome until last March. And then it was a kind of a fluke, where this video of Dr. Eric Robbins talking about his personal story of recovery from Fibromyalgia just appeared on my phone. In it he mentioned several resources that helped him, including Unlearn Your Pain, and that is how I learned about Sarno and the tmswiki. It still amazes that I never ran across it before.

    I just put some search terms that I may have used prior to learning about TMS into Google to see what comes up--chronic pain syndromes/treatment/support, etc. Nothing about TMS comes up. So that explains why I never ran across TMS before. Unless one already knows the terminology, it isn't coming up. I don't know enough about internet search to know how to address this. Will 'tags' help out with this?

    Thanks for all the work you and others do to make this wiki so great. I'm hoping more people can find us and access all the wonderful resources available through this site.

    Moderator's note:
    This post is a response to this post in the Understanding Pain Video thread. That thread was originally about a specific YouTube video, but the topic started changing to Search Engine Optimization. When topics change in threads, it is common practice for moderators to separate them into two different threads. If anyone had changed the subject of the thread, it was me (Forest), so I thought I would fix things by splitting the thread into two. Feel free to send me a personal message me if you'd like to provide feedback or request that the two threads be re-merged.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2014
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    We need to work on how to get more people surfing the Internet to know about TMS and TMSWiki.org

    Maybe one of our group has suggestions.

    Is getting more attention on Facebook and Twitter the answer, or one of them?
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you for your kind words, North Star. They mean a lot. I remember that back when my TMS was at it's worst, I would have given anything to be healed. Now that I have gotten my life back, it is my dream to help others achieve the same thing. I figure that if we are lucky, we have a chance to do something really special in our life. For many people, that is raising a child, a task I have the greatest respect for. Without any children of my own right now, this nonprofit has definitely become my baby!

    @Ellen, when it comes to helping people find us on search, I think that you've hit on something crucial. How can we help people if they can't find us?

    I think that it is best to divide searches into common or "head" searches and uncommon or "long tail" searches.

    Common searches (aka "head searches")

    For the common searches, like "back pain" or "neck pain," there will be incredible competition among websites for those searches. We will be facing off against corporations who make a great deal of money off of those searches and who may have annual budgets of millions of dollars. Nonprofits can actually do quite well on searches like that, though, because people like linking to them because they are respected and trusted. Google takes these links as a vote of confidence, and nonprofits often show up near the top on some health-related queries.

    Given this, our competitiveness on these searches will depend on the overall strength of the TMS movement. Google uses more than 200 signals to evaluate which pages to show searchers and to do well on highly competitive searches like "back pain," you have to do well on all of those variables. Practically, this means that we have to build a stronger TMS movement.

    Key to this will be a strong group of practitioners, because practitioners give the movement respectability in the eyes of the media, the public, and other practitioners. About a third of our programs (by time spent) are for building up a community of practitioners. Authors and practitioners often have very strong opinions and so we work to find a common space and community to bring people together. The hope is that by partnering with them, the overall movement will grow faster. This will help us do better in the 200 signals that Google uses.

    Tying things together, there are 23 practitioners on our Find a Doctor or Therapist list who have websites. Most of them are on our email mailing list for practitioners. They may also read our newsletter for practitioners, participate in our bimonthly teleconferences for practitioners, or have seen one of my conference presentations or our pamphlets. Over time, more and more of them will link to us from their own sites. This will affect two of the very most important signals that Google uses. First, Google takes each link as a vote of confidence in our site and therefore assigns us a higher PageRank. Second, when they link to us, they will use certain words, such as peer support, in the link. These words are called anchor text. Then, when someone searches for "peer support," Google will know that we are about "peer support" because of the anchor text. This could have helped with one of the search queries that you mentioned. (PageRank and anchor text are also very important for tagging, as I'll explain below.)

    Bottom line: as we build a stronger movement and a stronger nonprofit, Google will be able to figure this out, and we will show up more and more on common search terms.

    Long tail searches

    Long tail searches are our "bread and butter." For example, consider Pandamonium's success story:
    Panda wrote:
    The word "long tail" comes from probability theory, and is being used to refer to search queries that are uncommon. For example, there aren't that many searches every day for "annular fissure," at least compared to "back pain." Therefore, "annular fissure" is a long tail search term, whereas "back pain" would be an example of a "head" search term.

    Forums, like ours, do exceptionally well on long tail searches, because, with many thousands of pages, we probably have a page that matches a specific query pretty well. For example, occasionally people will type something like "neck shoulder elbow pain" into Google. That would be a good example of a "long tail" search term, right? I mean, what percentage of Google searches have all four of those words?

    Well, we do exceptionally well for search terms like "neck shoulder elbow pain" because we have a really tremendous thread with those search terms in the title:
    When I just checked, we came up as the fourth result for that search.

    Google has been sending a steady slow stream of new visitors to that thread for years. In the last month, for example, it has sent about 300 visitors just to that thread. People who didn't know what to do and typed "neck shoulder elbow pain," "pain in my neck, elbow, and shoulder," or "left shoulder and neck pain" into Google will find that thread, about 10 times a day, and may learn about TMS because of it.

    It's an excellent thread, telling a powerful story and Google has decided that it likes that thread, probably by monitoring variables called "dwell time" and "click through rate." I'm pretty sure that many threads like that one, because they are inadvertently optimized for specific long-tail searches, are an important way of getting the word out.

    Tagging can help with this. Suppose you add a tag like "neck pain" or "annular fissure" to a thread. This immediately does two things. First, it adds a link from the tag page to the thread. Old threads have very few links to them, so this link will be viewed by Google as a vital vote of confidence, increasing the thread's PageRank. It also adds link text, because there will be a link on the thread with the important keywords. Google will then start monitoring the page to see, if it sends visitors, do they click through (that's the click through rate). Likewise, to they take time to read the page before doing another search (that's dwell time). If Google decides that the page is good, it will send us a steady stream of visitors.

    In this sense, given that we are a forum with an absolutely huge amount of content, I think that tagging will be very helpful for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It will help Google find our very best pages for long tail searches.

    Bottom line
    There will always be people who won't find out about or won't accept TMS. Having worked pretty intensely in this field for five years, I think that the way to maintain one's sanity is to measure success not in terms of the people who we can't read, but in terms of who we can.

    If we were able to maintain the number of people we were helping, I would consider myself a very lucky person to be able to participate, because I know what it is like to live with the fear of TMS and I don't think that anyone should have to.

    Being a numbers guy, though, I have to look at the numbers. I've been working pretty much full time on the nonprofit for about five years now, and I can't tell you how rewarding it is to see the progress that we've made. The following graph indicates the referrals that we get per month from Google for the last two years:

    For the first half of 2012, we were at about 3000 referrals from Google per month. It has steadily been growing since then with 9931 referrals from Google in November and a whopping 13,965 in January. The vast majority of these are for long tail search terms, exactly the types of things that tagging will help with, given the massive size of our site.

    We have been building an terrific community here at the TMS wiki. We have an amazing team that is committed to spreading the word and helping people learn about TMS. I think that there are bright things ahead!
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is great, Forest.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you, Forest! I now know a lot more about internet search. As always, I see that we are in good hands. What a gift to have someone who is both a TMS survivor and with the knowledge and skill set you have! Indeed there are bright things ahead!
  6. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is Awesome Forest. Thanks for showing us all the details. Wow, we're growing by leaps. Bright is the word.
    Bless You
  7. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Forest, your understanding of all this numbers stuff is impressive. I probably got about 10% of what you said and not because you didn't say it clearly.

    I googled why do some ideas go viral and came up with an article on forbes.com, here. The author, David DeSalvo, who writes about the brain, describes a study that concludes some ideas instantly grab some brains and those people promptly become super sales "evangelists" for the idea. If this happens to enough people, the idea is a big success, quickly. What makes an idea one that grabs a lot of brains? There are many theories, as evidenced by the google response to my search but, fact is, we don't really know. Apparently it has something to do with the way we think others will react to the idea. This precedes conscious thought and has an affect on subsequent action. Wow.

    TMS theory was not a brain grabber for me. I had back pain and I needed a solution so I read the book. Pure luck and a degree of literacy. The theory didn't make a lot of sense to me but I thought, "Okay, maybe". For some weird reason that was enough and my pain subsided over the next several weeks.

    Of course I told my friends but very few paid the slightest attention.

    My only thought about the TMS movement's slow progress into the mainstream is that (sorry to say it) the name sucks. If the hula hoop had been named "the circular waist exercising device" would it have sold 25 million CWEDs in four months and a 100 million over the next two years? I don't know but I can guess.

    I wish we could have a really robust debate about names. There must be something better out there. Maybe that can't happen because people get invested and neural pathways get formed that are hard to change. I sort of like Mind Body Syndrome, myself, but must admit I haven't had any more luck selling that to friends in pain than I do with TMS.

    Maybe the problem lies elsewhere than the name. It's easy to blame my friends and say they are "unwilling" to consider the TMS theory. I don't think that makes sense, knowing my friends who are mostly very open to exploring new ideas. Maybe it's too hard. I don't know.

    Good thread. One of these days perhaps we'll figure this out. Likely, success will involve slow growth as people like us push ahead, inch by inch, until a tipping point is reached and suddenly everybody is open to TMS theory.

    Alternatively, it may slide into history and be forgotten. Are we, as a species, really that out of touch with our own best interests? I hope not.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
    Ellen likes this.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    We're all trying hard to spread the TMS word. The numbers are growing impressively.
    Maybe friends or family who don't yet accept TMS causing their pain have to really feel pain
    and go through pills or surgery and not feel any better will finally give TMS a try. But that
    requires 100 percent belief in TMS and that can be the really hard part.

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