Sunday, February 25, 2007

Perfect Storm this week in Loudoun

Wrapping up this week is WAPO's announcement that the Republican-machined transportation bill had passed committee, now awaiting the Guv's surgical knife. For us in the Dulles South region, the main funding would cover 6 lanes of Rt. 50 between Loudoun and Fairfax, thereby alleviating the primary traffic nightmare this side of the airport. Our area delegates were somewhat split on the vote, with Delegate Marshall (R), Senator Herring (D) and Colgan (D) voting against the measure, and Del. Rust (R), Del. Hugo (R), Del. May (R), Del. Caputo (D), Del. Poisson (D), and Sen. Cuccinelli (R) voting "for". Senate District 33's turning into a circus, thankfully for our entertainment value.

The Easterner checks in with a page-turner, stranger than fiction, with Roger Zurn (county elected treasurer) accused of assaulting (pushing into the snow) his neighbor's boy. Just part of an ongoing feud, evidently. A new Citizen's Police Academy (the 21st) gets started, so get your bad boyz-fightin' face on. The headliner includes the Kincora development at the intersection of Rt. 7 and 28 (west side), as a "smart growth" design - appears to be fairly uncontroversial to Dulles North constituents and Supervisors. Nice guest column from Del. Rust 'splaining' things down at the Assembly, good background as to how the vote turned out. Some lighter fare around the columnists on snow, ice, school closings, and mice control rounds out a decent overall read.

The Loudoun Independent was all about the bickering on the BOS between Tulloch and Burton ("are you accusing me of lying?"), adding to the circus-like atmosphere beginning to pervade this year's elections. Add a few letters to the editor supporting and bashing Lori Waters (a constant theme in this paper), and your read is over. There is a nice "Loudoun Health" insert, giving "readers and inside look at the area medical community", but it was focused only on dental care and a weight loss contest. We will note an "all-too-ignored" newsworthy event in the Loudoun area, in Dominion High School capturing the recent Dulles District academic team competition - Freedom High coming in 2nd.

The Connection was basically the same as the Easterner in core news coverage, albeit 2 pounds ligther in advertising. Some "old" news on the county budget analysis, notification of the Senate 33rd district republican firehouse primary on Mary 19th (between John Andrews and Patricia Phillips), and a roundup of last week's Ridgewater Park outcome (to send the project to a March work session for further study, mainly on environmental concerns). Nice bunch of South Riding snow pictures, and your read is quickly done.

Leesburg Today was predictable in its decent coverage of all things in and around Leesburg - for Dulles residents, take notee that the county website's been updated with 2007 real estate tax assessment information - the average home value has declined about 7% this year, according to the county assessor's office! The Rt. 50 "calming" project got kicked off, calmly, last week - which principly means another set of choke points for commuters passing through Middleburg and Aldie on their way to Fairfax, but a "roundabout" (traffic circle) at Gilbert's corner (Rt. 50 and Rt. 15) to improve the backups there. A mis-placed advertisement for Jey Jeyanathan (why in this paper?), complete with a major mis-spelling, rounds out our interest in this rag.

The Middleburg Eccentric showed up yesterday, so we'll spend an icey Sunday absorbing this monthly roundup, which shows good promise if only based on the compressed typeset and very colorful artwork.

WAPO - consistent 8
Easterner - an 8 this week
L2day - 6 (not so much for Dulles people)
LoudounI - 4
Connection - 3 (old news, really don't like the new website)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Virginia Election 2007 online marketing

Here's an interesting, though not unsurprising set of data. "Search Engine Saturation" is a measure of how many website references and links have been indexed by the major Internet search engines. The way search engines index and display links varies, and these kinds of results aren't necessary conclusive - but they do indicate relative attention by the website owners to optimizing and promoting their websites through many different search engine optimization/marketing methods, plus the interest in the website contents or topic by other media (like newspapers, other websites, blogs, etc.). Basically, higher search engine saturation with the right balance of information provided is a goal for political candidates - their message and visibility is exposed more often, in more complete context and altogether more effectively to their constituents and stakeholders.

Virginia Senate District 33 Election 2007 major search engine saturation statistics -;
Google/AOL=8, Hotbot/Inktomi = 8, MSN=8, Yahoo/Fast/Altavista=11, AlltheWeb=0;
Google/AOL=9, Hotbot/Inktomi = 8, MSN=44, Yahoo/Fast/Altavista=1, AlltheWeb=0 ( );
Google/AOL=0, Hotbot/Inktomi = 0, MSN=0, Yahoo/Fast/Altavista=0, AlltheWeb=0

What do these numbers mean?

In brief analysis of these website references, it simply appears Mark Herring's got fairly balanced coverage across the sites, meaning his information's "organically" generated for the most part (i.e. longer-term, non-artificial or paid results - which is good), but there's not nearly enough links out and about for constituents to find. Patricia Phillips has a bit of a blip with MSN, but that's actually due to decent optimization of her own site (that MSN interprets differently than the others) - it appears overall efforts to enhance the visibility of her site among search engines is percolating a little, but well behind Mark Herring. John Andrews has no presence at all among the search engines - which makes it really difficult to find his site, and without concerted effort, this will not likely change for some time (improving search engine rankings and listings takes quite a while, especially for new sites).

Internet advertising takes many other forms, other than getting a website link out there...but getting your link out there is the first and easiest (though time-consuming) way of attracting possible voters to your platform and online information.

KME Web Design can help get the message, and the links out there, using well-known Search Engine Optimization techniques - contact (Note, updated 2014 - was "KME Web Design".)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

We already had Rail from Loudoun...

...according to today's WAPO Loudoun section, the W&OD rail extended from Bluemont to Alexandria, and was discontinued in 1968 (its transit benefits replaced by an "improved" Rt. 7 highway system). Who knew? More forward-thinking Supervisors might have maintained the right-of-way according to available growth statistics (though there was significant support for this, losing out to Dominion Power's predecessors), and we'd have a rail system RIGHT NOW through the fastest-growing corridors of Northern Virgina. Hopefully our current Supervisors are thinking more than 5-10 years out...


Saturday, February 17, 2007

We all probably read this week....

...while stuck in with the snow, but we'll go ahead and summarize the "mid-week Loudoun rags" - as one disillusioned reader called them during Thursday's night's BOS hearing on the Ridgewater CPAM. The hearing input appeared to generally boil down to "pros" revolving around Leesburg and County services, amenities and the fact that the area's not really "transition" area as county planners originally intended, and "cons" focusing in on the negative environmental impact to the Goose Creek Reservoir and the fact that most county professional research to date points out the need for more study and clearer impact analysis. Most representation was "Dulles North", though South Riding checked in with a 60-signatory letter delivered by South Riding Residents for Reasonable Growth - the main message being that as this CPAM goes, so do therefore all future CPAMs all the way down to Dulles South. Voila! No more Transition Area.

Loudoun Independent (Feb 7th edition) - chock full of election-year prelude, though the Editorial theme of "wait a while" seems worthy to extend to most contentious issues in play, from CPAMs to finger-pointing over ethics. Jack Ryan's challenge to Lori Waters is in full play in this rag, with half-page ads, endorsmenets, rebukes - the works. The mystery continues in the Real Estate section, with business notes seemingly unrelated to real estate - including a new "Internet Marketing" service in Reston - note that LoudounI continues its apparent disregard for proofreading (every issue is replete with spelling errors), mispelling the website name. We'd suggest online marketing outfits (like South Riding's own stick with online or direct marketing - the local papers aren't helpful. Nice to see, however, the calendar and community updates all packed together across 2 pages.

The Feb 14th edition continued the Myers/Waters open-air campaign; it's already getting tired. Real Estate featured no real estate news, as usual, but mentions an interesting Loudoun County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) seminar "to blog or not to blog" offered from 6-8:30 PM 2/28 at the Rust library. ("To blog" is the answer.) Nice overview of Bower's proposed 2008 Loudoun County budget, quick news item on HCA's purchase of property on Rt. 50 in Dulles South for a medical complex (much more on that in the Easterner) and a lengthy diatribe concerning WAPO's coverage the Loudoun "sleaze" campaign by Stephanie Smith of South Riding - worth reading (by you).

Leesburg Today's coverage of news and issues for Dulles South area residents was fairly reasonable including the county budget news, Rt. 15 improvements, news from the Virginia General Assembly, and BOS "ethics" debate (voluminous coverage!), and it appears now Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) is joining the call for resignation of Dulles District Planning Commissioner Barbara Munsey (after the well-publicized planning hearing fallout with Sandra Chaloux of the Gum Spring Regional Citizen's network). Also, the HCA land purchase news, as delivered almost soley by an HCA spokesperson with positive comments by BOS members Snow and York - kudos to Snow for continued pressure to shift the HCA focus to Dulles South. Decent reading for snowbound parents.

The Easterner's coverage of "Medical Campus coming to Loudoun" is this week's musn't miss read, including a startling graphic depicting the woefully inadequate number of hospital beds per population in Loudoun (.62 per 1000, vs. 1.48 in Fairfax and 1.33 for all NOVA). The editorial ("Room for two hospitals") and a text-box insert says it all; "what to expect: two new medical campuses in the Rt. 50 corridor, and a possible second hospital for Loudoun in the Dulles area". So INOVA or HCA wins the Dulles South Hospital, and we end up with at least 3 urgent-care venues in the area - all good news, and we look forward to the competition. For existing urgent-care centers, see . Brown's coverage of the Ashburn page has a great list of preschools - all neighborhood sections should cover this information at this time of year, with waiting lists so prevalent. Motheral's coverage of River Creek News is frankly always an intelligent read, with a mix of River Creek geology and history, preservation society news, and a discussion of an in-progress Town Water Rates senate bill. Understated but very interesting event in South Riding - a Community Shred (date TBD), helping residents avoid identity theft! Watch for the upcoming Board of Supervisor's community shred, in advance of Plowman's investigation (wink wink).

The Loudoun Connection's date coverage is confusing - the issue is 2/14-2/20, is it therefore the week that was, or the week to come? Many articles and announcements are included for events that occurred after the issue hit our mailbox, or were mis-identified from a date perspective "Board approves Code of Ethics and disclosure laws at Tuesday meeting" (implying 2/13, though it really was on 2/6). Other than a nice article on a new Stone Ridge restaurant (Ciro Restaurante - Italian and Bar), and a "Correcting the Public Record" letter from Waters, this issue is a bit untimely.


Easterner wins - 8
Leesburg today - 7
LoudounI modest improvement - 5
Connection - 4

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Online Advertising for Election Campaigns

Is Online Advertising for Local Elections effective? Read more at:

Update - The Virginia State Senate, District 33, is heating up early, and candidates are stepping up their online advertising - for example John Andrews recently advertising on Dulles South Online, directing readers to his election site .

Bit of a Hiatus...

..This past week, will catch up on the rags this next week...had a "move" weekend.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Easy read this week in Loudoun papers

It was an easy read this week, mainly because the hefty Leesburg Today never landed in my mailbox, and because the Easterner got its act together in a major way.

The Independent continued its provision of information in "mashup" style - though came through with a couple of local meeting announcements... Meetings include Poisson's mid session town hall 2/10 at 10AM at the Inova Loudoun Hospital, a Rt. 7 improvement meeting 2/8 at the Sr. Center in the Cascades (though they don't say who's hosting it), Supervisor Snow's Dulles North town hall, 2/7 at 7PM at the Broadlands Nature Center, and Stephanie Smith checks in with the list of upcoming South Riding Committee meetings (can be found on the site.) Interesting the meetings are spread throughout the paper, in a "calander" section, in the news, in a "schools calendar" section - fairly rigorous to track down all and keep organized. Once again, confusion over where the real estate news goes - evidently the Dulles Area Association of Realtors opposes a "granter's tax" hike - but this wasn't newsworthy for the Real Estate section - it was buried elsewhere.

WAPO comes through with a "Home Construction Hits 10-Year Low" article (evidently "the bloom is off the rose in Loudoun County, and it could indicate a shift regionwide"), and some news on no funding but good ideas for Route 15, plus the Rt. 66 widening controversy - fairly light reading by WAPO standards this week.

The Easterner wins...lots of good content, including new campaigns (Phillips and Andrews contesting the State Senate District 33 race), a review of the Greenway Toll-raising issue, an excellent update on Internet Youth Safety in Virginia (see, some very local and opinionated feedback in the Community Forum (anti-Republicans from the editor, and pro-cellphone-tax-to-raise-transportation-funds from a disgruntled citizen), a good bit of research concerning Loudoun's growth leadership in the state (Loudoun County added 100,000 residents since 2000!), and about 35 following pages of advertising. Hefty issue.


Easterner - 7
WAPO - 5
Independent - 4