At a time when the Malawi government was denying advertisements to Nation Publications Limited (NPL) allegedly due to the newspapers’ editorial slant, I encouraged NPL to focus on online advertising where the opportunities are limitless and there are no hurdles from the government of the day in their way.

If my sources are correct, the Malawi government has resumed placing its adverts in The Nation newspaper.  Even more exciting to me is the fact that The Nation has been back online for the past 6 weeks.

Unlike the Blantyre Newspapers Limited group, they update their content every day. They also upload some exciting videos. In particular, I like the video in which the Malawi president is mimicking the movements and facial expressions of Tiwonge Monjeza, who was recently convicted of homosexuality along with his partner, Steve Monjeza.

The site has a “Join our Facebook group” button. When you click this button, it takes you to their user profile page on Facebook.  Currently, they have 477 friends which is much lower than mine (I have 1,954 friends).  In stead of a user account, a media giant like The Nation is supposed to have a Facebook fan page like the ones run by TechCrunchGroot Town Center and many others.

In addition, I am yet to see them on Twitter.  A Facebook page and active Twitter account can give The Nation a significant amount of traffic, which will be good for their commercial interests. They should also make sure that every article has a social media buttons, which will enable readers to share the articles on Digg, Stumbleupon and many other social sites apart from Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to the old domain, nationmw.net, they have introduced a new domain, mwnation.com. Why are they trying to dump a domain with Google PageRank of 5? Maybe, they have very good reasons for introducing a new domain. I really want to know those reasons.

The other problem is that the same content is published on both domains. This is not good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes as links to their pages will be split among two versions thereby causing lower per-page PageRank.

A good SEO practice is to make sure that one domain points to the other. As a result, only one domain should be updated and maintained, which will reduce the work done by their web team by 50%. They can use the other 50% for tweeting and facebooking the articles, interacting with their readers,  linking up with prospective advertisers etc.

Still on SEO, the articles on the The Nation have a strange URL structure, which is not appealing. This will greatly reduce the chances of the articles getting linked by other online publishers. You can easily understand my point after comparing these two links:

  • http://mwnation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2591:mulanje-ngo-boss-released-on-bail&catid=7:in-the-dock&Itemid=173
  • http://nthambazale.com/2010/01/malawi-nations-publications-ltd-must-focus-on-online-advertising/
  • The other observation is that, unlike the BNL site, The Nation‘s pages take too long to load.  There is no option for right clicking and opening the pages in a new windows or tabs. I hope they will work on these problems. Otherwise, I am quite impressed with their new site.