While search engine optimization is a valuable and effective business tool, it has proven to be a bit too effective in the case of a Muslim community center that is slated to open two blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center attacks. But if we term is that way – a Muslim community center two blocks from the WTC, or ground zero – no one will read this post. The trending term that has sparked interest in the US and around the world is “Ground zero mosque” or “mosque at ground zero.” Despite attempts by the American Associated Press and others to correct this misconception, there remains the widespread belief that a mosque will be built at ground zero. News articles on the topic, ironically, have to use the terms “ground zero mosque” in order to draw traffic to explain there really is no mosque at this site.
The “mosque at ground zero” (to use our wildly inaccurate trending topic) is really a Muslim community center that will include a pool, offices, and community rooms. And ground zero is not accurate either; it is in the general vicinity, but it will be built two blocks away in a busy commercial area of Manhattan. Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for journalists says, “…If you want to reach people who are looking for information, you have to use that term. It’s easy enough to do in a story meant to debunk the phrase. All you have to write is, ‘It’s not a ground zero mosque.’ But, what about ongoing coverage. Must you keep using the inaccurate term. Sadly, the answer is yes, according to people familiar with SEO practices.”
In content, one could write the “so-called mosque at ground zero” to satisfy trends and deliver accurate news. But headlines remain difficult because the exact word order is essential. For now, good SEO is important to correct the misconceptions – which the public is ready to believe and blaring headlines love to announce – causing a rather senseless perpetuation of a non-truth.