Archive for November 16th, 2008

Google Juice and SEO for the news industry

On Monday we’re going to talk about search engine optimization (or SEO) for blogs and news websites. Ahead of this discussion, make sure you’re familiar with different types of Web analytics (scroll down for “key definitions”).

In a stroke of good timing, MediaShift (consider this site essential reading) posted a nicely relevant piece just the other day: How Newspapers Can Increase Their Google Juice. (See also this MediaShift post from April: 9 Tips to Improve Search Engine Optimization.)

In it, Mark Van Patten looks at what newspapers large and small can do to help their work garner a greater presence in search results … and thus better traffic … and thus more money to finance good journalism. It’s still largely about the eyeballs, although the value of attention varies greatly by medium: Research estimates that it can take several dozen (or more) online readers to “offset” — in terms of advertising revenue — the loss of a single print subscriber. Wow.

But my point in sharing this is to mention that the MediaShift piece references online marketing guru Mitch Joel‘s 10 things every newspaper must do to enhance its Google Juice. I’d like to quote one of the key sections from the MediaShift piece:

Online Stories Should Not Mirror Print

Recently, 50 C-level newspaper executives met at a closed door summit held by theAmerican Press Institute to discuss “concrete steps the industry can take to reverse its declines in revenue, profit and shareholder value.” Joel said that tackling that issue was like “boiling the ocean.”

Joel suggests that, better than boiling the ocean, newspapers can solve those problems by making small, incremental changes to build their community. He lists ten such changes newspapers can make, including:

  • 1) Link Journalism — Newspapers get lots of links in, but rarely, if ever, link out. Search engines like sites that link out; it also provides a better user experience.
  • 2) Formatting — Break up large blocks of text with bold and /or italics, and use bullet points. 
  • 3) Tagging — Give the reader an idea of what the story is about before they read it.
  • 4) Blog Directory — Promote bloggers, make them feel an allegiance to the newspaper or at least an appreciation.
  • 5) Cross Promote Effectively — Be smart when using a URL in the newspaper. Don’t just point to the generic newspaper URL, be specific.
  • 6) Unique Web Address — See above, but keep the URL simple.
  • 7) Highlight Your Contributors — Let readers peek behind the curtain of the newspaper wizard. If local bloggers are proficient, link to them.
  • 8. Comments — Allow story commenting. Demand that reporters respond to readers.
  • 9) Correct Mistakes — The online newspaper should be an ever-changing record of the news.
  • 10) Collaborative Filtering – “If you liked this… then you might want to read this…”
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