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Posts Tagged ‘Google’

I flunked SEO 101

riding the rapids
When I moved from a newsroom to Media General in 2001, it was a little like getting out of a river’s rapids and walking along the bank instead. I was close enough to still feel the water in the air as I watched those still on the river pass. And once in a while I’d call out, “NO, PADDLE LEFT! LEFT!!” but they didn’t hear me. Or maybe they did. Who could tell? And I would sometimes think, “Gosh, that was fun … but it’s kind of dangerous,” and when a big election night or something came and someone asked me to come help move copy, I jumped right in.

Something kind of like that last part is going on right now. I’ve just recently started helping two nights a week so a news editor in a community newsroom can actually get a night off, and unlike the election-night editing stints, it’s a hands-on experience that includes not only working with reporters but things like discussions about what goes on the website early and what goes on Facebook. My first day without the training wheels (I was the only editor on duty), I posted my very first early news bulletin. It went up, and out of curiosity I went to Google to see where it would turn up. Answer: It didn’t. But then the web editor tweaked the URL to put a person’s name in it — VOILA! The bulletin was at the top of the Google search results.

I had committed the most elementary error: I put a print headline on a website story. It’s not like I don’t know the search-engine-optimization rules; I spend a chunk of my time each week reminding editors of things like this. If you have attended any training sessions where web-oriented folks talk about things like this, well, I’ve sat through the same ones, multiple times in various states.

So, you ask, do I have a point? Yes, as elementary as my error: When you post a story online, take a few seconds and think about how that story is going to get found. Is the headline specific (personal names, business, place names, topic, etc.)? Did you include tags? Spending that extra minute or so on your end can make a lot of difference.

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You will know that Skynet has arrived and the ultimate war against the humans is imminent when someone invents a hyperlocalization news tool like that described by Jeff Sonderman in his commentary for Poynter.org about Google News’ new “news near you” service. In summary: Google takes aim at the mobile market by using your mobile device’s geolocation info to feed you more or less hyperlocal news results; Jeff says it’s great as far as it goes, but he wants more — more headlines, more curation, more socialization. His area, metro Washington, D.C., used to have something close to what he wants — it was called TBD.com, and it was killed in its crib a few months ago. Actually, Jeff is looking for the robot version, a “killer app,” and a certain level of personalization — a step beyond hyperlocalization:

“To create a market-dominating filter of local news, someone will need to curate the pool of aggregated news to match each reader’s interests, browsing history and social network activity, in addition to his or her location.

“The killer app would be one that filters a breadth of local aggregation like Outside.in through a hyperpersonalized social filter sought by mobile services such as News.me and Trove combined with the personal browsing and search history of Google.”

And he’s right. If someone can invent a computer program that can do all that, it will be a killer, all right — it might kill the need to have humans involved in the news-delivery process (that would be the group usually called editors or producers) at all.

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(Originally posted July 12, 2010)

An online media consultant makes a powerful case that ews organizations that fail to engage their audience in social networks are shortsighted. First, the relevant behavior:

“Ask someone under 30 what websites they visit first thing in the morning.  They’ll list a number of social networking and aggregation sites.  Most of them don’t actually visit media sites at all.  Rather, they’ve come to know that ‘If the news is important, it will find me.’  And, they’re unlikely to outgrow this behaviour.  That’s why according to Compete, Facebook now beats Google as a referral site to large portals such as AOL, Yahoo and MSN.

“Social media is a media site’s new best friend.  In fact, a recent Hitwise study revealed that over 75% of Facebook referrals will return to print and broadcast media sites in the same week.  Twitter is the fastest growing video referrer and it’s users watch a stream for 63% longer than a Google user.”

Then, the argument:

“Why is social media so powerful?

“Two reasons. Trust: we don’t send our friends crap to read. Relevance: we’re more likely to have common interests with our social network and therefore our links are more likely to be relevant.

“Ah, trust and relevance. Sound familiar?”

By refusing to listen to and engage their audience by ignoring social media, limiting comments and erecting pay walls, she argues, “they are destroying trust and hastening their irrelevance. They are destroying the core, not protecting it.”

Yes, it takes time to pay attention to Facebook and the rest, but don’t let it languish.

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(Originally posted May 6, 2010)

Interesting if unsurprising fact from a report that says the non-YouTube sites seeing the most success with online video are those of the broadcast TV networks and Web-only media brands, followed by magazine sites and music labels, with newspaper sites lagging in both total video views and growth: Google drives nearly 40 percent of the views, so you need to be sure your videos are tagged with search engines in mind.

Another interesting fact: Although video on newspaper Web sites has the lowest rate of being viewed, the people who do click on those videos are much more likely than viewers on other sites to watch through to the end.

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