NYT Discovers SEO

    April 13, 2006

A story that ran in last Sunday’s New York Times shows that the world of mainstream journalism is finally waking up to the importance of SEO.

Titled, ” This Boring Headline Is Written for Google “, the piece notes that headlines need to be written for search engine spiders, as well as for readers and editors.

The same can be said for the title section of individual web pages, content found in the body of individual web pages, and links leading to and from individual web pages. It is all written for a mixed audience consisting of live-users and electronic-visitors.

A quick glance at the revamped New York Times website shows that someone at the NYTC is thinking about SEO, at least in relation to its flagship newspaper. The site is easy to follow and search spiders are better able to access all free content.

The major daily newspapers have had it rough over the past few years. As with their fellow travelers in the music and movie industries, the Internet has posed significant challenges to the financial underpinnings of their businesses.

As the author of the NYT piece, Steve Lohr, notes, “The search-engine “bots” that crawl the Web are increasingly influential, delivering 30 percent or more of the traffic on some newspaper, magazine or television news Web sites. And traffic means readers and advertisers, at a time when the mainstream media is desperately trying to make a living on the Web.”

Unfortunately, Lohr goes on to suggest that search engine optimization is like a sneaky game. “The optimizer wizards devise some technical trick to outwit the search-engine algorithms that rank the results of a search. The search engines periodically change their algorithms to thwart such self-interested manipulation, and the game starts again.”

There is no trick in creating smart, user focused headlines, placing them above good site (or article) copy, and getting relevant sites to link to your own. Redesigning a site to provide better architecture is not technical wizardry; it is basic common sense. In the end, building a good website and clarifying site copy are not tricks; they are services.

Aside from making the same mistake the mainstream media often makes when considering SEO, Lohr’s article, and the recent redesign of the NYTimes website shows that the newspaper of record is taking the SEO sector a little more seriously.

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Jim Hedger is the SEO Manager of StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc. Based in Victoria, BC, Canada, StepForth is the result of the consolidation of BraveArt Website Management, Promotion Experts, and Phoenix Creative Works, and has provided professional search engine placement and management services since 1997. http://www.stepforth.com/ Tel – 250-385-1190 Toll Free – 877-385-5526 Fax – 250-385-1198