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Search engine optimization

Interesting article in today's PaidContent.org blog (Rafat Ali/Jimmy Guterman), which I am pasting in below. Note the reference about journalists learning how to write to get higher ranking in Google's search results. This "talk to the machine" strategy is critical for anyone writing on the Web today. Implications: (a) legacy content will fall behind in search results, making retrospective digitization projects less and less valuable over time (b) authors who don't know how to do this will be at a disadvantage, pushing them to work with publishers who do (Hint: hire a consultant), and (c) Google creates new problems even as it solves others (but no librarian needs to be told this).

The reference to the 415 and 408 area codes is amusing, but will irk the 650s at Stanford and Sand Hill Road.

Joe Esposito

" . . .in the U.S. we have the tendency to believe that innovation happens only here (and-face it-some of us think it happens only in the 415 and 408 area codes), so it's a little eye-opening when we look outside the U.S. and see ideas we haven't thought of. As the Wall Street Journal reports, British newspapers are going past the search-engine optimization most U.S. newspapers rely on and battling to buy search terms of news events on Google. (U.S. newspapers do some of this, but nowhere near as aggressively.) The Daily Telegraph and the Times of London, according to the WSJ, are "paying to put their stories in front of readers by buying Google ads-a practice the papers say has intensified in recent months-[which] is different from past marketing efforts. Some readers may not realize that links to articles that appear higher up on Google are paid for while others appear lower down because they didn't pay, even though the higher ones are marked "sponsored links.'"

The story also shows how search-engine optimization has moved from marketing to editorial. The Times of London "is training journalists to write in a way that makes their articles more likely to appear among Google's unpaid search results." This won't stop anytime soon, especially as the British papers battle for more U.S. readers. As Edward Roussel, the Telegraph's digital editor, says, "The most important driver of all readers [to our site] is Google, except for people who know us and come directly. It plays a critical part of exporting our brand, particularly to the U.S." '