Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why Good Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) is Nowhere Near Dead Yet: Mediabistro’s

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, “Jesus, you’re on freaking BLOGGER, what could you possibly know about SEO?”

It’s a fair question. But chalk that up to my being lazy in a lot of ways and not really caring if anyone besides a couple of people I know who RSS my site read this site. I write here for pleasure.

SEO is made to be this mysterious complicated thing that it really isn’t. It’s pretty simple to break down good (or “White Hat” ) and bad (“Black Hat”) SEO down into something easily understood:

Good SEO: the best content I have that’s relevant to a search will show up in the search engine

Bad SEO: no matter what you’re searching for, MY site will show up, even if it’s completely useless and irrelevant content

Is that an oversimplification? Sure. But not greatly so.

But here’s why good search engine optimization isn’t dead.

I follow TVNewser primarily for one reason, it discusses the ratings for TVNews and with Bill Gorman I run a site on TV Ratings. There is a secondary reason. The original TVNewser, Brian Stelter is now at the New York Times as both a reporter and a blogger. Brian runs the TV Decoder blog which is a great resource if you’re following the TV biz.

Sure, Brian is a lefty when it comes to politics, but he’s a good guy and a hard worker. OK so I believe anyone who is a lefty or righty when it comes to this stuff as an extremist and I scratch my head and wonder why the hell anyone would want to be an extremist, but I like plenty of these extremists just fine.

I do understand that from a societal perspective those are pretty much the only two options and pitting them against each other is good for ratings and web traffic. Most of us love a competition of extremes. I don’t because I view both extremes as exactly what they are: the same thing. But that view isn’t any fun, or any good at all for web traffic. Know what else isn’t any good for web traffic? Having your web content highly not optimized for the search engines!, a part is a part of the empire which was purchased by Jupitermedia last year, I believe, for around $12 million. Laurel Touby, the hostess with the mostess finally scored the big score. Good for her! But now, unless this is a short-term glitch, both Jupiter and MediaBistro should be embarrassed. Why?

Because every single story on the TVNewser site shows up with this headline / page title: TVNewser

That’s just awful from a search engine perspective. Branding is fine, but putting branding above ALL else is just frakkin dopey because the search engines give just about the highest weight possible to the headline.

So a post with the title: O’Reilly Factor to Air Video of Jesse Jackson Comments About Barack Obama shows up to the search engines titled as: TVNewser.

Bad. Bad. Bad. There's no problem including some branding after the headline, but to only show the branding is extremely problematic. It most likely (and in this case definitely) means your content won't show up in the search results when it should have.

Now ideally they might have wanted to go with something like “Jesse Jackson Smack Talks Obama on O’Reilly Factor” for the site, but the title of “O’Reilly Factor to Air Video of Jesse Jackson Comments About Barack Obama” is actually very good for the search engines.

With this crazy thing called the interwebs you know, you can actually do both. Have it show up as “Jesse Jackson Smack Talks” on the site while showing up as “O’Reilly Factor to Air Video of Jesse Jackson Comments…” for Google, Yahoo, etc.

But that’s not happening, and on a guess, TVNewser isn’t getting anywhere near the search engine traffic it should and could. And in this case if someone should search: O’Reilly to air Jesse Jackson Comments it would be nice if the TVNewser content would, you know, show up. But it doesn’t. Not because SEO is bad, but because TV Newser is bad at SEO.

All SEO really should mean (in the good sense) is making sure your relevant content shows up in the search engines. That's a good idea for everyone, even Google.

Disclaimer for Blogger lovers and bloggers alike: you can do perfectly fine SEO from Blogger! But that doesn't meant I've done that here :-)

Disclaimer 2: I'm not in any way suggesting that this was the case when Brian Stelter was running TVNewser. I'm not even suggesting it was the case with TVNewser last week. I have no idea other than it is the case right now.

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