I have a little rant that I give the folks who run online newspapers about SEO.
Newspapers actually pay writers to go to restaurants and eat food. Of course they're supposed to write a review of the place afterwards.
They have thousands of these reviews, often going back years, for every restaurant of note in the newspaper's market. For major restaurants, there may be multiple reviews.
Yet if you go to Google and type in any restaurant name, you're not likely to ever come across a newspaper restaurant review in the results. Yahoo local, yelp, chefmoz (heh), zagat's, chowhound, jatbar. The only newspaper I found was Dan Pulcrano's Metroactive, which is doing a pretty good job of getting their reviews in front of the searches in the Bay Area.
These would be very valuable pageviews to be getting. Adsense could do $10-30 CPM on these landings. Not to mention the value to the newspaper to hold on to a claim of authority for restaurant reviews in their area.
Newspapers also pay writers to go watch movies. When the movie is later released on DVD, they pay writers to rent the DVD and watch it. And write reviews. Yet again, if you type any movie name into Google, there are no newspaper results.
For a major newspaper chain, across the multiple properties they have, and given the separate reviews often written for the theater release and DVD release, they may have a number of individual reviews for the same movie. Enough to create a whole mini IMDB with a stack of editorial around each movie. If they organized the content right and got it indexed properly.
Again, these are very valuable pageviews. But they're being claimed by Amazon, Rotten Tomatoes, and other aggregators.
Here's a third example. Who best knows about all of the garage sales in your town this Saturday? The newspaper... But I'll bet if you type 'your town garage sales' into Google you're going to see other people there besides your local newspaper. Even though the newspaper has the most comprehensive list of upcoming garage sales.
SEO continues to have some dark connotations from its spammy past and the aggressive tactics it sometimes uses. But there are really three levels of SEO:
- Inappropriate discoverability.
You've got something that should be findable, but for technical reasons
your content is either not indexed or not ranked appropriately.
- Appropriate discoverability.
Your content shows up for the right searches, in the right rank. If a human editor
at Google were to review your rankings, they'd agree that it was appropriate.
- Inappropriate discoverability. You're ranking for terms for which you have no business ranking for, or the position within the results is out-of-whack with what a human reviewer would deem appropriate. Affiliates showing up ahead of the main company, content-generated spam farms ranking for random queries, etc.
Newspapers have a lot of great content, really high quality stufff that cost them a lot of money to develop. Users would love to come across this content, when appropriate. Google would even like to help users find that content, since the users will be happier. But often technical best practices aren't being followed with the CMS and the valuable content fields lie fallow.
It still shocks me to be on a call with a client or a potential client and to talk about the 95% and get that "wow" reaction. 99% of the online world does not know what we do and more importantly does not know what we know. To them it's rocket science and when we show them results in a month they happily pay their bill and get back to doing what they do best - which, quite often, feels like rocket science to me though I'm sure they think it's easy.
We do a fair bit of SEO at Range and we recently have a great success story that involved online revenue moving from 6 figures a year to 7 figures a year (and I don't mean from 9M to 10M). Most of that campaign was the fundamentals that weren't in place prior to our involvements. We fixed Titles and Metas, URLs, ALTs, internal linking and did some external linking work. We also rewrote thousands of pages of content. Go ask the CMO what we did and you may hear terms like rocket science and magic and to that CMO it is rocket science with a huge payoff in revenue.