Last week, I reported that six out of 10 news executives think the Internet is changing the fundamental values of journalism. Well, news search engines and social media are also changing industry best practices in newsrooms, too.
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Among the speakers at these sessions were Topher Kohan, SEO Manager, CNN; Matthew J. Brown, Director of Search Strategy, New York Times Company; and Allison Fabella, SEO & Social Media Manager, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I interviewed all three and got an update on what SEOs for large media companies were focused on.
Kohan discussed the new microformat, a web-based approach to semantic markup that seeks to re-use existing XHTML and HTML tags to convey metadata and other attributes. He said the great thing about the microformat is that it allows you to make your content available to as many possible sources, allowing more searchers to access it.
The upside to this, according to Kohan, is that Google announced they were adopting an existing search protocol used by SearchMonkey and have since worked with Yahoo on what tags are the most important to feature in HTML. Kohan then called out writer and speaker Vanessa Fox, who believes microformats are not going to play as important a role in the future of online content.
Brown said news search is a lot different than a mere Google Web search. The guidelines are different when you conduct a news search via Google, Yahoo and other news search engines and you need to pay attention to such things as sitemaps, how often youre publishing, which help determine how successful you will become in getting featured in a news search engine.
I asked Brown about 2006 article in The New York Times entitled, "This Boring Headline Is Written for Google." He said people search in a more sophisticated way now and are stringing together search queries and are no longer limited to one or two words. In other words, the way people search now has caught up to the way journalists and editors want to write their headlines.
You have to be accurate in how you report a story online in order for your story to be found, said Brown, while at the same time you want to be using language that matches up with the key terms being used by people who are searching for those news stories. Google, Yahoo and Bing remain great traffic sources for The New York Times, he said, but you can't publish in a vacuum.
And you must also pay attention to where your traffic is coming from, including social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, Fabella said that news search optimization has breathed second life into the news industry. As print declines, online is the space where news will be.
Fabella then gaqve some tips to news publishers about how to approach news optimization, including using social media, which is built for news. Social media is a fast medium and it is a great place for sourcing. Using social media has enabled the journalists to gain many more sources for their news stories.
Fabella then described a story that was publicized by Twitter users. A zebra got loose from the circus and was wandering around a highway and it was tweeted and retweeted and became a very hot story.
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