SEO for Publishers: News and Sports are Slow to Adopt SEO

We've discussed the slow acceptance of search engine optimization (SEO) by e-commerce sites that depend on feeds to distribute information about their products online. Today we'll chat about the slow adoption of SEO by news organizations. Traditional news agencies crave eyeballs more than any other space, so I was even more surprised to see the overall slow acceptance of SEO.

When you look at these sites in general, you begin to wonder how much attention is really spent on the technical implementation of these sites. Even so, 90 percent of the time technology isn't the greatest problem. The editorial practices related to naming content, as well as the content itself, remain the biggest challenge for news and sports sites.

In traditional content writing, a themed tag line is very important. You need something really catchy and not normally seen within the news space to attract readership. Now if you can be sure that a cool catchy tag line that most other writers and editors haven't thought about, it's most likely even less of a possibility of a normal user searching for it within a search engine. Editors must think carefully about how these pages are named if they expect to drive traffic to these pages.

Think carefully how the content is formulated. If it's the same style of content writing that you see all over the Web, it will have little to no benefits from the search engines and will have very little movement within the search results, especially within a very competitive market.

For example, if you're writing articles about products, you normally see all the same information formatted in a different manner to be more compelling and/or interesting. If you look at these articles you'll find that, other than the key stop words, the majority of the main words are the same. Thus, filters can be written to match these patterns and understand the true value of a specific body of text.

It can be beneficial to write in a very abnormal way. Connecting products that normally don't match to help explain the possible benefits or negatives based on a common factor. A good example of this could be how to connect different pieces of technology based on Bluetooth. This could allow you to connect many different devices and speak about the benefits and/or troubleshooting techniques on how to connect them. These are abnormal connections of products that normally don't live with one another.

This same strategy can be used across the board, when writing about news or sports. You normally don't see articles about basketball games and soccer. How can you connect such articles? Could it be related to a star soccer player like David Beckham going to a football game or something around it? Why keep the data all the same when something non-traditional can make such an important impact?

Keeping with the sports theme, the ESPN site provides a good example of a bad URL: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-080421. It's also a horrible title. Who would search for any words in that URL string?

Sports sites are the best place to find bad URLs because content changes constantly. You can find literally thousands of mistakes.

Don't use more than one or -- as I personally recommend -- any dynamic attributes within a URL. That includes, but isn't limited to the ampersand, equals sign, and question mark symbols. Thus, a URL like http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-080421 could have a negative effect within the ranking process due to the "?" and "=" present in the structure. That's an issue that also plagues searchenginewatch.com.

Can you write articles to connect businesses together that normally don't relate? The importance of the data is up to you to find. It's more important than ever to appear above and beyond any of the competition in the market. Sites with age and credibility have the ability to surpass such filters so this mostly relates to new sites that need to prove themselves.

About the author

Aaron Shear is a partner in Boost Search Marketing, an enterprise-level global consulting firm. Offering expert advice to many of the most trafficked sites around the world. Aaron has been optimizing websites since the late 90's, and has provided hundreds of businesses with countless top SEO and SEM returns.

Previously Aaron was the Global Director of SEO with Shopping.com, an eBay Company. At Shopping.com Aaron spearheaded the global optimization efforts of Shopping.com, Dealtime and Epinions. Prior to that, Aaron was the CTO at SEO Inc., where he spearheaded optimization efforts with clients such as IGN Entertainment, VEGAS.com, Sierra Trading Post, Sony Motion Pictures, Archer Daniels Midland, and Alliance Business Centers Network.

Before becoming an SEO Aaron worked at Inktomi, as a Technical Account Manager, where he learned SEO from the creators of the search engines first-hand. Aaron's primary responsibility was managing client relationships such as MSN, IWon, Hotbot and HP to name a few.