More on the Advertising Age Story

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We touched on the article from Advertising Age regarding the cadre of media powerbrokers who complained to Google that they weren’t showing up high enough in search results.  From the story, there were complaints that:

Search results for “Gaza” on March 20 began with two Wikipedia links, a March 19 BBC report, two video clips of unclear origin, the CIA World Factbook, a Guardian report and, most strikingly, a link to Gaza-related messages on Twitter.

Tyler Banfield remarked, “It does show that most of these big media companies are still clueless when it comes to understanding how to harness Google and the Internet in general.”

I’ll take the contrarian position: the Times, and others, have a point.  Wikipedia has for a long time been the bane of search engine optimizers – whether they’re working for a corporate powerhouse or a start-up blog.  No matter how hard you try, Wikipedia is often going to take top honors.  Recently, there was evidence that Mahalo was also going to take a top spot in these search results, which caused a stir among SEO’s (I say this as an SEO and a sometime-copywriter for Mahalo).  The fact is that the encyclopedia sites showing up before other websites is a problem in the SEO community.

The newspaper is going to die – it’s inevitable, not just doomsaying.  It’s actually happening – to the point where mainstream writers are now saying that’s not even a bad thing.  As an aside, I would argue this is a good development, as all that paper being thrown away every day seems like a decadent waste.  So given the newspaper’s demise, it makes sense for the New York Times, at the very least, to show up in top results.

This is not just desperation on their part.  If SEO is to be based on authority, what has better authority than the New York Times?  Certainly, the Times has more authority than Wikipedia, which helpful as it is, is full of errors. The New York Times has a paid staff of fact-checkers and continually updated content – it would make sense for the Times to show up high in search results for a term like “Gaza,” which it has covered repeatedly, and with authority.

With media going evolving to be almost entirely online, Google will have to adapt to this process and Wikipedia should not necessarily hold top spot for results.  If Google did change this algorithm, it’s potentially good news for SEO’s, as Wikipedia will no longer be hogging such vital real estate.

I may be in the minority here, because people jumped all over the trad-med sites that complained about their search engine placement.  But I do think the Times can have more authority than independent bloggers, who do not require fact checking before posting.  In a world where the New York Times is no longer printed, they will still have highly valuable content.  Just saying traditional media is old media and should be discarded is too simplistic.  The demise of print media does not necessarily have to mean the demise of what the New York Times has to offer.  And for Times results to show up high in search results does make some sense in the changing media landscape.

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