This article was written by Bob Bradley, Score Orange County Management Counselor
The Tribune Company was in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past few months. Bankruptcy and financial losses to name a couple. Many journalist jobs were threatened, so they looked to the online editions of their newspapers for a glimmer of hope.
Educating journalists did not prove to be an easy task. Their chief SEO person gave a presentation to the suspicious journalists and used an analogy to get his point across. A great article is useless if no one sees it. You can take your news stand and stick in the middle of Missouri by doing no SEO or you can put it in the middle of Times Square by doing good SEO work. He explained that by putting proper words in their headlines, many of which may not be acceptable to journalists, they could make a huge difference in the number of people who read the article. A handful of people, perhaps a quarter of them, bought the snake oil story. Those 25% worked with the SEO and found that their articles hit the first page of Google more often than not. Needless to say the technique was adopted by more journalists but not by all. There are still those that are stubborn, although the percentage has reversed it self (25% still refuse to use SEO).
What did the SEO do to help the journalists? Although he was given full authority to edit whatever he wanted, like changing the title tags, headlines, sub headlines or even the story if he wanted, he never changed any of the headlines, just the tags and description within the HTML. He only made recommendations with respect to the headlines, sub headlines and other text. He worked with the converted journalists on doing keyword research and finding out what works and what does not. In the case of the death of Michael Jackson, their research indicated that the best keyword phrase to be used was, "Michael Jackson Dead". Not "King of Pop is Dead" or "Wacko Jacko is Dead". Keying on "Michael Jackson" would have been obvious but there is significant competition for that word from sources such as MTV and TMZ. One creative and quick to act person bought the domain of www. michaeljacksondead.com.
After months of work and nurturing, the SEO and the editors began to understand each other better. Editors actually worked directly with the SEO in developing headlines not just for their online version but for their offline newspaper too. The paradigm was changed from delivering the news we believe people should have, to giving them the news we KNOW they want.
The success? Increase in monthly visits to Tribune sites by 20 million!
The principles of SEO and keyword research are the same for everyone. You can target keywords for each of your products and services, put them on specific pages or on targeted pages. SEO never ends, it changes as the world changes.