Instapundit links a Washington Post article by Howard Kurtz, bemoaning the inclusion of search friendly writing into journalism. It's not a bad piece towards the bottom, and I do suggest all journalist types read it, but what Kurtz reveals about internal Washington Post technical policy doesn't help him make his point. From his intro, titled, "Appeasing the Google Gods."
"I can no longer file a story in our computer system without filling out a box, a small gray square that may well determine the future of serious journalism.
The box is supposed to contain words and phrases that will help me reel you in. Search has become a journalistic obsession on the Web, and with good reason."
Newspapers are notorious in general for not understanding SEO. They’re behind the times, which is why bloggers eat their lunch in the search engines. They don’t understand search engine algorithms, long tail keywords, or better yet conversion. And Kurtz displays his ignorance. Adding keywords to your editing software is an older type of SEO strategy. It was popular in the 90's, but by 1998, algorithms stopped paying attention to metadata in indexing. By 2002, all the major engines dropped metadata for indexing and ranking, but developers, those lovable scamps, continue to add those boxes of keywords to enter. Mind you, most developers don't have a clue about SEO. And when you add staff who know even less, you have monkeys filling out boxes for no purpose.
In short, Kurtz starts his article out complaining about the necessity of adding keywords and phrases without recognizing he’s wasting his time.
What they should be doing, is linking out to blogs and other trusted domains as sources and as story extenders. These blogs reciprocate with links back to the individual page of the writer’s story, driving relevant traffic and “google juice.”
And that's just the stuff they should have been doing since 2002. Today, you see share buttons on every major site, but newspapers don't have a clue how to harness, track or convert social media traffic (like Facebook link embeds in the update stream), even though it's often as big or bigger than traffic from Google.
Personally, Facebook is now my number two traffic source, just behind Google. Google has increased every year, but Facebook has only been relevant for six months.
Someone ought to tell Kurtz. I hope he's at least getting paid by the hour to fill out those boxes. Someone should get some benefit. And in general, if you're a writer, you should be careful about addressing technical issues you know nothing about. Your layers of fact-checkers and editors might not "cache" it.