Tag Archives: seobook.com

Is community moderation etc. journalism? Another ice cream question

Photo by Photoctor

Looking down? Photo by Bhaskar Pyakurel/Photoctor http://www.flickr.com/people/dev07/

Here we go again. Fleet Street Blues reports on a user comment which “seems to makes quite a lot of sense”. It reads as follows:

“Five years or so ago, there was a certain kind of old-school journalist who, converted to the cause, as it were, banged on at length about the importance of hacks having a web presence of the highest order to demonstrate the new skills. It turns out, however, that the new skills are a piece of piss (particularly with current web technology), and promoting a yarn via Google, Facebook, Twitter etc is, in reality, an administrative task rather than a journalistic one. If you want to employ a proper journalist rather than a cheap web monkey, the SEO stuff really is secondary. (Of course, there is the fact that many employers actively want web monkeys rather journalists because they are so much cheaper, but that’s a whole other debate.)”

What is wrong with this picture?

Well even before we get to the conclusion, the premise is flawed.

The headline is indicative: “The difference between promoting a yarn… and writing it”

This is the usual ‘drawing a line’ waste of time (“Is ice cream strawberry?”) that seeks to establish some kind of higher ground that journalists can occupy, rather than actually asking what we want to do in our journalism.

If you want to have a web presence to demonstrate new skills for your career, fine. If you want to use those skills to produce good journalism while you’re at it, however, then you’ll probably do a great deal better.

The point of community management/SEO/social media optimisation etc. from a journalist’s point of view is that it should seek to involve readers as early as possible, and so improve the editorial product while it is produced. Not only that but also so that, once published, any errors/additions etc. are likely to be added by users.

It’s the difference between seeing users as passive audiences, or as active collaborators.

If you see them as audiences then, yes: SEO/SMO/community management is an administrative job akin to being a papergirl or delivery man. Let’s all look down on those poor web monkeys who fail to live up to our own high standards.

If you see them as collaborators and users, however, then no: SEO/SMO/community management is not something you can comfortably leave entirely to someone else.

via Mary Hamilton.

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Will alternative voices get pushed off Google’s first page of results?

That’s the question bumping around my mind after reading this post at SEObook.com:

“if you are not an AdWords advertiser, are not in universal search verticals (like news and video), and are not wikipedia, then you don’t have many organic search results that you can rank for on the first page.”

The image makes it clearer:

google results

In some ways, blogs are better placed than ordinary websites, as Google may be indexing your blog as part of its news search. But that isn’t particularly comforting. The wider move towards mainstream results that keep you within Google doesn’t look particularly healthy. 

Here’s what SEObook suggests:

  • If your site is fairly close to what it takes to be considered in some of Google’s verticals – like Google news, then consider upping your game a bit and submitting an inclusion request.
  • Try to make some video content. Not good for everyone, but most sites could use some, and the competitive bar with video is much lower than it is with text – though I wouldn’t expect it to stay that way for more than a couple years.
  • If you have some top rankings that are bouncing around consider focusing on promoting that content again – when stratification occurs you are going to be better off focusing on owning a few ideas rather than being average to slightly above average at many. Top ranked sites also benefit from self-reinforcing rankings. Read up on cumulative advantage if you have not yet done so.
  • Usage data (and/or brand searches) may become a big part of future algorithms. Get ready for that by reading about BrowseRank then invest in advertising, branding, and user experience.

The only upside? Google may be making itself less relevant, and more open to competition.