This morning, I happened to flip on “Good Morning America”. Like many people, I’ve given up on TV News, but I stumbled across ABC’s produced-by-the-news-division-but-felt-like-a-gossip-program vehicle and stuck around long enough to see the repeated entreaties by GMA’s on-air staff that everyone Tweet using the hashtag #TeamRobin. Robin Roberts is a host on GMA, and this morning she’s undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Good luck, Robin, and a speedy recovery!
I had already been thinking about the place where the art formerly known as journalism, the news, and Search Engine Optimization were converging, based on a couple of things that happened yesterday. There’s something that’s been driving me a bit crazy that I haven’t been able to figure out, and Google and Twitter have given me a new reason to put on the blinders for a few days.
This is an alert I received late last night from Google, telling me that the article I wrote two days ago had been “discovered”. I’m glad that Google indexed the page in just over a day, because they believe it to be “a web page” and that tells me that I must be doing this Search Engine Optimization thing the right way; web pages can take weeks to be found by Googlebot.
But the fact that Google sees this as a web page is intriguing. Sometimes, the content I post is seen as “web page”, and others as “blog post”. I can’t figure out what’s different in Google’s eyes, especially since the differentiator is not the way I write, submit, or structure the articles.
Yesterday, both Google and Twitter issued statements that further complicated things. And all I could think of is that if you’re doing your Search Engine Optimization on your own you now have even more reason to change that and hire an SEO Consultant.
It started when Twitter offered advice to journalists, suggesting, basically, that journalists need to use Twitter more, in more ways, more proactively, and as a matter of journalistic engagement rather than as a pure bullhorn. Self-serving rhetoric notwithstanding, it’s great advice.
But Google’s advice du jour was more puzzling. It explained—well, pointed out, really—that Google sees “news” as different than other web content, that there’s a new way to mark your content as news, and that this newfangled technique is actually a spin on an old SEO trick that Google deprecated in importance years ago.
My head hurts.
So news is “different”. OK, I get it. Presumable that means that if Google recognizes you as a “news outlet” and if you use the new/old trick to mark your news items then Google will A) index them more quickly and B) keep them in the special queue Google uses to show news at Google News and when searchers click the “news” link after conducting a search at Google.
That’s a lot of ifs. And it begs the question of whether web sites that mark their content as news will then be lowered in Google’s regular search results, or removed entirely after whatever Google decides is a normal “news cycle” has elapsed. And it doesn’t even account for how the new tag will interact with Google Custom Search. Which, come to think of it, is a great idea. I vote “yes”.
No one said this business change thing was easy, right?