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March 25, 2009


Tough Shit: Big Media Need To Do SEO Too.

by Anthony Verre

Big Media “Wants” Top Organic Placement From Google?  Get in Line.

Matt McGee’s article on Search Engine Land on March 23rd was as enlightening as it was infuriating.  Here’s the gist:

…several big brand media companies who, according to an [AdAge], have told Google they deserve higher rankings in Google’s search results. Not only that, but one executive has also labeled the rest of the content-producing web — including bloggers like us — as “parasites” who “benefit disproportionately” from Google’s ranking algorithm.

Big Media/Big Publishing Banked Too Heavily On Branding

I’m sorry to hear that.  This is no one but Big Media and Big Business’s fault in the first place.  For years they’ve resisted search engine optimization (SEO), banking heavily on brand recognition and brand management to garner the links and do the heavy lifting.  As if people will naturally want to link to them, after all, they are the preeminent authority.  And, from their point of view, I can see where that line of thought is, to certain extent, useful.  But, as noted by nearly every search marketer in the past 5 years, Google controls search; ergo Google makes or breaks brands.  And, apparently, with all the money Big Media/Big Publishing are kicking into the kitty, they’d like a little “more” assurance that they’ll be “taken care of”.  Back to Matt McGee for the list of demands:

The big media companies’ complaints include:

  • Google’s search algorithm in general, which they say “penalizes paid content”
  • PageRank specifically, because it places too much of an emphasis on links
  • The appearance of Google’s search results, which hurts big brands because every result looks the same
Big Media & Big Business' List of Demands

Big Media & Big Business' List of Demands

How To Read The List of “Demands”:

  1. We don’t expect to penalized if we decided to keep our content under lock and key (read as password protected/subscription).  We expect to be exempt from that rule.  Accordingly, we expect that all other smaller publishers will have to abide by the rule: that is Google will not be able to fully index that content.  Additionally we don’t want to have to take into account any sort of architecture issues or usability issues with our websites (such as excessive use of javascript or flash), please just push us to the top of the list.
  2. We’d like for PageRank to matter, but specifically for our sites create an algorithmic change which will ignore inbound links.  The only thing we expect PageRank to take into account for our sites is our content and keyword relevance/density and authority/trust.  We can’t be bothered with learning how to market our content and products effectively, or strategically.
  3. We don’t like that all the results for a given query look nearly identical.  Since we provide a greater share of the monies, we’d like to have our results highlighted in a day-glo orange with flashing lights around it.  Alright?  Great.  And, of course, we’d like a larger font size and a unique font for only our news sources.  We expect all other results to have exactly the same font size and format.

What Will Google Do?

Do I expect Google to give in to all these demands?  No.  Do I except some concessions to be made?  Of course.  If the “Fat Cats” (i.e.  The New York Times, WSJ, Time Inc, Hearst, ESPN, etc.) are unhappy, then you lose profit.  If you lose profit, your stock value decrease (even more than it already has), and no one is happy.  As Matt mentioned, the Vince Algorithmic change, was pretty much instituted for the large brands to ensure they show up within the SERPs for more general queries, like “soda pop”.

That’s a pretty big concession already.  Small/Medium sized businesses have been working for years with SEO firms to rank well for general and semi-general keywords.  And, in one fell swoop, Google essentially erased that work without so much as the big companies having to do a lick of acutal optimization.  Now, faced again with the same issues, the big companies are being a bit more brazen.  I doubt there was an actual threat in the Google’s Publishers Advisory Council meeting, but there were more than likely overtones and half-measures tossed around that indicated if Google didn’t “right this wrong“, dollars will be pulled.

How much more can small/medium businesses endure before Google ultimately kowtows to Big Media/Big Business? Big Business already got an algorithmic change to favor them for “general queries”.  Now they want the long-tail too. My answer to that: TOUGH SHIT.  DO SOME SEO TOO.

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