Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Do you trust the news, or do you trust your news? In the U.S., there’s a huge gap between the two
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 17, 2009, 8 a.m.

Newspaper’s top 5 search queries are commercial brands

A very quick lesson in search engine optimization: Brent Payne, the Tribune Co.’s head of SEO, whose wisdom I wrote about last week, posted a video yesterday demonstrating a new feature in Google Webmaster Tools. In the process, he offered a brief glance at The Chicago Tribune’s dashboard on the site, pictured above. What you’re looking at are the top search queries on Google that return pages from chicagotribune.com.

The Tribune is doing pretty well with its own name, its hometown president, and its hometown football team. But I was stunned to see that the top five queries are all commercial brands with no particular connection to Chicago or the Tribune. (The semi-exception is CareerBuilder, which is 30% owned by Tribune Co. but isn’t exactly linked to Chicago in the popular consciousness.)

In each case, Google is returning the Tribune’s topic page for the brand, where you get a list of articles that mention the company. (Here’s Ticketmaster, for instance.) Payne speculated that one of Google’s periodic algorithm updates might be driving the paper’s new strength with some of these keywords.

Of course, very few people who search for “craigslist” or “home depot” are looking for news coverage of those brands. The traffic those keywords are generating for the Tribune is likely accidental. But the pageviews still count, so whatever work Payne did to rank well for “bank of america” was worth it.

POSTED     Sept. 17, 2009, 8 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 35,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Do you trust the news, or do you trust your news? In the U.S., there’s a huge gap between the two
Plus: A bill to outlaw fake news in the Philippines, and the question of whether real news outlets should cover fake news.
Vox’s healthcare newsletter (with ads sold out) is filling a role beyond “articles on the Internet”
“I’m keeping in mind that there are actually people reading these stories who are relying on us for information.”
News apps are making a comeback. More young Americans are paying for news. 2017 is weird.
The Reuters Institute’s annual report on digital news contains some surprises.