Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Two out of two news organizations recommend user research
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 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Two out of two news organizations recommend user research
Here’s how ProPublica and The New York Times are pioneering user experience research within their organizations.
A new app from NowThis wants to reduce the work of finding news to one big red button
Paralyzed by having to choose what news story to turn your attention to next? Tap For News keeps “everything super, super simple” by eliminating that choice.
“Modern” homepage design increases pageviews and reader comprehension, study finds
A new report from the Engaging News Project shows that users prefer modular, image-heavy homepage designs.
What to read next
1119
tweets
New Pew data: More Americans are getting news on Facebook and Twitter
A new study from the Pew Research Center and Knight Foundation finds that more Americans of all ages, races, genders, education levels, and incomes are using Twitter and Facebook to consume news.
687Newsonomics: The halving of America’s daily newsrooms
If you’re lucky enough to have the right deep-pocketed owner buy your paper and steady it, you’ve won the lottery. If you’re in a town whose paper is owned by the better chains, or committed local ownership, your loss will probably be mitigated. Otherwise, you’re out of luck.
543Putting the public into public media membership
Getting beyond tote bags and pledge drives is critical to the sustainability of public media. Is there an alternative vision of membership that relies on relationships more than money?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Poynter Institute
Davis Wiki
McClatchy
Quartz
The Washington Post
CNN
Gannett
The Weekly Standard
Sacramento Press
Current TV
Zonie Report
FiveThirtyEight