'Professional' Content vs Content Actually Worth Reading

Mar 23rd

Some media executives are bitching about Google ranking blogs and sites not controlled by the mainstream media. Of course Google has been tilting their algorithms in the direction of brands, and even includes trusted news partners directly in the search results for recent news items. But that is not enough to make bloated media companies profitable.

"The original source, and the source with real access, should somehow be recognized as the most important in the delivery of results."

Google subsidizes these media companies with additional exposure by

  • weighting domain authority
  • giving them first mover advantage in the search rankings (through direct inclusion of recent news results in the organic search results)
  • featuring their content (yet again) in their news search product
  • favoring informational content over commercial content

If a big business has "real access" and yet loses out to people rewriting the story, it means the original source did one (or more) of the following

  • did a pretty crummy job of reporting
  • did a pretty crummy job of SEO
  • erected barriers that made them not linkworthy
  • fought off niche brands with a generic brand that does not resonate as well with the market

Google could give these media companies almost 100% of the search traffic and many would still go bankrupt because their business models simply do not fit the web. Online ad rates are lower, most of the media infrastructure is unneeded bloat, and individuals and brands are starting to create their own media.

When I click the publish button, 10's of thousands of people will read this post. Its not your fault or my fault that big media was too lazy to create niche brands offering relevant regularly updated content.

Ironically, the quote from AdAge, begging for coverage of the original source, did not have a name on it. You can quote it, but there is no source. These clowns whine about something and are not willing to put their names behind their own words. Maybe that has something to do with why people would rather read elsewhere.

This is the same media that pushed the bogus Iraq war, laughed and joked about those errors (while people were still dying), and missed the financial terrorism occurring back home. Why again is the original source more important than those who dig a bit deeper and add further context?

If the relevancy algorithms are your enemy, then maybe your work is no longer relevant.

Maybe they can work on stuff that matters.

Published: March 23, 2009

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Comments

March 23, 2009 - 6:15pm

Read the adage article this morning and came away with the same exact sentiments.

I was too lazy (actually to bogged down with agency work) to blog about it, so I just posted it on Twitter.

You went ahead and wrote an interesting and engaging blog post.

That's the way the internet (and search) works these days.Who's to say that your blog post or my tweet is any less original than the adage article.

Heck, some might argue that yours is the most original/insightful because it contains unique opinions and attributes those opinions to an actual source (Aaron Wall).

March 24, 2009 - 6:25am

"It really just says that the original source, and the source with real access, should somehow be recognized as the most important in the delivery of results."

Media companies seem to believe original source = most relevant.

From Google's perspective, the most relevant article for a search term is rarely the original source. Poor canonicalization, sensationalist rather than search friendly headlines, ads + pagination that turn off users and subscription firewalls are just some of the factors that make an original news story less relevant.

I remember debating with senior producers of a big news website on the benefit of being proactive on sites like Digg & Reddit. They didn't see the return on investment of investing resources into getting a few thousand diggs or in today's currency, a few dozen retweets. Those diggs/RTs are driving visitors and links to the very same articles you are complaining about.

Big media companies, think about it - some of you have gone from print dollars to online pennies to bankruptcy.

How hard is it to hire a bloody SEO agency or get some in-house SEO help to become linkworthy?

March 24, 2009 - 6:59am

Preach on Lucas :)

March 24, 2009 - 8:16am

I totally agree with you Aaron. Thanks for pointing out this article.

March 24, 2009 - 2:14pm

Good stuff, Lucas, although it bears mentioning that for some of these media outlets, even driving more traffic won't save (via SEO, Digg, etc...):

http://blog.zetainteractive.com/?p=304

For some of these folks, it's not even about needing more traffic. It's about having too much traffic while still operating under a flawed CPM model.

March 26, 2009 - 9:20pm

There was actually some (sincerely) insane banter out on sports radio the other day by sports writers saying Curt Schillings' announcement of retirement on his own blog instead of going through traditional media channels could actually hurt his ability to get into the hall of fame. Guessing since the voters are writers that they're afraid of someone infringing on their turf of freely available info.

Looking forward to the erosion of the old guard so we can remake a new old guard for our kids to remake. :)

March 26, 2009 - 9:37pm

I love that Curt was willing to put himself out there and connect with the fans. How can a blog post that humble and appreciative from a person that talented be seen as a step backwards?

March 27, 2009 - 4:13pm

I'm new here, but that was a nice ending. I think I'm gonna like this place...

March 27, 2009 - 4:51pm

Welcome to the site BillyG :)

March 29, 2009 - 6:30pm

If a big business has "real access" and yet loses out to people rewriting the story, it means the original source did one (or more) of the following

* did a pretty crummy job of reporting

Yeah, I guess the big media companies are mad they are not the canonical source for the latest celebrity crap - what famous person did something today that we can make seem like news - or some fixation/spin regarding a news story that every other news outlet is covering in the same exact way. Investigative journalism, in-depth reporting and using hard facts to draw hard and potentially upsetting conclusions about whatever is deemed to be the big news stories is something the mainstream media just cannot do on a regular basis anymore.

How can a news story report about torture by saying something like "potential abuses" and be credible? How can a story about Madoff's Ponzi scheme be next to story about AIG and the latter reporter write like they are talking about a legitimate business? If I engaged in honest business transactions with a portion of my customers and created a dishonest money making scheme in another area of company, I would be running a corrupt enterprise - not a legitimate business. When you change reporting into an obfuscating, PCesque sugar-coating of reality it is not a fair replacement for an honest objective accounting of what has or is happening.

There are flashes of good reporting in large newspapers but where it does occur it often is surrounded by a sea of blander "news" crap. And this kind of journalism has dominated the news since before the Iraq war.

I guess editors think no one has noticed that most newspapers, big and small, have largely ignored being thoughtful, and risk being seen as potentially provocative, so as to not offend their base readership. When your business model is based more on pandering rather than consistently telling the truth, you end up getting treated like the fluff you produce. Its tough to hold anyone's interest for long and you are unremarkable.

At that point whining that not enough people are giving you credit for the crap you are producing - well it seems about par for the course.

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