Blog Power and Search

April 11, 2011

When you have a great headline, you get traffic. What about the facts? Well, maybe those are less important than the ping pong effect of a hot write up within a search and retrieval system. Confused? Well, you are anchored in the old school of SEO or search engine optimization.

Here’s an example of the new way to get traffic even though one’s reputation as a business expert may pick up some NASCAR dents on the way to the finish line.

First, Bloomberg ran a story called “New York Times Fixes Paywall Flaws to Balance Free Versus Paid on the Web” on January 28, 2011. I certainly did not really care. I read the paper version of the newspaper and routinely ignore the online stuff that flows from the old line New York outfits. I live in Kentucky and the day or two old news is pretty much real time for us in Harrod’s Creek.

But, bloggers picked up the story. In the February and March period lots of trendy Web news sites recycled what little information was available. This blog is not a “No Agenda” type outlet, so you can read the hits available at this link and follow the thread of the $40 million nugget.

The loop approached its starting point. Navigate to “Sulzberger: $40 Million Estimate For Paywall Cost Is ‘Vastly Wrong’”. (I like the word “vastly” by the way.) Here’s one passage I found interesting:

Sulzberger also declined to offer any numbers when it comes to subscribers, saying it was too soon but that the company would provide some details eventually. At another point, asked about complaints that the pay plan is too complex, he urged people to be patient. Noting that the company was able to tweak the system between the launch in Canada and the U.S.-global launch 10 days later, Sulzberger said: “We’re going to learn, adapt, make it simpler. But I don’t agree that it’s too complex. It’s new. Let it breathe for a little bit before you make judgment.”

The notion of learning, adapting, and making things simpler sound great.

The point is not what the Times spent or did not spend. The point is not that the New York Times has since it broke its exclusive deal with LexisNexis decades ago has been trying to figure out how to make money without selling hard copies and advertising is also irrelevant.

The message here is that one story with a fact plucked from somewhere can trigger a surge of articles, links, and clicks. Then the point of origin of the “story” jumps in and re-energizes the cycle.

That’s the message for me. SEO cannot perform this type of information physics. Why am I beating up on search engine optimization charlatans? Indexes like Google’s have been corrupted by these outfits. Relevance problems annoy me. At least with crazy information physics activities, the focus is on content no matter how thin, inaccurate, or poorly formed. Honk.

Stephen E Arnold, April 11, 2011

Freebie unlike my print subscription to the New York Times blue plastic bag. The paper, I think, is free. Those plastic bags cost me a leg and a thigh.


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