About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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« Printless in Seattle? | Main | Doing Journalism Differently »

January 14, 2009



As a former online news guy and a former search product manager, this topic is dear to my heart.

Sadly, a big part of the problem is the craptastic CMSs that news sites use to publish. Awful URLs like:



are a big part of the problem.

Not only are these useless to Google, if someone sends me a URL, they do nothing to entice me to click.

Paginating news stories also screws up search results and devalues links that you get.

The sad thing (for newspapers) is that most of the blog tools like WordPress and TypePad were built with SEO in mind.


I think it's a different skill set, too. We've just started writing multimedia heds in my shop, and been warned not to try to use allusions or wordplay ... which of course is half the fun of writing print heds. Well, nobody said it would be easy. ...

Andrew Shotland

Hey Mark,

Newspapers, and any company with a strong local brand for that matter, are sitting on a search gold mine and most of them do not know it. It seems like the problem is top management is mired in solving the problems of their "core" business. I suspect many do not realize that for a relatively low/no investment they could be dominating high CPM local search queries. They just need a guy/gal who understands SEO and a CMS that allows them to easily create and link to content. If a 21-yr-old in his bedroom can generate thousands of dollars a month off of adsense and affiliate deals with no brand, think of what a strong newspaper domain could do.

I think William Randolph Hearst said it best “In suggesting gifts: Money is appropriate, and one size fits all.”

seo expert

I just finished optimizing a newspaper site and got loads and loads of facts from it. When you optimize a site that has loads of data, you have to be precise in handling that campaign because with just a minor slip up can lead to disastrous results.

Anne M.

On these days it's really important to match your Web site, especially that it has just so dynamic and dependent on an audience, according to the main forms of the latest SEO rules.

But it is important to pay attention - it's really appropriate that when a person is looking for some information about a certain thing, Will it (article, for example) be relevant to what he should really search for?

Sometimes exposure is nice, but it is not always efficient.


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