Today I posted a marketing advice article geared towards small, local newspapers entitled, “Local Newspapers Need To Embrace SEO To Survive“. Ironically, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, has just stated this past weekend that they’re entertaining the possibility of completely yanking their news articles out of the Google index altogether! This, of course, would be a large mistake because there’s increasing evidence that information resources that are unavailable via the internet (and availability now is largely synonymous with “findable in Google”) are considered by consumers to be less relevant.
I think Murdoch’s idea of creating a walled garden is a bad strategy in this case, although I’m highly sympathetic to the plight faced by large and small newspapers all over the country. With news subscriptions having dropped all over, and advertiser revenue switching more to online and other channels, newspapers companies have been feeling the pinch terribly. It’s my believe that most have huge potential for online, and can turn this around. In my article, I described how the news archives with many papers contain a gold mine of information that a great many people don’t even know exists because it’s walled-off by badly-built sites.
Even so, it’s my opinion that newspapers continue to have a role in our day-to-day lives, and they have an important place in local marketplaces, both online and offline.
Small businesses who desire better exposure online need to keep their local papers’ websites in mind as one component of their online marketing. If you’re a small business desiring better rankings in Google, examine your local newspaper sites closely to see if there are opportunities for obtaining valuable links. Some tips:
- Pages of newspaper sites which rank well in search engines are desireable places for you to obtain links. See what pages are exposed to the search engine, and find out what opportunities there may be to get a link to your business website from them.
- Consider traditional promotion activites to obtain newspaper articles about your business! The old methods can still work today. Just ask the reporter really nicely if they can link to your business website at the end of the story — that makes the story more useful for their own users, too, so there’s a good reason for them to do this.
- Link to the news story(ies) about you! So, if your local newspaper site is one of the badly-built ones, and the story about your business isn’t indexed by Google, help it out by linking to the stories about you from many other places on the internet such as from social bookmarking sites, your personal homepage, and other places. If the URL is publicly available, you can help the page get indexed by linking to it, and if it mentions you or links to you, the reference citation can only help your business site!
- Don’t forget the classifieds! Online newspaper sites have online classifieds, frequently, and many people forget to make use of them. This can often be a free or low-cost option for you to further promote your business and business site.
- Newspaper yellow pages? Many newspaper sites include helpful local directories of businesses, and these are places where you want to claim your business listing, expand your business profile, include links to you, and even consider spending advertising to improve your reach.
- Comment! User comments on news stories online are also another way that one may be able to effectively interact with newspaper sites. You could comment on a news story about your business, thanking the reporter involved. You could comment about other news stories that my be related to your interests in some way. Interestingly, some major newspaper sites allow links in comments and they are not all “nofollowed”! They can do this since they may review/moderate comments prior to publishing them. In other cases, comments may not be good for links and many news sites don’t allow much customization of user profiles. Still, the references to your business are worthwhile, so consider interacting with the local news audience via comments.
So, while newspapers may be struggling to adapt to the internet age, and their sites may not be search-engine-friendly, they can still be valuable components of your overall local marketing mix.