Shock horror! The Wall Street Journal reveals that “Britain’s famously competitive newspapers” are advertising themselves to prospective online readers.
The story, behind the pay wall, reveals that the Times and Telegraph are buying search words on Google which means they appear at the top of relevant searches as sponsored links.
An example, from the Telegraph which has bought the phrase “North Korea Nuclear Test”, is given. Personally I avoid clicking on these sponsored links and this is a good example of the reason. Instead of taking you to something on the subject it takes you to the Telegraph home page. A picture of Helen Mirren is always pleasing but nothing to do with the atom bomb. Sponsored links never seem to give you what you are looking for.
The Telegraph is also using straightforward Google advertising some of which has been placed on Wordblog although I doubt if I have made any money out of them.
Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade, who must have a subscription to the WSJ, says “Excuse me, but didn’t we know this?” of the sponsored links. More interestingly, he says the WSJ “reveals” that Times journalists are being trained to write in a way that makes their stories more likely to appear among unpaid search results through their tagging and spider systems.
I seem to remember Shane Richmond, the Telegraph’s technology blogger, writing that they were working on extending the use of tags from their blogs to main site copy. But a click on “tagging” in his tag cloud did not take me to it so perhaps it was someone else, or another paper.
Edward Roussel, the Telegraph’s digital editor, told the WSJ: “The most important driver of all readers [to our site] is Google, except for people who know us and come directly. It plays a critical part of exporting our brand, particularly to the U.S.”
The fact is that every news site should be doing all they can to optimise their search results. For the record, the tags on this post are journalism, newspapers, search, Google, Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Roy Greenslade, sponsored link, advertising, Shane Richmond and tagging.