I really don’t think this can be emphasized enough, and Steve Buttry‘s post Newspapers’ Original Sin: Not failing to charge but failing to innovate makes the point well.
I’m not sure things could have played out any differently given the complex social and cultural circumstances of traditional Newspaper organizations. It’s really just a classic case of an incumbent business failing to adapt to disruptive technology as described by Clay Christiansen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.
To my mind, when faced with disruptive change, both an individual or an organization have to be willing to die. By this, I mean willing to face an existential “loss of world”. However, this can be a very painful and bewildering experience, which is why it is not an easy or painless road to take. Nonetheless, if an individual or organization is truly facing a disruptive, discontinous change in their environment, it is a reality which must inevitably be faced (unless of course, one just quits or drops out of the game, which is always a possibility).
Anyway, there you have it.
A couple fantastic posts from Chris Silver Smith on optimizing Search at Local Newspapers.
Optimizing Search for News
The first article is titled Local Newspapers Need To Embrace SEO To Survive. This article provides suggestions for how Newspapers can more fully embrace SEO to make their news content more discoverable in search results. Here’s one particular area of improvement Silver Smith feels Newspaper’s might focus on – Newspaper archives:
So, what’s to be done?
While there are a great many areas where online newspaper sites might improve and increase revenue prospects, one of the greatest untapped potentials on newspaper sites in my opinion is the news archive section. Even among poorly optimized newspaper sites, some articles may vanish into a walled-garden archive section at some point, going dark for search engines. Combined with very poor on-site search utilities, it’s as though these articles don’t exist at all for consumers.
I can’t count how many different newspaper sites I’ve visited where I’ve searched for articles which I knew existed, yet the on-site search engines could not locate them. In some cases, the “live” sites had search engines separate from archive search, yet offered no explanation to users as to which should be used and in what cases. Do articles pass into archive after one year? Two? Three? Why can’t the on-site search show them, regardless? In many other cases I’ve found articles by searching in Google, but the article is no longer available when I click through to the newspaper site, and searching within the site fails to reveal it. Did the article “expire” and pass into the archive graveyard or something? No messaging on the resulting error pages reveals this, nor suggests viable means for locating the article.
…How many articles are locked away in these old archives?!? It surely varies from newspaper to newspaper, but the potential numbers are staggering. While clicks on pay-per-click ads on newspaper sites may add up slowly, there’s no doubt in my mind that if newspapers dramatically expanded the content they have available to search engines, the clicks and associated revenue would increase. These newspapers must not realize the potential they’re sitting upon!
In the remainder of the article, Silver Smith offers specific ways that Newspapers can optimize their news articles for Search.
Optimizing Business Listings and Online Presence for Discovery and Citation on Online Newspaper sites
The second article is titled Three Ways To Optimize Business For Local Search Via Online Newspapers. Whereas the previous article focused on search optimization for news content, this article focused on search optimization for business listings.
A couple very nice pieces.