News organizations are actively playing the SEO/SEM game. If you do a search for “Iraq War“, “taco bell“, “litvinenko“, you will get both organic results and sponsored links from major news sites. The sites take different approaches to where they send the traffic:
- AOL News sends you to the main news page, regardless of which link you click on.
- washingtonpost.com sends you to a story about the topic, but not necessarily the most up-to-date story.
- nytimes.com sends you to a page about the topic, with constantly updated information. Here are their destination pages for “iraq war” and “litvinenko“.
Is it worth it to spend 5c or more on a sponsored link? Given current RPMs on news sites, it only makes sense if you can develop a relationship with the user. Just getting a single page view on a story would be a terrible ROI.
The nytimes.com approach helps foster a relationship.
But the best example I found was on CNET’s News.com. In this case, it was for an organic link. Ironically, they’re doing more to optimize organic traffic than other sites are for users they pay for.
When clicking through from Google, I was presented the story that was indexed. Embedded in the story is a box that shows the latest stories related to the topic and offers an option to set an ongoing alert based on the original search term. The “Welcome Google User!” part might creep out users who don’t know how referrers work, but other than that, it’s a solid implementation.
Oddly, this article from two years ago is the first search result for the term “aol layoffs”.