It's All Journalism: How Publications Can Thrive Online

february 26, 2016  11:00 am
It's All Journalism: How Publications Can Thrive Online
Michael Romano and Mark Pratt of Metro Publisher.
It's All Journalism is a weekly conversation about the changing state of the media and the future of journalism.
Having a high-profile, exclusive interview is a wonderful thing for a publication.

Failing to include the name of a massively influential artist in said exclusive interview will make that article pretty much invisible online.

Such is the importance of understanding the difference between technical and editorial search engine optimization, or SEO, explains Mark Pratt and Michael Romano, the editorial content and provider editor and designer and project manager, respectively, for Metro Publisher, which characterizes itself as a cloud and mobile content management system (CMS) for publishers.

Metro Publisher is “constantly rolling out updates, turning things that were complicated and required working with a developer into something that just happens” for websites and Web-based publishers that might not have the funding for a full-time specialist, Pratt said.

Buzzwords like SEO and CMS might be enough to make professional publishers cringe and feel overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary, Romano said. What SEO, for example, comes down to is presenting copy in a way that search engines want it to be formatted, and that, ultimately, is the responsibility of the publisher.

“A huge part of it is being seen in their niche or their particular area as an authority,” he said. ‘Publishers of content, magazines or otherwise, already have a strong, major benefit. They are producers of content and search engines want to find real content that’s valid about a certain topic.”

Corporations that want to appear to be experts are often just promoting their own products and are weeded out by SEO mechanics as being just that — promoters of a product.

“When people first talk about SEO, they make it sound very mysterious,” said Pratt. Search engines don’t always do their jobs correctly, which is where publishers can make it even easier to bring traffic to their own sites by paying attention to how their content is presented.

“We had a publisher call us and say I’m super excited, when I do a search for (singer) Tori Amos and my city, right now we’re the number one result,” he recalls. The publisher also said that the publication had run an exclusive interview with Amos but couldn’t find the article anywhere using a search engine.

“It turns out, they had managed to write an interview with her where they, not once in the article, mentioned her name,” Pratt said. “That’s a great illustration between technical SEO and editorial SEO. ... The technology needs to work — and that’s the stuff we worry about — but (publishers are) definitely responsible for following some basic editorial practices. It really isn’t all that hard.”

On this week's It's All Journalism podcast, Producer Michael O'Connell talks to Mark Pratt and Michael Romano of Metro Publisher. They discuss search engine optimization (SEO), data analytics and different advertising models publications are using to help spread their message and establish their identity online. Metro Publisher is producing informational videos on its website that answer basic questions publishers might have about presenting content online. View the videos here.