Welcome to the latest season of Media Voices: Big Noises! This season, sponsored by Glide Publishing Platform, we’ll be talking to publishing people with something to say. Media Voices co-host Peter Houston is tired of hearing the same old industry buzzwords. The publishing platitudes are starting to wear a bit thin, and he’s decided to see if he can shake the conversation up a bit by speaking to some of the biggest characters in the business.

In this latest episode of our Big Noises series, we hear from SEO Capo Barry Adams. Barry is a tech guy that moved into SEO more than 20 years ago, seeing it as the perfect hybrid of technology and marketing.

He was at the Belfast Telegraph when it was known for punching way above its weight in search, taking advantage of Google’s algorithms quirks. Since then he has worked for some of the world’s biggest media organisations, fixing their SEO and explaining that, these days, there are no quick fixes or silver bullets when it comes to search performance.

We spoke about the mystery that is Reach’s consistently good search rankings despite its horrendous UX, the difference between journalism and SEO content and how getting it wrong can damage trust, and of course his thoughts on Google, AI and the future of publishers in the search ecosystem.

Here’s just some of what he had to say:

On why some sites win at SEO despite horrible UX

I do think it’s temporary. But the temporary phase has lasted much longer than I expected. You see websites that are less intrusive perform much worse in Google. I hate the fact for example, that on mobile, [they] basically hijack your swipe functionality, I want to swipe back to the previous page. Now you’re reading an entirely different article.

That sort of stuff really grinds my gears – plus full page overlays very intuitive advertising, you name it. In any sane world, those sorts of websites should not be winning. But they do, they keep winning every time Google pulls out a major algorithm update. We have a list of winners and losers, websites that get punished or other websites that get promoted, and which websites in general seem to be either unaffected by those algorithm updates. To me that makes very little sense in terms of the quality of the end product that they provide so there must be other things under the hood.

On whether SEO is a quick fix for publishers

SEO is probably the one marketing channel you need the most patience and most perseverance – for it is not something that can generate quick wins, except in a very rare few scenarios where the website is done something fundamentally wrong, which can be easily fixed. That tends to be quite rare.

Success in SEO is about building long term quality signals that Google will interpret correctly, and transfer that into better rankings for your articles in all of Google’s ecosystem, especially the news-specific ecosystem. When you start doing SEO properly and have that embedded in your workflows, the quickest result you tend to see is is three months. And that is quite unusual even to get it that quickly. For news websites especially, you have to look at it as a multi-year project to really build up to its quality and authority signals.

Thanks to Glide Publishing Platform who have sponsored this season of Media Voices: Big Noises. Glide exists to make publishers more successful by removing any need to get bogged down building Content Management Systems, providing an industry-leading SaaS tailored to let publishers do more and spend less. Publishers using Glide direct more resources at their audiences and products, and focus on building things that make them money. You do the content, Glide does the management.

Glide have created 3 expert guides to getting much more from a new or headless CMS, created for editorial, technology, and product teams. You can get the whitepapers here.

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