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Huffington Post: SEO Whore?

| in Google Search,keyword research

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After AOL announced that it was acquiring the Huffington Post for a tidy $315 million, news spread over Twitter and the blogosphere without delay.  A great many of the comments and reviews made mention of “HuffPo’s” use of SEO – and it was not complimentary.  One of the more colorful, or angry, reviews called the “Internet Newspaper,” an SEO whore.  Is HuffPo a cautionary tale for the rest of us?

What is wrong with the Post’s SEO techniques?  They’re effective, but that’s the problem, according to many critics.  They are often effective at drawing traffic but do not deliver on the content aspect that their visitors are expecting.  An example:  the Superbowl, which was scheduled for February 6 in Dallas, Texas, prompted renewed interest in football, with queries like “What time does the Superbowl start?” being entered thousands of times.  Huffington Post ran an article with that very same time, and then proceeded to stuff “what time is the Superbowl” and its variants in no less than four times in the first paragraph.  And that’s not counting the keyword-heavy tags with links to other articles on, you guessed it, what time the Superbowl started.

This is far from the only time that HuffPo has been accused of playing with trending topics without actually delivering on the content they suggest through their titles.  Another example as noticed by Center Network’s Allen Stern:  the Huffington Post had an article with the title, “Christina Aguilera Nude Pictures Leak (Photos).” 

Anyone reading that would assume that the story would be about Ms. Aguilera’s nude pictures and that the (photos) meant there would, in fact, be photos.  Instead, the Post’s piece had the long, long list of keyword tags and links, ads, and assorted other filler.  The nude picture story you may have been hoping for consisted of a paragraph, which tells us there may or may not be a nude photo of Ms. Aguilera taken before her divorce.  This apparently is scraped from another site, and the reader can link there if they want to read more. 

The site ignores the cardinal rule that content is king.  Disappointing readers is not a long-term plan for success.  Sites should always depend on quality content and create titles and headings that match.  Readers want to know what they’re getting into before they click: many feel that the Huffington Post just tricks them, which if you are running a small business website, is a sure way to stop repeat traffic in its tracks.

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