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Search engine optimizers: editors of all media?

Let's start out with the premise that most media, to be found and consumed, had better show up high on search results. Does it follow, as Steve Rubel writes, that

Let’s start out with the premise that most media, to be found and consumed, had better show up high on search results. Does it follow, as Steve Rubel writes, that “Google is media and every brand’s home page” ? (He and his colleagues note in a white paper that 89% of U.S. adults online use search engines.)

If so, are SEO experts the editors of all content? I’ve been mulling this for a couple of months. At the risk of overstating, it seems to me that while the job for traditional editors has been to identify the interests and cravings of the public, the world is shifting towards editors who can anticipate the preferences of machines—and reverse engineer their algorithms. This is true not just for news and entertainment, but also all kinds of corporate communications.

However, the work in SEO appears to be getting more complicated as search engines broaden their focus to new types of social metrics, including Twitter retweets, and references on Flickr, blogs and social networks. So in that sense, the challenge facing SEO experts is not just to replicate relevance and popularity on a single Web page, but to project it throughout the Web.

We risk going in circles here, because perhaps the best way to make content popular throughout the Web—and to get good search results—is to anticipate the interests and cravings of the public. So maybe there still is a role for editors.

In any case, this is something I’d like to look into. Any good sources out there for SEO? If so, please leave them in comments or tweet me @stevebaker.

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