A young journalist enslaved by the power of bad SEO advice.
Midjourney's idea of a journalist enslaved by bad SEO advice. I have questions. Many questions.

Why you're probably doing SEO wrong

Why bad SEO advice is costing publishers dearly in the Helpful Content age, and why consolidating local newspapers is a recipe for further decline.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Last day of term here at City, and my last teaching slot is… 3pm to 5pm. Anyone want to guess what percentage of my students will turn up? Small prize for the winner…

Meanwhile, let's stand in judgement on poor SEO advice and even worse strategy decision on local news.

I know this is obvious but… write for people not search engines

I've been doing search engine optimisation training for over a decade now, and the one thing I have said on Every Single Damn Course is that the only safe way to do SEO is to optimise for people first, and search engines second. If you're not creating something that people are searching for and want to read, you're never going to win.

And yet people still get it wrong.

Google's search liaison Danny Sullivan has made this point yet again on X, in the context of the Helpful Content Update that has been brutalising traffic to some news websites:

Unhelpful content is content that's generally written *for search engine rankings* and not for a human audience.

So, let me say it again:

  • If you're starting from a list of keywords, or some output from an SEO research tool, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you're starting from the position of asking “what would a person want to know about this subject?” or “what problem do they need help to solve?”, and then do some technical optimisation, you're doing it right.

Or, as Sullivan put it:

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