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SEO Pays Bigtime for Huffington Post

February 8th, 2011 by clif Bookmark and Share

The Huffington Post sold to AOL for $315 million. You can debate amongst yourselves whether this is a MySpace style Hail Mary pass by a desperate company trying to salvage salvation from the from the dustbin of tech giants past, or a canny move to anoint a new form of journalism, but the one thing that can’t be argued is how the success of HuffPo can be directly pegged to the use of aggressive SEO.

We’ve talked in previous posts about video SEO and why businesses should embrace the concept of on-line video to build their brand and grow their consumer base, but let us never forget old school SEO.

HuffPo is a master of old school SEO. To wit, yesterday, SuperBowl Sunday, HuffPo featured an article with the headline: What Time Does The Super Bowl Start? The genius of this may be obvious to some, but for those scratching their heads, try to imagine the most Googled query in the twenty-four hours leading up to the the big game. Now you get it. By anticipating this and providing an answer on the site, HuffPo played SEO poker with a stacked deck and came up aces. Their reward was the ¬†number one page ranking for this query. Their bump in site traffic was huge. This kind of SEO strategy – headlines and title tags that grab for the Twittergeist – has been a hallmark of their success. Combine this with SEO writing that repeats the query at the beginning of each paragraph of the article and links to relevant sites and you’ve got yourself an old school SEO gold rush.

That’s great, you say, but how could that apply to my business? I’m not a news site. I have no pretense to journalism.

Glad you asked. The simple fact is, the same techniques HuffPo employs can be used by businesses and brands (in more specific and targeted ways) to get in front of their consumers with content that is useful and drives traffic.

As an example, let’s say we’re a food processing company. Valentine’s Day is coming up. What do people do on Valentine’s Day? Well, if you’re like me you’re probably stuck at work, but you can dream. And what do you dream about? Why, going out for a romantic dinner with your significant other, of course. Suppose I’m the marketing person at this fictional food processing company and one of my tasks is announcing new product releases on the company blog. Wouldn’t it be great if I did a blog post titled: Best place for Valentine’s dinner. Or, Best Valentine’s Dinner. Or, Most Romantic Valentine’s Dinner.

When people querying for this mythical dining establishment land on my site they will find a blog item that makes some great restaurant suggestions as culled from Zagats. Then, slyly, I offer another suggestion… why not cook a romantic dinner at home using some of our great new products and these easy recipes?

With good SEO writing and links to the restaurants suggested, I’ve now created a query that will drive traffic to my site. Even though my company has nothing in particular to do with Valentine’s Day, I’ve co-opted Cupid for my own purposes. I’ve provided useful information in the form of restaurants which will endear prospective customers to my brand, while at the same time offering an alternative to dinner out by providing recipes that utilize my product.

Try thinking of ways you get your product in front of consumers using clever SEO. It’s a lot cheaper than paid advertising and a lot more effective.

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