Two-Way Street

Using 'Stock Advice' To Get Search Engine Love

If you like stock advice and need stock advice then you should check out our stock advice section because it has various bits of stock advice from experts who make their living giving stock advice.

Did you like that paragraph? Me neither. But a search engine optimization consultant would love it.

That's because it repeats a key phrase that people are likely to search on -- "stock advice" -- several times. That, plus using the phrase in various parts or "tags" of the Web page structure, means this item could appear first in a Google or Yahoo search on "stock advice." That would translate into more clicks back to this site. Hence, the piece is "optimized" for maximum search engine exposure. The soul less Web manager in me thinks that is good.

But the writer and journalist in me thinks that it is bad. From high school English we learn that using the same phrase over and over again in a paragraph or sentence is bad diction ... it's repetitive. It makes for bad reading.

And in a journalistic point of view, you should be more about telling the tale, not what search engines are going to look for. Sure, plenty of news copy can fit into the search optimization mold. But how about stories with anecdotal or first-person quote leads? Those don't meet the search engine optimization bill. But sometimes they are the best way to relate a story.

The search engine optimization consultant would argue (I know because I've argued with them a lot) that a nicely written story doesn't do any good if no one sees it. Journalists would counter that a snazzy headline often gets more eyeballs than a straightforward one does. And so on, and so on ....

Hey, I like traffic. And so I listen to most of what the search engine optimization folks say. Most of the time it's not that big an issue. And people do a lot of their Internet searching via engine. I know my competitors are talking to their consultants, just like I talk to mine, about how to take advantage of that.

But I try to balance the practice. I get emails complaining about bad grammar and bad diction, both on the Web and on TV, so I know at least you care. Well, some of you. When you are not looking for stock advice.