Did The Huffington Post Win the SEO Game With Today’s AOL Acquisition?


The Huffington Post, which was just bought by AOL for $315 million, is really good at what media mind Jeff Jarvis calls the “black art” of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. That means, when people Google (or more rarely “Yahoo” or “Bing,” which are not quite verbs) a term on a search engine, how far up on the page does HuffPo land? The higher the result, the more likely people are to click, running up pageview numbers, which need to be ginormous to result in advertising revenue. The Huffington Post and AOL deal was a big news story, but did Arianna and co. win the day on Google? Find out inside today’s Press Clips, Runnin’ Scared’s daily media column. Plus, a round-up of the smartest takes on the acquisition.

But first, an illustration of just how good HuffPo is at this game, courtesy of Jack Shafer’s article from Slate on today’s news, perfectly entitled, “SEO Speedwagon.”

…the HuffPo pulled off one of the greatest acts of SEO whoring in the history of the Web yesterday. If you Googled the query, “What time does the Super Bowl start,” the first return was a HuffPo “article” titled “What Time Does The Superbowl Start?” And lest the search engines miss the germ of what was clearly a trending question, the first three paragraphs of the HuffPo posting read:

Are you wondering, “what time does the Superbowl start?”

It’s a common search query, as is “what time is the super bowl 2011,” “superbowl time” and “superbowl kickoff time 2011,” according to Google Trends the evening before the Super Bowl.

It’s easily answered too. Super Bowl 2011 will take place on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time and 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

As far as today’s merger goes, HuffPo has at least three stories up, including one breaking news tweet, one written by Arianna and one of the entire press release. The press release is tagged like this (pictured above):

Read More: Aol, Aol Acquires Huffington Post, Aol Buys Huffington Post, Aol Huffington Post, Huffington Post, Huffington Post Aol, Huffington Post Aol Merger, Huffington Post Media Group, Huffington Post Sold, Media News

Here’s how it worked out for them, based on a handful of different phrasings.

Search Term: “aol huffington post”

After the Google News results, which are more finicky, Huffington Post comes away with a predictable #1. Go team!

Search Term: “huffington post aol”

With the terms reversed, it’s the same story. Everyone in the office deserves a peppermint for those two big victories.

Search Term: “aol buys huffington post”

Here, the underdog Observer comes away with a win. Fifty lashes for the HuffPo team. (And be careful not to choke on the previously earned candy.)

Search Term: “aol buy”

Imagine some of America’s Google users are super lazy or prematurely searched by accident. They’d land on articles from the New York Times, Yahoo or Reuters.

Search Term: “aol acquires huffington post”

HuffPo wins twice, in a landslide, probably securing a few jobs as this merger moves forward.

Search Term: “aol acquisition”

AOL came out of nowhere on this one! They should ask for a million back.

Search Term: “arianna huffington rich”

Just for giggles, shits. Wikipedia comes away with the win in our game, but Huffington wins in real life, obviously.

For more even more trenchant commentary on today’s big media news, it depends on your mood and penchant for resenting rich and powerful people:

For a fairly rosy, optimistic take, try the aforementioned Jeff Jarvis, who writes, “If this acquisition works, it will be because Arianna really is the boss of content and gets to scale her vision and because Aol brings its key strengths-ad sales and capital-to what comes next.”

More distantly cynical are both Choire Sicha at The Awl (“Oh well, brave new world.”) and Dan Lyons (“It’s a slow-motion train wreck and will end in disaster.”) at The Daily Beast.

And on the wonky, theoretical end, Capital New York’s Tom McGeveran: “Will all this end in tears? Possibly.”

Let’s talk about it:

[ / @joecoscarelli]

Most Popular