May 10, 2012

SEO is so over, says Atlantic Digital editor

Publishers are leaving behind the era of Demand Media-style search-optimized headlines, says Atlantic Digital editorial director Bob Cohn. Social media is now driving more traffic than search to the site, and that allows editors to create headlines designed to appeal to people, not search engines.
Everyday, more and more articles are coming up stating SEO is dead. Social media is the trend for driving traffic. Will it completely super-seed SEO. For some businesses, yes. Others, no. Right now, for most businesses, you have to do both. All content below via Mashable.

"We're no longer writing to get the attention of Google algorithms. We're writing to get you to share it, to digg it," Cohn explains. I don't think this route is the way to go for most businesses, but very interesting nonetheless. 

The number of online news consumers has grown consistently over the past half-decade, yet not every publication has gotten the same lift as The Atlantic, whose web audience has catapulted from approximately 500,000 to 13.4 million monthly visitors since taking down its paywall in early 2008.

As we’ve explored previously, there are many factors that have contributed to The Atlantic‘s online success: assigning a number of well-known columnists, like James Fallows and Andrew Sullivan (now of The Daily Beast), to begin writing original pieces for; launching and staffing two new online news properties, and; and building up its digital ad offerings to support those hires.

Furthermore, The Atlantic is adapting its editorial strategy to the shifting landscape of online news consumption, namely, to capitalize on the growing importance of social networks, rather than search engines, as sources of traffic.

“Sixteen months ago we received the same number of monthly referrals from search as social. Now 40% of traffic comes from social media,” Scott Havens, senior vice president of finance and digital operations at The Atlantic Media Company, said in a phone conversation ahead of his on-stage interview at our Mashable Connect conference in Orlando, Fla. last weekend. “Truly [our writers] are not really thinking about SEO anymore. Now it’s about how we can spin a story so that it goes viral.”