Almost two weeks ago I started an experiment to see how fast a web page on this blog, featuring Montreal Italian restaurants, would move up in the search rankings.
My hypothesis was that newspapers could own this kind of local search if they’d just unlock some of the information hidden away in their archives and optimize it for search engines.
So, you ask, what have I discovered?
Well, despite having a page that would instantly confuse any first time visitor, my Italian restaurant page still ranks — at the time of writing —
on page three of the Google SERPs for “Italian restaurants Montreal.” That’s higher than any Gazette page on the subject, if only because there is no Gazette page on the subject, despite the fact that the source of much of my information was Gazette articles available online. The newspaper simply doesn’t organize or curate its articles in a way that makes sense to search engines and searchers.
I also noticed yesterday, after someone arrived here who had searched for “La Cantina restaurant Montreal,” that my page was on the first page of the Google SERPs for those keywords. Once again, the Gazette was nowhere in sight, but this time it wasn’t just due to failure to optimize content that was present online, but because its La Cantina review isn’t even available on the web. The citation I used came from a private database.
To really make my point — that newspapers could own this poorly served local search market in a flash — I would have had to be on page one of the Google rankings, but the fact that my confusing page — poorly designed to review restaurants and with zero brand recognition — is even where it is demonstrates that this market is wide open.
Newspapers, what are you waiting for? Consumers want the great content you already have. Get it up online and optimize it. Or some other smart aggregator — who isn’t just relying on empty restaurant templates and user generated content — is going to beat you to it. Tick tock…