The Age online has been busted using search engine optimisation and manipulation tricks to boost traffic to stories about the ongoing tragedy of Victorian bushfires.
Ordinarily the headline of a story would appear in the title.
However, Age online insider whistleblowers have told VEXNEWS they were ordered to replace the title tag – that would normally have the headline of a story – with a selection of keywords designed to tap into the strong search engine interest in the Victorian bushfires.
In one story headlined “Victorian towns on alert as bushfires still rage” the title tags were:
<title>Victoria bushfires | CFA alerts | Yarra Valley | Yea-Murrindindi</title>
Another – pictured above – includes the words “Victoria bushfires”, “victim search”, could it get any more ghoulish? On that page they are advertisement from an insurance company, an online education provider and job ads.
Online marketing experts told VEXNEWS this afternoon that there is only one reason for them to modify the normal title tags to include popular keyword search terms related to the disaster: to boost their Google results and the amount of traffic they receive. He explained:
“Google pays a lot of attention to title tags in understanding what’s in a page, clearly this is part of The Age’s marketing strategy, after all they’re selling ads on those pages about bushfires so it makes sense, at least commercially if not morally.”
Sickening isn’t it?