David Plotz is not a fan of SEO baiting.
And understandably so.
Slate’s editor-in-chief — who recently gave a lecture titled “Celeb Baby Bump: Pregnant Oscar Winner Natalie Portman (PHOTOS) – How to Make Great Web Journalism in an Age of Content Farms, Search Engine Optimization, and Idiotic Celebrity Slideshows” — runs a site that has been producing quality content for 15 years, well before Google changed the game.
In a chat with Advertising Age‘s Simon Dumenco, he worried about the current state of journalism jobs.
“[The industry] is heavily dominated by new jobs that require a lot of speed and a lot of quasi-journalistic skills that are high-adrenaline, and they can be really fun jobs, but they’re missing certain things,” he said. “What Slate is trying to do is recognise that our greatest success, and the way that we differentiate ourselves, is by producing more durable kinds of journalism — journalism that is entrepreneurial and ambitious and has a distinct voice and isn’t a recapitulation of everything else that’s out there.”
That is a fair assessment. Plenty of newer publications use SEO tricks to boost traffic. (We should know; we are one of them.) It is standard practice in these times.
But Slate, with its award-winning Slate Labs and other enterprise initiatives, is vocal in its avoidance of such tactics.
So it surprised us when Poltz talked about one of the reasons for the improved traffic to his publication’s site.
Last year, Slate hired a new head of technology named Dan Check. How has the former employee of Catalist, a political-data-mining operation, altered Slate’s approach?
“He’s completely changed how we’re seen by Google, so our search traffic has gone up,” Plotz said.