Monday, March 12, 2007

WebProNews: the Return

I had a number of motives when I set this blog up. One of my motives was to rant my frustration at a number of SEO forums and publications. On the publication front I found it intensely annoying that so much poorly written, wrong, speculation presented as fact or just cliquey back-scratching.

Back in 2005 I let loose on WebProNews and an article about “Google Bowling". The article exposed a "loophole" wherein competitors could, as easy as pie, buy a lot of links to your domain and knock you out of Google. Yeah. Right.

It seems like WebProNews has been my whipping boy of rushed and commercial content for years… but I need to set the record straight. In the last few quarters WebProNews has really been winning me over. I've seen a real shift from quantity over to quality.

One of WebProNew's biggest successes has been the appointment of staff writers. Not only can the staff writers actually write – but they are much less partisan than many other contributors. In particular I'm fond of David Utter's articles. Utter writes well. He finds interesting issues to right about. He tends not to write with bias. Utter also writes frequently.

Right now, WebProNew's front page is dominated by David Utter stories.

There are still some things about WebProNews that I would rather change. I dislike the way adverts/advertorials are mashed into the news archive section. I want to use the news archives! I think WebProNews still suffers from authors that clearly have an axe to grind. You can spot this lot because they tend to talk about the same issue or keep on citing the same site/blog/company. The axe grinding effect magnifies when other authors start quoting the axe grinders own blogs.

WebProNews has a strange relationship with some of my other news sources. I would classify Search Engine Land as a competitor to WebProNews (give me brand guidelines and I'll get the spacing right!). Nevertheless, it was Search Engine Land and the daily Search Cap which pointed me at WebProNews today. We have this situation because each of the two news sites get most of their news content by watching what is breaking elsewhere on the internet and by writing it up. Search Engine Land's advantage is that people will news will tend to come to Danny Sullivan first to share it and that whatever Barry Schwartz says can often be influential enough to become news – increasingly the same is true for Bill Slawski.

Google News has the concept of a "Hub". If you're in Google News (and there are less people in Google News than with #1 rankings that they are proud of) and have News Crawl errors you can download the report. The downloaded xls is a little different from the web report and contains the additional Hub column. It's always good to know if Google News considers you a “news hub" or not.