Canada.com Discovers SEO

by Aaron Bradley on January 27, 2009

in SEO

In the early days – or at least earlier days – of the Internet, portals were all the rage. In those same days multi-publication news organizations thought portals were the way to go. In later days, when the rest of the world had figured out a thing or two about things like domains and localization, news organizations still thought portals were the way to go. So we continued to see vast cookie-cutter sites with some paper's logo at the top, but basically the same slop as that publisher's other papers

Eventually, of course, news publishers began to notice that getting traffic to the Internet versions of their papers was more important than a mechanism to get users to subscribe to the dead-tree version. They even finally figured out, a la the Independent and the New York Times that the subscription model, in general, wasn't going to be the route to a viable newspaper business.

Canada.com, the electronic arm of Canwest Publishing, with such titles as the Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen, was even farther behind than most when it came to Internet marketing and SEO. Most bafflingly, it pushed out its papers as as folders under the canada.com main domain:
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/

No longer. As of a little while ago, the Vancouver Sun is now:
http://www.vancouversun.com/

And the Canada.com URL structure has gotten a lot SEO friendlier, too. Mouseover to check out a 2008 and 2009 URL for the Montreal Gazette.

I know, I know, all very SEO 101 stuff. What's interesting is basically how long it took. It should have been painfully apparent to Canwest a very long time ago that what the newspapers inherently had going for them was localization. To produce generic sites with folders as upper-level URLs was the height of folly. I did a bit of research on this some time back, and the sort of queries you'd hope your local paper to rank for – things like "vancouver apartment rentals" – were getting knocked out of the water by Craig's List and specialty sites. On this front, another part of their revamp has been to put classifieds under [city].oodle.com, rather than classifieds.canada.com/[city]. Hmm … a new portal, but at least one that makes more sense than the last!

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