Late last week I caught up with Alex Bennert who is an SEO Strategist at the Wall Street Journal. Alex is scheduled to speak at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies in San Jose on the topic of "How SEO Can Help Save the Publishing Industry" so I decided to get her insight on this topic. Check out conversation below:

[Manoj]: What are some of the most significant differences working as an In House SEO vs. an agency.

[Alex Bennert]: As an agency SEO you are usually managing several clients at once, each one with very different strategies, resources and goals. As an in house SEO, my energy and my skills are completely devoted to a single client. I still juggle multiple projects and work with various internal departments but ultimately there is a symbiosis between these goals.

[Manoj]: Are there unique SEO opportunities available to online publications compared to other sites?

[Alex Bennert]: A SERP today displays multiple content types such as news, video, images, stock quotes and blog posts. This opens up a lot of potential real estate on the search page because many online publishers generate all of these kinds of content. Say for a given query, you have a video, a news story and a blog post that are all relevant. You can actually rank in 3 different places on the first page of a search result. Before the advent of universal search, you had to spam to accomplish multiple placements.

[Manoj]: How important has SEO and Internet marketing become to your industry now that more people look online rather than physical newspapers.

[Alex Bennert]: I'm certain that Internet marketing has become crucial to this industry however as an SEO, I consider myself more of a technologist than a marketer. Search, at its core, is simply a conduit for people looking for specific information. My job is simply to know how search engines access data so that whenever we have information, it can surface on relevant queries. Beyond that, the feedback loop of search data provides us with a lovely little window into the heads of our audience, what they're thinking about and what words they use to express this in a search box.

[Manoj]:I am assuming duplicate content is a major concern for your online publishers?

[Alex Bennert]: You have no idea! Duplicate content was one of the first and most challenging problems to address when I came to WSJ. It was like a Hydra...every time I cut off one head, another would grow in its place. We implemented the CLE tag immediately after Google announced it, and so far it has been a huge blessing to me in this regard. It's still a little buggy here and there, but for the most part I've been able to reallocate a significant amount of my time away from dupe content issues.

[Manoj]: How do you go about creating a strong SEO culture so that writers/staff are better aware of best practices before publishing content.

[Alex Bennert]: I schedule ongoing training sessions every month so that new staff, people that missed previous sessions or people that want a refresher don't have to wait long before another session. I have different training sessions for different groups of people...the SEO for my editors/ writers/ bloggers is different from my session for IT. I also have a session for the business team that talks about understanding SEO in the context of syndication deals or microsites as well as a (less-frequent) session for management that keeps them apprised of the big picture so that I can be sure there is always top-down buy-in for SEO.

July 14, 2009

Manoj has been in the Digital marketing industry for over 10 years with experience at some of Canada's largest companies: WestJet and Shaw Communications. Manoj first started in the search marketing industry with Enquiro Search Solutions, where he spearheaded web analytics, SEO Training and the development of cutting edge search marketing solutions for clients. Manoj is also an entrepreneur in the Mobile and Local Deals space.

Manoj is a Professional Speaker having participated at events such as Web Analytics Congress (Amsterdam), Emetrics, Web Analytics Xchange, WebTrends Engage, Internet Marketing Conference, Social Media Innovation Summit and Search Engine Strategies. He has also contributed to several leading online publications such as: Search Engine Land, Marketing Pilgrim, WebProNews, Search Engine Guide and the Web Analytics Assocation.

He founded and successfully sold Web Analytics World (a top 100 Digital Marketing Blog – and was voted #39th Most Influential Digital Marketer in North America – 2009 (see:


The WSJ may be working on SEO, but from a navigation, usability and customer service perspective their web site is a disaster. I've been trying to get a print subscription for my son for two weeks. Subscriptions are ordered on one web site. But then to check you status you need to sign in to another web site. But you can't sign in until you get the system to give you an account number, and that comes from another location. Customer service doesn't answer emails. I get the impression the WSJ is trying to go out of business. They certainly arn't interested in signing up new subscribers.

How do you convey the importance of writing web friendly content to an editor/writer who is print-minded and time compressed?

Hi Jessica,

I think a set of quick wins are important to get the ball rolling. Show him organic search traffic for your current site and if you have conversions/goals set up, show him the amount of conversions driven by organic search. I think if the results are good or bad they work in your favor. If they are positive, this will help make your case. If they are negative, you can explain that there is a huge opportunity you are missing out on.

Additionally, you could ask him to test 'web friendly' content on a portion of the site and to see the results it produces.

Hope that helps,

- Manoj

Hi Jessica,
Manoj is right on the money with his reply. My one tip here is that when you get a group of writers or editors in a room for a training session, use their own stories/articles as your presentation examples. This will drive your message home more effectively than any other tactic. You are making it relevant while also appealing to their ego...always an easy shortcut to credibility. :-)

what is the "CLE tag" ? can you post a link to some information? Thanks!!!

saving the publishing industry is not easy but we could always try and as we keep on trying, we discover other alternatives that are really helpful in saving the industry.

the good thing about house SEO as mentioned, is the ability of the person to focus on his or her client plus work on other stuffs too.

A single client focus often results in a better service with a very fast turn around on search engine rankings. Its not unusual to see major changes each week, and its good to give the customer weekly reports so they can see the progress being made.

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