When content integrity fails at the hand of SEO

I’ve always been rather uneasy about the relationship between SEO practices and journalistic integrity. Given the importance of both, they remain rather uncomfortable bed-fellows.

I’ve seen it happen too many times; an author hands over the promotion of a carefully crafted and researched piece of content to the web team and suddenly the headline and extract has been edited; crafted for SEO at the expense of journalistic integrity.

SEO has its place, but the clue is in the name “Optimization”. When optimization becomes blatant link-baiting we’ve failed our readers / followers, content authors and our brands.

Here’s a great example spotted over the Christmas break, from ITV (the largest commercial television network in the UK).

Several Facebook friends posted this over the course of 48 hours. It’s the sort of timely content designed to be shared, commented-on and liked. “Met Office confirm it will be a white christmas” the headline tells us. “The Met Office have confirmed that this year will be a white Christmas in our region with snow possible everywhere…”










SEO goldust. Share…share…share.

But click through and read the original story.

Where the Facebook post tells me that the Met office confirms it will be a white christmas; the original article is headlined “Met Office say it may be a white christmas”.

And the original extract reads of a “chance” of a white christmas….not confirmation with snow everywhere. 










Content has always been designed to drive readership / eyeballs. But I’m sorry, this isn’t even subtle. It’s pure link-baiting. It’s deceptive and designed to drive traffic to ITV’s website. 

Brands such as ITV really should know better and it raises a wider issue; that while editorial content goes through many stages of approval (editorial, legal, regulatory etc), SEO remains something of a wild-west.

Marketers, take note. . without better governance we risk the integrity of our content and the trust of our followers. 



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