Coals to Newcastle – SEO by news regurgitation

We’re all guilty of it sometimes – because we’re tired, or short of time, because we really must have some fresh content, or a new blog post or (gasp) our traffic might go down. So what do we do? We grab a news story we’ve read somewhere else and we rearrange the words a bit and press ‘Publish’. And we really should know better.

Do we really think that it’s got any value, either as spiderable copy or as readable copy? Do we think anyone is going press Sphinn, or Digg?

Of course not, not if we know what we’re doing. If one of our clients did it we’d be quick to tell them off and suggest a rewrite. It’ll irritate our regular readers who will have seen the same news elsewhere and have better things to spend their scarce reserves of time on. The search engines will pick it up as basically the same as the the original article, because generally what they index is not the actual words but a stripped down semi-mathematical representation of the words. So it won’t be seen as having much value; it’ll be an extra page but not much more than that.

No, if you’re going to write a news story it’s either got to be original, based on your own observations or analysis, or, if it’s from somewhere else then you have to give it something extra – that awful modernism ‘value-added’. It needs to be analysed, looked at from a fresh angle, taken further forward. It needs your input, your perspective, your expertise, your opinion.

If it doesn’t have that then press delete rather than publish!

(PS – for those younger readers like Mike who don’t remember coal, Taking Coals to Newcastle is an old phrase that suggests pointlessness – since Newcastle was always the centre of coal production in the UK there was no point in taking any there. Likewise there’s no point in taking the same news to a market that already has it.)

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