Cover Story: Finding 'Things to Do'
"Sean Murray weight loss" sounds like one of those monthly, pre-packaged diet food programs. But that's not true. It's turned out to be one of the "serendipitous," steady, traffic-producing keyword phrases for the St. Petersburg Times' website, tampabay.com.
Sandwiched between reader questions about the meaning of a Beatles song and the status—real or fake?—of the baby on the ABC sitcom "Modern Family" is a question about the health of actor Sean Murray, who plays Timothy McGee on the CBS drama "NCIS."
"[Murray] is getting so terribly thin," asks a reader in the Florida newspaper's entertainment Q&A column that ran on Nov. 1, 2010. "Is he ill?"
The relevance of the paper's answer to that question is part of the reason tampabay.com still ranks second on Google's search results page for "Sean Murray weight loss," even as of May 10, 2011. But the main reason for the continued placement is all the search engine optimization work done by the paper's staff, spearheaded by Senior Editor of Online Operations John Schlander.
SEO for Growth
While Schlander would classify the thousands of hits a day that the phrase "Sean Murray weight loss" generates as "serendipitous," they're hardly an accident. They're one result of extensive SEO efforts that have helped tampabay.com reach 1.5 million people a month [UPDATE: This number is listed in the tampabay.com media kit, but Schlander says Omniture now reports 4.2 million monthly visitors to tampabay.com since March.], and are largely responsible for its 22 percent gain in digital advertising revenue from 2009 to 2010. In key areas of the site, digital ad revenue's grown by as much as 35 percent. And that growth is continuing into 2011, with a first quarter year-over-year increase in traffic of 14 percent, and with the biggest source of traffic growth, search engines, up 19 percent.