Up to very recently newspapers seemed to be using their websites as a repositry for content and little else. Things are changing now and many allow people to post comments under all features published now - which is a great idea... after all the real power of the web is its potential for interaction.
But I've been struck by a couple of even smarter, more technical innovations on the Guardian website.
Check out this recent piece about skiing in Slovakia. You'll notice that there are links to other parts of the Guardian's travel content inside this piece. Here's the first paragraph:
My memories of my last snowboarding
trip to Eastern Europe, back in 2002, are not entirely good. In
Zakopane, Poland, we queued for hours for the lifts, and ended up
hating the place. In the Czech Republic, we discovered that
"nightclubs" are not the same as "discos" and tend to be frequented by
lonely truckers instead of dancers. In Slovakia,
we were surprised, and impressed, with the quality of the mountains -
even if we didn't have a hope of actually pronouncing the resorts
(Strbske Pleso? Liptovsky Mikulas?) - but we despairingly wondered if
they would ever put good lifts on them.
See them? Snowboarding and Slovakia. I've left the links in... and you find that if you click on them they take you to landing pages (as we call them in the trade) for snowboarding and Slovakia. So pages where you'll find all other content about snowboarding or about Slovakia.
Cross-linking as it's known is a powerful way to add a notch or two on your Google Search rankings. Smart. And also, good for the reader too of course. It's a win-win situation. It helps you navigate the huge quantity of content on the Guardian's website that bit quicker.
But try this...
Say you're looking for a snowboarding holiday in Slovakia. You type 'Slovakia snowboarding' into the search engine. Look what comes up on the bottom of the first page.
What we have here is a dynamic page. A page that is served up to Google automatically to correspond with the search terms someone inputs. So the page doesn't actually exist on the Guardian's website. It's automatically generated when someone types in these terms.
Relevant content is pulled in from the Guardian's database of articles where the words Slovakia and Snowboarding arise and put on a bespoke page. Very smart.
Try a few more combinations. How about 'Spain food'?
There you go... on the second page of results towards the bottom:
Fascinating stuff... So whatever terms you type into the Google search engine (within reason) there will always be a relevant page on the Guardian website.
A clear demonstration that the Guardian is employing some SEO-experts to help it.