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Monday, February 28, 2005

News site registration impedes search accessibility

An interview with Topix.net founder and CEO, Rich Skrenta, on SearchEngineBlog.com sheds some light on the importance of internet search and the problem that news site registration causes. Skrenta and co. have designed their popular "news organized by topic and location" website to avoid articles that require registration. "Registration gates cause the majority of our user complaints. Because of this, the Topix.net robo-editor will do its best to find a related story to link to that is not behind a reg gate. So if the same story comes out in two places, but one is behind a reg gate and the other is not, topix.net will link to the story that won't impede users clicking on it with a form." Thus, Topix.net could feasibly pose two problems to newspaper websites:

1. By avoiding registration sites, a standard practice of most major dailies, Topix.net could prove detrimental to branded news. If the site's popularity continues to rise, breaking news will become less associated with well established, credible news organizations if they maintain their registration requirement.

2. Advertisers may become even more hesitant to hawk their wares on registration sights if Topix news searches become the internet norm. Registration allows advertisers to know the demographics of a site's readers. If reader statistics become vague or disappear all together because of search, advertisers won't know where to place their ads.

Despite these problems, Skrenta is still optimistic about online news. "I think there's a big opportunity for existing media organizations to take advantage of the current online trends, and add incremental value and profit to their delivery of content online. The exact nature of these business models is still sorting itself out but some online operations are doing very well, and we've talked with some very forward-looking folks in traditional media businesses." Will one of these "forward-looking" business models be the abolition of registration?

Source: SearchEngineBlog.com through SusanMernit's Blog

Posted by john burke on February 28, 2005 at 03:53 PM | Permalink


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das ist ein toller Beitrag!

Posted by: bodoro at Aug 11, 2006 6:20:09 PM

It seems that this is a provider-specific issue given that other aggregated news services, e.g. Google News and MSN's various aggregated news offerings, currently provide users with links to registration-required articles.

Posted by: Kenneth Smith at Mar 3, 2005 10:07:40 PM

If another non-registration site has the same story we have -- Topix is welcome to send traffic to that other site, cause that means it's an AP story ... of course, none of our AP stories reside behind registration anyway ... we serve almost all of them off the AP branded site.

People that really care about local news for our area are going to 1) visit us first; 2) register for our site. So Skrenta isn't really convincing me there's a problem here.

Posted by: Howard Owens at Feb 28, 2005 9:13:51 PM