News Sites Boost Paid Search Use

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Some online publishers have increased their use of paid search listings to draw readers to their Web sites.

The online arms of The New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio and several other top media outlets are running search campaigns on Google and Yahoo. They hope to lure readers who increasingly turn to search engines as their starting points for navigating the Web.

The New York Times Digital, for example, bids on hundreds of keywords through Google and Yahoo's Overture Services unit. Through its search marketing firm, Fine Brand Media, NYTD targets terms tied to current events such as "presidential election," "World Series news" and "finance news."

"Where we see real success is where the keywords line up with our strength in coverage," said Michelle Slack, director of marketing and operations at NYTD.

NYTD has advertised through Google and Overture for two years, initially for so-called verticals such as finance news and real estate news. In August, it expanded its search marketing to include general news terms such as those related to the Olympics and the presidential election.

Slack said NYTD is reaching out to search engines as an increasing amount of its traffic comes through referrals, with the two largest sources being Web logs and search sites like Google News. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, Google News drew 6.5 million visitors in September.

Google News, which is still officially in test mode, does not accept advertising. A Google spokesman said the company had no plans to show ads related to searches on Google News.

Matt McAlister, vice president and general manager of online at tech publication InfoWorld, said he uses paid search mainly to drive users to specialty properties, such as a new online technology products guide that InfoWorld publishes.

"What you have to do is make sure you're being smart about the value of a visitor to your site," he said.

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