As part of the deal with Google, the search advertising company will teach
AOL how to optimize its pages for best placement in the Google rankings.
Take the billion dollars Google is throwing at Time Warner for five percent of AOL, and Google will throw in some lessons on search engine optimization. The New York Times included a little tidbit in the second page of its story about this:
Google will also provide technical assistance so AOL can create Web pages that will appear more prominently in the search results list. But this assistance will not change computer formulas that determine the order in which pages are listed in Google's search results.
"The Search" author John Battelle, whose Federated Media has the New York Times Company as an investor, commented in the Times that the search placement, and a similar arrangement for videos in Google Video, "represents a step closer to a slippery slope" for Google.
AOL co-founder Steve Case penned an article that appeared in the Washington Post that may have influenced Time Warner's agreement with Google, the Times report said:
Mr. Case's argument was timed specifically to encourage a Google deal, said one person close to him. Mr. Case's longstanding animosity toward Microsoft played a part, this person said, but his main reasoning was that Google has proved itself far smarter about the Internet than Microsoft.
The most surprising part of the sudden switch from Microsoft to Google by AOL is this statement in the article:
An executive involved in the talks said Time Warner asked Microsoft to give AOL similar preferred placement in advertising and in its Web index and that Microsoft refused, calling the request unethical.
Search marketing professionals should keep an eye on AOL pages after the deal gets finalized and AOL starts appearing higher in Google's index. Although it is assumed Google's help will be with regards to advertising, the report doesn't specifically state this is so.
If Google indeed does help AOL craft those pages to snare high spots in the organic listings, without manually tweaking the algorithms, those pages will be a masterclass in SEO design for those who want to score highly as well.
"AOL, You've Got SEO", by David A. Utter, 2005-12-19