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Telegraph winning at film review SEO

August 12, 2009 One Comment

Can't decide whether to watch a film? If you're searching online for a current film review, the Telegraph is winning the SEO battle.

If you do a search for a film name plus the word review then, looking at the top 5 UK box office films:

  • The Telegraph's the ONLY site that appears on the first page of results for all 5 films when searching UK-only pages at Google.
  • Only the Telegraph and Rotten Tomatoes appear on the first page of results for all 5 films with an all-sites search.
  • The Telegraph appears as the first result for UK-sites-only for all 5 films.
  • For 3 searches on 'film name + review' the Telegraph has TWO results in the top 10.

You can see the full results in the table, here.

The secret of the Telegraph's SEO success?

It's not rocket science.

Get your titles right

The Telegraph consistently titles the pages 'Film name, review'. Other sites put their brand name in first, or dilute the keywords with unnecessary words like movie or trailer.

Yorkshire Post, for instance, includes the film certificate in its HTML title. You might need this on internal links or on-page headings - you don't need it in the google results. So it's first for a search on 'The proposal review 12A'. But it's 6th for a search on 'The proposal review'.

The Times is even odder. It insists on putting the word video at the front of its title, which looks really weird in Google. 'Video: The Proposal - Times Online' doesn't even look like a review when you see it in Google.

Get links

The Telegraph has links to its individual reviews - these are syndicated by RSS and quite a few sites have chosen to include links to its reviews.

Link to searched-for pages off your main navigation pages

And equally simply, the Telegraph has a link to all the 5 films on its main film reviews page.

TimesOnline, for instance, doesn't currently have links to its Harry Potter review from its main film reviews page.

I really can't understand this (unless this isn't a common search term still as the film's been out so long, but this seems unlikely) ... Then again, the Times does have a feature on the 50 biggest movies of 2008 on there, so maybe they haven't updated it for, er, 8 months.

Publish twice ... or more

The more times you're in the results, the more likely you are to get clicked on.

The Telegraph has reviewed a couple of these films twice - with exactly the same title (ie 'film name, review' - here and here, for example) and it's been rewarded with two places in the Google results (I'll gloss over the user experience issue). On top of that, it has picture galleries, previews, columnists' views etc ...

Lessons to learn

They're a bit obvious. But:

  • Call pages what people are searching for.
  • Encourage people to click your page in the results by making titles clear.
  • Get people to link to your pages.
  • Include links to important pages on your main navigation pages (if you don't think a page is important, why would google?).
  • And if you can get away with it, write about whatever it is twice ... or more.


I looked at the top UK films at Channel 4 film. Then I did a search for the film name plus the word review. Although I've said top 5, it was actually 5 of the top 6. I excluded G-force as the results were rubbish. Google wasn't counting the Telegraph as a UK page and featured several identical reviews from the View network of sites (so much for duplicate content filters). And most of the rest were games reviews.

For each film, the table shows the sites' position for a search on film name review - for all pages and UK-only pages. The searches were done at Games reviews that appeared in the top 10 have been ignored. The table is ranked by all-pages first and then UK pages.

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