This past Sunday’s On the Media NPR program featured several stories about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you have always wanted a clear and simple explanation of this mysterious field, check out these excellent audio segments (transcripts also available):

How to Cheat Google

Companies who find their websites on the top of Google's search results get a huge traffic boost, a traffic boost that can translate into millions of dollars in sales. Not surprisingly, this has led some companies to look for ways to game the system. New York Times reporter David Segal explains how one company, JCPenney, did just that.

Matt Cutts, Head of Google's Web Spam Team

When most companies try to improve their search engine optimization the search engine they're optimizing is Google. But the ease of a Google search belies the hard work that Google engineers like Matt Cutts do behind the scenes to assure that search isn't gamed or unfairly manipulated. Cutts explains how Google must set the search rules, over and over again.

How Search Engines are Changing Journalism

As online news outlets vie for search engine supremacy, journalists are learning to write their stories so that they appear on top of search results. Perhaps no outfit does this better than The Huffington Post. The site was just bought by AOL for a whopping 315 million dollars. Slate's Farhad Manjoo says that the driving force behind The Huffington Post's web traffic is their SEO-savvy style.

Steven Rosenbaum and the Curation Nation

What if instead of relying on search engines to get our information, we relied on each other - friends, experts, journalists - to deliver us information by way of carefully curated websites? Steven Rosenbaum, CEO of and author of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators tells Bob that our curated content future may have already arrived.

The Formula for a Most-Emailed Story

What motivates people to want to share a newspaper article with a friend, co-worker or grandma? What makes some stories climb to the top of the "most e-mailed list"? Professors Katherine Milkman and Jonah Berger studied The New York Times' most e-mailed list for months, combing through thousands of articles. They discovered a surprising characteristic of most “most e-mailed” stories. Professor Milkman explains.


A music video of the “Page Rank” song by SEO Rapper played at the end of the episode.