Zalaznick: Blame all the Vail Valleys on Google
Vail, CO Colorado
We have received some flak for all the ” Vail Valleys” all over our website. Well, these readers who’ve com-plained are right, and we’re sorry, and we’re not going to change a thing. OK, maybe we’ll change one or two things.
But mostly we’re still going to put ” Vail” or ” Vail Valley” anywhere we can get away with it.
Why? Not because it’s a beloved marketing term – newspapers are typically allergic to marketing terms like “shoulder season” or “pre-owned” or “tribute band.”
Our born-again devotion to the term ” Vail Valley” can be blamed on the rulers of the uni-verse, Google, and the murky but stupen-dously important concept of “search-engine opti-mization.”
And no, that has nothing to do with the power of the Vail Mountain Rescue Group’s snowmobiles.
Search-engine optimization, based on a top-secret fuzzy-math algorithm developed by extraterrestrial CIA agents, means that when you search for the word ” Vail” in Google, we want the Vail Daily to be on the first page of results and as high up the list as possible.
The day we started putting ” Vail Valley” in every headline, we weren’t on the first page. Now, we are, though we’re sometimes below the Vail, Ari-zona, school district.
Are you kidding me? Vail, Arizona?? We’ve asked them to change their name.
OK, here’s how search-engine opti-mization works: When someone types in ” Vail” in a Google search, the firm’s tiny microscopic robots – known as algorithms – fly around the universe at 12 times the speed of light looking for the word ” Vail” wher-ever they can find it. The robots report the results back to the Queen Bot at Google HQ, who then lists web-sites in order of how many times the word ” Vail” appears within.
So, a perfectly optimized but total-ly absurd headline would be ” Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail.” Because that would really annoy the reader, we only turn Edwards and Avon and Minturn and sometimes even points farther west into the phrase ” Vail Valley” even though, geographically speaking, there is no such place.
Of course, there’s no such place as Silicon Valley, either, but it’s still where Google’s microscopic robots live.
And when we really can’t cram ” Vail Valley” into the name, we cheat by starting the headline like this: ” Vail Valley: Eagle residents irritated by Web headlines.”
Yes, we did once, in a bout of search- engine optimization we are slightly ashamed by ( but only slightly), write ” Vail Valley’s Devils break track and field school records.” Alas, the Devils are Eagle Valley High School’s teams. The school not only has “Eagle Valley” in the name – it’s also in Gypsum, the heart of the “Eagle Valley.”
I think a nice compromise would be to keep the name “Eagle Valley High School” but change its mascot to the “Fightin’ Vails.” Not only would that make it easier for us to write headlines for our website, but it might please Google’s microscopic robots, who will be running everything in a decade or so.
Google also likes to see ” Vail” in first sentences of stories, photo captions and what we call the secondary head-line. That means a perfectly optimized lead sentence would be ” VAIL – Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail.” Because no one would read that sto-ry, we lobbied hard for the new Battle Mountain High School to be called ” Vail Valley High School.” It’s why we’ve asked Vail Resorts several times to change Beaver Creek’s name to ” Vail Mountain West.” It’s why we’ve begged the U.S. Forest Service to trade “White River National Forest” in for ” Vail Vail National Vail Forest Vail.”
To sum up, all I have to say is: Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail Vail.
Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2926.