Search Engine News/Watch/Land/Journal – What The Hell Is The Difference?

A Simple Guide To The Best SEO News Sources On The Web

I come across many blogs and news sites when trying to keep afloat in the Google SEO era, but one name that keeps popping up is SearchEngineNews. Wait, I mean SearchEngineLand. Or was it Journal. Darn, I think it was SearchEngineWatch.

Fed up with not knowing which site to trust or read on a regular basis, and having no time to read them all, I decided to review each one and determine once and for all which site is worth reading and which can get ‘unbookmarked’ asap.

Search Engine News



Which Site Is It?

Whois Created: 1st August 1997

Starting in 1997 as an off-shoot of Planet Ocean Publications, SEN originally had this sloppy URL:

What’s On The Site?

The premise of the site is subscriber-only industry content and there are currently 3 membership plans to choose from:

  • Basic News ($12/month), which includes 3 how-to articles, the Search Engine Bytes roundup, updates on search engines and social media, access to the archives and a couple of reference charts.
  • Business Support ($69/month), which also bundles a guide on local search, a questions answering serve and access to the monthly meet-up.
  • Pro Tools ($149/month), which adds some online tools and training videos to the mix, along with their SEO super spider tool.

Here are some example pieces of content from the last month:

The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Google Penalties ·

Critical SEO & Design Factors For Parallax Scrolling Web sites ·

The social share figures for SEN are incredibly small as, obviously, non-members cannot view the content so there’s no point speeding it around online.

Here’s how the site rates on the FolksScale:

  • Networkability: Hard to judge without knowing the number of subscribers, but based on the loyalty, I’d give it a 3/5
  • Fun: 1/5
  • Newsworthy Nuggets: 4/5
  • Design & Navigation: 3/5
  • Useful Content: 4/5

Overall, scores 3/5

SEN is clearly an authoritative source of SEO and news and guides, but it lacks the interactivity of a vibrant social following to give it much-needed added value.

Search Engine Journal



Which Site Is It?

Whois Created: 11th June 2003

Originally started as a blogspot blog, SEJ became a fully fledged hosted blog in 2003.

The earliest post we can find a record of is from 2nd November 2003 titled: “From Iraq to iWon, the Search Engine War”, detailing how the word “Google” has become a verb and how Microsoft tried, and failed, to purchase the company. The site is optiised with some clickbank banners and a blogroll.

The founder of SEJ is Lorne Baker, who reportedly has been working in SEO and paid search since 1998.

Search Engine Journal is operated by Alpha Brand Media, a publishing platform that markets other blooms including

What’s On The Site?

Despite the name “journal” suggesting a more scholarly approach, SearchEngineJournal is best described as a sort of specialised Mashable for the SEO crowd. Posts are rarely newsworthy and mostly offer tips, how-to guides or musings on industry developments.

Taking a random day as an example (Friday 20th June), Search Engine Journal published the following articles:

Writing Panda-Pleasing Content Your Audience Will Actually Care About

Hiring for Growth: 13 Fail Proof Ways to Streamlining the Process

#HOWTO: Use Twitter Search Like a Pro

Google Announces Update To The Google Shopping Feed Specification

Snapchat’s Most Popular Feature Isn’t Actually Snaps

Like Mashable, SearchEngineJournal likes to boast its total shares for each article in the homepage snippet. Most posts get around the 400 mark, but comment figures are low, typically less than 5 per article.

High Shares + Low Comments = SearchEngineJournal does not have a very loyal following.

Here’s how the site rates on the FolksScale:

  • Networkability: 1/5
  • Fun: 2/5
  • Newsworthy Nuggets: 2/5
  • Design & Navigation: 4/5
  • Useful Content: 3/5

Overall, SearchEngineJournal scores 2.4/5

SEJ is a decent middle-ground site with a little bit of news and a little bit of fluff. If you like posts that are easy to digest and can be skim-read in about 30 seconds, Search Engine Journal is your top pick.

Search Engine Watch


Which Site Is It?


Whois Created: 20th March 1998 (domain may have dropped earlier)

SEW started in 1996 when the team created a popular guide called “A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines”. You can still view the original document on here.

It’s still surprisingly good as an intro to SEO.

What’s On The Site?

Search Engine Watch grew to cover multiple SEO topics and churns out fresh content daily. Access is 100% free and a good 50% of posts report on recent news events.

On Friday 20th June 2014, Search Engine Watch published the following articles:

How Responsive Design Increases the Results of Your Online Marketing

6 Reasons for Your Lack of Content Marketing Success

PPC Budget Forecasting 101

Google Updates Shopping Feed Requirements

Google Adds One-Click Music App Integration

Bing Ads Bid Landscape Tool Comes to Ad Group Level

Google Kills Google+ Direct Connect Feature

Like SearchEngineJournal, SEW gets a good number of shares per article, at least 200 going up to over 1,000 for a few viral topics. Comments are low, around 5 or less per article, showing that SEW is definitely a throwaway news site with a high number of readers but few loyal followers.

Here’s how the site rates on the FolksScale:

  • Networkability: 1/5
  • Fun: 2/5
  • Newsworthy Nuggets: 4/5
  • Design & Navigation: 4/5
  • Useful Content: 4/5

Overall, SearchEngineWatch scores 3/5

It’s the best site for a blend of relevant, updated SEO news coupled with lighter guides but offers little reward for bloggers or networkers looking to connect and discuss trends.

Search Engine Land


Which Site Is It?


Whois Created: 1st February 1995

While the URL was registered much earlier, SearchEngineLand as we know it was not officially launched until 11th December 2006. The site is the pet project of Danny Sullivan, who has earned himself a whopping 1.7 million Google + followers.

Third Door Media is the company overseeing SEL and its partners. is a sister site to, a similar site that focuses on wider marketing issues (although there is some crossover). The SEL team runs SMX, Search Marketing Expo, which boats to be the largest search engine marketing conference in the world. The group also includes Digital Marketing Depot.

What’s On The Site?

Almost entirely focused on industry news and updates, SEL offers a secondary site area with How-To guides and magazine style pieces. A Webcast and Whitepaper section also gives Search Engine News extra credibility. Sharing levels are about double those experienced by SearchEngineWatch, from about 300 to 2000 per post. Commenters are also slightly more active on SEL, with 5-10 per post.

The daily SearchCap column offers an easy-to-read overview of daily news and updates – ideal if you’ve not got much time to

On 20th June 2014, SearchEngineNews posted the following articles:

The Feature Google Killed The + Command For — Direct Connect — Is Now Dead

Google Issues Best Practices For Shopping Campaigns Ahead Of This Summer’s Big Transition

NEW: Google Links To Apps Not Pages, When Searching For Musicians On Android

Rather Than Opt-Out Of Google, German News Publishers Demand 11% Cut Of Revenue

Here’s how the site rates on the FolksScale:

  • Networkability: 2/5
  • Fun: 2/5
  • Newsworthy Nuggets: 4/5
  • Design & Navigation: 4/5
  • Useful Content: 5/5

Overall, SearchEngineLand scores 3.4/5

SEL is a stellar source of SEO news and has the juice to back up its position with plenty of research and resources, being an industry lead. If you like easy to read fluff pieces and lists like “Top 10 ways to use Google+ in the rain” then it’s not the site for you.

Final Verdict

If you only have time for 1 SEO news site, make it SearchEngineLand. If you need lighter-hearted content, stick with SearchEngineWatch or SearchEngineJournal. If you have a hankering for exclusive paid content, opt for SearchEngineNews.

For better SEO networking, keep your ear to the ground on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and be an active follower/commenter on as many active and useful SEO blogs as you can.