Despite their often powerful local brands, one of the persistent challenges for newspapers is traffic. And although some newspapers are doing relatively well, their traffic generally doesn't enable them to offer the kind of advertiser value proposition they can in the offline world. And even for those that get considerable traffic in their markets, often the traffic doesn't extend across the site but resides in selected content areas, limiting the value of much of their online ad inventory.
Today's Search Day article is about how the NY Times is trying to make itself more search-engine friendly as a way to grow traffic (it's also an indirect branding strategy). This is a major effort that, in my sense of the industry, most newspapers could not now duplicate. But in some hypothetical future redesign of newspaper sites, search engine optimization must be factored into the equation.
Why? Beyond the obvious reason of getting found more often when people are seeking news and local content via search, it would provide more exposure for the full range of content (including classifieds) that newspapers now possess but which is generally buried on their sites.