In the highly competitive world of online news, the battle to attract readers has seen online news providers adopt SEO techniques to ensure their content is well-placed in searches to attract visitors. This is quite a turnaround from a few years ago when journalists viewed SEO techniques with suspicion, as if writing articles while bearing search engine optimisation in mind would compromise the quality (and credibility) of their writing.
The worlds of journalism and digital marketing are increasingly intertwined. News providers are having to embrace SEO to get noticed, while developments in Google’s algorithm (combined with increased online competition) mean that businesses can no longer expect to generate web traffic by simply shoehorning popular search terms into blogs and website content. Businesses need to spend time creating meaningful copy.
At Silver Monkey we have been combining these two worlds for some time, as we have a number of experienced journalists on the team to support our digital marketing activities, which means we can put the emphasis firmly on creating engaging and informative content for our clients while at the same time honing in on key search terms that will boost the ranking of their websites.
Here’s some SEO tips from our own journalistic team:
1 – SEO is NOT the adversary of good writing
SEO is not the nemesis of quality writing, quite the opposite in fact. The days of keyword stuffing are long gone. Quality content is king in the world of SEO, because only interesting, well-written and engaging content will be clicked on, shared and linked to.
2 – Use headlines wisely
Journalists use headlines to attract readers to their story and encourage scan-readers to take the time to read the article. This remains good practice in the digital world, but titles and subheadings are a key means to give “prominence” to keywords and phrases that you are hoping to attract searches for. Think of it as a key way of helping Google (other search engines are available) to categorise your article.
3- Tailor your content to a web-based audience
Online audiences digest content in a different way to readers of printed media. They tend to digest in bite-sized bulletins and want shorter, punchier pieces that they can retweet or post on social networks – all stuff that helps with SEO. Journalists catering for the digital world need to make their pieces shorter, more easily digestible and to the point. One infuriatingly effective tip is to produce articles in list-form or as top-ten style formats that online readers love and often pass on. Cheesy I know, but it works.
By way of example, this very article is called ‘Five tips on how journalists can benefit from SEO’. Likewise, an article on driving abroad can easily be titled: ‘Five tips for driving abroad’. This approach also encourages use of sub-headings – formatting that also boosts the SEO of an article.
4 – Use descriptive link text
Google’s search engines like good quality and relevant links in articles – having a path for their spiders to “trawl” helps them assess its relevance to a search. Links also make journalistic sense too, either to your source reference material, a link to a previous article that provides background to a story, or to related pieces that offer readers further information.
When you create a link, don’t just anchor on the bland ‘click here’ part of your text, that’s amateurish. Ensure your link text is descriptive – for example, click here to find out how to treat a slow draining plughole.
5 – Use full names and terms
Always use company names, phrases or people’s names in full rather than abbreviate them unless they are universally known terms – such as SEO, for example. This simple technique provides more clarity to the Google-bots as to the meaning and subject matter of the article without and compromise on quality.
6 – Write for people, not search engines
DO NOT fall into the trap of writing articles for the benefit of search engines; Google’s anti-spam algorithms are keen to spot and penalise “over-optimised” content. People (and therefore Google) are only interested in genuinely engaging content that reads naturally… hence the value of great writers and journalists to world of SEO.
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