Search Engine Optimization


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An introduction to search engine optimization for college journalists at The Daily Tar Heel

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Search Engine Optimization

  1. 1. Search Engine Optimization & what it means for you
  2. 2. What is search engine optimization? The Wikipedia definition: The process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. But basically, search engine optimization (SEO) refers to tactics to make the content on your Web site easier for readers to find through search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! and AOL.
  3. 3. What's the point of SEO? Journalism is in part about sorting through information and organizing it in ways that help readers quickly understand what they need to know. SEO is the next step in that process, helping readers find that content online.
  4. 4. What does SEO mean to the DTH? About 1/3 of our traffic comes to from a search engine. Some Web sites bring in half of their traffic from search engines. Using SEO (smartly) can help us increase the number of readers that visit It's complicated, but essentially more people means more money from advertising.
  5. 5. What factors into search engine rankings? HEADLINES & LINKS
  7. 7. Two words or 11 characters A Nielson study found that readers typically only scan the first two words (or roughly the first 11 characters) of a headline. That's how much space you have to convince the reader to keep reading. BAD: Police arrest two for prostitution, including Chancellor Thorp BETTER: Police arrest Thorp for prostitution BEST: Thorp busted in prostitution ring
  8. 8. Make the most of the space Most search engines will show up to 70 characters of a headline. That, plus the need to grab readers by the first 11, means headline words need to be chosen carefully. Use keywords in the headline that the reader might use if searching for a story on that topic. Re-use words found in the lede of the story.
  9. 9. Keep it simple, stupid Print headlines thrive on puns, alliteration, metaphors and other creative writing styles. But search engines are literal. A headline that makes sense on print when placed next to accompanying photos, graphics and text could fall short online. Keep headlines straight-forward and simple. Save the colorful and creative headlines for print. NO: Crikey! YES: Steve Irwin killed by Pit alligator
  10. 10. Other headline tips Don't abbreviate words in headlines or use acronyms not widely used. "BOE" might be an appropriate abbreviation in print for the campus Board of Elections, but online that would compete with thousands of other boards of elections for attention. Spelling out "Holden Thorp" online helps search engines differentiate between which Thorp the article is about.
  11. 11. Don't be sneaky If the article's not actually about Britney Spears, porn, sex, drugs, or anything else that drives hits, don't put it in the headline. If you mislead readers, they won't trust you. NO: "Online POKER marketing could spell the NAKED end of VIAGRA journalism as we LOHAN know it."* *(this is a published headline, but it wasn't serious)
  12. 12. Don't go overboard Stick to one keyword. Don't try to cram in every possible variation on that term. NO: "James Earl Jones Died? Death, Dead, No Longer Living?"* *(this is a published headline, and sadly, not a joke)
  13. 13. LINKS
  14. 14. Why we link Adding hyperlinks serves two purposes: It points readers in the direction of useful additional information. It makes your existing content more relevant and worthwhile to readers. The quality of both inbound (other sites linking to you) and outbound (your site linking to outside sites) links are considered by search engines.
  15. 15. What to link Externally: Link to Web sites that offer content the DTH can't provide. As the saying goes, do what you do best, and link to the rest. Internally: The DTH tags all content with keywords related to the article. Each tag has its own page that collects all the articles about that topic. Link to that page on first reference to point readers toward background information.
  16. 16. The importance of being linked to Being linked to by other sites shows that your content is worth reading. It's evidence of the value readers can expect to get from the site. The easiest way of getting linked to is to offer great, useful content. We can help this process though, by promoting stories on social networks and online elsewhere. If a blog we're reading writes about something we've covered, we can e-mail the writer and share our content. It could result in a link back.
  17. 17. Linking for search engine optimization When we put a hyperlink in a story or a blog entry, we try to be as descriptive as possible with the text we place the link on. This helps search engines tell what the link is and the quality of the link. NO: linking "Read the report here" YES: linking "Thorp detailed his goals" for the upcoming year in the e-mail.
  19. 19. Other SEO tactics We do other things to increase the "rank" of our pages in search engines: When we promote links on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, we use to shorten the link, which gives our site "credit." We create and maintain longterm pages that collect resources on a particular topic over time. We use keywords in our URLs: /thorp-announces- plan vs. /breaking/1235453.html We don't duplicate content on multiple URLs
  20. 20. SO WHAT?
  21. 21. Whose job is SEO at the DTH? Everyone's. We all need to be thinking about these strategies for every article, photo caption, video description or blog post we write. Copy editors must write clear, succinct headlines. Reporters must write informative articles. Editors must help tag and categorize content. At every level in the newsroom, SEO tactics can be incorporated.
  22. 22. What does SEO mean for me as a reporter? You want people to read what you write, right? When you're writing, think the keywords you would use to search for the story online. Try to incorporate those into your lede and throughout the story whenever it makes sense naturally. But don't force it just to use a keyword. As you write, keep a list of extra content the final story could link to for additional information.
  23. 23. Additional resources SEO Cheat Sheet Newspapers need to learn SEO for headlines SEO for journalists Top 10 SEO tips for online news start-ups This boring headline is written for Google