As readers have begun to demand news updates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, newspapers have scrambled to satisfy these cravings, and search engine optimisation (SEO) has become very important for newspaper websites.
Even though Facebook and Twitter are providing a lot of referrals to online news websites, search engines still provide an initial point of entry for many new visitors.
SEO provides the key opportunity for websites to jump to the front of the line in the search engine result, and reach these visitors, who may not be loyal to a specific news brand, and pull them in by presenting relevant site links for them to click.
You have to think of a search engine like Google as a newsstand – SEO helps to get your newspaper at the front of the stand and most likely to be picked up and read.
Website pages tend to appear at the top of a Google search result only if their content matches the search, so SEO essentially involves writing content that uses keywords that people use in searches.
If a website also has lots of links to theirs from other pages too, links are votes, and get you elected higher up in search engine results. And search engines also value the use of keywords in URL’s.
Unfortunately, for people who like to write fluffy, clever headlines and who like to play on their words, online journalism and SEO will not be to their taste.
When optimising content, the print-inspired writing style has to be banished.
News sites need a style that most effectively allows their words to reach the intended audience and this involves bland, bold and simple headlines littered with keywords that people are likely to type into search engines to get information on a particular topic.
Throughout the article, there should also be frequent references to the key words and phrases that the article is meant to be about.
Online journalism is more about being clear than clever, so to produce SEO effective headlines, you have to imagine yourself as a reader and ask yourself what terms you would put into Google if you were searching for this story. Those are the terms you should put in your headline and page title.
You have to write tight, not waffle, and keep paragraphs short because long paragraphs send a signal to the reader, which says ‘This will require effort’.
So there you have it; a writer’s quick guide to SEO writing for newspaper websites.