search engine optimization — basics
SEO and the Newsroom
Journalists work on deadlines. In a 24/7 online newsroom the deadline is always now. In this environment the most important elements of the news are accuracy and speed. There is no time to research keywords and going through a process of re-write for SEO doesn't make sense.
However, even under time constraints there are things that even breaking news stories can do to improve SEO and should be part of the natural workflow. Many of these recommendations are simply shapening the good writing and editing skills that are a stock-in-trade of every news organization.
- Include specifics in the lede. Include a dateline. In addition to making clear what happened provide clear, searchable information about where and when.
- Clearly and completely identify people. Photos should include cut lines with first and last names. The SEO addition is to include this identifying information in the alt tag.
- Structure the story with subheads. Readers on the web scan. 500 words without a break is not scannable. Put in two or three subheads into your article. Use clear information-rich wording for the subheads.
- Write a hed that is SEO aware. Include specifics—first name and last name, where—including city, and the news hook in easy-to-understand words. Do not use clever heds...the Internet is not a news stand.
- When you write the <title> tag information use this formula: hed + category + news organization name.
- The hed should have an <h1> tag. Subheads should use <h2> and <h3> tags.
- Don't paginate articles. Divide long pieces into two or more articles. Each article will have it's own head and information structure. Tie related articles together with internal links using keyword-rich anchor text.
For Tech Editors:
- Include story and hed keywords in the URLs.
- URLs must be unique for each article and they must be permanent.
- The URL must contain a non-date numeric code of at least three digits—Google (weird) requirement.
- Put CSS in external files that can be cached. This will improve the user experience and reduce bandwidth consumption.
- If you want stories to be considered for Google News, there are additional requirements for URLs and you will benefit from using a news-specific sitemap.