Agenda What is SEO? Why is it important? Search engines: The mystery, the magic What should the priorities be? SEO: How to Tools
What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Making your online content findable, relevant Mix of technical, human practices
Why is SEO important? Drives traffic to your site Helps grow your audience
The mystery, the magic How do search engines work? A spider crawls your website, indexing text and following links to other pages. Algorithms determine the quality of information on each page of its index: - Inbound links + quality of sites linking in = “PageRank” Relevance: When someone searches, content that matches the search is displayed, ranked by quality AND how often and how prominently the searched word or phrase appears in the matching page.
Priorities What’s most important? Headlines (title & URL) Content with depth In-line links (hyperlinks in text) Leads Beginning of a sentence/headline Photo title Cutlines
How to Be specific! Here’s why: Online headlines don’t come with other visual cues: subhead, photo, cutline, other entry points Think about the ways your headline will be viewed: mobile, RSS feeds, homepage buckets Give readers enough information to entice them to read the story.
How to Be specific! Proper names: First and last names Keywords and phrases (more on this) Specific names of towns, school districts, businesses, organizations Well-known columnist or blogger first and last name Your own content: You’ll do better in searches on local content
How to Keywords, keyphrases For Web user: The word or words someone uses to search the Web to find related content. For Web writer: Keyphrase is two or more keywords strung together that take on a specific meaning that are more than the sum of their parts. Examples: Child porn, fatal accident, Oscar nominees, movie reviews.
How to Specifics on headlines Headlines are most important Start with your print subhead Pay extra attention to how the head starts Use full names, specifics Think of how you would search
How to What to avoid Wordiness: Heads in some buckets truncate after 11 words. Don’t be punny, clever at the expense of clarity. If a head can do both, and the content is appropriate, go for it. Don’t show off your vocabulary. Don’t use abbreviations or print headlines (Sen. for Senator, N.M. for New Mexico).
How to What fun is this? Remember: You’re still writing headlines for readers. Don’t obscure the meaning just for SEO. A different challenge: Column width vs. SEO You still want to draw readers in.
How to When web headlines don’t work • “Dynasty!” (The show, a sports story?) • Multiple crashes reported on ice-slicked roadways (Where?) • Amtrak trains delayed by severe weather (Where?) • Santa sisterhood (What is this story even about?) • A Christmas stolen now retrieved (Where?) • Wake held for slain teenager (Where?) • Shop around the clock (What is this story even about?)
How to When web headlines don’t work “Turnaround time” (for whom? Where?) “PAYT in 2008” (What is PAYT?) “Spreading good cheer” (What is this story about?) “Join Forces” (With whom? Why?) Library friends help celebrate paddlethon (What library?) Local teen charged with rape, assault (What town?) Bail reduced for coach accused of rape (Coach for what town?)
How to Bad vs. good headlines • • Bad headline: • B’s whack D’s wings 3-0 in icy tourney • • Good headline: • Boston Bruins defeat Detroit Red Wings
How to You write the headline RANDOLPH - Icy road conditions Tuesday caused a three-car pile up on Route 24 North, leading to the death of one driver. Gurn Blanston, 34, was ejected from his car after it flipped at least 3 times, according to police. “The victim was not wearing a seatbelt,” said Randolph police Lt. Svern Waljinsky. Police estimate Blanston was traveling around 70 miles per hour when he hit an icy patch and spun out of control, hitting two other cars before flipping and coming to a rest in the median. Blanston’s car, a red 2008 Canyonero, was towed from the scene of the 7:30 a.m. accident, along with the two other cars involved in the accident. The other drivers were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Traffic was tied up for hours during peak commute times. Police finally cleared the scene around 11 a.m.
How to Text: How much should I change it? Depends on time. Depends on how competitive the story is. Include full names, town name in lead. Front-load your lead with a keyword or phrase. Leads should be nut graphs: who, what, where, when, why. Avoid feature leads. Be conscious of your use of keyphrases in text.
How to Text: How much should I change it? • • Bad lede: • FAIRHAVEN — The day started with the weather report saying it was 6 degrees in Greater New Bedford — and that was the actual air temperature, not the wind chill factor. • • Better lede: • FAIRHAVEN -The ninth annual polar plunge in memory of Nancy L. Schonheinz was held New Year’s Day despite frigid temperatures.
How to Text: How much should I change it? • • Bad lede: • Rain was falling heavily on a dark and stormy night when robbers went on a call at ol’ man Murphy’s. • • Good lede: • Quincy Police arrested three men in armed robbery at Murphy’s Dinner after a brief chase.
How to Case study: Publisher couldn’t find local story in Google search
How to Headline: Teen dies in crash Hamilton-Wenham - A 2008 Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School graduate died in a car accident on Sunday night. Gabriel Pacione, 18, of Larch Row, Wenham, suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at Beverly Hospital on Sunday, Aug. 10 following a single car accident on Grapevine Road. At about 11:47 p.m., Wenham police and fire units were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident on Grapevine Road. Units arrived to find a 1988 BMW 325I resting on its side against a tree near 55 Grapevine Road. Markus Hanna, 18, of Norris Road, Hamilton, was in the vehicle and was injured in the accident. He is being treated at Beverly Hospital. No one else was in the car. The accident is currently under investigation by Officer Michael Mscisz, Officer Timothy Ingraham and the Massachusetts State Police. It is unknown at this time what factors contributed to the crash and the investigation is ongoing. Pacione was a track star and had graduated from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School this spring. He was going to be a freshman at Dartmouth College in the fall. The high school is holding grief counseling today from noon to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 12 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 775 Bay Road, Hamilton.
How to New headline: Gabriel Pacionne, high school track star, dies in Wenham car crash Wenham - Gabriel Pacione, a 2008 Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School graduate, was killed in a car crash in Wenham on Sunday night. Pacione, called Gabe, 18, of Larch Row, Wenham, suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at Beverly Hospital on Sunday, Aug. 10 following a single car accident on Grapevine Road. Wenham police and fire units were dispatched at about 11:47 p.m. to a motor vehicle accident on Grapevine Road. Units found a 1988 BMW 325I resting on its side against a tree near 55 Grapevine Road. Marcus Hanna, 18, of Norris Road, Hamilton, was also in the car and injured in the accident. He is being treated at Beverly Hospital. No one else was in the car. Wenham police officers Michael Mscisz and Timothy Ingraham and Massachusetts State Police are investigating the car accident. It is unknown at this time what factors contributed to the crash; the investigation continues. Pacione, a track star, graduated from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School this spring. He planned to be a freshman at Dartmouth College in the fall.
How to WHAT WE CHANGEDChanged the dateline to Wenham (from Hamilton-Wenham). The incident took place in Wenham, and Google would find the hyphenated dateline confusing. Changed the hed: full name, town and “killed in car crash” added. All keywords we believe folks would use in trying to find the story. As a result, all those things are now in the URL and title in the browser bar. Used his full name as the first words in the first graf. Used his last name as the first word in the second graf, along with his nickname. Used active voice, fewer words and more direct words where possible: “car crash” instead of “accident;” “car” instead of “motor vehicle;” “planned” (to attend Dartmouth College) instead of “was going.” Words like “and” “was” “a” and “the” dilute the impact of critical keywords in the text. As Jon would say, you want your whiskey straight up, not on the rocks.
How to Moved more important words to the front of a graf: “Wenham police and fire” now starts the 3rd graf, instead of “Officers Micheal Wicz, etc.” Added keywords to both the photo and the story: Gabriel Pacionne, Gabe Pacionne, Hamilton-wenham, Hamilton, Wenham, car crash, Grapevine Road, high school, track star. NOTE: This is an inexact science. We used our gut feeling when choosing key words. Changed the title and caption of the photo to include his full name, school, track star status and the fact that he was killed. All in all, the number of times the victim’s full name is mention on the page is 5, instead of 1 as in the original story.RESULTS: The tweaked story ranked #1 in a Google search. Happy publisher.
How to Outbound links Linking in-story more important than related links Every story should have 2-3 links in-story Hugely helpful for search purposes Make sure the words you use to link include keywords and keyphrases.
How to Create topical pages
How to Outbound links Consider lifestyle topics Key local topics: Mayor, city council, parks, sports Make it a part of every story you post
How to Photo title and text: Image searches account for 15 percent of all search traffic Alt text (when your cursor hovers over a photo, it’s what you see = photo title) Rename for SEO: Boone County fair, not county fair; Metropolis Mayor John Smith, not Smith Cutlines: For every photo Must be specific Add keywords and keyphrases: Full names, town names, organization names, combined with hot phrases: Immanuel Lutheran Church fundraiser.
How to Give it a try Assignment No. 1Your Senator, Dick Durbin, speaking at a local Rotary event this afternoon, announced that your city will receive federal funds to make Highway 30 a four-lane road. The highway has seen a 50 percent increase in fatalities in the last three years, because of its dangerous setup.
How to Give it a try Assignment No. 2Wheaton High School’s boys basketball team defeated state rival, Springfield High School in the 5A Boys State Basketball Championship on Saturday night, 55-44. After the game, Coach Andrew Johnson announced this would be his last game. He’s retiring after 23 years and four state championships.
How to How to What you have to do Write a headline Write a subhead Write the first four paragraphs What would be your three links What would you title the photo What does your cutline say? (just one)
How to Social Media Optimization Google and Bing recently confirmed that referrals from Facebook and Twitter help a website rank higher in search results. Facebook & Twitter now have “authority,” which is important for page rank.
How to Section titles are important
How to Don’t try to game the system Don’t overload stories with keywords. Don’t overload stories with links. Search engines look for “cheating.” Bottom line: Keep your writing clear, concise
How to Develop a process in your newsroom Reporters write suggested print/web headlines Evaluate progress through analytics, referrals Establish standards for cutlines, photo names Establish process for deciding when to write ledes for search purposes Build easy-to-use link sheet
Tools How do computers “read” your work? viewer.opencalais.com - try it! Not exactly the same as Google Use it to check for keywords
Tools Find out what people are looking for Google autocomplete: Learn about popular search queries
Tools Find out what people are looking for Google Realtime
Tools Find out what people are looking for Google Trends Hot Topics - News reports - Blogs - Twitter - Facebook - Google Buzz Hot Searches
Tools Google keyword tool: Adwords
Tools Find out what people are looking for Search terms Comparison: silly bandz vs. sillybandz