Optimising the Search Engine

It is so tempting to add the word BOOBS to my title, just to see if Charlie Brooker’s SEO theory works out.

It was all about planning for the machine and writing for the human in this week’s online journalism lecture. Sounds quite clinical put like that, but the idea is fairly easy to wrap your head around.  Basically, in the miasma that is the scope of online journalism there is no room for witty headlines and punning toplines.  You’ve got to think about what people are searching for, and deliver.  Simple as.  Except when you’ve spent the last two years with every article you’ve ever written headed by a carefully-crafted cracker.  Examples that stick in the mind (is haunt too strong a word?) include ‘The Eagle has Landed’, ‘Busted!’ and ‘You’re nicked!’  Ah, memories.

So what are the important things to remember when trying to carve a presence in the world of online journalism?

  • Bullet points are your friend – they break up the page and are easy to read
  • Say what you mean.  No more ‘miasmas’ and ‘the world of…’s.  Damn.
  • Try and get the main point of your story/post into its opening 25 lines.  No more rambling about ‘When I Was a Local Reporter…’ in manner of nostalgic and slightly seedy old man
  • Categorize and tag for extra search hits.  We all know about tagging thanks to the joys of that morning-after Facebook notification.
  • Hightlight the super-important bits.  But don’t overdo it otherwise it will end up looking like the words are shouting at you.  A BIT LIKE WHEN YOUR PARENTS FIRST LEARNED HOW TO TEXT BUT DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO TAKE OFF CAPITALS.
  • Write links that mean something.  Link to something that will add to your story rather than illustrate some point you’re too lazy to analyse.
  • Keep it short, keep it snappy.  People tend to switch off after the first 200-500 words.  On that note


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