09 December 2008

SEO & Journalism: A Defence

A defence of using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in journalism has been published by Telegraph.co.uk’s communities editor.

Writing in the British Journalism Review, Shane Richmond asserts that tailoring headlines and intros to suit search engine algorithms is a viable way for reporters to attract more readers to their content.

And he rejects suggestions (recently highlighted in an article from Guardian writer Charlie Brooker) that using SEO strategies inevitably leads to irrelevant headlines, tons of stories on the most popular search terms, and “conning readers”.

“There’s always been a certain formula to journalism: focusing on the five Ws – who? what? why? when? and where? – that underpin any good story,” writes Richmond.

“SEO rules are as important as any of these and in fact they bolster the first two.

“SEO is value-neutral. It doesn’t require you to dumb down, to fill your stories with the names of celebrities or to write 500 articles about Viagra every month.”

Richmond also points out that SEO techniques are an important tool to draw the audience which comes to articles via news filters, social bookmarking sites and recommendation sites such as Digg.

And he illustrates the changes that implementing an SEO strategy would bring to headline writing by using The Sun’s infamous “Gotcha!” splash during the Falklands conflict.

Visit BJR.org for the full article.

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