‘How SEO is changing journalism’ by Shane Richmond
It has been said that there is nothing punny about bad puns, yet I have always found guilty pleasure in reading the puns that have splashed headlines of newspapers. My personal favourite was the marginally witty ‘Celebrity Big Blubber’.
Yet, like or loathe them, according to this 2008 article in the British Journalism Review, the “Gotcha” headlines that have been a staple of both tabloids and broadsheets for decades have no place in online journalism. Author Shane Richmond claims that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) ensures that articles containing important keywords pertaining to a story will be placed much higher in online searches. So while ‘Last Few Hours of a Hollywood Legend’ may be more striking than ‘Heath Ledger Dead’, it’s the latter that will gain the higher SEO ranking.
All practicing journalists should read Richmond’s article, as it effectively demonstrates how journalists must take heed that online writing is different from print. Online journalists are competing against possibly thousands of others news outlets who are covering the same issue, but as Richmond notes, standing out from the pack doesn’t require being clever or witty. On the contrary, it requires simply telling the story in a simple, straightforward manner.