SEO for Modern Editors

Many journalists have a problem with SEO; are their criticisms valid?

I’ve witnessed it in person and read numerous articles on frustrations with SEO.

Many journalists dislike, or fear, SEO – depending on the stage of the career they are in. Some find it to be out of the realm of traditional journalism, and therefore, isn’t relevant.

Why is it that traditions have to always remain the same? Why isn’t evolution taken into consideration?

A recent article from discusses how journalism blames SEO. He cites an article from The Atlantic that expressed the notion that because of search engine optimization, “many copy editors fear that funny headlines are quickly going the way of the classified ad.”

It appears that those copy editors, and journalists alike, don’t necessarily grasp the usage of SEO and the benefits it can have.

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The argument for SEO

First off, as Dominic Litten, the author of the aforementioned piece from explained, funny or witty headlines do not have to be rewritten to appease search engines. They can remain as journalistic as ever – they just need to follow a specific publishing process.

For instance, as content management systems are widely used by online publishers, different titles can be used in the same article. The title tag can focus on keywords for SEO while the journalistic headline can receive an H1 tag. Litten suggests changing both to the SEO’d title after the initial day of publication or issue. There could be variations to that timeline, depending on the title itself and what would catch the audience’s eye.

Second, a focus on SEO doesn’t diminish a writer’s skills. In fact, it helps them develop a broader skill set. They are able to write a story as they would in journalism school, with the exception of adding keywords during the second draft.

Personally, I find incorporating keywords into written pieces as a wanted challenge. Why is it that many journalists don’t see it the same way?

Lastly, SEO opens the Internet for writers. You can produce an amazing piece, but have no one see it without SEO. This is especially true for journalists not associated with a publication. Writers working for publications online already have an audience to cater to; writers working solo need SEO even more to be found by an audience interested in the topic, and not just interested in the associated publication.

For more on this topic, take a look at the PointToPoint article, or this great article from Amanda MacArthur entitles, “The Five Stages of SEO Denial”.


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