Boosting readership with style

Interesting take on how to use search engine optimisation (SEO) to grab more online readership in this interview with Dan Roberts, Senior SEO Analyst for Hearst Publications’ Digital Media team. “In two and a half years we’ve seen well over 150% increase in traffic,” he says, using a tool called Wordtracker in particular.

For those who haven’t followed this argument, a good gist is here. Search engines look for particular terms, so stories get rewritten to appeal to them and advertisers bid for the rights to be associated with certain words.

“For some of the women’s titles fashion is a big part of what they do, so early on we made the decision that we’d instruct them to run some comparatives on the keywords ‘fashion’ and ‘style’. In the print context they like to use the word style, but I stressed to them that style is somewhat nebulous in that it can mean a number of things. People’s behavior online is different because when they are looking for content they tend to be much more literal, because they have to be. The Wordtracker data showed us that 7:1 people were more likely to use ‘fashion’ than ‘style’ when looking for the kind of content we were promoting.”

I cannot really understand why journalists get pissed off about being asked to adjust content to conform to search engine optimisation. We want the stuff to get found. Search engines work the way they do. Like or dislike it, that is the way to get read. It is like complaining about subs headlines (which admittedly I used to do constantly).

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