by: Thomas Hobbs
As part of Texas States’ Mass Communication Week, Eric Webb, producer for statesman.com, gave a presentation on optimizing digital content for search engines Wednesday.
The use of search engines to find articles and other digital media is not only common place but is an increasing trend. In 2013, 23 percent of the statesman.com’s reference material was derived from search engines according to Webb. In 2014 The figure increased by 1.4 percent. Although not an astounding increase, its demonstrates that even media professionals are increasingly reliant on search engine results.
Search engine optimization is the practice of applying various strategies to increase a pages visibility and rank on search engines. Users have a strong tendency to click and view the top results. In the competitive field of journalism its important for articles to be as high as possible in ranking. “Top of page top of mind,” said Webb.
To optimize digital media for search engines Webb suggested several strategies. One such strategy is to use search tendencies found through the use of analytics to discover the most popular searches of a given topic. When President Obama visited Austin in July of 2014 Webb used Google analytics to find that “Obama in Austin” was the most often searched phrase when Obama last visited Austin. After urging his staff to include the phrase in their pages titles, the statesman.com found its articles at the top of Google’s results boosting online traffic.
Webb further suggested that page titles should have important information first, include the subjects full names and have limited punctuation. Puns and wit are commonplace and often encouraged in headlines, but have no place in a pages title if the author wishes to encourage page visits from search engines like Google or Yahoo. “Be literal, specific and brief,” said Webb.