SEO Companies are Spurring a New Breed of Journalism
Many journalism students dream of a career working for a traditional newspaper, complete with a work station stained by coffee cup rings and a morning rush to see their latest article in print. This type of writing job can indeed be exciting; but many journalism students are now recognizing the opportunities available by working for a web development company. These companies provide a platform for journalists to learn how to write for search engine optimization (SEO), which takes a considerable amount of talent and practice in order to master. The boundaries of journalism bend somewhat when they are applied to SEO writing, but the basics of good writing are the same for both print and online media.
- Pay attention to Internet search engines. Internet journalists need to understand how search engines work, which takes a knowledge of what keywords are and where to place them. When SEO writing first appeared, many journalists would repeat certain keywords and keyword phrases in order to “push” their content—and therefore their web pages—to the top of the search results page. Search engine software creators quickly caught on to this type of search engine word cramming, and the practice has largely disappeared. However, SEO journalists still need to be strategic in using keywords so that their pages are found by search engines, which usually means they need to use their keywords in the first 250 words of their copy.
- Understand Internet readers are impatient. Internet readers have a notoriously short attention span, so journalists who are writing Internet content need to convey precise, eye-catching information very quickly. Most Internet pages have fewer than 800 words and many have between 300 and 400. Content writers must cut way down on useless and time-consuming information or readers will simply navigate away. Internet journalism is short and to the point and encourages readers to investigate further.
- Adhere to basic rules of grammar. Any Internet journalist of high quality will carefully avoid basic spelling and grammar errors, as these are quickly caught by intelligent readers. If a reader assumes that the writer is sloppy or inept, they will make the same assumption about the content.
- Check and re-check purported facts. While it may be acceptable for an amateur to make outrageous claims on a personal webpage that is only viewed by their friends, a professional Internet journalist is a staunch fact-checker. They are the voice of their web writing company and should always understand the seriousness of that responsibility. An Internet journalist not only has to find sources to back up their content’s claims, but they also have to be good at checking on the reputation of their sources—which can be a real challenge at times.
Journalists who want to stretch their ability to communicate well are increasingly branching out into Internet media. Web writers need to fully embrace the basics of good journalism: capture the reader’s attention, write well, and check sources. However, they also need to understand the reality of how Internet readers choose their information, as well as how succinct their writing must be to hold their reader’s attention. Internet writing is slowly reaching the quality standards of traditional journalism; and the economy of words used in web content makes it a staunch rival for print media as both appeal to busy readers.