Teacher Resources: SEO tips for beginners - how to get your news noticed!

Scottish independence referendum story on BBC News website
Image caption It's important to get names and searchable terms into headlines

Millions of people use the internet to read the news, and it's a very competitive market to get people to read your stories as opposed to any others.

That means you have to think about "search engine optimisation" - or SEO as the modern jargon abbreviates it.

Put simply, this means putting words in the headline that search engines, like Google or Yahoo, will find and put at the top of the list, meaning your story is seen first.

A lot of people don't find their news by going to a site like the BBC News homepage, and clicking on an interesting story.

Often, they search for something specific that they are interested in, or know is happening, and then click on the news reports that come at the top of the list.

Image caption Putting names at the start of a headline can help people find your stories

A simple way to start thinking about it is to think: what would I search for if I was interested in this topic?

The "golden rules" of good SEO headlines are:

  • use full names as much as possible
  • put the most important terms as close to the start of your headline as you can
  • try to minimise the number of "unsearchable" terms in your headline
  • but don't forget that the headline still needs to be properly written, and not just a jumble of key words!

So, imagine you were interested in finding out about, say, the announcement of Lady Gaga's new tour dates.

What would you type into a search engine? Probably "Lady Gaga" and "tour" or "tour dates"...

So a story about this should have those terms in the headline if you want people to find it: "Lady Gaga's new tour dates revealed" tells you what the story is about and would be very SEO-friendly.

If you had a headline like "US singing star reveals new details for tour", people who are interested in what you are writing about will struggle to find your story.

Other good questions to ask when you are trying to come up with your SEO headline include:

  • what are the names of the main people involved?
  • what one or two words sums up what the story is?
  • where is the story happening?

SEO could make all the difference - if your story appears at the top of a search term it could attract web traffic for a long period of time.

And for more tips, look at this guide from the BBC's SEO guru Martin Asser on the BBC's SEO guru Martin Asser on information on the BBC's College of Journalism site.