ian-poole-radio-electronicsI had an interesting chat with Ian Poole, editor of Radio-Electronics.com and Electronics Notes, at electronica. He highlighted an issue that frequently frustrates him: companies not search engine optimising articles.

“As a general comment, virtually all articles sent in by companies and agencies in general are not optimised sufficiently if at all. As a result they do not do well on the web.”

As someone who has built two websites with very impressive traffic figures, Ian is someone I respect immensely when he talks about SEO. He pointed out that a little research around titles and keywords could enable the article to gain far more traction and return on investment, although it make take some time for the article to gain traction with Google. Unfortunately he believes that thinking about keywords and SEO simply doesn’t occur to many authors.

The problem is simple: most companies are still writing articles with print publications in mind. So the titles are written to attract readers of paper publications. Ian feels that there is a tendency to focus on the company’s message, rather than how the content will help the reader or the keywords that the reader might search.

This is a great point: it’s far to easy to forget SEO when writing articles. It’s something that the best companies and agencies understand, and those who do think of SEO will benefit substantially. Ian is keen for people to really think about how to improve the performance of the article in the SERPs: he points out that many articles don’t use subheadings – an SEO tactic that is easy to implement but all too frequently forgotten.

Although there is no excuse to optimise the body copy of the article for search engines, it raises an interesting question about headlines. Titles written for Google are sometimes not the most compelling or intriguing for humans. So should we focus on SEO for headlines or take the Buzzfeed approach and try to make it impossible for readers to avoid clicking when they see the article in a list?

Ian has a simple approach to this: he believes that SEO is so important for articles hosted on publishers’ websites that this should take priority. If, however, you are promoting the article on social media or a newsletter, then it is more about human interaction, and you should craft your title to drive clicks.

So although there is still room for fun, engaging headlines, article SEO is one of the things that authors could do to improve the ROI of digital PR activities. Do your keyword research and optimise the content, and you won’t believe what will happen next!


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