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#Tip of the day for journalists: BBC News advice on headline writing for SEO

September 6th, 2012Posted by in Search, Top tips for journalists

The BBC Internet Blog has a post on search engine optimisation in BBC News.

Martin Asser, senior product manager, news & knowledge, BBC Future Media, shares advice that he gives BBC journalists.

I have given colleagues a four-point checklist for their headlines as the most effective way of making that happen. (As long as they follow the basic principles of journalistic storytelling, the rest should take care of itself.)

The points are:

1. Use words that people would use in search in order to find the information being provided

2. Avoid words that people would never use in search to find that content

3. Put the most searchable elements at the front

4. Proper names are often used in search, so – following rules 1 and 3 – names should be included in the headline and if appropriate at the front.

It is worth reading the full post, which expands on the points. It is also interesting to note the maximum length of a BBC headline is 55 characters.

Asser states:

Journalists are given 55 characters (including spaces) to express their creativity, a length chosen because it equates to the space allocated for the page title on a Google search results page.

And it’s worth reading to the bottom of the post for the hedgehog headline.

Also see our guide on how to write headlines for SEO. runs a one-day course in SEO. Details are at this link.

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