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#BrightonSEO: The Importance of SEO at BBC Sport by Paul Plunkett

It is a well-known fact that when it comes to journalism, SEO is not as popular as it could be. I bet many old-school journalists still think all online editorial is nonsense and SEO equals compromising on good writing or wooing audiences with scandalous stories.

However, it is also a fact that journalism in undergoing a massive turmoil. Readers are simply no longer looking for news in the paper but online and the journalists who want to make it in the future need to realise this. It is also advisable to take a different approach to SEO. It actually is a useful, if not crucial, tool for those who want to keep up with the digital world and produce top notch editorial material that reaches its audience.

This is what Paul Plunkett, the Assistant editor at BBC Sport interactive was talking about in his practical, 7 minute talk about the importance of SEO for BBC Sport and how they have adapted editorially to compete with rivals such as the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Guardian and Sky Sports.

To begin with, BBC sports audience is 15.8 million people weekly and 52% of these people come from a mobile or tablet device. 15% of all audience lands from search so it crucial to beat competitors in google rankings. Here are Plunkett’s top tips on how to successfully do this.

Headlines: Getting the headline right is extremely important: it needs to be informative but also juicy enough to grab the reader’s attention. Moreover, in modern world the headline also needs to include all the essential keywords – all this in only 55 characters.

Keywords: It is not just the keywords that matter – they need to be in the right order. Even more important is to remember that as the story unfolds and develops, the keywords need to develop and change too. Editorial material needs to be constantly updated.

Plan for big events: Reporting about SEO kickers such as Olympics and World Cup needs to be carefully planned beforehand. Often, however, the individual becomes bigger than the event. Murray became way bigger than Wimbledon, so the emphasis on headlines, keywords etc. needed to be on him.

Finally, this is a list of things one should bear in mind with online editorial:

  • Story summary
  • How you name your picture
  • Captions and alt tags
  • Inline links to internal content
  • Inline links to external content
  • Intros to stories
  • How you update stories
  • Features, video and audio
  • Planning for big events

In my opinion, Plunkett’s tips are very basic SEO and common sense but far from useless. They show that SEO does not have to conflict with principles of journalism. Precise editorial work and well planned storytelling is still the best way to rank high and to get people talking.

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