When it comes to dominating search, especially when it comes to blogging and publishing, you need to always write your headlines and copy first for Google, then for people. Humans (and their flexible brains) are very forgiving when it comes to reading possibly stilted, "robotic," keyword-explicit headlines and articles, but Google is not.
You always need to always write exactly the copy -- the exact phrases -- that you believe people will most likely use to find what they're looking for -- and you're writing for. It's true, no matter what anyone says -- even at Google HQ! The title is the most important but so is the first paragraph, especially if you can insert that copy into your Description Meta Tag and your Keywords Meta Tag headers. It just makes sense, especially with breaking news, when you're proffering content that Google will not have the time to ruminate and deeply examine it before they need to include it in the real time web where it will show up on search.
As I have said before over the years, Google can't resist fresh hot donuts. They just eat 'em up. When there's breaking news, Google just passing stuff through, very literally, but right now. If you can get the keywords right and be the first to market (first post!) then you can take the headlines away from even the biggest players -- at least at first, and especially if there's a little orchestration.
Case-in-point, Cristina Everett's memo to her WebEditors at New York Daily News on August 12. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) converge, where I live. I had a big pitch yesterday in NYC yesterday so I rode my motorcycle up and back. On the way home I played through my Stitcher queue. Half way through New Jersey Le Show came on. You'll know Le Show from its host, Harry Shearer. In every show, he reads through the week's trade publications and then features a segment named "I'm Sorry" in which he reads through the last week's formal apologies. On August 12th, New York Daily News editor Cristina Everett wrote a memo to her writers thanking them for the awesome work they've done getting and keeping their stories about the death of Robin Williams written by New York Daily News at the very top of organic search:
From: Everett, Cristina Date: August 12, 2014 at 5:33:00 PM EDT To: WebEditors Subject: ENTERTAINMENT handoff! NOTES ON ROBIN WILLIAMS STORIES/HEDES!! Thank you to everyone who did a great story [sic] with keeping our stories SEO strong with the * Robin Williams dead at 63 * header for the first 24 hours. Starting tomorrow morning, we can scale back on the robot talk (meaning no death header) just as long as the stories continue to *start* with his full name and include buzzy search words like *death, dead, suicide, etc.*
Cristina Everett may well be judged guilty in the court of industry and public opinion, but she's feeling the heat from above, isn't she? Journalism is becoming a kill or be killed blood sport. She is probably being pressured by her bosses about click-throughs, ad revenue, performance, and all that -- and she's dealing with dinosaurs, also known as reporters, and those trilobites known as copy editors -- professionals who only receive awards when they write carefully-turned prose, not when they write the perfect Google-bait, search-bait, link-bait. Cristina Everett will not get fired. She's a star. She delivers the goods! She's able to get her writers in line with both the stick and the carrot. She was able to get her web team to write quickly, efficiently, and on-point, leveraging a global event, a beloved and universally-adored actor, and a tragic loss to bring a heap of traffic, attention, and ad revenue to wee little New York Daily News, broadsheet tabloid gossip mag. Bringing vast attention, traffic, and notoriety -- even if it's negative -- is ultimately good for the paper.
Were it not for the news story behind the memo, we would never have had the opportunity to see the truth behind the story: even in the post-keyword and post-link-juice, post-page rank era of Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, one must always write for keywords, always write for Google -- especially for Google News, Yahoo! News, AOL News, and Bing News! It works!
Write every single line, from your headline to your closing line with Google in mind. No matter how stilted your copy might be for the careful reader, you'll never ever get read if you don't end up in the first-5 search results on page of Google search -- or Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, Facebook, whatever. Your article will never go viral, it'll never be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, reddit, or even on Google+.
Good luck! Go git 'em, Tiger!