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The Title Makes the Post Viral

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.

Always Write for Google, Never for Humans

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.

Google Can't Resist Hot Donuts

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.

Learn from Cristina Everett's Leaked Memo

cristinaEverettCase-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.*

Behind Every Successful Paper There's a Cristina Everett

christinaEverettGooglePlusCristina 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.

Robin Williams Dead at 63

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 NewsIt works! Robin Williams Dead At 63

Pros Like to Make SEO Way More Complicated Than It Is

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!

Join The Conversation

  • Sep 5 Posted 2 years ago herbripka

    Google now shows NY Daily News at #8 for "Robin Williams dead at 63"

  • cabraham's picture
    Aug 22 Posted 2 years ago cabraham

    There are several issues associated with this leaked memo: allegendly, many, many posts were written in concert by quite a few professional writers and journalists. So, there's the literal writing for robots -- or at least really considering keywords and literalism -- and there's the conspiracy of synchronizing an entire team in concert. So, this article has nothing to do with becoming a top-5 result for "books" but it has more to do with seeing behind the curtain of what's going on in the modern newsroom. Google loves the Hot Fresh Donuts.

  • cabraham's picture
    Aug 22 Posted 2 years ago cabraham

    You may well be completely true, everything changes when it comes to Google and its love of Hot Donuts!

    Also, "simply have to write great content in terms of value (facts, ideas, originality, etc)" is complete BS because Google, even post-2005 Google, is terribly literal. So, that's why you need to write for Google. 

    If you want your article to come up when you search for "Robin Williams dead at 63" you had better write the literal string, "Robin Williams dead at 63" -- and it is even better if it's in the title.

    And, when it comes to the feeding frenzy of breaking news, all bets are off.

    And, in my article, I am only talking about Hot Donuts and Google News -- and also how this whole thing was a concerted effort by organizations fighting for #1, all of whom are allegedly trained professional journalists who have "simply have to write great content in terms of value (facts, ideas, originality, etc)" -- and who really need to unlearn that all a little bit, to speak Google. 

    That said, I really do not believe anything that Google tells me about the way they really do work versus the very basic and simple way it really tends to work.

  • Avtar Ram Singh's picture
    Aug 21 Posted 2 years ago Avtar Ram Singh

    Not sure I completely agree at all Chris. Drafting copy for Google and not for people something that I've seen SEO generalists do, but when it comes to great content, the headline doesn't really need to be something crafted for people. Most people have recommended that you create content for people and not for Google, unless you're doing it purely for the SEO.

  • David Amerland's picture
    Aug 20 Posted 2 years ago David Amerland

    Chris, that's a grea post on the pressure journalists face regarding copy and the need to write a little more literally (in intent, rather than style) than in the past. A couple of small but relatively things I would like to point out however: The keywords meta tag has been discounted completelyt by Google (due to abuse by the SEO industry) since 2005. You can put anything you want there and it will simply not matter. The description meta tag is also used, by Google, sparingly with the description snippet being re-written on the fly in search, drawing from the on-page content in relation to the search query. 

    This means you simply have to write great content in terms of value (facts, ideas, originality, etc) rather than style. 

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