Google Doesn’t Listen to Public Radio
Writing a news story for the air and writing for the web are two different things. Listeners need to hear a story full of sound, natural cadence and they don’t need the topic of the story reset in every paragraph. Google doesn’t read public radio news stories the way humans listen or read.
The whole point of Google and other search engines is to deliver the most relevant results in the top position. People who search for certain terms don’t want to page down to find the best information; they want it up top. That’s the premise of the algorithm and everything else supports the premise.
If you want your public radio news stories to rank high in Google you have to remember to adjust your copy when posting. The first thing you have to do is figure out what search terms people will be using to find your story. We used “Florida Recount” in a previous example. Given the Thanksgiving holiday some others could be: “Black Friday,” “Outlet Mall,” or “Parking Garage.” You’ll also notice that I bolded the keyword at the top of this paragraph. Google can see bold and other font attributes and sees bold settings on a key word as a plus. Hopefully if you Google PRNS (spelled out) and Yasko, then this page should pop up in the top three results pretty soon. I abbreviated the key word in the previous sentence because Google will downplay your results if it feels your are Key Word Stuffing; using the key word over and over again to game the algorithm.
So let’s say your editor assigns you a story about Black Friday in your community. Your piece might start with a parking lot sound effect and then your first lines might be something like this:
It’s a cold day here at the Lake Worth shopping center and bargain hunters are out in force for Black Friday Shopping. We spoke with Andy McMan whose checking out the power tools at the Sears store.
You’ll notice that only one of the search terms “Black Friday” is used in the first paragraph of the story. Most folks in the market would know that Lake Worth is an Outlet Mall and it may have a parking lot instead of a parking garage. But these are the words Google is using to score and rank your post. Plus, Google knows where the searcher is geographically located and delivers results based on that location so being clear about the location of the shopping center helps Google rank you higher in and around Fredrick, Maryland.
Your first few lines of your story on the web should include all those terms and a Dateline (something we’ve gotten away from in public radio writing). Don’t hem and haw. You may have already written this into your introduction that the host read prior to the start of your piece. Make sure it gets included in your full post.
Here’s what the top of your post should read like prior to the start of your transcribed radio story:
It’s Black Friday at the Lake Worth Outlet Mall in Fredrick, Maryland and the parking lot is full and so are the stores. We sent Bill Ryan out to find out what Black Friday has become to mean to shoppers at outlets looking for the perfect gift.
You’ll notice that we got two of the search terms in the in the intro twice and got as close as we could to “parking garage” since outlet malls are usually sprawling complexes without garages. How likely are you to rank high up in the results? As with anything in Google and Bing, it’s hard to tell. Good rankings takes using best SEO practices over time so that Google -trusts- your site more and more. We’ll talk about that in a later post.
This is a topical and time sensitive story. Google could hours, days or even a week to crawl your site and discover this new post. Make sure your digital producer or whoever has access to Google Search Console submits your url as soon as it’s live on your site. While Google makes no promises, new posts get crawled and added to the index within a few minutes of making the request. This is an important step in getting search engines to crawl your site as often as possible. The more crawling, the links it follows the more times it recategorizes your rankings. This is an oversimplification to be sure….we will cover the never ending nuances of SEO for Public Radio in future posts.