Concentrate on headlines to boost your traffic

If 7m individuals visited your website each month would you be happy? Maybe; I guess it rather depends on who you are and how many people already visit. For the Daily Telegraph, however, this was seen as too small an audience. That’s a remarkable thought, considering the newspaper itself only sells 700,000 copies a day. The website for the Telegraph was clearly much more successful than the newspaper itself, yet that massive audience was not enough. So, The Telegraph installed Julian Sambles as “Head of Audience Development” and over a two-year period he helped take The Telegraph from 7m unique visitors a month to a whopping 31m visitors each month. And he cut the company’s marketing spend at the same time. Many, many more people visiting the website AND much lower costs in getting them there. So what’s his “secret”?

It’s actually rather simple. In an interview at the recent Search Engine Strategies meeting in London, Julian revealed that it is training the journalists that is key to the dramatic shift in online readership. They have received video and audio training, as well as being guided on writing for the web so that their content is picked up by search engines.

In other words, merely focusing on producing content in a way that makes it easy for people to find it, has been key to the success of The Telegraph. Getting journalists to write for the web first and the newspaper second has enabled The Telegraph to produce content that is easily indexed by the search engines, thus boosting the online circulation of the newspaper.

It’s a simple strategy that can work for any website. Produce content – written, audio and video – and make it findable by the search engines by concentrating on writing “for the web”, rather than writing as you might for a printed document.

Crucial to the success of The Telegraph has been ensuring that their headlines are search engine friendly. Their journalists have been trained in writing headlines that are keyword rich and easy for the search engines to index. Indeed, like many newspapers, the headlines get serious attention. The Telegraph has shown that by putting effort into their headings, as well as to all the other content production, they can be more easily found by the search engines and therefore have more traffic.

It’s a simple lesson – but one which few businesses appear to take. Produce content, lots of it – and then spend time and effort in producing the headlines that will attract readers and which will also be indexed by the search engines. Headline writing cannot be downplayed as a skill – and if you don’t know how to write good, keyword rich headlines, then it’s time to learn. The Telegraph has shown that with training on things like headline writing and producing good, keyword rich content, online traffic can be boosted significantly.

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