BBC News website to feature longer headlines on story pages, making them easier to find on search engines.
Not before time, I remember being called by them in 2006 for advice which they thought a bit expensive on the marketing budget at that time, obviously with dollars dwindling and more eyeballs on websites now they have had a change of heart.
“We estimate that about 29% of BBC News website UK traffic comes from search engines.”, says Steve Herrmann, editor of BBC News website.
The BBC will therefore allow its journalists to create two headlines for a story. While the shorter one between 31 and 33 characters appears on the front page and the website indexes as well as on mobile phones, the longer one – up to 55 characters will appear on the story itself – and in search engine results.
Search engine optimization has become a standard practice for most online organisations over the past couple of years, the guardian.co.uk included. As users began to find stories more and more via search engines or Google News, via personal recommendations on social media or in email, via links on Twitter or their RSS readers, news publishers wanted to be sure of reaching them.
“The practice of ‘search engine optimization‘ – making content in such a way that it is easily retrieved via search engines – is an important area for us and for others across the web.
So does the justification damage the use of language? Or does it only stop journalists from inventing too complex phrases that were not understandable anyway? Since search-optimized headlines will tend to include all the key words a user might type in when he or she is searching for a topic, the headlines may even be more useful.
In fact, in the news sector, the changes are minimal – as the BBC shows in an example: “Possible counter-bid for Cadbury” becomes “Ferrero and Hershey in possible counter-bid for Cadbury”. Might be a bit harder to scan on a front page, but the longer headline is definitely more informative.
May be the Canadian newspapers, TV and Cable companies here might eventually catch on