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Nov 4 / Joel Cordes

Internship Insider: SEO, copy editors and stats

Here are some highlights from this week’s mailbag at the Bleacher Report Sports Writing Internship program.

- How can I make my article more searchable?

You’re missing out on reads by not having searchable keywords. Something like “Chicago” is not going to show up in a search engine. However, “Chicago Bears” will. More of your reads come from search engines than from B/R site placement. No keywords? No reads. 

You need to use a player/team’s full name EVERY time they first appear in the body of EACH slide, even if they were already in the slide title. This is B/R protocol, online courtesy and an absolute must for being searchable. 

- How can/do I respond when a copy editor leaves notes on my edited article?

A lot of people leave feedback for their copy editors on the same board where the editor feedback was left. Unfortunately, editors won’t be notified of that. Rather, leave questions/thanks on the individual editor’s profile via a private message.

- Can an article become too overrun with stats? I maybe put too much statistical data in my articles.

Always make stats serve the story, not the other way around. If you can justify that the stats have added color to your narrative, then they belong. If it seems like your point would be proven just fine without a certain number, then it’s probably superfluous. Ultimately, it’s a gut call of poetic license.


Don’t Forget:

-   To focus on adding depth, completing any hanging statements and connecting the dots for readers, ask yourself: Is the material accessible?Are there strong transitions that tell a complete story? Have I proven my point with logic/evidence/analysis, rather than just “I feel”? Is the piece engaging enough that even an outsider would be pulled in?

- Use of video is always encouraged when you can make it work for your story. At the same time, it’s a structural misfire to shelve them onto their own slides. You should simply include the video (instead of a picture) on the actual related content slide. You don’t always need a video for every slide, but feel free to include them when applicable and available.

- Avoid huge blocks of text, whether they be in one paragraph or two. Also, don’t let your paragraphs fall into a pattern of two large text blocks for each slide; readers will get bored by the repetition and turned off by the chunky presentation. Online style needs no more than 2-3 sentences per paragraph. 

- Unlike print journalism, try to avoid specific dates or words like “today” and “tomorrow” in your lede. They make your article almost instantly out of date, whereas your piece could have a shelf life of at least a week or two.

Joel C. Cordes is Bleacher Report’s Internship Program Feedback Editor. Each week (along with contributor Greg Pearl) he includes some hints, tips and answers in an email to those participating in the B/R Sports Writing Internship, the highlights of which are shared with the B/R Blog.

  • Guest

    I’ve heard this several times from different members of the B/R staff.

    “More of your reads come from search engines than from B/R site placement. No keywords? No reads”

    Can we get a little proof of that? I don’t believe it at all.

    For my purposes I shoot for 1,000 reads per article. I only get 1000 reads when an article receives priority placement on the front page or stays on a team page for a couple of days.

    I don’t doubt the search engines are important, and I don’t doubt that the quoted statement above might be technically true when account for the Swagger section. However, someone writing for the Chicago Bears – for instance – is likely getting the majority of their reads based on how B/R promotes the article.

    • Joel Cordes

      Excellent question. Without getting into all the internal dynamics, stats, protocol, etc. The best evidence I can give is this: A 1,000 read article is typically the “benchmark” for any good article at B/R. If you hit that, you know you’ve succeeded. An article that receives any sort of site placement should have a great shot at hitting 1,000 reads.

      How about an article (any type, not just Swagger) that’s keyword heavy and thus, searchable, which hits the Web while the topic is trending AND is well-written? You’re typically talking about a 5-10k benchmark for that on top of the fact that trending articles will get some site real-estate play on B/R too.

      The best advice is: keep writing high quality pieces to get your B/R placement and build long-term readers. Keep making your articles as searchable/timely as possible so as to tap into the infinitely higher ceiling that showing up on Google/Yahoo/etc. offers. An individual article can easily blow up that way and book 20, 50 or +100k reads. That’s a lot of potential new eyes for YOUR work. It happens every day.