Canadian Magazine Industry News
14 February 2008,     TORONTO
Web editing tips from the CSME luncheon

It’s one of the cardinal rules of print journalism—avoid repetition. But according to Jennifer Melo, online editor at Homemakers.com, it’s a rule worth breaking on the Web. If you want search engines like Google to rank your page highly, repeating keywords goes a long way, Melo said. “When you see [the number of page views] climbing, it’s difficult to say ‘I’m not going to repeat.’”

Melo—along with Shanda Deziel of Macleans.ca—spoke to a group of editors yesterday at a luncheon hosted by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors. The topic: Creating Great Content Online.

Melo began her presentation by handing out a sheet, listing “21 ways to create great online content.” Numbers always attract readers, she said. “Last month, nine out of 10 of our top performing articles had numbers in them.”

She also told the room that 30% of traffic to Homemakers.com comes from search engines. Because of this, optimization is key. The Google Adwords function is a great way to find out what words potential readers will use to search for a topic.
Explicit titles are more search-friendly than ambiguous ones, she added. “You may have the most clever title in the entire WWW, but search engines—and users—won’t find that article if the title is not clear.”

Deziel, who returned to Maclean’s after a stint as managing editor for AOL.ca, described herself as someone who was “a total print snob” before making the switch to online journalism world.

She described the internal discussions that took place at Maclean’s regarding how much magazine content to put on the website. In the early days, staff was concerned about “cannibalizing” the print edition. “We only put content up a week after the magazine,” she said. “But we learned from focus groups that Web readers are from readers of the magazine.”

Deziel said the strategy of putting magazine content on the Web immediately has been successful, pointing out that Maclean’s stories have been linked to on popular websites such The Huffington Post, Perez Hilton and Gawker. “I’m all for free content right away for your Web audience,” she said.

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