Articles for print publications often have a shorter lifespan than those for online publications.  A reporter’s shortlived by-line fame on the front page only lasts until the paper is thrown out or until the next day’s news arrives.

Print articles also don’t always reach beyond cultural or geographical lines. Most publications are only regional and people have to subscribe to them. When I was living in southern California, I only had exposure to the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times. Living on the east coast has converted me to the Washington Post and USA Today.

The first time I came across the Washington Blade was while interning in D.C. I picked it up and skimmed through it without knowing it was a gay magazine for the D.C. area. The magazine went bankrupt in November 2009 and I would have never known what it was if I didn’t live and work in the greater D.C. area. Unlike publications that have an online presence, there is almost no way of accessing any of the magazine’s previous articles.

Articles from online journalists however, can survive even once the company dies. They will always exist somewhere in the infinite cyber universe. With search engine optimization (SEO), I don’t have to be committed to only one newspaper or magazine. Now I can search for any topic I’m interested in through Google news. This is why the usage of ledes, headlines and story tagging is so crucial for articles to not only live but become viral.

While exploring a few stories on the BBC, I found that not many of them come up first in news searches. For some, I couldn’t find them at all in  my keyword searches. This could be because BBC is a foreign publication or it could be because they have poor SEO. Here are some examples:

One article I looked at on the BBC was regarding male breast reductions. The article was titled male breast op numbers “growing fast”. When I did a search for this, I found an article from the BBC but it wasn’t the same one. It might just be a cultural thing but I don’t often see or hear people use “op” for “operation” in America. I did a google search for “op” and I only found a clothing line, co-op, op-ed, and original poster. The headline writer could have just changed the word “op” to “operation” or “reduction.”

One of the most popular stories in today’s newspapers was about an honor killing of a 16 year old girl in Turkey, which resulted in 113 stories for my news search. I did a news search for “Turkey honor killing” and again the BBC did not come up on the first page. However when I clicked the link for “related articles,” I was able to find the BBC version, titled Turkish girl “buried alive” in garden. For a more effective SEO, I would replace the word “garden” with “honor killing” and include the word “Turkey” somewhere in the lead.

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