Over at the Online Journalism Review, Robert Niles has posted a must-read for any online news editor or webmaster.
If you’ve never read anything about how search engines work, and you’re responsible for structuring your publication’s Web presence, check out what Niles says about categorizing your stories in a way that allows readers to find what they’re looking for:
What if a news organization, employing professional journalists, wrote their news website like a wiki? I’m not taking about turning over the page to readers. I’m suggesting that — instead of distinct daily takes — news stories could be covered with encyclopedia-style articles that staffers would update with new information whenever available. How many more inbound links would such an approach get? How much higher in SERPs might this page place than a traditional story archive page? And, most important, how much more accessible would a new or infrequent reader find this approach — as opposed to the traditional list of links to daily news stories?
At the Daily, we’ve been wishing for a way to make this happen. Our content management system has something called “meta keywords” (read as: tags), but they’re only visible to us on the backend, and don’t allow us to organize content on pages according to keyword.
Of course, you can do that here. Just click on any tag to read more about a given topic.
Then again, newspapers that prefer to hide week-old content behind paywalls might see this as a bit disruptive, although they could easily just link to related headlines with tags, and then charge for access to anything beyond that.
Bonus Link: If you’ve never read anything at CNET’s news.com site, go click on any article, like this one, for example. Look for a few red buttons on the right side of the page – one says “The Big Picture.” Click on it, and a Flash-diven mind-mappish graphic loads up, letting the reader click around a visual map of related stories. Cool. Not to mention sticky. Makes me want to scroll around and read more about what I’m interested in. Funny how that works.