A Free Piece of Advice

I searched our site the other day to find a story called “The Art of Wandering in Paris,” one of those stories that make an editor’s day. But when I searched for stories about France, it didn’t come up. Why? The word France was never used in the story.

It’s a beautiful story, and I’m not going to retitle it “The Art of Wandering in Paris, France.” Too clunky. Nowadays I would leave the headline on the story as is and put France in the url and the title that is used by search engines. I was just starting back then.

But it brings up an important point about how you can make your story draw more readers from search engines without in any way altering your personal style of writing. It’s called “key-word use in body text” and it’s listed as one of the top ten factors that Google spiders use in evaluating a web page in relation to specific key words.

“So I went to the dog show and did I ever see a lot of dogs! I mean there were dogs everywhere. Skinny little weiner dogs, long lanky setter dogs, little hairless Chihuahua dogs…”

You don’t have to go that far, but for travel writers it makes sense to include the name of the city, the region, and the country at least once, if not two or three times in the story. Adjectives won’t work. It has to be France or Thailand, not French or Thai.

This runs counter to a stylistic inclination to avoid repetition. Once we know we’re in France, it seems redundant to repeat it. But there are ways that aren’t clunky or awkward: “This mustard is said to be the best in all of France…” “Wherever we went in Italy…” “What I remember most about the hill tribes of Thailand…”

And the old stylistic considerations are less important for modern web readers. Their attention span is a lot shorter so they don’t mind being reminded what country you’re talking about.

The same goes for the theme of a trip or the activities — bungee jumping, mountain biking, parasailing, cooking school — put these key words in the body of your text. It’s not at all difficult; in fact it often makes a better story.

Key-word use in body text — there’s a free tip that will give your stories a better position on key-word searches, which will in turn bring you more readers.

Just another helpful tip from your friends at GoNOMAD.