Here are seven resources for covering climate change for indie publishers

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report dropped, I found myself feeling discouraged. What can I do? What can any of us do? (Note: if you happen to be the CEO of an oil or car company, you can actually do a lot. Please go do that RIGHT NOW.)

But documenting the effects of climate change is an important part of ensuring change happens — as does telling stories about the solutions. In this edition of the Indie Publisher, I’m giving you a couple of resources and examples on how to report on climate in your community.

The Earth Journalism Network has a guide on how local journalists can report on the UN Climate Report.

Climate Central was launched in 2019 to provide tips and tools for local reporters aiming to tell more stories about climate change and solutions. Here, you’ll find plenty of resources and story ideas to pursue.

Need to get caught up on the science side? Your team can take a climate reporting masterclass offered by Climate Matters in the Newsroom.

Climate Communications, a U.S.-based organization, also offers fact sheets on a variety of topics relating to climate change and offers one-on-one assistance to journalists.

The Society of Environmental Journalists has an excellent list of media organizations’ climate beats, as well as award-winning coverage — definitely a place your team can draw inspiration from.

Covering Climate Now is another organization that brings together journalists working on environmental stories from across the globe. It has tip sheets, reporting and regional guides. You can also apply to join as a partner publisher and share your content.

The Global Investigative Journalism Network has compiled an amazing list of resources and ideas for enterprising journalists.

Do you have another great resource other indie publishers should know about? Email it to me, and I’ll tweet it out

In the news

Opportunities and education

And one more thing… 

Indiegraf CEO Erin Millar joined The Walrus and Facebook to discuss the future of the internet. You can watch the event replay here

Three tips to write effective SEO headlines for news

Why are news headlines important for search? 

According to David Ogilvy, “five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” If the only thing a person is going to read is your headline, you want to make it count. 

Headlines are captured in the <h1> heading tag in your site’s HTML. A web page should only ever have one H1 heading tag, containing the most important piece of information. 

A title tag is the number one element that Google looks at to rank your page. If your title tag is Your Headline + Your Brand (most content management systems will do this for you), then your headline — by default — is the most important thing you can control. 

Headlines tell Google the purpose of the page, and conveys to readers the context and meaning of the story. A well-written headline convinces readers to click and tells Google what your story is about. 

Three tips for crafting effective SEO headlines

1. Headline length 

Headlines should be under 70 characters. However, on the search results page, Google will cut off a headline based on the pixel width (at 600 pixels).

Headline examples:

  • YES: 81% of Canadians say Canada-U.S. border should remain closed: poll  
  • NO: A new poll shows a majority of Canadians think the US-Canada should remain closed

2. Front-load your main-focus keywords

Based on the character and pixel limits, try to front-load headlines with the main-focus keyword or phrase — but don’t overload or overwhelm your headlines with target keywords. This is called “keyword stuffing” and it’s a no-no for Google. Identify your main search phrase and maybe one secondary key word/phrase, and get them in at the beginning of the headline. 

When readers scan your homepage or search results, they will often only read part of a headline. Make the most of the first few words. 

Headline examples:

  • YES: Data shows 54 Florida hospitals out of available ICU beds as COVID-19 cases surge
  • NO: Some intensive care units are running out of beds

3. Hacks to help your headline 

Here are six helpful hacks to consider when writing a headline: 

Numbers: Numbers are a concrete way to let readers know what they can expect in a story, especially if your article has clear action items or takeaways. Odd numbers seem to do better (the human brain is a mystery!), and common figures (5, 7, 9, 15, etc), are great — though something unusual (79? Why not!) can catch someone’s eye, too. 

Dates: Useful both for search and for conveying a particular, specific moment when something will happen. People will add the date (March 11, 2021), days (Monday to Sunday), or a recency (today, now, etc) when looking for recent or current news. Use those same phrases in your headline.  

Questions/W5 words: Who, what, where, when, why. These trigger words are the bedrock questions your story needs to answer, so tease that information by asking a question in the headline itself. This can help set a reader’s expectations, so be sure your story delivers whatever question you set up in the headline (otherwise this is clickbait). 

Synonyms: Consider variations of a name or place, especially if you need to trim for length. 

Top keywords and related keywords: Look at the phrases that send traffic to your site or story. Be sure to use those terms in related reporting.  

Places: Where a story is happening. If the story is about a specific place/physical location—those words should be in the headline. Specificity is your friend here. 

BONUS: The most important headline hack

The most important headline hack: Write for a person. As important as headlines are for search, readers should remain your first priority. Ensure headlines are descriptive of the article while considering SEO. Clarity over tricks. People first, search second. 

Action item: Look at the top headline(s) on your website. Run it through a headline preview tool. Ask yourself:

  • Is the character count under 70?
  • Are key search terms cut off? 
  • Would you click this headline?

If the answer to the above is yes, you’re good to go.

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