Karen Workman wins SEO Headline Writing DFMie

Karen Workman
Karen Workman

Karen Workman of Thunderdome won the 2014 SEO Headline Writing DFMie.

The nomination explains:

Karen Workman has emerged as a leader of Thunderdome’s efforts to publish the best possible headlines, even hosting standup meetings to enlighten and encourage her colleagues. And as deputy editor of the breaking news desk, she is able to lead by example every day.

Workman is a wizard at chopping headlines down to their most SEO-friendly elements, using the right phrases to maximize their effectiveness. She knows what works and will write several draft headlines, if time permits, to get the right wording. In short, she is a leader in headline-writing techniques, as the accompanying links show.

These were the headlines and results submitted with her nomination:

Lupe Fiasco ushered offstage at inaugural event after anti-Obama rap

More than 22,000 page views in the early days of Thunderdome (Jan. 21, 2013)

Video of Miley Cyrus’ shocking VMA performance

More than 21,000 page views. (Aug. 26, 2013)

NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon pranks unsuspecting car salesman in Pepsi video (WATCH)

Page views: 14,779 (Mar 13, 2013)

Video: Jennifer Lawrence falls on way to accept best actress award at Oscars

Pageviews: 11,731 (Feb. 25, 2013)

‘Sharknado’: Watch the trailer and understand what everyone is talking about

Pageviews: 10,006 (Jul 12, 2013)

Watch video of Sunny, the new dog at the White House

Pageviews: 8,668 (Aug. 20, 2013)

Samsung’s Super Bowl ad making fun of copyright issues goes viral

Pageviews; 6,126 (Feb. 1, 2013)

Judges’ comments

Karen Workman is able to carefully walk the line between headlines that are SEO-friendly and headlines that are human-friendly. She uses excellent keywords, but then also uses less-than-usual but effective words that both save more space for SEO keywords AND convey more tone and content to a human reader who finds the headline with or without a search, encouraging the click. “NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon pranks unsuspecting car salesman in Pepsi video,” for example, uses “pranks” as a linchpin verb without any loss of SEO effectiveness. “Video of Miley Cyrus’ shocking VMA performance” doesn’t need a verb with “shocking” in it. These headlines are both conversational AND effective, a quality that has become rare.

About Karen Workman

Workman serves as deputy breaking news editor for Digital First Media’s Thunderdome.

Workman began her career with at The Oakland Press, a Digital First Media daily newspaper in Pontiac, Mich., in 2004. She worked as an editorial assistant before becoming a reporter, and later as community engagement editor, before joining Thunderdome in 2012.

Workman graduated summa cum laude from the journalism program at Oakland University in Michigan.

She was selected as one of Editor & Publisher’s “25 under 35″ in 2013, is a fond wearer of hats and has fallen deeply in love with Brooklyn. She is not, however, very good at being a hipster.

Other finalists

Other finalists in SEO headline writing were Lauren Osborne of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Daniel Tedford of the Los Angeles News Group.

Susan Steade of the Bay Area News Group won the 2013 SEO Headline Writing DFMie.

Steve Buttry

By Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry is Digital Transformation Editor for Digital First Media. He oversees our efforts to transform newsroom operations and culture to more effectively pursue our digital goals. His duties include responsibility for social media and community engagement. He has visited most DFM newsrooms personally, leading workshops and coaching editors and other journalists in following the Digital First approach.

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