May 272009

 Trolley Topics (December 1951)Tom Grubisich wrote yesterday that newspapers need to do a better job of “selling their content” to readers who arrive at a particular article or blog post via search engines.

I don’t know if emulating carnival barkers will convert searchers into loyal visitors, but journalists (mainstream and otherwise) can help tell a story and provide context by adding, or linking to, related content whenever possible.

Steve Yelvington’s great “tale of two audiences” post explains how a news site with a large base of occasional users can use beatblogging or link-laden topic pages to help readers make sense of incremental stories.

A topic page typically contains a brief textual and visual synopsis of one topic (e.g. a person, issue or company) along with links to other articles, blog posts, pictures, video etc. For examples, see the Chicago Tribune’s topic page on Senator Roland Burris and the New York Times page on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor

Here is a small collection of links about topic pages, mostly related to journalism or news organizations.

Google: Linking, curation and topic pages were mentioned throughout Save the Media’s account of testimony from Google’s Marissa Mayer at a recent U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the future of journalism.

Twitter: blogged about how they added tweets to their Barack Obama topic page earlier this year.

Wiki: The “What Is Research?” blog suggested that topic pages could help a Wiki-like site for “mathematical know-how.”

SEO: PBS’ MediaShift tapped an SEO expert who listed the creation of topic pages as a tip to improve search engine rankings.

Tags: Scroll down a bit on “Search – Aiding The Recovery” to read about  the idea of using tags to create topic pages.

Beta: The BBC and BusinessWeek have both experimented with topic pages for almost a year.

More recommended topic page and curation links:

Photo by Telstar Logistics via Flickr.

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