Writing the Perfect News Article
News articles are probably going to be the most common article type that you see on AOTF, if only for the fact that there is new news every day. There is an opportunity for good traffic on news articles, but it’s not quite as simple as reading something somewhere and re-posting it on our site. You’ll want to make considerations in a number of key areas for a successful news article. You’ll want to choose good topics and follow the format listed in this article.
Finding Popular News Topics to Write About
One of the most important things you can do prior to writing is to do some research on your topics. There are plenty of topics that might seem interesting to you, but have very little enthusiasm outside of that. You can try to find out what’s popular by using Google Trends. We’ve got a good article on using Google Trends that you can find at this link. Search traffic is going to be a large part of your traffic regardless of which article type you are writing. Covering topics that are trending will give you a much better chance of getting more traffic.
There are also a number of other avenues that you can take to find news. Some of these include
- News Stories From Press Releases
- News Stories From Other Sources
- News From Twitter/Reddit
- Watching Developer Videos/Streams
- Reading Developer Blogs
Once you’ve found your news story to write about it’s time to start worrying about the other factors. The 3 main factors you will be paying attention to are Title, Word Count, Format and finally, SEO.
Picking a good title for your news post
There are many websites that are covering the same thing when it comes to video game news so you need to stand out a bit with your titles. By no means do we suggest click-baiting, but you’re going to want to toe the line in this regard. You want to be descriptive, but not too descriptive. You’ll want to entice people to click on your article title so you won’t want to give everything away in it. This article goes over some of the basics that you need to think about when titling your news articles – https://attackofthefanboy.com/the-importance-of-titles-to-your-bottom-line/
At the end of the day you want your news article to be different from the pack. That starts with a title. What you absolutely do not want to do is have the same title as every other person that’s covering the story. This happens a lot because much of the “news” about video games actually come from press releases that are sent from PR Companies to journalists. So you’ll want to try and digest this information personally and then make it your own.
You also want to look for adding keywords into your titles, often times targeting more than one trending keyword. This can be the name of a game, the name of a developer, the name of a platform and more. Using keywords like “release date” combined with the game name, or platform + game name can be helpful in ranking for popular search queries.
News should be easily digestible to the reader. Great formatting of your post can really go a long way in making this happen. Breaking news down with headings that indicate what sections of your article are talking about can help with that. Bullet points or other formatting can make information more easy to understand for readers. This article is a prime example. See that black bolded text that says “Formatting” above this? That is a heading and it lets the reader skim this article and look for what interests them.
The minimum word count for a news article is 300 words. Feel free to go over this limit, but if you can’t find 300 words to meet this requirement it might be time to find another topic. There are many ways to hit this requirement and that includes stretching your content or adding to it in the middle and end parts, which we’ll discuss below.
The Basic News Article Structure
When it comes to news articles your introduction isn’t much of an introduction at all. Instead, look at this as an opportunity to answer any questions or deliver the news directly to the reader. There is no need to have them scanning one or two paragraphs for the gist of your news article. Put it right there at the start of the news article to give them an immediate answer to what they’re looking for. Is a new game coming out. Tell them what it is, when it’s coming, and where it’s releasing. Right there in the introduction. Your introduction should generally have your keyword in the first sentence.
As we explain in our WordPress tutorial there are a couple things we think should be in the beginning of your article and that’s especially true for news articles.
Within the first sentence of your news article we suggest that you use bolded text on the subject of your article. Your main keyword, generally should be the name of a game. In the first sentence you should definitely use this keyword and when you use it it should be using the strong tags (This is the B button in the WordPress visual editor). If the subject/keyword is Call of Duty. You’ll want to have primary and secondary keywords. In this example our secondary keyword would be Activision. For that secondary keyword we are going to italicize the text.
ex: Today, a new Call of Duty game has been announced by Activision and they’ve said it will be releasing this fall. The new game, Call of Duty: Paleozoic will be the first in the series to feature humans vs. dinosaur combat. The publisher has revealed that Sledgehammer Games will be working on the new title and that it will release on October 1st, 2021.
If you would like a little bit more detail about why this should be used for SEO purposes you can check out an explanation here.
The Post Body (2nd Paragraph)
After you’ve laid out your introduction you’ve got some options. Depending on the news and how much there is to cover you may need to stretch your content out to make that three hundred word requirement. This can be done in a number of ways. While you’ll want to deliver more color about the topic for our readers, if you run out of meat on the bone to talk about in direct relationship to the news item you’ve selected to cover you may need to stretch.
This can be done by talking about other related news and linking to it if we’ve already previously covered it. You could also talk about a number of things to stretch the content, but what you don’t want to do is veer off course in terms of your topic.
In the case where you’re covering something like a press release or quotes from other sources that has a little bit more information to deliver, you may find yourself copying and pasting important material information. We ask that you try to make all text your own and to limit direct copying and pasting. At the maximum you should have at least 50% original text in any single news article. Generally you should try to limit the amount of direct text that you copy.
The body of your article is a great spot to do some internal linking. You can find other related content by using the linking tool’s search function. Generally speaking you should try to link to at least one other article in your posts. Depending on when you’re reading this tutorial there may or may not be programmatic internal linking or related articles added to your post. You should still be trying to manually link to other content within our site in each of your news posts.
The post body can also feature things like headings and bullet point lists to break things up and make them more digestible. We recommend using at least one heading in your news article below the introduction. You could use that heading to highlight an embed like a trailer, or other social media embed.
The Conclusion of your news article can be just about anything EXCEPT text that isn’t yours. That means, if you’ve copied a part of another article, a press release, or you’ve embedded a video or social media item like a tweet, you’ll want to add some original text to close things out. Generally, an easy way to close out an article is to remind people of an upcoming release date and platforms that the game will be available on.
Types of News Articles
Now that you have an understanding of how we want you to structure your news article it’s time to talk about the different types of news articles. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, these are some of the most common news article types.
A lot of news comes from social media these days and that means that places like Twitter and Reddit can be a good source for new information. When discovering news via Reddit or Twitter it’s usually a best practice to embed the article. For a twitter post you can simply copy the link to the tweet into the wordpress visual editor and the tweet embed should show up. Like this one:
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) March 4, 2021
You can do the same with other social media platforms as well:
If you find something on a forum that sounds interesting but is not considered public knowledge you’re going to have to do a little digging to validate your findings. Just because someone says it somewhere on the internet doesn’t make it true.
Rumors & Speculation
Rumors and Speculation are just a part of the video game industry and they always have been. Sometimes, a rumor should definitely be posted if it’s credible. This is where you’re going to put on your journalist cap and use your better judgement. While our site has posted it’s fair share of rumors over the years, I think we have a pretty good track record of picking up the ones that have panned out to be true. Definitely more so than rumors we’ve posted that have turned out to be false. Help us continue to have a good track record and due some researching before posting stuff that just doesn’t seem possible or likely.
Even in the case that something seems possible and likely you must ALWAYS label unconfirmed news a rumor.
As explained above, press releases are going to be one of those things that you can’t avoid in this line of writing. 100’s of them are released each day from different video game developers, publishers, and public relations teams. The press releases can give you a lot to write about, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting them do the writing for you. The best practice is to read the press release, digest the information, and then write your news article about it… not necessarily from it. For the sake of time, many writers we find paraphrase press releases and copy large swathes of text. While we believe it’s ok to copy things like feature lists and what not from these press releases, text that is not your own should never be more than 50% of your news article & it should never be the last words on the page. Always finish out your news article with your own content.
News from other sites
We are all about giving credit where credit is due, but we also rely on our writers to be able to determine where the true source of a news story comes from. If you’ve read a news piece somewhere else that you would like to write about we need you to dig into that a bit further. Are there any other links on the page that have given credit to another site for the content of the story? If so, they need to be included in your attribution. Further than that, you should be doling out links to other sites sparingly. Is this a big story that was broken or an exclusive interview where really important information has been revealed? OK, this is something that deserves coverage and credit. Did this other site just take information from a press release and pass it off as news? Just because you saw it there doesn’t mean we need it on our site, AND we certainly don’t want to be giving links to other sites for content of this type.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk… let’s write some news
At the end of the day these are some of the basic things that we would like you to follow when posting news on AOTF and feel that following these practices will give you your best chance of success. If you have any questions or comments feel free to reach out to me personally on Discord or to any of our senior staff members for advice.