How to make your author bios more useful to readers and loved by Google

By: David Arkin
February 13, 2024
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Research has shown for years that readers enjoy learning about journalists’ backgrounds and the work they do, and when media companies make efforts to explain their choices and processes they build more trust with their audience.

Initiatives like Trusting News have highlighted why being transparent with your audience is so important and how explaining how you make decisions can lead to not only more educated readers but more loyal ones, as well.

You may have seen a recent effort from The New York Times that really puts the idea of reader transparency and introducing your staff to your audience on full display. The Times recently rolled out redesign byline pages for their reporters. These pages are discoverable through the stories that reporters write. Readers can simply click on the reporter’s photo when reading a story to go to these pages.

The pages provide the reporters a space to explain how they approach their jobs, their background, awards they have won and their personal ethics.

The pages also do a nice job making it easy for readers to get in touch with the reporter and read their most recent content.

Some news organizations have bios at the bottom of articles  that include a sentence or two about the author. The sentences typically focus on the reporter’s byline or simply just feature the reporter’s title.

In many cases, without building out everything that The Times has done, even the smallest media companies could apply some of the best practices in The Times’ approach. Here’s how:

  1. Explain who you are and what your beat is in one sentence.
  2. Explain what you love about the work you do or how you do it. For example, if you are a city hall reporter, you could explain how you review meeting agendas, why you stay through an entire meeting and the kind of follow up stories you do after a meeting.
  3. Detail some of the awards you have won or include something unique about your company’s ethics policy that stands out or is particularly important to you.
  4. Make sure you have a way in your bio that allows readers to easily  contact you.
  5. There is a lot of value in not just having a box at the bottom of your story with this information but actual reporter bio pages. This is a good SEO best practice. Here is a good example.

This doesn’t necessarily have to turn into a 500-word post, but two or three paragraphs following the guidance above would get the job done.

David Arkin is the founder of David Arkin Consulting and can be reached at david@davidarkinconsulting.com

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