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10 News SEO Tips

From The New York Times’ Christine Liang
Author: Greg Jarbou

1/12 ● Search Engine Journal
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1. Keyword Research

Focus On Search Intent



Liang advised the 600 news publishing and marketing professionals attending NESS to start their keyword research with Google’s autocomplete feature.

She advised, “Evaluate the types of search results that show up for your keyword.”

2. Craft Compelling Headlines

Keywords in the headline signal to users and Google what your content is about.



Liang said, “The SEO headline (title tag) is one of the most important ranking factors. Keywords in the headline signal to users and Google what your content is about.”

She advised doing the following:

  • Keep it under 65 characters, and even shorter for mobile.
  • Place the main keywords closer to the front.
  • Make it engaging! SEO headlines don’t have to be snoozy.

3. Include Keywords in URLs

It mainly signals to users what the page is about.



Liang also encouraged news publishers to include primary keywords in URLs.

She said, “Keyword use in a URL has some ranking weight, but it mainly signals to users what the page is about.”

She also suggested structuring URLs under the appropriate category.

She said, “URL paths get picked up as a breadcrumb in Google’s search results. This is a reflection of your site’s hierarchy.”

She added, “File your story to the most relevant section to help build categorical authority.”

4. Incorporate Images and Videos

Images and videos provide users with another means to consume the content.



Liang also recommends incorporating visual content – especially during visually leaning moments.

She said, “Give people choices! Not everyone coming to your story is looking to digest it through text. Images and videos provide users with another means to consume the content.”

Liang added that including high-quality photos would improve click-through rates (CTR) and engagement.

5. Add Relevant Internal Links

Link related pages to optimize for page authority and relevance.



Internal links are links that point from one page to another page on your site. They create site structure, pass page value, and help users navigate.

Link related pages to optimize for page authority and relevance.

Link to priority stories from relevant content. Use keyword targeted anchor text to signal to Google what the linked page is about.

Homepage, section fronts, and topic pages are also valuable pages to link out from.

6. Prioritize Publishing Speed

Being the first to publish a story has its upsides.



Liang said it was important to prioritize speed, and that “Being the first to publish a story has its upsides. Your story accumulates clicks, backlinks, shares, social buzz ahead of the competition – leading to ranking advantages.”

But, Liang also advised spacing out your updates.

Google rewards fresh, quality content, and surfaces the most relevant information in Top Stories. So, don’t give it all away at one go!

Publish the most essential details first. Then republish with new chunks of content (around 50-100 words).

7. Keep The Timestamp Fresh

It signals to users that the articles are more recent.



The timestamp on a story plays a large role in Top Stories. An up-to-date timestamp draws people in. It signals to users that the articles are more recent.

You can trigger a timestamp update by sending Google different freshness signals.” And she suggested trying the following:

  • Re-writing the dek (or subhed).
  • Including quotes.
    Swapping out images.
  • Embedding videos.
  • Placing on homepage.
    Promoting and sharing on social.


8. Build Page Authority Over Time

Build authority on a topic over time.



Liang also encouraged NESS attendees to build authority on a topic over time.

She showed an example of how the NYTimes did this by creating a topic page on R. Kelly years ago, creating an evergreen file a month before the trial, and ranking as an authority on the day of the verdict.

9. Prepare As Much In Advance As Possible

What evergreen pieces need to be updated?



Liang advised news publishers to ask themselves:

  • What evergreen pieces need to be updated?
  • What HFOs (Hold For Orders) can we set up?
  • What keywords should we target per file?
  • What are some headlines we can pre-write?


10. Create Playbooks For The Next News Event

have a framework for the next new event.



For a scheduled event like the Winter Olympics, ask yourself:

  • When to go live?
  • What files do we need prior, during and after an event?
  • What were the best formats?
  • What worked and what didn’t work?
  • What did competitors do successfully?


Conclusion

Let's uncomplicate things.



In conclusion, Liang said, “SEO is more than keywords; it’s about quality, freshness, user experience, structure, tech, research, and process.”

That means that it’s more important than ever to stay up-to-date on the latest search practices – especially because news search has gotten more complicated and continues to evolve.

AUTHOR
Greg Jarboe, President and co-founder at SEO-PR

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