Most newspapers have begun to realize that SEO is not only necessary for their success, but that a little effort towards optimization for search engine can go a long way in bringing excellent results in terms of engagement and traffic. If one is publishing content online, it has to be accessible to search engines in order to fetch organic traffic. Thus, Newspaper SEO is something that every major publishing house must prioritize. However, even the biggest newspapers find it difficult to understand simple rules of SEO and how best one could optimize content for search engines. In this document, the most important methods to optimize newspapers for search engines are discussed.
Title and Headline
One must make use of the <title> tag appropriately. The article title must be present in the <title> tag and the category must be mentioned. Joost de Valk at Yoast wrote that <title> – <category> – <newspaper name> works the best.
The headline is the most important part of a newspaper article. A good headline not only helps to grab attention, but will also help in SEO. The basic rule is that a headline must not exceed 65 characters, and that includes the space between words as well. Headlines must also not be extremely short. BBC realized this and increased its headlines from 30 characters to 55 characters.
Too lengthy:XYZ Unveils Online Shopping Site that Sells Antique Furniture on Discounted Prices
Too short: XYZ Unveils Antique Furniture Store
Adequate length: XYZ’s Online Discount Store Sells Antique Furniture
Moreover, one must not waste this precious space to fill branding and marketing information like the newspaper’s name, date of publication and such other details which may not be relevant to search engines.
Only 19.5% of news release headlines are optimized for SEO, which is rather unfortunate. The headline must always be relevant to the story that follows it. Though it is tempting, one must not write headlines in such a way that it misleads the reader only to get him to click on the link. Paradoxically, one may have to use the name of the company in headlines occasionally. You might also want to research your company’s top keywords and use a couple of them.
Google Analytics can be a very useful tool in this respect. Moreover, it may also be necessary to not have just one headline but almost 5 of them.
You would need an on-page headline and one for the HTML title.
Let us say, the On-page headline is: XYZ’s Online Discount Store Sells Antique Furniture
An HTML title according to Malcolm Coles at journalism.co.uk says that the typical rules to follow are “On-page headline – site name” or “On-page headline – section – site name”.
XYZ’s Online Discount Store Sells Antique Furniture | eCommerce |ABC Magazine
For Google News you would need a title that is optimized for SEO but according to Google News instructions. It is noticed that Google News picks up on-page headlines than HTML titles and thus, you may tweak your Google News headline a little bit if you choose to. Of course, it is important to submit a Google News sitemap first. It makes sense to insert words that you may otherwise not want to see in your actual on-page headline, but would be used by web searchers to get to your page.
XYZ’s Online Discount Store Sells Cheap and Affordable Antique Furniture
Another headline may be necessary for the channel page and that needs to be shorter.
XYZ to Sell Discounted Antique Furniture
Finally, one would need a custom headline for Twitter and this needs to be very catchy, informal and fun, followed by the link to the content.
Grab Affordable but Great Antique Furniture at XYZ’s New Web Store!
It is common to come across TinyURLs printed all across the web. They help to reduce the length of unsightly URLs which are not only lengthy, but quite unappealing to look at. A TinyURL looks neat and orderly, and saves space.
Instead of http://www.jpost.com/Travel/Jerusalem/Article.aspx?id=272177, one could use http://tinyurl.com/7we92ca
However, readers cannot remember URLs when they look at TinyURLs. Every TinyURL looks the same, and it is difficult to differentiate between each other, or even memorize them if one is not able to bookmark the link immediately.
TinyURLs do not provide any sort of branding capabilities. It is also not possible to track your links and to know who has linked back to it, shared it or used the link for any other purpose. TinyURL services may simply go out of business and all the links that you have shared using that particular service may simply vanish.
Business can instead build their own URL shortening services, which are customized.
Then, a shortened URL may be easier to remember, as it resembles it ‘mother site’ anyway. A possible solution to making sure that all the URLs are consolidated in place is to build a page where all your shortened URLs are listed with short descriptions similar to Twitter headlines.
It is an established fact that Twitter is an SEO signal. If more number of people write about a keyword or brand on Twitter, the brand will be more optimized for search engines. Likewise, it is better if more people linked to a document. Now, it is not just general people that matter but when influential people like celebrities, thought leader and those who have a lot of Twitter influence write about a brand, it creates stronger SEO signals.
Likewise, influential people must link to documents that you want to optimize. The idea is to get not only followers but influential followers. The next step is to write creative, catchy and great tweets that link to great content as well.
Keywords may not be as important to newspapers as they are to smaller blogs and websites. When a newspaper has more than 500 pages, it is important to make sure that all the content is crawlable and listed on search engines. Thus, SEO must concentrate on making every page of a newspaper crawlable instead of thinking about keywords.
It may be better to focus on keyword phrases rather than mere keywords. Even then, it is acceptable to write great content without worrying about keywords. When there is a lot of content available, keywords become secondary to SEO for newspapers.
It is tempting to ask people to register in order to be able to read further. This gives a lot of information about the reader, and a way to reach the reader’s mailbox everyday or every week with newsletters. However, it is now well accepted that registrations do not work for newspapers. People will neither want to pay for content nor would they want to fill up forms to read your articles. They will go ahead to the next freely available newspaper to get the information they want.
If you must really charge your readers for your content, you can offer a ‘first click free’ option. This helps Google to crawl at least the first page, before you fence your content behind payment checkouts. Google’s “First Click Free” program is a great way to build on this factor. Google also allows you to charge subscription fees for crawled content, but it does not encourage you to do so.
Cleaning Up the Code
You must also not archive all your content elsewhere and just shut them off. By doing so, lots of pages that can be crawled and made available will be lost behind the fence. It is better to also keep the site at home. The root must remain the same and you must avoid redirects, redirects can complicate things and robots may find it difficult to crawl pages that are redirected to a different address.
Using Social Media
Newspapers must use social media as much as possible. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and other sites can have far reaching effect on traffic. Thus, hiring community managers who can help in social media optimization can be a good idea. Other than these important methods, it is also important for newspapers to have RSS feeds Google site map, unique description tags and accessibility. You might also gain from rewarding those who link to you, as that builds a lot of goodwill on the Internet.
Pagination, Sitemap and Google News optimization
Pagination is something that can be avoided. Though one may feel it increases pageviews, most articles are not written for pagination. If you feel you have a lengthy enough article, it may be a better idea to publish it under parts and having different titles and headlines. Newspapers should be very careful about optimizing their content appropriately. It is easy to get lost in the space that Internet provides. As newspapers deal with news, Google News optimization is very important and for that you will need to create a Google News XML sitemap. It is also important to optimize images for Google Images.
In Newspaper SEO, more than keyword optimization it is all about audience engagement and audience building. Thus, it becomes very important to write great content that is timely, informative and entertaining. Linking to other news sites and sources is very important. Also, it is important to understand the dynamics of online newspapers and how they are different from regular blogs and websites, and also mainstream newspapers.