In the last few years, printed media such as glossy magazines and newspapers have suffered in popularity due to the significant rise in social media channels and other digital outlets that peak the interest of their audiences. Consumers are absorbing their gossip, informative news coverage and even their fashion do’s and don’ts via live feeds and social channels, leaving magazines and newspaper publishers needing a new angle to reach their reducing readers.
It’s not all doom and gloom for many digital-savvy media publishers who have kept up with what their readers want, by creating online ‘versions’ of their printed content. The likes of Conde Nast, Hearst and Scott Turner Limited have all invested in their digital presence with Grazia, The Guardian, Vogue and many more of their iconic magazines and newspapers holding their own in search. Whilst this may seem like an obvious approach for media publications, there are many who haven’t invested in their SEO presence nor have they understood the importance of optimising their site for search particularly around technical SEO and editorial SEO training.
We explore why SEO is so important for publishers, and touch on a few of the vital elements that need to be considered when it comes to optimising these types of websites, as well as look at some of the examples where implementing some solid SEO would really make a difference.
What Is SEO And Why Should Publishers Care?
In principle, SEO is a set of rules or guidelines, that look to optimise a webpage so that a basic search crawler can quickly access the page, crawl the content and understand the relevance of the topic so it can decide whether or not to rank it in search results. Whilst there are also many external factors to ranking or not, optimising a website ensures it is more likely to rank well than not appear at all.
SEO is vital for the ongoing success of any website or brand with a web presence, as search engine crawlers become more in-tune with users and what they’re looking for when searching online. This means, brands who don’t invest in their ongoing SEO presence, will fall behind each time there is an algorithm update or big shift in the way search engines can crawl and digest content, as well as how they read and access websites. However, there is a vicious rumour among some brands that brand awareness should be enough to create a strong online presence, and whilst this has sometimes proved successful for some, it is not typically how search engines tend to work. Big brands can suffer too.
When it comes to larger content publishing sites, applying a more ‘standard’ approach to SEO optimisation simply won’t cut it, as they will typically be creating and publishing content multiple times a day. With this comes a more intuitive and often sophisticated approach for applying the standard SEO guidelines. Publishing websites should be investing in their digital assets to help bridge the gap between printed online, making sure through on page optimisation, that every piece of content stands the best chance of being seen in search results.
With the regular content creation comes with it links- both internally and externally linking between pages and other web sources, as well as other publications referencing each other, but what happens when these opportunities to link are being missed?
Why Backlinks Are Essential And Where Publishers Are Missing A Trick
Backlinks are another SEO factor that should be considered when reviewing and optimising a sites’ presence- they are quite literally the ‘backbone’ for any successful website. Creating links to and from a website helps build domain authority which helps your content rank, as well as result in direct referral traffic.
Google’s own PR man, Danny Sullivan, recently covered the issue of journalists not linking to their sources. With support coming directly from the search giant’s office, this is not a practice journalists can afford to ignore. Journalists should be citing their sources. Publishers have traditionally relied on links coming from other websites citing them, but with websites not citing their source, publishers should educate themselves on the importance of links and what they can do to get more. They can put in place a link strategy that will give them a competitive edge in rankings.
Another major SEO-influencing factor is how mobile-friendly it is. If the content being published doesn’t load quickly and isn’t resized, it’s likely Google won’t rank it.
Google has been explicit in the fact that it looks for fast-loading, mobile-optimised websites, by releasing the mobile-first update– and making sure everyone knows about it! The search giant is essentially looking for little signals that imply you are improving the user experience, as this is their main driver for consistently improving search results.
There is also the opportunity to use AMP, or accelerated mobile pages, particularly for content publishing websites, to ensure a great user experience. AMP pages load instantly, with the code used ensuring there is no lag for the user, delivering instant content to readers. A large part of getting SEO right, is assessing the user experience- does your article load quickly? Is it clear, concise and well-written? If you can answer yes to one or more of these, then it’s likely to rank well in search results.
The Importance Between User Experience And SEO
Whilst it is vital to invest in optimising content on any website, getting the balance between providing a great user experience and optimisation for search engines is important too. Search engines are looking specifically for high-quality content that delivers a great user experience without interruption, with poor-quality structure or badly written content not ranking as highly as competing articles.
The structure of a publishing site is therefore important to ensure ease of navigation and grouping is clear and makes sense. Using key phrases and clear labelling for menus, related topics and categories are all essential for implementing some basic optimisation. This is also where keyword research can further help content sites, when it comes to using familiar naming conventions for sections of a website.
Google News- Use It Or Lose That #1 Position
For any major publication site, this one is a biggy- submitting stories to Google News is one of the most valuable, yet widely under-used tactic for any content publisher online. Google News is an XML sitemap tool created by the search giant that encourages publishers to submit stories to, almost guaranteeing the story will get indexed in SERPS, as it is labelled as ‘newsworthy’ by the search engine. It basically indexes the news stories within an XML sitemap of Google news, and whilst it may sound relatively easy to submit articles this way, Google have some rather strict rules that content needs to adhere to, such as being transparent about sources and ensuring content is original
If a site regularly creates and publishes articles, news stories, and general content, then they should also be submitting it to Google News. It is one of the most fail-safe tactics in securing the first-page position, and the best part is, it’s free!
Creating Click-worthy Headlines Just Won’t Cut It – Think Evergreen Too
Whilst there is a temptation for news websites and publishers to create clickbait headlines, using the hot topic of the day, having a focus on short-term content will have a detrimental impact on the overall SEO strategy, further down the road. This is where the issue of evergreen vs. seasonal content will have an impact on a ‘magazine’ style sites, such as Grazia and Vice News, as their focus will be to reach the number one position for the story of the moment.
There is a need for balance when it comes to evergreen content; content that doesn’t have a seasonal timeframe and time-sensitive seasonal content that is written purely to tap into the trends of the day or season.
In this digital age of quick content consumption, can your publishing website risk not complying to what search engines are looking for from well-optimised websites?
BoostLabs has extensive experience working with some of the biggest publications, with proven results for Google Search and Google News! If you’re wondering whether SEO is the way to go, contact us today to see some of our results.