SEO for publishers: 8 rules every magazine and newspaper publisher should know
Whether you are a small trade magazine or a large national daily newspaper, you have to constantly make sure that your content is found.
Whether you're a small trade magazine or a large national daily newspaper, you need to constantly make sure your content is found.
Even if it takes some time - search engine optimization (SEO) is still an extremely effective strategy for publishers. In fact, a survey found that SEO continues to be a top priority for publishers.
In reality, however, rising in Google's search results is easier said than done. It requires patience and a clear strategy.
In this article, we look at eight basic rules for publishers' SEO strategies. If you follow these rules, with a little patience you can rise up in the search results and find new readers.
Why should publishers care about SEO?
Before I present the eight rules, it's important for me to tell you why SEO is so important for publishers.
This is where a crucial change in mentality is taking place. It's about reducing your dependence on social media by giving SEO a higher priority. You shouldn't write off huge platforms like Facebook and Twitter as traffic sources, of course. However, algorithm changes that are completely out of your control can quickly kill your organic reach on these social media platforms.
Also, of course, you should be concerned about the quality of your articles in order to engage your audience. The facts need to be right and the content should be presented accurately. At the same time, your team also needs to be strategic when it comes to keywords and other SEO-related elements. In doing so, your archive can be a great way to get your company's SEO rolling.
"Our magazines have been around for years - so we have such a huge database of good content that should have a long digital life, of course. And SEO is the way to keep it alive."
Sara Wilkins, Digital Editor at ALT.dk for Egmont Publishing
What matters? Both your current and potential readers use search engines to do research. The fact that Google is one of the most popular sites on the Internet today is well known. So why not hit your readers right where they are every day?
Better yet, SEO is cost effective. As long as you're strategic about keyword selection and continually create quality content, it won't take you too long to see the first positive results. After all, articles that rank highly on Google or other search engines like Bing will guarantee you visitors to your website around the clock.
SEO basics for magazine and newspaper publishers
Let's now dive into eight SEO rules that every magazine and newspaper publisher should know and follow. If you follow these rules consistently, you will see some extremely positive results in your company's search results.
1 Focus on your readers
One of the most common mistakes publishers make is that they try to please Google. They then focus on taming the Google algorithm and do everything they can to optimize their articles to do so.
Unfortunately, this strategy is ineffective. This is because Google has made about 50 algorithm changes in the last five years. Those media companies that tried to trick Google's algorithm had great difficulty keeping up with the numerous changes. Instead of following this strategy, publishers should focus on their target audience. Google's main mission is to make search results more human. So when you pay attention to your audience and provide them with value, you help Google achieve its own goals.
Publishers who are successful manage to step into the shoes of their readers. They understand their readers' behavior and expectations. Moreover, quality is more important here than quantity. The goal is to understand the way readers consume your content and then give them what they want. This way, you'll see much higher engagement with your content.
So my first tip is to pay less attention to the Google algorithm and more attention to engaging your audience.
There's nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.
- Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) October 28, 2019
Google's Danny Sullivan on the Google BERT update.
2 Structure your website and content
Much of the general information about SEO for publishers focuses primarily on things like keyword strategy. However, technical SEO is an extremely important and often underestimated basic requirement for getting your content found. Specifically, it's important to structure your website and content in a way that is suitable for search engines.
Simply put, website structure is critical because it affects how search engines crawl, interpret, and rank websites. There are many reasons why Google and co. can penalize your posts and push them down the search engine results pages (SERP). These can include items such as a slow website, too many pages to crawl, constant errors popping up on your website, and much more.
Therefore, you need to pay special attention to the technical aspects of your website. First and foremost, make sure it is fast and easy to crawl. Also consider influencing factors such as pagination, internal linking, categories and tags, and sitemaps.
When it comes to content, make sure it's high-quality posts that are well-structured for SEO. Of course, you should also optimize your content for relevance and readability. By the way, black-hat SEO tips from the past, like keyword stuffing, are a waste of time and haven't worked for a long time.
3 Use keywords for search
Keywords are one of the most important components of SEO for publishers. There is no way around it. If you select meaningful keywords for a particular article, you significantly increase your chances of ranking highly in search engines.
The numbers are overwhelming. Google processes 3.5 billion search queries per day. That adds up to 1.2 trillion searches worldwide per year. While many publishers still rely heavily on social networks to share their content, studies have shown that organic search outperforms social networks by 300%.
Optimizing content for SEO is a process. The fact is that many readers use search engines to find answers to specific questions. For example, Men's Journal has already been able to achieve very good rankings with relevant Nichen keywords within half a year.
"Publishers need to think deeply about how they design their content."
Abby Sjober, Assistant Director of Audience Development at Vogue.
4 Optimize for mobile users
We live in a world where many people spend several hours a day on their cell phones. A recent study shows that 50% of all internet traffic is done via mobile. Google search has also been quick to adapt to this, offering features such as AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and Progressive Web Apps.
As users increasingly move from PC to mobile devices, you need to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile users. The best solution for this is to invest in responsive design. Although many think that mobile-friendly and responsive design are the same thing, responsive design is specifically about dynamic content that adapts to each device. Images, spacing, text - everything is automatically adapted to the different mobile devices.
Therefore, you should definitely make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. After all, for the search engines, this is an important factor that will be reflected in your ranking.
5 Remove duplicated content
It can be tempting to create multiple websites. In some circumstances, it may even make sense to create different websites, each containing very similar content. For example, to target specific segments of your audience more precisely.
However, I strongly discourage you from pursuing this strategy.
Duplicate content is actually harmful from Google's perspective. They are also confusing to both users and search engines. If you produce copied content to manipulate search engine results and grab traffic, search engines like Google will penalize your site. This will do more harm than good.
Instead, focus on creating one great website rather than duplicate content. It's less work and will give you more SEO benefits.
6 Optimize images
Many news websites do not own the rights to the images they publish. Instead, these sites most likely license their photos from Reuters, Getty Images, or other agencies.
You may not realize that you can optimize your images. However, there are numerous things you can control. This way you will make your website faster and more pleasant for your users and this will also satisfy the search engines.
For example, compress and resize your images. Make sure that the source files are not larger than the required format. Even if it appears that the image is small, huge images in the background will slow down your website significantly. As a general rule of thumb, try to make your images smaller rather than larger. This will help you have a fast and efficient website.
If you want to make your images SEO-compatible, you should also make sure that your images are
- are named descriptively,
- correspond to the correct file type,
- and have optimized alt attributes.
7 Promote sharing on social media
Page views from social networks are extremely important in both SEO and non-SEO contexts. There are several reasons for this. Shared articles help build communities of interest and lead to word-of-mouth. At the same time, sharing on social networks can also build backlinks to your website, which is a crucial aspect of successful SEO.
A great way to encourage article sharing in an SEO context is to use plugins. Look for visually appealing plugins that encourage your readers to share and comment. One more hint: Articles that trigger strong polarizing or negative emotions in your target audience are shared especially often.
8 Note subscriptions
Last but not least, don't forget to consider your subscriptions when focusing on your SEO work. It may seem counterintuitive, but SEO is an important way to reach potential subscribers. While Google isn't necessarily a big fan of paywalls, it's still easy to find even paid content that ranks highly.
Flexible sampling is key here. Why? Well, it's extremely important that you provide Google search users with a limited amount of free content (at least three articles per day) before the paywall kicks in. This way, as a publisher, you can get all of your content indexed by the search engines.
Google even has a recommendation for a balance between free and premium content. The company has published a study that says user satisfaction drops when paywalls are displayed more than 10% of the time. Be careful when approaching this limit, as you might alienate users who don't know your content well yet.
You might think that SEO isn't as important to publishers as it used to be. You might also think that journalism just doesn't work that way. Still, SEO plays an important role for many publishers in attracting new subscribers and readers.
Speaking of which, today's reader is usually someone who thinks critically, likes to participate in online discussions, and likes to use Google to learn more about a particular topic. This behavior is not going to go away - even though a lot of the attention right now is focused on reaching readers through social networks.
So I recommend you implement the SEO tips above. Stay consistent and experiment as needed. I am confident that this way you will achieve great results in the long run in terms of your Google rankings and new organic traffic.
Are you interested in advanced SEO techniques like automatic linking of your articles? Then read more about our content intelligence tool here or contact us if you'd like a free consultation.