Over the last few years, I’ve learned that with SEO, the best seo strategy for Google News is planning ahead, and it can be nearly all of the battle in the world of online news.
Obviously, in our field of constant breaking news and the continuous deadline on NJ.com, this is not always an option. But with planned events such as a trial verdict, television finale or the never-ending political events that cycle in this state, a bit of thought and pre-writing can mean the difference between 10,000 and 100,000 page hits. And having the nuts and bolts of online production squared away allow us to focus on news accuracy, since speed of posting is under control.
As trivial as it may seem, one of the best examples of the best SEO strategy for Google News has been with the often much-anticipated finales of reality-talent programs such as “America’s Got Talent,” “X Factor” and the TV juggernaut “American Idol.” A few weeks ago, “Idol” was coming to an end, and the two finalists had been determined. As the show’s TV blogger for NJ.com, I had a week to prepare two separate posts that would be ready to roll a second after the winner’s name was read.
A post was created for each of the possible outcomes, and without giving away all of our secrets, it was loaded with SEO. The headline, story, photo caption and more each contained the name of the show, the year (since more people search 2013 than the season, which isn’t readily known by most), the word “winner” and both names of the contestants. This is how the headlines read:
- ‘American Idol’ 2013 winner: Candice Glover defeats Kree Harrison
- ‘American Idol’ 2013 winner: Kree Harrison defeats Candice Glover
No extra frills. Just the right keywords.
The posts were each written with enough detail to post immediately, under the premise that I would write through the post again and republish once it had already been published. When the night of the finale came, I had both posts open on my screen as I listened to Ryan Seacrest read, “…and the winner is… Candice Glover!” Before the confetti hit the floor, the appropriate pre-written post was published and being indexed by the Google gods.
Within minutes, my story was atop the Google news cluster (that grouping of three or four news stories at the top of a Google search) for all the important search terms and it was all golden from there. I woke the next morning with 113,000 hits. And because the Google traffic was bringing people who usually don’t visit NJ.com to the site, our unique visitors total skyrocketed for the night as well.
We, a regional news site, were fighting for hits with every major entertainment site in the world and came out on top (literally). Yes, eventually we were bumped out of the cluster by the bigger TV-writing fish who inherently carry more Google weight for such topics, but our speed and what we consider the best SEO strategy for Google News gave us that jump out of the gate. And in a on-demand 24/7 news cycle, getting a jump out of the gate can really be an advantage.
We use this technique for heavily covered trials as well. The most high-profile example in the last year or so was the Dharun Ravi case. Ravi was accused of multiple bias intimidation and invasion of privacy charges in connection to the death of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who was spied on via webcam by his roommate, Ravi, being intimate with another man. Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge not long after the spying took place.
The lengthy trial was covered heavily by us, other New Jersey media and most national media outlets, so once the jury went into deliberation, we began to plan and create posts for each possible outcome: acquitted of all counts, guilty of all counts or a split verdict, which was most likely. In the split verdict post, we had this headline:
- Live coverage: Dharun Ravi found guilty on most counts in webcam spying trial verdict
Yes, SEO-wise, having Dharun Ravi as the first words is optimal, but we had saved the post with his name at the front beforehand, as to make sure the URL was properly optimized as well. Within the post, we had each count broken down and whether he was found guilty or was acquitted.
Being the huge national news that it was, the post did extremely well as expected. And without our planning beforehand to avoid the panic that creating such a complicated post in real time would have created, we were able to focus on the news, not the production and give our best work.
In the online news world, being extremely fast at the switch is important, but so is accuracy. Having an SEO strategy for Google News in place, the speediness is already taken care of, and the facts can come first. It is a considerable amount of work before the news is released, but the numbers don’t lie – this is the way to go.
Booby Olivier is an Online News Producer, Copy Editor and Staff Writer at the Star-Ledger