Optimising Content for Online News Audiences


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Slides from a workshop I ran in Tel Aviv on June 30, 2013, providing best practices for SEO and Social Media for news organisations specifically.

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Optimising Content for Online News Audiences

  1. 1. Optimising Content for Online News Audiences SEO and Social Media Best Practices be.linkedin.com/in/truusheremans @trooogle www.sociallyvisual.com
  2. 2. Journalists use their headlines to hook readers into a story, to convince them of the importance of reading a particular article
  3. 3. Great newspaper headlines – like "Gotcha” – do not work online, it is said…
  4. 4. • Online, people search for news and information • Using specific terms or keywords • To find the information they are looking for • On search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo
  5. 5. How do Search Engines work? • Googlebot – Google’s web crawling robot • Indexing the pages that are found • In Google’s Index Database • So that it appears in the Search results
  6. 6. When you enter a search query into a search engine using keywords, the engine examines its index database and provides a listing of best- matching web pages How do Search Engines work?
  7. 7. Google Algorithm • A program used by Google to determine rankings of pages in its search results • A number of factors – Keywords – Freshness – Links – Content – URL – Social
  8. 8. How can you get people to best find YOUR headlines and specific news articles online?
  9. 9. This is where SEO comes into play
  10. 10. What is SEO and how does it work? • Search Engine Optimisation • Improving the visibility of your content in the search listings • For relevant search terms or ‘keywords’
  11. 11. Why is SEO important? 85% of all traffic on the internet is referred to by search engines 90% of all users don’t look past the first 30 results - most only view top 10
  12. 12. SEO is not the enemy of good writing! The purpose of SEO is not to destroy your writing’s artistic integrity, it’s to make sure people can actually find your work better
  13. 13. Online, articles can have FOUR headlines, that affect your search engine rankings 1. Content (articles) 2. Connecting your story to other pages 3. How you appear in the search results 4. Social media
  15. 15. Content On-page headline Image
  16. 16. Content • The content of a page is what makes it worthy of a search result position • It is what the user came to see and is thus extremely important to the search engines
  17. 17. Use likely search terms in your article content and headline http://www.telegraph.co.uk
  18. 18. Riots in Stockholm Likely searched key terms?
  19. 19. Images • Google cannot understand what the images are about • Use ‘text’ to describe what the image represents • Caption • Place near to the article’s headline • Google Images Search
  21. 21. • Home page • Channel pages – International – Sport – Culture • Tag pages (related content) There are many ways to reach a news story once on a news site…
  22. 22. • Google takes account of the words used to link to a page • Another way you can target a page for certain keywords • Write short versions of headlines for navigation pages • Use Anchor text Internal Linking
  23. 23. Link descriptively • Latest developments in ongoing saga - link to previous articles to give some background • Use relevant keywords (i.e. headlines) – NOT: ‘click here for my previous article’ or ‘for more information click here’ • Search engines look at the hyperlinked anchor text to help assess the relevance of a page
  25. 25. Title tag Meta description URL
  26. 26. Title Tag • Shown in Google Search Results and your Web Browser • Ideally 60-70 characters • Keywords are critical • Make compelling so that people will click on them • Can be different from your on-page headline, but should both include most important keywords
  27. 27. Follow a "keywords: headline" format http://www.telegraph.co.uk
  28. 28. Meta description • Further explains what your article is about in the search results • Include keywords, but also make it compelling • Optimally 150-160 characters
  29. 29. URLs • Include keywords • Avoid too lengthy URLs – Lengthy URLs get cut off easily – Diluted effect • Make sure that the category hierarchy of the given website is reflected in URLs
  30. 30. Types of Search
  31. 31. News Results • Priority – fresh and original content • Use format “keyword:headline”
  32. 32. And they will pick up even more traffic from the search box in the normal web results… News Results
  33. 33. • Use images • Be quick publishing breaking news – References from other sources – Increases authority – Publish immediately, and edit/elaborate later if needed – Use social media as a support News Results
  34. 34. Google Trends Search insights – what are people looking for?
  35. 35. Google Trends http://www.google.com/trends
  36. 36. SEO Copywriting Best Practices • Use explanatory terms people could be looking for • Understanding typical users ‘search habits’ (Google Trends) • Write unique content • Spell out in detail the ‘what’ and ‘who’ of the story • Link descriptively • Consider keywords, without sacrificing quality
  37. 37. Consider keywords without sacrificing quality • Avoid keyword stuffing • Don’t abbreviate, unless well known – Use people’s full names – Companies • Cover likely terms searched-for to increase your content’s relevance
  38. 38. You can still write great on-page headlines while benefitting from search engine traffic
  40. 40. “If searching for news was the most important development of the last decade, sharing news may be among the most important of the next” - Amy Mitchell, Tom Rosenstiel & Leah Christian
  41. 41. Where social media links come from http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/mobile-devices-and-news-consumption-some- good-signs-for-journalism/what-facebook-and-twitter-mean-for-news/
  42. 42. Where social media links come from Facebook • Friends and family • News they might well have gotten someplace else if Facebook did not exist Twitter • A more even mix of family and friends and news organizations • Most of these users also feel that without Twitter, they would have missed this kind of news
  43. 43. • Social media platforms continue to emerge as newsgathering tools • They offer exciting opportunities • for reporters to collect information • for news organizations to expand their reach Social media for News
  44. 44. But they also carry challenges and risks And that’s why its important to identify best practices and policies
  45. 45. Engage in two-way communication Social media isn’t broadcasting, it’s interacting and responding USA TODAY responds and interacts successfully
  46. 46. Be careful • There are often limits to the value of engagement • Social media opens the door to dialogue with readers and viewers – but not all dialogue is friendly • Participate in conversations but avoid arguments and angry responses • Sometimes it’s better to not respond
  47. 47. Be Accurate and Verify • Social media is instantaneous and in real-time • Reporters should maintain similar investigative standards for material obtained by means of social media as to any other information source - Is it accurate - Is the source reliable?
  48. 48. Boston Bombing Different platforms, different purposes Twitter • Rapidly aggregated information and images from everyday people at the scenes • #BostonStrong • Less personal Facebook • Care and support • Friends and family • Facebook Page • Social media, a great supplier of information for many • However, a source of inaccurate information and frustration for some
  49. 49. Break news on your site, not Twitter Social Media • A great way to drive traffic and increase reach • Include links where possible Careful, as competitors • Could snap up your scoops first hinted at on Twitter • To accelerate the publication of a story • Moving forward with your story, receiving all the traffic However, there are times when it is advisable to post on Twitter before a story posts on your website… • Press releases • Press conferences
  50. 50. Be transparent and correct mistakes if you make them • Quickly admit when you’re wrong… - Mistakes happen, just like in print - Issue a correction tweet or Facebook post thereafter • Only delete the post if you have noticed the mistake right away - If interaction has already occurred, do not delete it! - Instead, respond and provide the correct info
  51. 51. Optimise your profiles • Fully complete your profiles • It’s your first impression • It’s how people can find you
  52. 52. Twitter Best Practices • Include Twitter bio • Optimise visuals, including header image • Use hashtags, to help people discover your content • Follow others
  53. 53. • You have 140 characters, use 120 of them. This allows your followers to easily RT you • Retweet, but do it wisely • Automated tweets - Do it, but in moderation - Also craft your own messages Twitter Best Practices
  54. 54. Use Hashtags Make sure they are relevant! Don’t hashtag everything!
  55. 55. Twitter for News https://twitter.com/TwitterForNews
  56. 56. Choose a compelling cover photo Add custom tabs Facebook Best Practices
  57. 57. Fill out the ‘About’ section
  58. 58. • Include compelling images • Ask questions to generate interaction
  59. 59. Storytelling Share breaking news • People want to be informed about news as it happens • Included terms such as “breaking” or “breaking news” for higher engagement • Keep people updated as the story develops
  60. 60. Storytelling Use a Conversational Tone • Facebook is a people-driven platform. • Let your audience know there’s a person behind the posts
  61. 61. Storytelling Reward Your Audience with Exclusive Content • Post "sneak peeks" or behind-the-scenes content that rewards your audience
  62. 62. Storytelling Share Behind-the-Scenes Photos & Videos To Grab Attention • Provide a glimpse into the newsgathering process • Show your audience that you’re on the ground
  63. 63. Monitor • Monitor key terms – Hashtags – Events – Ongoing stories • Monitor your brand • Monitoring tools – Hootsuite
  64. 64. Hootsuite • Set up and track relevant keywords and hashtags • To keep up to date with the latest – all easily accessible in one place • Connect to your social profiles – Monitor mentions – Retweets – DMs
  65. 65. Social media alone doesn’t close the deal… • Social media for news – Still relatively small audience – Not frequently • Other methods of getting news are still popular – Going directly to websites – Via Apps – Via search http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/mobile-devices-and-news-consumption-some- good-signs-for-journalism/what-facebook-and-twitter-mean-for-news/
  66. 66. be.linkedin.com/in/truusheremans @trooogle www.sociallyvisual.com