SEO for the Modern College Newsroom


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Search Engine Optimization is commonly shortened to SEO. SEO is a complete industry with expected spending in 2014 to reach $5 billion dollars.

The thing is SEO is not rocket scientist no matter what those spammy SEO marketers who promise #1 ranking tell you.

It's also not snake oil or pixie dust.
SEO is all about usability and accessibility and in this presentation we will discuss actionable items that you can take back and apply to your newsroom.

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  • What gives me the right to talk on this subject with authority?I’m an online marketer not a journalist
  • Let’s start with a fundamental question.
  • Google has created a multi-billion dollar company with a market cap of over $250 billion dollars on solving this simple question.
  • We have a lot of audiences trying to learn information about each school right.
  • So in modern PR isn't half the battle is about how easy can you make it so Journalist can find all the information they need for articles in as little time as possible?You could pretty much argue the same is for all your audiences.
  • So in modern PR isn't half the battle about how easy can you make it so Journalist can find all the information they need for articles in as little time as possible?You could pretty much argue the same is for all your audiences.
  • Think about it if you have 100 page that each get 10 visits a month then you have 1,000 visits but if you have 10,000 pages then because of your increased authority you probably get 15 pages for visit or 150,000 visits.
  • So in modern PR isn't half the battle is about how easy can you make it so Journalist can find all the information they need for articles in as little time as possible?You could pretty much argue the same is for all your audiences.
  • Pixie Dust Photo by Angellea many of you have gotten those emails from spammy SEO companies who claim they are going to help you get to the top? SEO has gotten such a bad rap from those lowlifes because they play a game of ignorance. By that I mean this stuff isn’t all that hard you just have to understand some fundamental concepts.
  • Inbound link is a numbers game
  • Here are the results for “click here”. Well it is pretty obvious why the first one ranks #1 but what do Adobe Reader, a W-9 pdf, Apple QuickTime and Google Maps all have in common? That is right people link to them all over the web and in doing it all the time they say something like to download Adobe Reader “Click Here”. That is a HUGE FAIL! Your visitors know that when something is a different color and underlined it is a link don’t insult them and your dumb search engines by making “Click Here” or “Learn More” or whatever the text of your link.
  • We talked about those dump search engines. RSS is fantastic for them because it provides that semantically marked up content in a quick and easy to consume format.
  • RSS allows for content consumption. Also think about all those great mobile apps and everything else that aggregates and shares content. It is all possible because of RSS feeds. RSS tells services that new content is available.
  • Feedburner is a free service provided by Google that takes your RSS feed, cleans it for multiple services, offers an email subscription option, analytics and more. There have been rumors for years that Google will shut down the service so you should be aware of that but here is the hidden kicker.The way RSS works as soon as a new article is posted the service is pinged and notified of the new content. Feedburner is a way to tell Google immediately that you have new content ready to add to the search engines along with all of your user.
  • Feedburner matters because Google Matters. Note when they say Google Sites that also includes YouTube
  • Think about it the more ways that Google can get information about your site the more accurate the search results will be and the MORE likely they are to rank you better. This is one of those devious little loopholes that most people probably subconiously know they just don’t think about it that way. The scary part is that Google knows all this information about you. Of course there are lots of other great usability tweaks you can make to the site with the knowledge you gain from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools specifically.
  • Google no longer has the “twitter hosepipe” access but other search engines like Microsoft and indirectly Yahoo do have this information. If you do nothing besides synidicate all your newsroom content through a twitter stream it is worth it to get it out there. This also leads to our next important point. Social relevance is beginning to mean more and more to search results.
  • Really you should just always be sharing your content.
  • So over the last few years we have seen one of the largest changes in the SEO industry since it began over a decade ago. Inbound links was traditional the powerhouse and as more and more people have “gamed” that system and as social media has become more and more relevant Social indicators have creeped up the list. It is also important to think of social as an indirect tool because if content is being shared then more people are likely to read it and hence write about it.
  • this data really tells us is that you should be making your content really easy to share.
  • I don’t personally read Mashable very much anymore but they do a great job of feeding off the Psychological aspect of sharing. Same for TechCrunch or literally any other news outlet. All of these social signals help their content to get ranked higher too. People are more likely to share content that lots of other people have shared. The only way they know if something has been shared is if the page tells them that. Think of it as social reinforcement. Obviously content that is never shared is less likely to get shared but now you see how also posting it and sharing it through your own channels help to spark the process.
  • Besides just text photography and videos are also super great forms of content. Most everyone in 2013 expects your content to include pictures, videos or sometimes both.I’m specifically mentioning Flickr and YouTube because they are two of the larger distributors in their markets.
  • Once again remember how dumb and blind search engines are. So we need to describe the image. Also don’t forget how much search traffic services like Google Images gets. It can be another great way to find you.
  • Remember the search report said “Google Sites” not just Google Search engine… this is because YouTube is actually the second largest search engine and contributes a lot to that result.
  • Besides just text photography and videos are also super great forms of content. Most everyone in 2013 expects your content to include pictures, videos or sometimes both.I’m specifically mentioning Flickr and YouTube because they are two of the larger distributors in their markets.
  • Earlier we have talked about the value of inbound links but I feel that one of the most under utilized features is internal linking. Besides being a great strategy to provide a better user experience for visitors to related content it also provides a ton of push for search engines. Finally remember you have very little control over inbound links but you have complete control over internal linking.
  • Speaking of internal linking a great way to do this that we see on all major news sites and blogs is to share related content and articles. (cont.)
  • Not only do these related articles provide additional relevance but from an SEO standpoint it is a GREAT way for these sites to dynamically create lots of internal links for little to not extra work.
  • Printer friendly pages create duplicate content on your site. This splits your page authority which is bad. The good news is that it is very easy and there are a lot of ways to fix this.
  • Speaking of printer friendly. PDFs are great for preserving print friendly design and in Higher Ed unfortunately a lot of people also use them for web because they understand how to design traditionally instead of web friendly. Google can and do index PDFs and most of the same rules apply to optimization. File name, optimize your document properties, semantic markup and the rest.
  • Most of you don’t allow comments in your newsroom and from an SEO standpoint that is ok. You would think that comments would offer value because they can include links but most comment platforms setup these links as “nofollow” links which mean they do not pass any SEO authority. So if you are thinking about allowing comments for an SEO advantage you might want to think again. Comments do provide engagement and two way dialogue which can strengthen your relationship with your readers but there are not hard SEO advantages.
  • I don’t know if I have ever seen a school that paginates content but there are some major news organizations that are notorious for doing this for longer articles. This is bad SEO. If you have releases or articles that are going to be really long simply break them up into two articles. The only reason sites like the New York Times does it is because they make advertising dollars off of ad impressions and if they make you view more pages to read an article then they make more money. It is a bad user experience.
  • Setting up Google Author Profiles through Google Plus is another fun way to also get credit for the content that you write. I will warn that although the steps are extremely simple this is still a hit or miss proposition. I’ve seen this just as likely to not work as I have seen it work for people.
  • It’s not a bad idea and is also possible to submit your newsroom to Google News.I also mention this to get you thinking. Through a little searching you can also submit your news to Yahoo and Bing among others.
  • Press releases have been around for 100+ years but just in the past decade it has evolved more than in the past century.Press releases are a great way to build lots of inbound links around powerful keywords that can drive organic search traffic to your website. Also press releases can be so much more social than they used to be including videos, photography and some services either will make it easy to share or they will share it for you.
  • I don’t want this presentation to be hyping any single product but what the people at readMedia has done is brilliant and this presentation is a great way to think SEO for a College Newsroom
  • You have thousands of students and every one of those numbers is a person and every person has a story. Most of the time those parents are extremely proud of their children and so is their local community. For example I just looked up Kyle James on their service and wouldn’t you know… It is a short release with a photo and most of the information is boilerplate with some unique content applied. To “Kyle James’s” local community this is gold.
  • I highly recommend taking a look at your favorite news sites and really look at all the features and things that they are doing. Especially the individual story pages. You can usually get lots of great ideas.
  • eduStyle is a great website to quickly get design ideas and they have a “tag” just for news so that you can quickly get lots of college new site design ideas and ratings.The site isn’t as updated as it once was but it is still a great resource.
  • If you want more… not like I haven’t covered enough already but I found this PR on Websites free report from the Nielsen Norman Group really great. It isn’t specifically for Higher Ed but so much of the ideas and tips can directly be applied anyway.
  • SEO for the Modern College Newsroom

    1. 1. SEO for the Modern College Newsroom Get More Out Of Your News Kyle James @KyleJames CEO @nuCloud Founder @eduGuru
    2. 2. Who Am I?
    3. 3. If people can’t find it, does it matter?
    4. 4. Search Engine OptimizationOver 3 billion searches per day!
    5. 5. We Have Lots Of AudiencesAlumni Current Students Future StudentsFaculty/Staff Board Members Sports Fans
    6. 6. Let’s Not Forget The News
    7. 7. Journalist Work Under Tight Deadlines
    8. 8. Journalist Rely On Search Engines "Ultimately, PR-related usability comes down to a simple question: Why spend a fortune on outbound PR (trying to pitch journalists) when you neglect simple steps to increase the effectiveness of inbound PR (satisfying journalists who visit your website)?"
    9. 9. The Rankings Number Game
    10. 10. The Biggest Stack Wins
    11. 11. Content is an Annuity
    12. 12. How You Can Compete
    13. 13. Presentation Two Parts
    14. 14. What SEO is NOT
    15. 15. SEO is Usability and Accessibility
    16. 16. Search Engine Crawlers are Blind Yahoo MicrosoftGoogle
    17. 17. By the Numbers (on one site)• 30% of traffic is delivered by Search Engines• 70% of that traffic is delivered by Google• On a large college website w/ 1,000,000 visits per month that is 300,000 visitors
    18. 18. Long Tail Keywords• Computer Science• Computer Science Major• Computer Science Degree• Computer Science Program South Carolina• Computer Science Degree South Carolina
    19. 19. Two Parts of SEOOn-Page Off-Page
    20. 20. On-Page Optimization Page Title URL Meta Description Meta HeadersKeywords
    21. 21. Page Title Page• Describes The Page Title• Include Keywords• 70 Character Limit
    22. 22. URL• Describe The Page URL• Include Keywords• A Dynamic URL is hard to understand• What are the following two pages about?••
    23. 23. Headers• Semantic Markup Headers• Include Keywords• Describe sections of the Page
    24. 24. Meta Description & Keywords Meta• Unique for Each Page Keywords• Only Viewable in Source• Meta Description limit 150 characters Meta• Meta Keyword limit 10 keywords max Description
    25. 25. Search Call To ActionsPage Title Meta Description Page Title and Meta Description are all you get in search results. Make sure that they count.
    26. 26. Meta Keywords No major search engine still gives authority to them but they are a great way to categorize your content.
    27. 27. Off-Page OptimizationWe’ve all heard Content is King, so Links must be the Queen?
    28. 28. Off-Page Optimization1. Inbound Links2. Site Authority3. Anchor Text4. Social Sharing
    29. 29. Anchor Text Importance
    30. 30. Your Site Is Trusted!
    31. 31. Part 2
    32. 32. The Importance of RSS
    33. 33. Specific Content Consumption
    34. 34. Enter FeedBurner
    35. 35. Why Google Is Important
    36. 36. Other Ways To Tell Google
    37. 37. Twitter Updates
    38. 38. Always Share Your Content
    39. 39. SEO Ranking Factors
    40. 40. Make Your Content Easy To Share
    41. 41. The Psychology of Sharing
    42. 42. Other Content Types
    43. 43. SEO For Images• Be sure to include an “alt” text• Use descriptive file names • Use – president-bob-commencement.jpg • Not – DSC_0012.jpg
    44. 44. YouTube Is The 2nd Largest Search Engine
    45. 45. Other Content Types
    46. 46. Internal Linking
    47. 47. Related Content
    48. 48. Related Content (After The Article)
    49. 49. Printer Friendly Pages & SEODon’t create “Duplicate Content”1. <meta name="Robots" content="NOINDEX"/>2. < a rel="nofollow" href="">3. <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” media=”print” href=”printer.css” />4. <link rel=”canonical” href=”” />5. User-agent: * Disallow: /print/
    50. 50. PDFs & SEO
    51. 51. Comments & SEO
    52. 52. Pagination of Articles
    53. 53. Google Author Profiles
    54. 54. Special Rules for Google News InclusionsArticle URLs1. Be unique2. Be permanent3. Display a three-digit number* a Google News Sitemap• Be sure you are using “News-specific tags”
    55. 55. Press Release & SEO
    56. 56. Personalization and Going Hyperlocal
    57. 57. Unique Content for Every Student
    58. 58. Stats 97% of newspapers print hometown news from colleges 90% of editors consider these stories to be important, must- publish content
    59. 59. Inspiration & Ideas
    60. 60. Inspiration & Ideas
    61. 61. PR on Websites Free Report • 3rd Edition • 292 pages • 100+ PR Tips • 100+ Design Recommendations
    62. 62. Questions? Kyle James @KyleJames