A new year…a new editorial calendar. And there’s no better time to start embedding good habits into your editorial workflow than with a fresh year ahead of you. So, what are the key principles you need to consider before you launch into creating a strong SEO strategy?
Creating an effective search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy can feel like a daunting task for publishers. But it’s also an equally important one. If content doesn’t rank highly on Google search, an article wont reach its target audience and revenue could suffer.
Making sure you keep up to date with Google’s continual updates to its search algorithm and adapting your SEO strategy accordingly so that it’s in-tune with the latest developments could give your publication a competitive edge and enable articles to successfully climb up through search engine rankings (SERPs).
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some key principles to consider as you plan your SEO strategy for the new year with the most notable Google update announcements of 2021 taken into account.
But firstly, let’s get the basics out of the way…
What is an SEO strategy?
An SEO strategy is the process that publishers follow in order to improve their content to gain organic traffic from search engines. In our step-by-step guide to SEO in the newsroom we present a granular approach to creating a successful strategy within a newsroom environment.
Now we’re taking a step back to look at the bigger picture with a focus on broader concepts to consider as you get the ball rolling in 2022.
7 steps to kick-start your SEO strategy
1. Assess where your publication currently stands
Before you can set goals for the year ahead, you need to evaluate how well your content is currently performing. You’ll want to look at organic visibility, keyword ranking and traffic data.
Google Analytics offers a lot of useful ways you can track your publication’s performance. It provides the most accurate information about your audience’s performance and how to grow your revenue. Learn how to set up a dashboard here.
Once you’re up and running, two strong metrics to concentrate on as a publisher are Page Views and Page Visits. Google’s Data Studio can help you map out, comment on and present data from year to year or month to month.
Semrush Organic Research Tool is another great tool for tracking your performance. You can clearly view how well your content is doing and identify key areas for improvement.
2. Set achievable goals
The next step, before launching into any SEO initiative, is to set achievable goals. What exactly do you want to achieve from changes to your content?
Do you want to gain more website traffic? If so, by how much? Are you looking to improve your subscription rate? If so, by how much?
You want your SEO efforts to have measurable returns so try to map this out clearly and return to these regularly to track your progress.
If you’re not sure what sort of goals to set up, Google has a very helpful walk-through on how to set up goals and the types of measurements to track.
3. Consider SEO scalability
Make sure your strategy can scale as your publication grows. If you begin to produce more content, you’ll want your SEO strategy to seamlessly integrate into this process.
One way of streamlining things is by capitalising on innovations to help you practice SEO best efforts. There are now a host of tools powered by intelligent automation that can speed up tasks significantly for journalists.
Find out how LOYAL is harnessing the power of Natural Language Processing to unlock publishers’ website archives and how you can benefit from embedding this cutting-edge technology into your SEO strategy.
4. Pay attention to quality link building
One significant update to Google’s search algorithm in 2021 was its crack down on link spam – adding out of context links to articles.
In a Google Search Central Blog post it said:
“In our continued efforts to improve the quality of the search results, we’re launching a new link spam fighting change today — which we call the “link spam update…
Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms.”
This algorithm update makes Google “even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages,” it announced.
This means that when building out a new SEO strategy or updating an existing one, it’s never been more important that publishers ensure they are following best practices with regards to improving their linking strategy for every article.
5. Get your keyword research right
Next up is keyword research. If you want to check out the search volume and competition levels for those terms, you can use a keyword tool like Semrush, Ubersuggest or Google Keyword Planner.
A good place to start is with ‘seed’ keywords. These are often one or two words and tend to be short-tail keywords related to a certain subject. You may not be specifically aiming to rank for these words, but they will help you find a topic angle and form a baseline set of words to kick -off your keyword research.
For example, if you’re writing about the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, “Covid-19” may form one of your seed keywords to build out from (see above).
What’s the difference between long and short-tail keywords?
Short-tail keywords: These are shorter and more broad search terms (1-2 words) which may have a higher search volume but lower conversion rate as they’re less specific.
Long-tail keywords: These search terms are longer (3-5 words) and tend to get a smaller number of searches per month but also a higher conversion rate as they’re more targeted.
You’ll then want to define your main-focus keyword, also known as a primary keyword. You can search Google Trends for a news story’s breakout term for inspiration and this phrase will want to ideally sit within your headline, URL, subheads and body copy.
Your secondary keywords will then be related terms that support your main-focus keyword and it’s beneficial for these to feature in your subhead, meta description and body text where appropriate.
Nailing your keywords may take some planning but it’s a fundamental part of any SEO strategy that’s well worth the time.
What’s the difference between long and short-tail keywords?
6. Think about topic clusters
This is a new aspect of SEO that’s come under the spotlight recently. The way you organise your content around specific topics is key for building authority and therefore ranking well around specific subject areas.
For more help on building out topic clusters read our blog post that explains what they are and how they can support your SEO strategy.
7. Get to know E-A-T
This is a set of guidelines that helps Google identify high-quality content. The acronym stands for “Expertise, Authoritative, and Trustworthiness” and articles that display a high level of this will have a greater chance of ranking well on Google.
Perhaps Google’s biggest announcement of 2021 was the introduction of its Multitask Unified Model (MUM) which uses AI to help searchers perform more complex tasks. This means that Google’s algorithm is only set to become more granular in terms of understanding the quality and relevance of your articles.
Therefore, embedding E-A-T best practice into all of your articles going forward is a must if you want to rank well. Take a look at our 5 E-A-T tips to ensure your articles rank higher on Google.
Every publishing brand, from small magazines to large organisations covering international news, must work in tandem with search engines to make sure their content is found.
Therefore, building out an effective SEO strategy should be a top priority and cost-effective way to introduce your content to new readers and make sure you’re delivering quality articles your audience want to consume.
Follow these seven key steps and you’ll be on track to see your content perform well throughout 2022 and beyond.
You can also check out these further resources if you need a little extra help building out an effective SEO strategy for your publication:
- A step-by-step guide to SEO best practice in the newsroom
- What are topic clusters and how can they support your SEO strategy?
- Content optimization: How to discover the most powerful links for your articles
- 5 E-A-T tips to ensure your articles rank higher on Google
- 5 powerful ways to improve your linking strategy