In this episode of the Unbottleneck Podcast, Steve Wiideman is joined by SEO Editor for the Los Angeles Times, Louisa Frahm, to dive into search engine optimization for news sites and how to get your content ranking there. 

About Our Guest: Louisa Frahm

Louisa Frahm is SEO Editor for the Los Angeles Times where she helps train editorial teams on SEO best practices, audits articles for SEO and stays on top of Google Trends and competitor research to bring SEO friendly topics to the team. Louisa has worked extensively in search engine optimization for popular outlets that include People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, TMZ, Yahoo! and E! Entertainment. 

Sponsored by Ryte

  • Leading with Best SEO Practices 
  • The “It Depends” Nature of SEO
  • Staying In the Moment with Google Trends
  • The Art of Newsjacking 
  • How to Rank in Google News
  • Maximizing Social Media Shareability 

Getting SEO Right the First Time 

The news industry is highly competitive because everyone is trying to fight for the top spot in the search engine rankings. As competitive as it is, it is important to always lead with best SEO practices. These practices should be shared with everyone on the news team, including writers and editors, to get buy-in and ensure everyone is on the same page to prevent engaging in any behaviors that can penalize them in the future. 

Pro-Tip: If you avoid manipulative practices to game search results, Google algorithm updates will not greatly affect you *wink, wink*. 

Will My Content Succeed? It Depends

“It depends” is a popular phrase in SEO that refers to how well a piece of content will perform once it’s published. In news, there are so many talented writers and editors that are eager to track the progress of their content. However, the truth is that SEO is not a definitive thing so the success of any content can never be guaranteed even after doing everything right. 

In this case, it is important to manage expectations among the team. But the good thing is that, in the world of news, there’s an ongoing flow of content being pushed out throughout the day. Therefore, if a story doesn’t take off, there will always be another one. 

Google Trends is a free, real-time data exploration tool that allows digital marketing professionals to analyze what topics audiences are curious about based on their search behavior. 

If you are in news, you should be using this tool as it provides you with real-time data that you can use to your advantage to develop a workflow in order to deliver relevant and timely content. For example, the Olympics recently dominated the news cycle, especially with stories about Simone Biles, so if you’re in the news sector this should have been at the top of your priority list. 

When exploring Google Trends, ask yourself: 

  • Did we post on any of these things? 
  • Are we behind on this topic? 
  • Is there anything that we can jump on right now? 
  • How can we better cover this particular theme? 
  • What are some breakout angles? 

The Art of Newsjacking 

Newsjacking is the practice of aligning a brand with a current event or breaking news story in order to generate media attention and boost brand awareness. While newsjacking is a tactic that can be used at any given time, the most popular times to use this tactic are during major events such as the Super Bowl, Olympics, Grammys or the Oscars.

For news publications, it is important to tap into seasonal opportunities in order to join in on conversations that are already taking place. For example, some great summertime topics to cover may include heat waves or vacations. Therefore, if you have a product or service that directly relates to what’s currently happening, then make a useful connection that can help the reader! 

Pro-Tip: Think about evergreen opportunities based on your location! Ask yourself, “What do people care about here?” If you live in Los Angeles, beaches and restaurants will always be popular, so find a way to create content around those themes. 

How to Rank in Google News 

When news is breaking, the user does not want to sift through several articles to find what they’re looking for, which is why the top stories carousel on Google is prime real estate. While the carousel spot is highly competitive, there’s no need to overcomplicate it. The best way to attain this spot is by simplifying the user’s search process as much as possible.  

Always think to yourself, “What would someone type into Google?” 

Here are some key best practices to help increase rankings for news articles: 

  • Use a keyword-driven headline 
  • Keep headlines short and concise (under 60 characters) 
  • Always eliminate conversational phrases (i.e “here are the…”) 
  • Utilize internal linking to establish authority on recurring themes 

Maximizing Social Media Shareability 

As previously mentioned, it is always a best practice to keep headlines short and sweet for Google. However, social media allows more wiggle room to be a bit more conversational with headlines. In this space, it is okay to give away the story because more often than not, people are already searching for it. 

Oftentimes, there is a direct crossover between user behavior on search engines and social media. For example, if there is breaking news about a shooting, you’ll want to ensure that the headlines are synonymous on all platforms in order to target users in the same way.

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