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News SEO

What is News SEO? 95% of news websites are doing SEO wrong

February 1, 2024


Traffic from Google (Search, News, and Discover) is becoming increasingly important for news websites. Yet there are very few news websites that really get SEO right. Why is that?

From our experience, this is mainly because most SEO tips and SEO agencies are focused on optimizing SEO for non-news websites that sell a service or product and not for news websites, which requires a totally different approach.

But what is the difference between SEO for news websites and other websites? Simply put, news websites are attracting not only traffic from Google Search, but also from Google News and Google Discover (some websites get up to 50% of their traffic from Google Discover).

But that's not the only difference, as you can read below.

Slowly growing Google traffic vs Google traffic spikes

For a new piece of content published on a non-news site, the organic traffic graph, most of the time, looks like something like this, It will typically take some time for a new page to attract traffic from Google as the page needs to build up authority and trust in Google's eyes. This can take months or even years before the page will rank well in Google.

But for news websites, the organic traffic graph looks more like this:

As an article gets a lot of traffic in the first few hours and days of its publication..

Then how is it possible that new articles can start picking up traffic within minutes instead of days or months with news websites?

The reason for this is that most of the incoming traffic on news websites isn’t actually coming from the normal search results (the 10 blue links) but instead, from the Top Stories carousel in the Google results.

So for news articles, traffic from the Top Stories Carousel is of higher importance than traffic from the normal search results.

But a news article is only visible in the Top Stories carousel for approximately 48 hours, so when the article disappears from the Top Stories carousel, the traffic it gets from Google will drop dramatically. A lot of these articles will start receiving some traffic from generic Google Search (the 10 blue links) after they are no longer featured on the Top Stories carousel, but this doesn't happen for every article. It all depends on how interesting these stories are in the long run, so background stories will have a longer life span in Google Search than breaking news stories. Articles that consistently drive Google Search traffic are called Evergreen articles.

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Not 10 but 10.000 relevant keywords

90% of websites revolve around selling a service or product. For example, a law firm in New York wants to attract people who search on Google for 'lawyer New York' because these people are potential clients. If the majority of visitors on their law firm’s website are being routed through the google search ‘buy iPhone Miami’, then this traffic (even if it’s a lot) is worthless to the firm. They won’t change their entire business model and start selling iPhones just because their visitors come looking for iPhones instead of law consultancy...

But with a news website, the goal is not necessarily to sell a fixed service or product but rather to attract as many readers as possible by fulfilling the need of up-to-date information. So the topic or keyword on which a news website wants to be found by visitors is not fixed. In fact,, it is the exact opposite: A news website wants to be found on the most frequently searched keywords (within its niche), so there are many more potentially interesting keywords to optimize for.

Suppose a soccer news website notices that many people are searching for a new Colombian player that just transferred to Manchester City. Then this news website would do well to write a background article about this player to attract more traffic from Google.

If this player is a trending search on Google, then this means that there is also a lot of interest in this player among soccer fans. So writing an article about this player will target this trend and attract more visitors from Google.

Direct relationship between page views and revenue

For most websites that are selling a product or service, their main objective is to convert their visitors as quickly as possible to avail the service or product being offered. But for a news website, the goal is to keep the visitor's attention for as long as possible and to make the visitor view as many pages on the website as possible. Therefore, smart linking and displaying related articles is essential for a news website, which makes SEO different for news websites.

Optimize traffic from Google Discover and Google News

Non-news websites get 99% of their Google traffic from Google Search. But for news websites, Google News and Google Discover are also huge sources of user traffic that need to be optimized for. Many news websites attract more visitors from Google Discover and Google News than from Google Search. 

Check out our Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide to see how you can increase your traffic from Google Discover.

More content means the need of a good taxonomy and internal link structure

There is, of course, a lot more content on a news website than on a normal business website. Due to this amount of content, the taxonomy, content categorization, and internal link structure become essential for a good search engine ranking of the content.

At Newsifier, we have optimized our CMS 100% for news websites. As such, we have not only optimized for Google Search but have also optimized for Google News and Google Discover. Are you interested to see how we have optimized our CMS to maximize traffic from Google and other search engines? Book a free demo here.

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