“Using quantitative analysis, this current study confirmed as a whole that in Greek landscape, media websites with the largest traffic have also the largest proportion of SEO usage. Furthermore, there was a clear correlation between traffic and various SEO factors such as backlinks, bounce rate and the practice of links exchange. The findings showed that popular media websites in Greece with high traffic volumes employ to a considerable degree, basic SEO strategies but there is still room for improvement.”
– Dimitrios Giomelakis & Andreas Veglis, from their recent study Investigating Search Engine Optimization Factors in Media Websites: the case of Greece
SEO AND MEDIA WEBSITE TRAFFIC
Journalism, what we will call media, has changed dramatically over the last two decades. The rise of the internet has had its affect. There is a clear and growing trend in the number of people who go to search engines like Google to find their news and information. As more people have left traditional outlets to find their news, there has been a growing trend in the way media companies write and index their stories. The major factor in the change in how journalists write and present their stories boils down to a simple desire: journalists want their stories to be read. If you are a journalist and want your story to be read, you will have to present it to readers where they are: online. More specifically, readers are online searching for news with search engines. SEO is key to getting your story in front of readers. SEO is not an option anymore. Independent journalists and media companies will need to use SEO to assist in driving media website traffic.
RECENT REPORT: MORE SEO, MORE TRAFFIC
A recent report, Investigating Search Engine Optimization Factors in Media Websites: the case of Greece (ISEOFMW), studied SEO and SMO (social media optimization) techniques along with web traffic to understand three things worth noting:
- How SEO was employed by media websites
- What forms of SEO were used by media websites
- Ultimately to see if large amounts of SEO on these sites would correspond to large amounts of traffic
What were the results?
It confirmed that media websites with the largest amounts of SEO usage saw the largest proportion of web traffic. The companies that dominate the market use SEO to drive their media website traffic.
MEDIA GIANTS ARE EMPLOYING SEO SPECIALISTS
What was interesting in the research was the trend in major media outlets that were beginning to employ SEO specialists. Who are we talking about? Here’s a list from the report:
- Daily Mail (2008)
- Guardian (2008)
- British Broadcasting Company (BBC) (2009)
- LA Times (2011)
SEO was identified as clearly important to a few other well-known media outlets:
- Christian Science Monitor
- Huffington Post
What major media outlets are beginning to see is that it is necessary to plan for success in SEO in order to remain competitive in the media market today. Instead of simply using some SEO techniques, these companies decided to put their resources towards the creation of a team totally geared towards the goal of staying on top of ever changing SEO trends. The search engine algorithms evolve. Your SEO plan will need to evolve as well.
KEY SEO FACTORS TO INCREASE YOUR PAGE RANK
Focus on your SEO basics. Here were a few that can help get you started:
- Titles: Media outlets were creating two titles for their stories-a standard title and a short title. The goal is to put more keywords in your story and can differ from a headline on the front page of your site to the story page.
- Meta descriptions: The first line of the story usually ended up in the meta descriptions. Load your keywords into your first sentence and meta descriptions in a way that makes sense.
- URL: Put the right keywords in your URL. The report found most editors used words from the title or first paragraph.
- Social Media: This was huge. Make sure you focus on your social media campaign. Several studies were noted in ISEOFMW. One worth looking into is Google+. Google+1 shares had a higher than average effect on rankings compared to social media kings Facebook and Twitter. Do you have a Google+? How effective are you using it?
If you begin using these SEO basics, you should expect to see a change in your media website traffic.
WARNINGS AND ADDITIONAL TIPS
SEO alone does not guarantee you will grow into a leader in the media field. There are a lot of factors that both the report and I would note are important. You have to have quality. You have to build a brand name. This requires consistency. Journalists (and media sites in general) also have to know their audience and provide content readers will want to read. It’s one thing to want to be read. It’s another thing entirely to write something people want to read.
With that said, you will likely want to employ these techniques to assist in making sure your stories get a better shot at being viewed:
- Avoid “black hat” SEO: Search engines like Google are constantly changing their algorithms to identify and ward off manipulative and deceptive techniques to increase rankings. This can backfire quickly.
- Protect the integrity of your link exchanges: You want helpful linking strategies to occur. That means you want the right websites pointing to you and you want to point to the right websites as well. What makes a website the right website? That depends on you and your customer. Who else would your customer benefit from seeing? Where do other websites have customers that would benefit from your content? The more relevant and powerful those relationships, the better your short term page rankings will be. The more accurate your referrals (links pointing to a helpful article or site), the more loyal your long-term customer base will be. That’s my opinion, but trendsetter after trendsetter continues to point out this same principle: Don’t sacrifice who you are to do what the trend or SEO technique dictates. Here is a helpful article to keep you focused on what matters.
- Bounce rate affects ranking so make sure you build your site to promote staying awhile. Help consumers find other stories on your site that interest them once they arrive. You don’t want a “one and done” customer experience.