SEO & News Production

To get the word out there, SEO is a must. So having a good grip on Search Engine Organisation, establishing a workflow that incorporates SEO in the newsroom, which is basically “the set of techniques that ensures web content has the greatest chances of appearing at the top of search engine rankings, is a must. It is also becoming important because, “traffic from from social networks is on the decline and because many readers consume their news via search engines.”
Traffice sources to a news website - screenshot
The traffic from search engines is quite high for this news website. — Screenshot
A equitable dependence on the different traffic sources is healthy, but doing well on search engines can set the news site on steady, long-term growth trajectory.
That would mean that you need to have a plan or strategy for SEO. There are myriad ways of going about it. The most obvious one could be in a breaking news situation where the priority is took to publish the news. Providing a right kind of headline, teaser text, and a helpful first paragraph for SEO purposes must take a back step to the task on hand. The other end of the spectrum could be a feature story that is edited and ready to go a couple of days ahead of publication. To get the SEO part right is a cinch. In between the the extremes lie stories in need of stories at least going with a headline that has keywords from say Google Trends, which has currently being searched, the volume of search is better that for another potential keyword, the number of characters in the headline is consistent with SEO standards and so on. Often content management systems have helpful tools to help in the process. For instance, WordPress, which this site runs on has a plugin called Yoast SEO, which is very helpful, if one chooses to be fastidious about SEO.
But some clunky, high-priced, high-maintenance CMSs seem ill at ease with such basics. Proprietary system often are unable to incorporate community built tools either. Thus it might be required to us external, free tools to sharpen SEO elements of a story.
Much what we can speak of about Indian newsrooms, especially digital newsroom tends to be anecdotal since no academic papers seem to be readily available that have looked at the way SEO is implemented in Indian newsrooms. It is fairly common for mainstream news teams or the business side of the operation to have specialist SEO experts, but not necessarily as news SEO specialists.
Job Board Many news organisation, especially in the West have for more than a decade now have hired people specialising in news SEO. The position with some variant of “Editorial SEO expert” might not be part of a job board’s drop-down menu, but clearly the need for an SEO Supremo is beginning to be a requirement.
SEO Supremo
In a paper published in the Comunicar Journal by Dr Carlos Lopezosa et al, explore five categories and interviewed professionals involved with newsroom SEO. The studied looked deeper into the processes by subdividing the categories. The broad outline is:
1) News productions routines: as far as SEO went, performed by journalists. They also looked at SEO routines developed specifically for the purpose, and also looked at SEO training.
2)  SEO Tools: used in newsrooms, including free, paid and suites owned by Google. or inbuilt tools  in Content Management Systems. Interestingly, the paper talks about the different kinds of tools used by the three categories the researchers talked to. SEMrush emerged as the most used SEO audit tool used by journalists, while Ahref seemed to be one most used by SEO experts and consultants, Professors in JSchools though preferred Google’s free tools.
The other tools that find mention in JSchools are “free or freemium”  are Alexa Siteinfo, Similar Web, GT Metrix, WooRank.
A popular, almost default CMS plugin, for those on WordPress is Yoast. The one power-horse for site audit that expert mention is Screaming Frog. The paper also mentions tools such as Safecont, XOVI and Moz, although Moz should not be at the rear of a list,
3) SEO perception: “Journalists recognise the importance of SEO for newsrooms as a strategy of attracting readers,” according to Dr Carlos Lopezosa et al. But that assertion isn’t quite uniformly applicable; some journalists have been reduced to writing for SEO or  the newsrooms that recognise the need for optimising content for search engines, but by optimally using SEO techniques, without debasing the journalism. Digital native editors, in general, are better equipped optimise stories form publishing, while often legacy media journalists find it hard to adjust to the requirements of SEO-appropriate content.
And also at SEO techniques such as on-page, off page, technical SEO, trending topics analysis, and its application in news media.
4) SEO techniques: Quite often Google Trends is the starting point for most journalists to know which keyword to use or what the trends are currently. Something like if you have to make a choice between “Prime Minister Modi” or is it better to say “PM Modi”. A quick visit to Trends could help.
 There are tools such as Newswhip and CrowdTangle that incorporate social signals and much more to suggest keywords to be used, they also are useful to get stories, the ones that will do well in both social media and search engines.
5) SEO opinions and visions: There is no doubt that the relationship between SEO and journalism will continue to be “strengthened”, but clearly the basis on which the strengthening will happen will continuously evolve. The implementation of SEO as part of the editorial workflow continue to evolve as well. What is important nevertheless that the from a journalistic standpoint it is important to ensure that the editorial product gets a fair place in the SERP Sun, but search engines or Big Tech algorithmic hegemony cannot be the basis of any such strengthening.

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