How to Optimize your Content for Quality Google News Traffic
The ultimate goal of any Internet marketing services company is to help its clients rank high on page 1 of Google for all their important search terms.
Anybody who has spent any length of time in the search space, however, will tell you that ranking above the fold in Google for all of your search terms is often an unrealistic pursuit, particularly when you are going after highly competitive keywords.
That’s why it’s so important to find alternative ways to carve out some temporary space atop the Google rankings, and one of the best ways you can do that is by getting your blog posts to rank in Google News. If your posts show up often enough for keywords you’re trying to win, you can accrue significant traffic on competitive keywords even if you’re far from the first page.
Most of you have already completed the first step in this process, but if you haven’t then make sure your site has been submitted for inclusion to Google News. They generally like to see that your blog possesses multiple writers and is updated consistently so they can differentiate the quality sites from the unworthy ones.
Once you are a part of Google News, the biggest key to getting your articles to rank is to optimize your title tags. It doesn’t take an SEO genius to figure out you need to include the keyword you hope to rank for in said article, and I have found significantly higher success rates when my keyword leads the title. To prevent awkward titles, I have often used some variation of “Keyword: Conclusion about keyword” in my title tags.
Next you need to get familiar with the SERP page for each of your particular keywords you are ranking for (as if you weren’t already). Some keywords will constantly bring up News Results and others will do so incredibly infrequently.
In my other life, I run a Phoenix Suns blog called ValleyoftheSuns.com. It’s awfully difficult to get a blog to rank for a premium keyword such as “Phoenix Suns,” but I pump out content on a daily basis, content that often sees Page 1 thanks to the Google News results at the top of this keyword’s SERP.
In this screen shot taken on Oct. 13, my site as well as The Arizona Republic and fellow blog BrightSideoftheSun.com rank above the fold behind only the team’s official site and the team’s Wikipedia page in the Google News results.
If you’re an average fan searching for what’s going on with the Phoenix Suns, you’re likely to click on these latest news results about the team. The same could be said for anybody doing a search with the intention of looking for the latest on that particular industry.
ValleyoftheSuns’ Google Analytics results from the past year bear that conclusion out.
As you can see in the above screen shot, after my site name the top three searches that find ValleyoftheSuns are high volume keywords that I don’t rank very well for: Phoenix Suns (135,000 global searches, page 4 of Google), Steve Nash (135,000, page 3 for an article) and Amare Stoudemire (49,500, page 3 for an article).
Clearly these people are not finding ValleyoftheSuns by digging deep into the search results. Since I write articles on these topics multiple times a week and include these keywords in the title (as well as naturally in the body), I’m able to rank on Page 1 temporarily with a timely news/analysis article that attracts a multitude of clicks.
I performed an experiment last February in the weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline while Suns star forward Amare Stoudemire was on the trading block. Whether or not the Suns were going to trade him was one of the hottest topics in sports during those weeks, and I cashed in with the traffic by optimizing the headlines of all my articles on the topic.
My staff and I wrote as many insightful articles on the topic as possible and used our analytics and other signals such as Google Suggest to figure out how people were searching for this topic. We then optimized our titles for said keywords. These signals were more useful than traditional data such as what you get from the Google Adwords Keyword Tool since the traffic for these keywords, especially the long tail ones, was much higher during this high intensity time than it would be during an average month.
As you can see below, the majority of my Google traffic came from “Amare Stoudemire” and “trade rumors” related keywords during the three-plus weeks before the trade deadline, pushing my usual top keyword “Phoenix Suns” all the way down to No. 9.
In this example, I took advantage of the news cycle by optimizing for keywords and writing content on what was a hot button issue in my vertical. Predicting the kind of keywords that will get spikes in search traffic during a given time and then writing headline-optimized articles on those topics can lead to major traffic boons in all industries.
This isn’t to mitigate the importance of building quality links and ensuring that all of your on-site SEO elements are well-optimized; those should be your first two priorities. It’s just to say that when you are struggling to break into the top 10 for high volume keywords, optimizing your site’s blog posts and articles can be an easy way to acquire some quality short-term traffic.
About Michael Schwartz
Michael Schwartz is an Internet marketing strategist at Vertical Measures as well as an accomplished reporter, blogger and editor. He covers the link building beat. +Michael Schwartz