Ask a News SEO: Oleg Korneitchouk
Oleg Korneitchouk explains the most common content and technical SEO challenges publishers face. Learn how to navigate these pitfalls and more
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Hello, and welcome back. Jessie and Shelby here, back from bright and sunny winter weekends. Jessie successfully learned to turn a chain in crochet and got to hold a baby (that I know. Not a random infant). Meanwhile, Shelby frolicked through suburban Costco eating every possible free sample — except the Tide pods. The true victory was only buying a single item in the whole store. Take that, capitalism!
This week: We’re pumped to have Oleg Korneitchouk, News Publisher Consultant (SEO & Analytics), join us for an Ask a News SEO interview! We discuss common technical and content SEO issues for publishers, the importance of the site navigation and how content and tech specialists can work together to achieve results.
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WTF is SEO?: What are the most common content and technical issues that you usually see when you're working on sites?
Oleg Korneitchouk: I’ll break them up into two parts: content and technical.
For content, not including the main keywords in the headline and headings. I still get asked, “why aren't we appearing for X person's name?” Well, you never mentioned the name until the second or third paragraph. The keyword or entity in the title is just so, so important.
Not using keyword-friendly anchor text for internal links is also common. Often, I see people linking via “reported by” or “said by.” But if you use actual keyword-friendly anchor text, it's going to help you rank better. Another is not having images for posts.
I do focus a lot more on technical SEO, it’s my bread and butter. Three common issues I see are not loading an article’s contents in the response HTML versus the rendered HTML, not having the main navigation indexable and not having fully fleshed out schema for articles.
Finally, I work with a lot of paywall sites. Commons issues are allowing visitors to access paywall contents for free because it's poorly blocked, or not allowing Googlebot and other crawlers to access the content. Opening up the paywall for crawlers to see the content results in a huge increase in keywords you can rank for.
WTF is SEO?: How do you think about content and technical SEO to ensure you get the most out of each?
Oleg Korneitchouk: I find there's a misalignment in incentives between technical and content SEO. I always try to bring it back to, why are we doing any of this? It’s to get people to read our stuff. A lot of it is just empathizing with each other and understanding we’re trying to accomplish the same thing.
Ultimately, I think technical SEO is there to support content SEO. Content SEOs are the people who are doing this every single day, optimizing, doing the keyword ranking checks, etc. Tech SEO is more of an audit to improve, monitor and adjust as new features are added.
WTF is SEO?: What do you recommend for sites when it comes to their navigations?
Oleg Korneitchouk: Link your top categories or sections that you want to be known for in the navigation. If it’s worth ranking, it's worth linking to. Focus on top evergreen sections and trending topics or stories. Try to integrate both somehow into your navigation for a better user experience.
If something is trending in the news — and you want to be known for it and rank for it — sending a bunch of links really quickly can help give it a boost. Linking trending stories in the navigation sitewide can help with that.
WTF is SEO?: Is there anything that you wish you knew about SEO earlier, or what people getting into SEO now should know?
Oleg Korneitchouk: This is a really tough question. I'd say one of the big changes in the past like five years for me was reframing my thinking about Google from a powerful algorithm that tries to organize the world’s information for the betterment of mankind (remember “don’t be evil”?), to a more holistic understanding.
Outside the browser, it's a giant corporation trying to maximize profits and the internet is a bunch of wires running around the world with expensive servers running expensive calculations. All the decisions Google makes need to be considered through that lens, as well as understanding corporate incentives and how they drive algorithm changes. That helps you anticipate what direction they're going in. (I recommend reading AJ Kohn’s piece, It’s goog enough.)
Oftentimes, Google representatives make statements that have to tow a fine line where they can’t necessarily tell you exactly what to do to rank — because then everyone's going to abuse it — but they can't lie because if they get caught, they lose trust. You have to read between the lines.
For example, on authorship and E.E.A.T, having author bios are not going to help you directly. But if a person lands on your site and sees that your authors are actually credible, they have a lot of information and experiences that others don’t — that's more attractive and will prevent people from clicking back into search results and choosing another page (aka Navboost).
Ultimately, I think that's a big part of what Google is using to determine whether or not something is helpful.
Secondly, when learning SEO, I think crawling and indexing and the basics of how search engines work is very important to learn. I'm a big fan of understanding the fundamentals and then building from there to strategies and tactics. If you don't understand the fundamentals of why things work the way they work and what the limitations are, as soon as you encounter a unique situation, you're not going to know what to do.
Learning how page rank works historically, from ranking and links and how you build authority and trust, and understanding the concepts around the various algorithm updates and why they exist, is all important to understanding what’s possible, desirable and cost-efficient from a search engine’s point of view.
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THE JOBS LIST
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ESPN is hiring a Senior SEO Analyst (Bristol, Connecticut).
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Google news and updates
🤖 Google: The SEO starter guide got a “makeover” to “better focus on audience.”
🤖 Danny Goodwin: Google’s CEO talks future of SGE, Gemini, ads and AI search.
🤖 Web Dev team: Heads up! Interaction to Next Paint becomes a Core Web Vital on March 12.
Even more recommended reading
✏️ The New York Times redesigned their byline pages to “highlight the experience, expertise and ethics” of their journalists.
💸 Brittany Mueller: “It costs Google 100x more to generate an SGE result than a regular result.”
📍 Nieman Journalism Lab: How to meet readers where they are (when where they are is offline).
🧪 ’s Newsroom Robot: Rethinking the journalism business model in the age of AI with Jeff Jarvis.
📱 Aleyda Solís: Here's how to start with TikTok's own Creative Center.
💬 Dan Taylor: How to communicate major Google changes to the C-Suite.
🖥️ Andy Chadwick: SEO vs SEO: How search engine experience is changing the industry.
📚 Dorcas Adisa: Three types of content gap analysis to outrank your competitors (Moz).
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