SEO ideas for a new news product
In issue no. 18, we look at what you should consider pre- and post-launch for a new news product (newsletter, podcast, content vertical).
Hello and welcome back. This week, it’s me, Jessie back at it after Toronto’s first hot hot weekend. Shout out to the vegan ice cream retailers for keeping it 😎 this summer.
Your organization is launching a new news product. You’ve been tasked with developing an SEO strategy. 🎉 This means your editors understand and value your work. Did they ask well in advance of launch? 10/10, a dream!
Start by thinking about how you will serve your readers in each phase of the audience funnel: How you plan to attract new readers (search) and convert them to loyal, premium subscribers or supporters (your newsletter, podcast, series or publication as a whole). Search casts a wide net to reel in new audiences.
Let’s get to work.
We are assuming the new product (henceforth to be known as New Thing) covers a specific niche topic that relates to your site’s overall content.Maybe it's a newsletter about healthy eating, a personal finance podcast or series of live seminars that discuss topics of interest to your community. Here are some places to focus your attention before, during and after launch of your product.
In this issue:
Pre-launch: Keywords and questions to consider
Launching: Hub pages and site structure
Post-launch: Keep track and claim authority in SERPs
Take inventory. How do readers find existing content?
A good first step is to compile your top-performing stories or evergreen content related to the topic of New Thing. Then, use SEO keyword research to see how readers found those stories. Detailed has a great Chrome extension with Quick Links to search insights for 10 SEO tools.
Questions to answer through your inventory:
What are the top referring keywords for these stories? How do readers currently find your content?
Are readers interested in a particular author or sub-topic?
Is there a particular phrase used most often (e.g., are readers looking for “easy dinner recipes” or “cheap healthy recipes”)?
Example: You’re launching a personal finance podcast. How do readers find financial advice on your site (both referral sources and search keywords)?
Make note of common keywords – those can be considered for headlines, sub-titles (meta descriptions), URL and in the body of articles. (Don’t keyword stuff! Use main-focus phrases organically in text.)
Do keyword research. What are readers interested in?
As we have covered in our keyword research issue, this exploration helps inform the questions you should include or topics to cover.
Identify your main-focus keyword. Then go deeper for content ideas:
Use Google Trends to find the popularity of a keyword and related searches;
Use Keywords Everywhere to find keyword volume, cost-per-click and competition data;
Use Google itself to find questions that People Also Ask.
Review the search volume to measure how much traffic you could generate from each phrase and keyword difficulty to see how hard it will be to rank for those terms. Targeting long-tail keywords (more specific/targeted keywords) might be more effective compared to highly-competitive broad phrases.
If it’s a podcast: Look at “personal finance for millennials” instead of “personal finance.”
If it’s a newsletter: Look at “healthy weeknight dinner recipe ideas” instead of “healthy recipes.”
If it’s a news vertical: Look at the niche topics within the vertical. Try “toronto maple leafs news and trade rumours” instead of “toronto maple leafs.”
Make a hullabaloo about it: Create a landing or hub page
New Thing needs somewhere to live, so now we will create a hub page for your new product.
Your keyword research will inform the best phrase for the title of the page (title tag and headline), the sub-title of the page (meta description) and the URL.
Google isn’t a big fan of “thin content” — aka a page that doesn’t hold a lot of information. Avoid this by writing copy about the product and how it will benefit the reader. Make sure the page is categorized under whatever section/category makes sense.
If it’s a podcast: Does the host of the show have brand name authority? If so, use their name in key areas. If not, relying on your brand’s authority to introduce the host/podcast makes more sense.
If it’s a newsletter: How will readers find the sign-up page off-platform?
If it’s a news vertical: Establish authority for that topic page by writing a clear, effective headline and meta description for the page. Do the same for all stories curated onto the topic page.
The hub page should contain all the key information about your new product (topic, host, when new content will be published, how to sign up, etc.).
Example: For a new podcast, you would create a “How to listen Our New Podcast” podcast page. The search intent matches the content on the page (name of the host, places to stream, frequency).
Then track it: Many SEO tools have some kind of Post Tracking report. Add your new links to that report – or compile into a Google Spreadsheet and track key metrics over time. Add a calendar reminder to review product links and update as necessary.
Look at the traffic breakdown for the hub page, newsletter sign up page or podcast episode pages. What’s the breakdown of traffic from search/social/referral/your site?
Define an internal and backlink strategy (to execute post-launch)
Next, update the pages relevant to the product that can drive traffic to the new landing page. Consider this free promotion to readers who are keenly interested in the topic.
Internal linking: Where will you link and promote the new product (and who is responsible for those links)?
As you publish new stories on the topic, look for organic opportunities to link to New Thing. Internal links are signals to Google that a piece of content is related and should therefore also be crawled on this particular subject. Linking to your hub page frequently tells Google that page is Good News Bears.
Backlinks: How will you get backlinks from other sites?
Does the host of New Thing have their own website?
Are there specific websites that you will collaborate on New Thing with? Can they link to it?
Who are the key influencers on this topic?
Check for unlinked mentions on the internet. If there is an opportunity to link to New Thing, you should email politely and ask for a link.
Boring bonus tip: Check your existing brand pages. Do your author pages for the podcast host or newsletter writer include this new project? What about your social media pages? (Is it fun to update the About section on fifteen social platforms? No! But these links are important for driving attention to the page.)
Wherever your brand appears, New Thing should appear.
Launch best practices:
Audit content to inform treats
Check for technical SEO
Link it up: How will readers find you on and off-site
No, don’t pack a bag and book a plane ticket to Bali. This is much cheaper: Go Incognito and search the name of your news product, host, or niche topic. If your domain or topic page is first in SERPs, hurrah! (Now you can book the Bali ticket. In celebration.)
Audit your first page links: Maybe your hub page isn’t there, but a related news article is: Check for an opportunity to promote the newsletter or podcast, or link to the new news vertical on that page. Those internal links are good ✨ SEO dust. ✨
Audit pages not on page one: Use Screaming Frog to check for broken links, missing title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text. Review your keyword insights from pre-launch: Are they reflected on the live site? Are they working?
Give the page time: Not every piece will rank overnight. But as attention is drawn to the page and you begin to build a brand around it, New Thing will rank before you know it.
SEO is very much an iterative process and very much a long-game. Review what is and is not working frequently and adjust.
Try claiming rich snippets in SERPs
As we covered in the rich snippets issues, Google is increasingly taking over real estate in SERPs. It can be frustrating to see space lost to ads and e-commerce carousels, but these spots do usually see higher click-through rates. Try to snag those spots for your site.
Can you secure a Wikipedia page for your news product? (Follow the rules of Wikipedia! Don’t be a jerk!)
Example: The New York Times podcast The Daily has its own Wikipedia page. It contains information readers might search and help build authority.
When searching “The Daily,” the show’s Wikipedia page answers common readers questions (who is the host? How long is each episode?).
SEMRush points to research suggesting that pages answering questions are more likely to have a Featured Snippet.
Searching “free cooking newsletters” returns, obviously, a bunch of free newsletters about cooking. In the number two spot: The NYT Cooking newsletter.
Further on the page, the NYT triggered two People Also Ask snippets: an FAQ about their Cooking vertical, and a Sam Sifton “recipe” page.
Post-launch best practices:
Try to claim a rich snippet
Use Post Tracking to review how readers find your content
Pre-pre-launch: Audit your content for top-performing stories and to find main-focus keywords
Pre-launch: Create a hub page and use the proper site structure. Use structured data to support your efforts.
Post-launch: Try to capture rich snippets in SERPs and track the new content you created for the product.
The bottom line: SEO is a long-game. Invest before the launch of a new news product in developing a great search strategy to execute when it goes live.
FUN + GAMES
Time to optimize for search! How many American homes had smart speakers in their house in 2020?
Just eclipsed 1 million
SEO for a new website? 7 tips from SEM Rush
NEXT WEEK: What should we cover next?
We covered XYZ story. How do we know if we captured/responded to search?
Have something you’d like us to discuss? Send us a note on Twitter (Jessie or Shelby) or to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FUN + GAMES
The answer: 120 million
Written by Jessie Willms and Shelby Blackley.