You have a great online newspaper, but aren’t getting as much traffic as you’d hope. Ensuring that your website has complete visibility to customers should be your number one priority. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
SEO is incredibly important to the success of any online business. Although Google makes dozens of changes to its search algorithm annually, keeping updated with all the new changes can be challenging, especially for small businesses. Don’t stress. Here’s a checklist of five SEO steps every small newspaper can complete to start improving their online presence.
- Target Analysis
The first step in any SEO strategy or campaign is to define your target audience. This is the set of people who you want to market your paper to. Customers drive the search process, which means search is the top driver to content sites. Defining the right target audience is a crucial step, since this will ensure that your website is showing up to the right people.
A few key factors for you to consider in your target analysis are: Are there any geographical restrictions? What do your ideal customers want? Do they have any needs that aren’t being met?
Knowing these things will not only help you to define your audience, but it will also help with your overall content strategy. If you have just started your news site then you should really take some time to think about who it is you are trying to target as customers.
- Keyword Research
Keyword research is another important component of SEO. When done correctly, your keywords will help you create a road map with the right phrases to target. It will also help with the development and execution of your content.
Things for you to consider during your research are: Are the keywords relevant to the website’s content? Will customers find what they are looking for on your site based on the keywords that are leading them there? These are important questions that must always be answered with “yes.”
Google Trends and Keyword Planner are two useful tools to help with your search. The related search terms that appears at the bottom of your page when you search in Google is another way to find relevant keywords for your SEO initiatives. Now that you have a good list of keywords, it’s time to refine it and choose the best terms. There isn’t any specific rule to follow; you’re generally looking to eliminate the words that you don’t want to be ranked for.
- Content Optimization
According to Google, content is one of the top factors for organic search ranking. Creating high quality content that is pleasing to both search engines and visitors is key to your success. Since the whole concept of optimizing your content is to reach people who are looking for it.
When approaching content optimization, you must keep the keywords in mind. That means incorporating your keywords in your copy in a natural and readable way. Don’t go overboard and try to optimize one post or page with all of the keywords you’ve identified. You will be penalized by Google for keyword stuffing.
Instead, choose a few relevant ones that correlate and make sense to your topic or page, then assign the rest into groups of similar terms. Your primary keyword should appear in the first 100 words of your content. Your other related keywords, synonyms and so on can be incorporated naturally throughout the rest of the content. You should also know that original, high quality, long form content will perform better organically.
- User experience
In addition to creating relevant and engaging content, you want to make sure that your content is laid out properly and can be easily read. Doing this will increase not only the engagement, but also the amount of time visitors spend on the site. Some factors to take into consideration when improving your user experience:
- Font selection: make sure the fonts are easy to read
- Break up content into smaller paragraphs
- Content should educate or entertain visitors
- Use descriptive subheadings
- Optimize your website speed
- Testing and Measuring
Testing and measuring your results is another critical component to your SEO process. Doing all the above is great, but if you don’t know whether your actions are having the desired impact, then all that work would be useless. To accurately measure SEO success, you must know what you are trying to achieve.
Every month, keep track of your search engine share of referring visits, referrals, visits referred by specific search engine terms and phrases, keyword conversion rate, and the number of pages receiving at least one visit from search engines. These data will help you to get the maximum value from your SEO campaigns, regardless of what you’re trying to achieve.
Dan Wilson is a freelance writer.