No fair. Your organization wrote the book on that topic that’s all over the evening news. Yet the evil search bots are ignoring you, and reporters never call.
Are you finding it hard to get the attention of Google and other search giants?
The answer isn’t gaming the system, but creating a smart newsroom that offers vital topical information that scoops up interested journalists and members of the public.
“If you’re doing what’s most natural and right for your readers,” says Jared Hoffmann, digital marketing manager at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, “that’s in Google’s best interest as well.”
Here are some tips.
Create original content.
Whereas companies once cranked out mostly text stories, search engines nowadays also look for videos, images, sound files and other digital assets that tell a story.
Sorry, your press releases don’t count—not if you are spreading them far and wide through distribution services. Even if your organization created that snazzy story and video package, it’s not exclusive when it appears all over the web, says Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology.
Holtz cites Cisco’s newsroom as one that produces not only press releases, but also original content designed to appeal to journalists. Microsoft, too, generates feature stories, videos and other content. The company recently offered information such as, “On the soccer pitch and in the classroom, feminism flourishes in rural India,” and “With new Microsoft breakthroughs, general purpose quantum computing moves closer to reality.”
“They think of themselves as a media company,” Holtz says, “and this is a good demonstration of that.”
It’s essential to add new stories and other content frequently, says Brad Nevin, editor-in-chief of Nissan’s global communications website platforms. Updates train your audience to come back. Though Nissan’s newsroom targets journalists, savvy fans have learned that car news often appears there before it does on Nissan’s marketing sites.
“If they come back and see nothing’s new three, four days, it’s just natural that people will say, ‘Oh, they never update this site,'” Nevin says, “and they don’t go back again—ever.”
Holtz adds that for a small organization, weekly updates might be fine, but those with the resources to do so should add content more frequently.
Use your customers’ terminology.
A contemporary newsroom allows you to publish content that you once might have confined to a news media pitch, says Jake Jacobson, director of public relations at Children’s Mercy. Now the hospital communicators say, “Why don’t we just publish it ourselves?”
That said, Google might not find you if people are searching for different terms from those you use. “Do people say ‘cancer’ or ‘oncology’?'” Jacobson says. “We want to make sure that we write in language that he [IT] is going to be using from an SEO standpoint—because why would we make our own teammates’ job harder?”
For example, there’s the contrast between the words “radiology” and “medical imaging,” he says. Searches of “radiology” tend to pull academic, peer-to-peer articles. “Medical imaging” is more directed to hospitals and out-patient information of the sort patients and families would search.
One recent story avoided jargon and offered useful tips under the headline, “Holiday Travel Health: 10 Ways to Avoid Germs on an Airplane.”
Include headlines in URLs.
Headlines and kickers (a.k.a. subheads or deck heads) matter to SEO in ways both obvious and obscure. First, a headline with clear search words (“Brazilian made Nissan Kicks to bring excitement to Argentine customers, despite the rivalry on the pitch“) picks up traffic that hazier alternatives would not (“Friends and rivals!”).
Beyond that, Nissan’s global newsroom is automated to take care of important aspects of SEO, particularly headlines, Nevin says. First, most of Nissan’s stories include the headline in the URL, making it highly searchable.
“It mirrors the simple task of how to write a good headline,” Nevin says. “So you have the important words in your headline.”
Write ‘kickers’ for your headlines.
When writing for your newsroom, Nissan adds “kickers” or subheads under its stories, Nevin says. A colleague of his in Tokyo researched this and proved that kickers help boost SEO.
The following headline/kicker combination adds information for search bots to scoop up:
Field test with local participants to take place in March in Yokohama.
Referring to his number-crunching colleague, Nevin adds, “He also says that helps the reader get a good feel for the stories really fast, instead of scrolling down and reading six paragraphs.”
Use tags that enable voice searches.
With the growth of mobile, half of all searches are done by voice, and that number is increasing, Holtz says. Thus, you need h1, h2 and meta title tags in place to draw search engines to your content.
“Increasingly, using the right tags is going to be important as you want your content to be found as a result of voice search,” Holtz says.
Deploy social media.
Nevin places information on LinkedIn, and Nissan’s team in Japan handles the Twitter account. In the United States, however, marketing controls Twitter and Facebook.
The tweets tend to be more consumer-oriented and less hard-news in their approach. Because of that, Nissan is establishing a U.S. Twitter account for news, enabling it to boost its stories and better target Twitter-using journalists.
“Amplifying news on social media is really important,” Nevin says. “But does it share with the consumer site, or does it get its own account?”
Cross-link within your organization—and beyond.
One key metric search engines look for is, “Do other reputable organizations or websites deem your content as worthy to link to?” Hoffmann says.
When the communications team produces new content, Children’s Mercy looks for supporting information within the site. If the newsroom has a separate URL from that of your main organization, cross-links between the site can also support your content.
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