SEO Readiness Checklist for Online News Publishers
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March 27, 2019

News publishers can’t ignore SEO, regardless of the strength of their content or brand. So, here is an SEO checklist customized specifically for online news publishers.

SSL Encryption

SSL encryption involves securing the transmission of data between your servers and the browsers of your readers. This is important in general, but it has special significance in relation to SEO because of the priority Google places on internet security.

In simple terms, Google wants websites to adopt SSL encryption technology. Its Chrome website browser even tells visitors when websites don’t have SSL encryption. Also, Google penalizes website without SSL encryption in its search results.

Adding SSL encryption involves getting an SSL certificate from your web host or a third-party provider.

Mobile Friendliness

Another high priority for Google is improving the experience of mobile users. As a result, it only lists websites on mobile searches that are mobile-friendly.

Remember as well that Google has moved to Mobile First Indexing. This means it looks at the mobile version of your website before the desktop version and is a further step towards the implementation of Google’s long-standing mobile-first policy.

Story URL Optimisation

URLs that contain strings of numbers and letters that don’t make sense to readers do nothing for SEO. It is much better to use the page title in the URL whereby you replace spaces by dashes.

Page Title Optimisation

Following on from the last point, the page title of a news article should be the article’s title. Ideally, it should also include the most important keywords relating to the story.

Page Meta Description Optimisation

Google says it doesn’t use page meta descriptions as a ranking factor, but it does display meta descriptions on its search results pages. The meta description is the two-line summary of the page you see below the page title and URL. Therefore, meta descriptions are important.

For many news websites, page meta descriptions come from the first sentence or two of stories. You can optimise this further, however, by getting reporters to write manual meta descriptions that are the right length, that are useful to the reader, and that include the main keyword of the story. Another way is by using Klangoo NLP API to automatically generate a summary.

It is also helpful to add schema.orgmarkup to your website. Schema.org adds structured data to your articles that Google can then use to add information to search results. Good examples of where this can be particularly beneficial are recipe or review articles.

Loading Speed Optimised

Google needs your websites to load fast and more specifically their ads on your site. So, they simply created Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP.

AMP-compliance is a major factor affecting publishers SEO ranking these days especially with SEO becoming one of the main referral sources after the “Facebook-News breakup” end or 2017.

Read more about Google AMP & how it can improve online engagement.

Image Alt Text

Image “alt text” is a description of the image that Google uses to understand what the image is about. This helps with SEO, especially in relation to image searches.

Related Stories Functionality

Other than the effect of Related Content on audience engagement, it also affects SEO indirectly by means of the “inter-linking” factor. In other words, articles on your website linking to each other in the same context. This seems to be a major criteria that Google uses when ranking pages (how many pages link back to this page).

Internal Links

Similar to the Related Content effect, adding internal links to your articles is important for SEO too. While not as important as third-party backlinks, Google still uses internal links to understand the connections between content and how to apply rankings.

Check out also how Magnet for Publishers automates adding internal links to replace the time-consuming process.