WordPress themes SEO

5 Ways to Optimize a News Website for Search Engines

These are the critical SEO considerations that publishers should know about.

A news website has some innate advantages when it comes to SEO. For starters, most news websites have a constant stream of new, high-quality content being published each day. News websites also have special features that Google recognizes, like Top Stories. But publishing news content for the world to see doesn’t guarantee that a website will rank on the first page of Google results. Optimizing a news website for search engines requires a solid strategy for success.

If you want to optimize your news website for search engines and outrank the competition, you’ll need to keep some key considerations in mind.

How to Optimize a News Website – 5 Tips

1. Consider the lifespan of an article.

News articles tend to be timely and relevant, but they also tend to be short lived. Given the nature of breaking news, it’s rare that people search for articles about events that happened weeks or months prior. After an initial surge in traffic, most news articles quickly fade into obscurity and vanish from the first page of search results.

Given this reality, it’s especially important that publishers work on their evergreen content strategy. Evergreen content is content that remains relevant in perpetuity. Think about explainer articles and “Best Of” lists. If you want to consistently drive traffic to your news website from search engines like Google and Bing, then you need to have evergreen articles placed strategically throughout your website.

2. Go mobile NOW.

People are switching to mobile, and Google’s algorithm has taken notice. Mobile usability has never been more important for a news website that wants to optimize for search engines than it is right now.

Responsive web design, which involves fitting a website’s formatting to multiple screen sizes, is only the beginning. News publishers should also be adopting AMP and working with their developers to ensure page load times are as fast as possible.

To learn more about the best WordPress plugins for optimizing page speed and performance, click here.

3. Get your articles included in Google News.

Are the articles on your website ranking in Google News? If the answer is no, then that’s a major problem. All news publications should be showing up in Google News.

Check out the Google News policies to see if there’s a reason you were excluded. Once you’ve gotten those issues sorted out, you can review the technical guidelines to make sure Google’s crawlers are able to access your website and understand what your articles are about. It typically takes around three weeks for a news website to be accepted after submitting the site for Google’s approval.

To learn more about what it takes to have your content included in Google News, click here.

4. Make your website easy to navigate.

News websites are constantly growing, with a daily influx of new articles, images, comments, and more. Don’t let your website get messy as it grows. Keeping up with your site architecture is important if you want to optimize your website for search engines.

Site architecture is an increasingly large, nuanced topic. However, the best tip to remember is that organization is king. The tags and categories you use should be descriptive, accurate, and simple. You should have enough tags to help readers find the content they need, but not so many tags that readers get confused or overwhelmed. If you have too many tags, consider consolidation.

Keeping your tagging system organized should also help with page depth. Page depth has to do with the number of clicks it takes to get from a homepage to another page. Ideally, you want the depth to be as low as possible. Not only does that make it easier for Google to crawl your website, but it also makes it easier for readers to find the information they’re looking for.

5. Speed it up.

Breaking news happens fast, and people don’t have time for slow-loading websites. News publishers face incredible competition, not just from fellow publishers, but also from social media users. The fastest way to stay ahead of the pack is to speed up your website.

Page speed isn’t just an issue for readers. Slow page speed makes it harder for Google’s bots to crawl your website, as well, and that has a direct impact on search rankings.

If you’re worried about crawl speed, take a close look at the following factors:

  • Website speed
  • Hosting performance
  • XML sitemaps

Follow these steps to create a Google News sitemap, making sure not to add more than 1,000 URLs to your sitemap. News sitemaps should continually be updated as new articles are published.

Publishers who run their websites on the WordPress platform can take advantage of a number of useful sitemaps plugins, including the Google XML Sitemap Generator.