SEO Plugins for News Publishers

Top SEO Plugins for News Publishers

Start using the best SEO plugins for news publishers to increase your website traffic.

As more publishers switch their websites over to WordPress, there is greater interest in learning how plugins can extend the functionality of news websites. Plugins, which are pieces of software with groups of functions that can be added to WordPress websites, are written in PHP programming language.

One of the most popular plugin functions, for news publishers who are interested in growing their businesses, is search engine optimization, or SEO. Although WordPress is already a fairly search engine-friendly platform, plugins can help publishers extend their reach and ensure their articles receive high positions in Google and Bing search results.

Here are the top six SEO plugins for news publishers who want to ensure their websites show up in prominent positions in search results.

Top SEO Plugins for News Publishers

1. Yoast Plugin

Yoast is the most well-known of all the SEO plugins for news publishers. The plugin handles technical optimization and assists editors and writers in optimizing content before they hit “publish.” Although Yoast offers both a free and a premium version of its SEO plugin, the premium version is more popular—and more widely used—among news publishers.
With the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, publishers can optimize their content for keywords, keyphrases, synonyms, related keywords, and all word forms of those. Yoast can also keep an eye on a publisher’s most important pages and send out warnings when those pages haven’t been updated in six months. The Yoast plugin works both in WordPress’ classic editor and in Gutenberg.

2. SEOPress Plugin

News publishers who are invested in trying to improve their website rankings in popular search engines can use the SEOPress WordPress plugin to boost traffic and social sharing. The SEOPress plugin works incredibly quickly, and it can be used to build custom HTML and XML sitemaps, add schemas, and manage redirects of 301s. The plugin can be setup to remove both stopwords and /category/ in URLs, as well. SEOPress works on a freemium model. A number of features are available for free, however advanced features are reserved for publishers with Pro accounts.

3. SEMrush SEO Plugin

The SEMrush SEO plugin works a little differently than other SEO plugins favored by news publishers. The plugin actually offers up instant recommendations for content optimization, allowing reporters and editors to meet various content-quality requirements before they click “Publish.”

Publishers will need to connect or register their SEMrush accounts to use the WordPress plugin, and then set target keywords to get recommendations for content. SEMrush also lets writers set target locations and devices (like desktop or mobile), along with SEO content templates to promote cohesiveness among larger news teams. Although SEMrush’s SEO Writing Assistant plugin is free, users will need an SEMrush account to create an SEO content template.

4. All in One SEO Pack Plugin

All in One SEO Pack has positioned itself as a competitor to Yoast with its comprehensive WordPress plugin. The plugin works out-of-the-box for beginners, with advanced features like XML sitemap support, Google AMP support, Google Analytics support, and support for SEO on custom post types. The All in One SEO Pack plugin generates meta tags and automatically optimizes article titles for Google rankings. All in One SEO Pack is a free plugin for news publishers.

5. Broken Link Checker Plugin

The Broken Link Checker plugin does one main task, and it does it well. As you may have guessed from the name, the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin monitors publishers’ websites and fixes broken links. It also fixes missing images. Both of these issues can derail a news publisher’s SEO, so Broken Link Checker fills a vital role. When Broken Link Checker detects links that don’t work, or missing images, the plugin notifies the publisher via the dashboard or by email. Optional features can be setup to make broken links display differently in articles and prevent search engines from following broken links. Broken Link Checker is a free plugin.

6. Rel Nofollow Plugin

Just like the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin, the Rel Nofollow plugin fills a very narrow role in the SEO market. The Rel Nofollow WordPress plugin automatically adds the rel=”nofollow” attributes to post external links whenever posts are saved. The WordPress plugin also provides a checkbox that news publishers can check to exclude certain posts from the plugin’s action.

Have you tried any of these SEO plugins for news publishers? If not, now is the time to give these tools a try.

Local SEO tips for directory publishers

Local SEO Tips for Directory Publishers

Are you looking for new ways to increase your visibility in local search results? Then let’s talk about local SEO tips for directory publishers.

Local SEO is all about optimizing websites to rank better for local audiences. This is true for any digital publisher, but particular those with directory websites.

Why is that, you ask? For starters, a significant percentage of directory websites are locally focused. Business directories are an obvious example here. Most business directories are focused on a particular city or region. That makes business directories, at their core, locally centered websites. The same can be said for many different types of online directories. Regardless of the primary focus—restaurants, job listings, etc.—the secondary focus is location.

When someone searches for “best doctor in [city],” we want them to arrive at our client’s online directory, not a website run by a hospital or physician practice. How do we make that happen? Local SEO is the key. Following best practices for local SEO, we optimize directory websites for city-specific or region-specific audiences.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is how we get online directories to rank better for local audiences. In order to do that, we need to optimize each listing for the city name and address, essentially making sure that search engines like Google and Bing know where to find the businesses mentioned in each listing.
Businesses optimize their own websites for local SEO all the time. They do this to ensure that customers can find their storefronts in real life. But publishers, who are not looking to get web visitors into their own offices, should still be targeting people located in the same geographic area as the businesses featured in their online directories.

Local SEO Tips

Now that you understand what local SEO is, and why local SEO is important for directory publishers, let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about what you can do to improve the local SEO on your directory website.

These strategies are regarded as “first steps” for directory publishers targeting audiences in specific locations.

  • Include a proper address for each directory listing using schema.org formatting.
  • Ask your web developer to add the city and state to the titles and meta description tags for directory listings.
  • Make sure the city or region is mentioned frequently in directory content, including any business descriptions.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Add ratings and reviews to your website, if possible.

Fewer than one-in-five marketers incorporate schema markup on their websites, which could be one of the reasons why they are struggling with local SEO. Incorporating proper schema markup is one of the ways that we can communicate the focus of the online directory—businesses in a particular location—to search engines. It makes the online directory more relevant to whichever local keywords you are targeting, as well.

Keep local SEO in mind when generating content for new listing pages. One strategy here is to insert the business location as close as possible to the top of each directory page. This ensures that the city not missing from search results when someone types in a phrase like “best restaurants in Los Angeles.”

Don’t forget about link building, either. Online directories are well positioned to build the types of positive connections that search engines love. Always include links to each business’ website on listing pages. You should also be encouraging business owners to add links to your directory from their own business websites and social media pages. Digital publishers with properties outside of their online directories—for example, those that also publisher online newspapers or magazines—should take advantage by including links to directory listings any time a specific business is mentioned in an article.

Including Maps in Business Listings

What do the most well-known business directories in the U.S. have in common? Those sites almost all include maps on individual listing pages.

Yelp, Whitepages, YP, and Mapquest have pioneered the use of maps in online directories. And why not? If you’ve followed the local SEO tips outlined above, you’ve already added an address for each business listing in your directory. That means you already have all the data you need to include a map on each listing page.

Google Maps is the most well-known of the mapping solutions, but a number of other plugins are available for directory publishers with WordPress websites. Just make sure that the directory software you purchase is capable of including maps on listings pages, as this is not something that every directory platforms can handle.

Facebook for traffic generation

Local Publishers Reduce Dependency on Facebook For Traffic — Here’s How

As controversies surrounding Facebook’s willingness to help publishers with traffic and referrals continues to swirl, a growing number of independent publishers are looking outside of Facebook for traffic, effectively reducing their dependency on the social media giant.

Just look at Slate. The online magazine has seen an 87% drop in Facebook traffic since 2017. Part of that drop can be attributed to a decrease in news feed reach in early 2018, soon after Facebook’s policy changed to limit pages from accepting content they didn’t create, primarily from social marketing companies. Slate’s drop in Facebook traffic could also be attributed to changes in the platform’s news feed, which now prioritizes content from people’s friends and family over publishers and brands.

But Slate isn’t alone. Publishers who create their own viral content are struggling to use Facebook for traffic generation, as well. Stylist, the female-focused publisher, has found success publishing beauty and fashion videos on the web. It now sees as much as 12% of its referral traffic coming from Facebook. But constant changes in the content discovery algorithm, coupled with questionable monetization concepts, have led Stylist to explore additional channels for distribution. Among those is Apple News, which funnels significant traffic towards Stylist’s videos and offers a number of options for monetization.

Apple News is just one of many options for local publishers deciding to place less reliance on Facebook for traffic generation. Search engine optimization (SEO) is also coming back into style.

Pushed into the background in recent years, SEO is experiencing a comeback right now, particularly within the local publishing community.

Formatting articles in a way that ensures they rank highly on search engines, like Google and Bing, has never gone out of style, but with traffic coming from Facebook and other social channels continuing to decrease, publishers are kicking their SEO strategies into high gear.

Then there’s the strategy being honed by Mic. The youth-oriented digital publisher is using a strategy referred to as “deliberate distribution” to make up for the drop in Facebook traffic.

What does the phrase “deliberate distribution” mean, exactly? For starters, Mic publishes significantly less—roughly half—content on Facebook now than it did in the past, and it has axed its partner swaps with other publishers. Instead of relying on Facebook for traffic generation, Mic is looking more closely at Apple News and Twitter. Like Stylist, Mic sees an opportunity to reach a large audience by posting videos on the Apple News platform.

Probably just as important are the changes Mic has made to its own publishing strategy. For example, the digital publication went from publishing as many as 75 articles each day, down to just 25. It now measures editorial content based on time spent on the website instead of page views.

The goal here, for Mic and many other independent, local publishers around the country, is to build a brand that readers will value enough to visit directly on the web. Once a publication builds a loyal audience, it becomes much less important what changes Facebook is making to its news feed algorithm on a day to day basis.

Here are three strategies for any local publisher looking to reduce their own dependence on Facebook for traffic generation.

  1. Pay attention to SEO. Don’t let SEO fall to the wayside. Search engine traffic is just as important now as it ever was, and small changes to content and website layouts, can have a significant impact on the amount of traffic coming through places like Google and Bing.
  2. Explore new channels. Apple News is a big player here, but a number of other niche distribution options exist for publishers right now. Do the research to find out which channels your own readers are using and start getting your site’s content posted on those channels.
  3. Focus on quality. Publishers who have historically relied on social media platforms like Facebook for traffic have focused more on quantity than quality. But the latest changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithms are changing the game for publishers that traffic in gimmicky content. Ultimately, these changes may end up helping local news publisher that regularly post high-quality, original content.
Launching a local news site

Guidelines for Content Aggregation

Most digital publishers aggregate news content to a certain degree, but the practice has gotten a bad rap in recent years because of some egregious instances of theft and plagiarism. When content aggregation is done right, following recognized guidelines and protocols, the practice actually adds value to publishing brands.

At its core, content aggregation is simply the practice of taking information from multiple locations, condensing it, and displaying it in a single place. Hyperlocal publishers will frequently use information from third-party sources to generate new articles, or they may publish a daily list of the top articles from around the web with outgoing links to external sources.

The daily email newsletter is an especially common place for aggregated content to pop up. As much as 75% of the links the Daily Brief, a newsletter published by the news website Quartz, comes from external sources.

When publishers like Quartz follow industry-accepted guidelines for content aggregation, the result is a win/win for everyone involved. The practice serves as a source of free advertising for news outlets and distributes work to larger audiences.

Readers aren’t necessarily against aggregation, either. Although most readers would prefer to see original content, they’d rather see brief descriptions of articles with links to read more than to not know that an article on the topic was published at all. However, when writers republish content from outside sources without giving the appropriate credit, it creates distrust among readers and fellow journalists.

Content aggregation can be beneficial for search engine optimization, as well. For the publisher with incoming links, content aggregation not only helps point readers towards a new website they may not have known about, but also indicates to search engines like Google and Bing that this website is a reputable source of information.

But search engines don’t like exact copies of content in different places, and that’s where one negative aspect of content aggregation comes into play. What search engines love is original content. That’s what publishers in the media industry want, too. Simply copying and pasting stories from a competing news outlet, even with a small link back to the original source, isn’t helping anyone. From the search engine’s perspective, the duplicate content does not add value.

Monetizing the content from other websites has become an accepted part of today’s publishing model, but following these best practices is the key to aggregating news content in an acceptable way.

7 Guidelines for Content Aggregation

Always add value.

This first guideline for content aggregation is the most important. Never post someone else’s content without adding value, such as insightful commentary or a broader context that might be useful for local readers. Copying content word-for-word is plagiarism, not aggregation.

Only reproduce content when necessary.

Be careful about how much content you reproduce, and use quotations around any information that’s been republished verbatim. Direct quotes from sources included in an original story can be reprinted with attribution, but otherwise it’s generally recommended that reporters synthesize content and use their own words when possible.

Link to original sources.

Viral articles might be posted on hundreds, or even thousands, of websites. Always do the necessary work to find the original source of the information—whether that’s a publisher’s website, a YouTube link, or even a social media post—and identify those sources directly with a prominent link.

Favor quality over quantity.

Publishers with broad coverage areas might have a limitless number of interesting articles to aggregate, but posting too many links can overwhelm readers. Do the work for your readers by distilling the news down and aggregating only the most important articles of the day or week.

Don’t use too many articles from a single source.

Problems come up when a hyperlocal publisher uses too much content from a single news source, like the local newspaper or television station. To avoid running into these issues, link to articles from a variety of news sources and try not to use all of the most recent articles from any single source.

Keep SEO in mind.

Some publishers are great at optimizing their content for search engines, and some are not. Using the appropriate guidelines for content aggregation, include strategic keywords in your commentary about the articles you’re posting to help not just your own website, but the site you’re linking to, as well.

Follow the Golden Rule.

In its Digital Publishing Guidelines, the Washington Post advises reporter and editors to, “Use and credit the content the way you’d expect other sites to use and credit Post content.” Digital publishers who’ve worked hard to grow their own brands should understand this concept well, and in turn they should make sure to not infringe on any other publisher’s intellectual property.