If you aspire to drive lots of traffic from e.g. Google Search, Google APIs, and Google News, this article can help you on your way to master SEO driven traffic.
Some might say that it’s a shame that digital journalists have to write for Google. While many journalists might have that stance, Google is still a major traffic driver and very important to digital news outlets. Everything that I’ve built with success is thanks to Google. Times have shifted, and we need to play by the new rules. And as of now, Google is the rule maker.
What I mean by that is that your article must be flawless. Zero grammar and spelling errors are extremely important. What most of the journalists that write for CCN do, is to go through their articles with Grammarly (Pro Version) which significantly reduce the time to spot inaccuracies. It can be helpful to get a second pair of eyes on your article before it’s published. That’s why so many sites operate with editors.
Basically, Google does not promote copies. Never copy an article. What you should do is to be inspired by articles, and then write your own article based on the articles you read. Combine viewpoints, find unique viewpoints, find unique and interesting facts that have not been reported in the same context. Do interviews or try to dig up some unique information that can push your article to the next level.
Twitter can be a very useful platform to pick up quotes or updates that you can easily convert into a full-blown unique news article.
Format, format, format
Ensure that your article looks and feels great. Have a proper featured image with caption and image credit. Have in-post images that are relevant and that will engage the reader to read your entire story. Have proper sizes, just make it look good! No one likes to read an article with way too small images or misplaced images with little relevance.
Remember, your article must engage the reader. If it doesn’t, why would Google drive traffic to it? Other than having a unique and engaging text content, try to find relevant Tweets or Youtube videos that can keep the attention to your reader, and make the reader spend more time on your article. The more time spent on the article, the higher Google will rank it.
Try to find a way to play on your readers’ emotions. The more emotional your readers get, the more engaging it is. The more emotional your readers get, the more comments your article will receive. This will make the readers stick to your article way longer than any “normal & boring” article ever would.
What does the reader first see on Google? It’s the title! You need to create such an engaging title that Google-users will click on it! You need to increase the CTR (Click Through Rate) of your stories on google. Add emotional words and/or power words in your title. The most important words of the title are the first three words and the last three words. It is ultra important that you include proper nouns of your keywords. If you write about “Apple”, include that in the title. If you write about “Kim Kardashian”, add that name in your title. Proper nouns tend to, by far, outcompete other words, as Google finds it easier to understand what the text is about, and there will be less competition on Google for the title.
Coschedule got a great article if you want to dig deeper into how you can write an engaging title.
The featured image could be as important or even more important than the title. For news stories, Google tends to give the searchers a preview of the title and image. If your image is interesting and straight to the point, it can massively help your CTR rate on Google.
In each article you write, you should try to include at least two outbound links to notable sources, and a few more inbound links to other articles you’ve written or other articles on the current site you’re writing for.
The more links your article gets from other sites, the better your article will rank on Google. As when people/sites are linking to your content, it must be something good there, right? At least, that’s what Google thinks.
Write about what people search for!!!
Don’t think you can write a story, that is perfect on all counts above, without thinking about what people actually search for. You might end up writing an amazing story about a local brick-and-mortar store, just to receive one click from Google. Hope that will not be a big shocker. In order to gain traffic from Google, you need to write about trending topics. The more people searching for a specific topic, the higher the chance you got to draw loads of traffic yourself. Use Google Trends and get familiar with Daily Trends and Realtime trends. You should also use Google Trends’ explore function.
Of course, there are those few exceptions where a journalist manages to break a news story that instantly becomes a number one hit. That does not happen very often, but in case you got something fresh and unique that will rattle things up, go for it!
One major update to Google this spring (2019) was to rank EAT sites/articles higher. EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. You can read more about it here. The important thing is to have a crisp BIO, an author name that you consistently use, and that you are featured on multiple news sites (write or have written for).
Categories and Tags
Less is more! Do not add more than 2 or 3 categories at the most, and limit your tags to proper nouns. The fewer tags and categories you got, the more relevant they are, and the higher the chance that tag or category got to feature your article via searches.
If you are focusing on writing news pieces you should stick to 350 words up to 1000 words maximum. Writing less than 300 words might not get your article anywhere. Writing longer than 1000 words does not tend to drive more traffic (from our experience). Our golden rule is to have a story up with at least 400-450 words.
Check for plagiarism
If you use Grammarly, you can easily check how many percentages of your text is plagiarised. Try to keep this to a bare minimum. Of course, if you have quotes in the text that percentage will go up, but as long as you keep the quotes in “Blockquotes” on WordPress and link to the original source for that quote, you’re good to go.