Now that your keyword initiative is up and running, you’re breathing a well-deserved sigh of relief. However, the work is never really over. You must keep a pulse on how well your efforts are paying off, meaning whether or not you are, indeed, increasing your rank in the search engines. In addition, you must keep a pulse on new or hot keywords as these happen, continuing to use these to drive content ideas.
Some writers and editors will get excited about this approach and be curious about the traffic metrics and specific results for the content that they created. They will also welcome ideas for content based on the words people are searching. Others will view it as a chore and eventually lose interest.
Measuring traffic by article is a great way to really understand which of your articles are popular, where your strategy is working, and where it needs to be tweaked. It’s also a great way to keep writers engaged in the process. They will be much more interested in seeing how their particular article performed and how many times it was read based on a search than in seeing your groups’ statistics as a whole.
Data can be collected daily, weekly or monthly and reported regularly in a spreadsheet, with content grouping in Google analytics or another method of your choice. Incentives like monthly contests that reward the writers/editors who are driving new and repeat visits to the site can be fun and effective in keeping your writers committed to the process.
Organize the Process
Make it easy for your writers to use the keyword and images that will make their articles successful by having resources well organized.
Image Tags and Titles
Put your images in a folder called ‘images’.
Configure your content management system (CMS) to give images sensible, human-readable names, like ‘aj-mag-cover.png’, instead of ‘AJ_OFC_425%20x%20552.png’. If your CMS can’t do this, then train everyone to do it manually, and insist that resources must be appropriately named and filed in appropriate folders.
Be sure to add alt tags and image descriptions too. Internet browsers do not know what your images are unless you tell them. If your images are not easily searched, you’re wasting an additional opportunity for readers to find your content.
Why is this important? Because images show up in search results—and people are ten times more likely to click on a search result with a photo than one without. If you have the first picture of a man walking on Mars, you want that photo ranking on page one of any search engine, and you have the right to expect it. Photos often carry the top spots, and it’s easier to rank for a photo than a text page. The same goes for video. If you want your photos and videos to rank, you have to explain the photo to search engine.
Google will soon roll out a new mobile algorithm update, and publishers stand to take a hit from it. Studies have shown that publishers receive as much as 40% of their traffic from mobile users, so the new algorithm is important. However, this is another series of articles for another time, and we will tackle it as we better understand the new algorithm. If you’re concerned about it now, give us a call.
Long Term Success
SEO is an ongoing process that requires full buy-in from stakeholders across the organization, including the C suite, technical, editorial, marketing, product and business development staff.
Early and frequent training is the best way to ensure everybody understands the strategy and how they contribute to making it work. Of course, some employees will need just a high level overview, while others will need the details, as it will impact their everyday job.
Seek out custom tailored SEO training programs and information-sharing sessions from K-9 or elsewhere to help your organization maximize traffic from search early on in your implementation.
Once you’ve conquered the tasks we’ve talked about in this article series, you still have work to do. This includes fine tuning your existing article inventory with appropriate keywords and working with your staff to ensure a consistent level of training and implementation. However, these first steps are the easiest, and will have a huge impact.
We are here to help you with the entire process. We have seen many publishers put in the effort to train their teams on SEO in the past few years. At the same time, there are plenty of publishers out there who still need to incorporate SEO into their content, if they want their brand to grow online. If you want help, feel free to reach out and connect with us.
If you would like to learn more about SEO and how it can energize your magazine’s presence on the web and get your content to page one in the search engines; put the magazine down and pick up the phone.
Call us at (416) 653-2221 and book a free consultation.
Writers and editors should all be fully aware of your target keywords and phrases and begin the process of incorporating them into the content they create, according to the Editorial/Content Calendar.
Today’s keyword writing strategies no longer focus on things like stuffing keywords into meta tags or keyword density, but it is important to employ modern SEO best practices for copywriting. That means writing good, clean, unique, interesting and engaging (original) copy that is topically focused with just the right mix of target keywords, phrases, synonyms, co-occurrence and magazine/brand associations. This ensures that the content is reader friendly and valuable, setting it apart from content written solely for the search engines, yet ensures that your content will show up in the search engines, and that, over time, your rankings will grow.
Creating your content this way and mixing in a good blend of properly tagged and titled images and supporting video, builds rich context that gets your pages higher ranking in search, for longtail phrases as well as your primary keyword targets. In addition, it’s important for your writers to employ a “call to action”, directing readers to your website to sign up for newsletters and email, when this is appropriate.
Remember that you’re working toward two goals for finding readers. The first is with the headline, which should be catchy and interesting, to bring readers within the first 48 hours after the article is released. For gaining long term search engine viability for your article, however, the page title must be keyword rich and compelling.
As you can see, it’s critical for writers and editors to understand the right keywords for your content, and the process of conducting effective keyword research.
Keyword Research - Deep Dive
Once editors have a good understanding of how to incorporate SEO into their workflow, it’s time to go deep, by expanding beyond the first 100 words you determined. Work with them to research additional keywords and phrases for topics that are directly related to the type of content inherent in the industry you represent with and in the type of reader you want to attract.
This is a bit more complex than simply coming up with the first 100 words, so it’s important to employ some tools designed to help you learn the appropriate long tail keywords for your content. Try tools like “Keyword Tool” and “Keyword Planner” to identify question based queries, and search volume. To learn what keywords your competitors use and how well these rank, take a look at SEMRush. This is a great way to find keywords that are working for your competition.
Create a Strategy for Your Editorial Calendar
You’re probably using an editorial calendar to plan your articles. To make this calendar an effective tool for increasing your search engine rank, you need a two part strategy.
First, choose the keywords that will be highlighted in upcoming content already on the calendar. Take a look at the planned content and research the appropriate keywords for this content before the writing begins. In the future, keywords should be identified as content ideas are developed. The idea here is that when a writer begins an article, he or she knows the keywords to be incorporated before taking pen to paper.
Part two of this strategy is to begin working at this from the opposite perspective, as well. This means deciding on future magazine content based on the keywords relevant to your industry that are most commonly searched.
For example, let’s say you have a gardening magazine, and this year’s hottest plant is the hydrangea. You know this because you have researched what gardening and plant topics are being frequently searched this spring.
Let’s hope that the reason the hydrangea is in vogue this year is because you wrote about how great this plant is last year. But, even if that’s not the case, you want to capitalize on the fact that hydrangea is the hot plant. So, now that you know that everyone is into hydrangeas this year, you know you need to write an article about them, pronto. The more frequently someone is searching a particular keyword relevant to your industry, the more quickly you need to create an article around that keyword.
Using this two pronged approach ensures you’re consistently working toward providing the content that online readers are looking for.
Once you’ve incorporated these methods, you’ve developed a solid strategy and should have a big list of keywords to focus your efforts around. In the next article, we’ll talk about how to keep this momentum going.
So you want to be found on Search. Absolutely. Survival depends on it. But how? How do we get found on search? The answer is that you need to do what you do but do it slightly differently. You will need to change the way you do things at the office from the editor all the way on down when it comes to publishing your content in a Search friendly way.
Your editorial staff’s job is writing about topics that interest your target audience. This creates content that online readers, just like print readers, are looking for. However, now, in addition to creating interesting content, your editorial staff must also make their content easy for interested readers to find through the search engines. This is a shift for your writers, but one that can be made fairly easily with some training and the right tools.
Editors must understand that the purpose of the changes they’ll see to their writing habits are designed to increase traffic and readership. Unique and original content that your target market will love is really only as good if potential readers can find it. This change in focus will bring you a wider range of readers outside of those people who visit your website or blog regularly.
Let’s be perfectly clear: your content should be written for your audience first—search engines second. You’re not asking your writers to create any content they wouldn’t normally create, but just to optimize it in a way that search robots can find and index it. We’ll get deeper into formatting things behind the scenes later, but for now, let’s take a look at the fundamentals.
Keyword Research - The Lowest Hanging Fruit
Print magazines succeed, in part, due to their ability to write catchy headlines. This works for humans, but not as well for search engines. Search engines take everything you write literally, so eye catching headlines are problematic, especially if these involve sarcasm, double entendres or witty satire.
Every subject or business has a lexicon of language. keywords that define what they do, how and for whom. These are the words that, according to research, are most often used when searching for information related to this subject. For example, if you want to buy a car, you probably search something like “best deal on a Honda in Vancouver” if you’re looking for a Honda and you live in Vancouver.
A quick and easy way to begin creating content that will fare better in the search engines is to know your top 100 keywords and begin incorporating these naturally into your content. You can get help developing this from a professional SEO consulting firm or from people like us. Hiring a pro ensures the keywords have been verified to be valid, at least according to the almighty Google, Bing and Yahoo. You can also create your own list, by brainstorming the 100 words that best define what it is you do or are “the” subject matter authority on. There are certainly more than 100, but start with a list that everyone can agree would be the words a reader would most likely use when trying to find the kind of content you provide.
If you choose not to solicit the help of a professional SEO consultancy, at least spend some time researching the words you choose to get some verification that these words are worthy in the eyes of Google before moving on to any kind of ad spend or investment of time and money on optimization.
These words work best when used in “key phrases”, like the one mentioned above on car buying. You wouldn’t simply search “car”, would you? Turn your words into simple search phrases.
There are a couple of ways to begin optimizing your content for the search engines. Your writers can begin using the phrases as they write content, where it is appropriate and sounds natural. With more than 100 words and even more phrase combinations, it can certainly be done, and offers the most natural approach. This approach prevents your content sounding like it was written for the search engines.
Some writers will be able to incorporate this change more easily than others. It’s a good idea to have some training on this, and to let the writers brainstorm together. It can be tricky, but if your writers will commit to it, this is the best way to ensure your content is keyword optimized and enjoyable to read.
The second way to incorporate keywords for SEO is to have a final editor read the written content and incorporate the keywords before publishing. It’s trickier to get reader friendly content this way. In the beginning, however, we recommend having someone check the writers’ content for good keyword use and entering keywords if necessary. This provides a check, but allows your writers to develop themselves as keyword writers at the same time.
In the next article, we’ll delve further into incorporating keywords into your content and ensuring you’re taking advantage of all the keywords your potential readers will use. Meanwhile, if you have questions or would like to learn more about incorporating SEO into your workflow, give us a call. Our Director of Digital at K9 strategy+design – Richard Carmichael – is happy to help.
The Call for Entries for the 2017 Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs) is open and the Early bird deadline is June 9. Visit www.CanadianOnlinePublishingAwards.com.
We hear all the time from publishers – “We are the foremost authority in this area of expertise, and we publish tons of excellent and highly credible content, but we can’t find any of it on Google? What are we doing wrong?”
We have recently been honing in on the most important marketing aspects for magazines, including the importance of branding and how social media is used to drive awareness and engagement. There is a third aspect to your marketing strategy which may be the most important of all – Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO), is a process you’ll employ on an ongoing basis to ensure your work is found on Google search results.
Print magazines have struggled in recent years. Those who have continued to have success have done so because they have become competitive in the digital domain. While print magazine subscriptions have fallen off sharply in recent years, digital subscriptions have grown. People still want to read your magazine; they just want to read it online. In addition, they want to read your article because it has interest to them but they may not want to read the entire magazine.
This requires not only a shift in how content is marketed to the reader but how revenue is obtained as well. With most of its revenue derived from advertising, the traditional task of the average magazine is to deliver eyeballs to ads. The obvious metric for success in this mission is to deliver as many eyeballs as possible (with a “large and growing visitor base”).
Profitability relies heavily on marketing expertise, opening new markets and expanding reach via all relevant digital channels.
Publications are revamping their websites to accommodate this trend and optimizing their business models to reflect the shift to readership on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. That is great to see, but it is not enough to just be in the game. The magazine business is transitioning from a print-based industry to one which distributes content on multiple platforms, so subscriber and new visitor growth is critical. Consistent growth requires that the actual content work is done differently, as well as the marketing function.
For content to work in the digital space, it must be optimized for social media and for online searches. The content must market itself by being available digitally and by being easily searchable. This requires editorial teams to understand Search Engine Optimization and to create content that is aligned with keyword and topic search volume data.
This new rich media content must come from and go to a variety of platforms. By employing keyword optimization into the content, it becomes easier to find when readers search for content in which they have interest. Over time, this leads to greater readership and a higher ranking in the search engines.
In layman’s terms, this simply means that you want to choose words that are searched frequently in regard to the kind of information you provide, and then include those words in your content. Readers will look for content based on these magic words and find your articles. Over time, if your work becomes reliable in terms of providing the information searched for, you gain a higher ranking in the search engine results. The goal is to be on the first page of a Google search for your particular keyword.
Much research has been done on what words and phrases are most commonly searched in every imaginable category. However, this information is constantly changing, so the advice you receive from experts will constantly change as well. The truth is that keyword optimization is as much art as science, so there will always be a wide range of opinions as to what you should be doing. It is a tough job to stay ahead of this curve because what works today might not work tomorrow, so you always have to be learning.
A “defensive” (on page) approach (mostly using technical SEO behind the scenes) is a vitally important fundamental first step. This technique will get you started toward increasing your content’s rank in the search engines. However, the long-term strategy includes teaching editorial teams how to incorporate ongoing, purpose-driven SEO into their workflow. This is how your magazine evolves into naturally creating content that is both reader-friendly and search-engine friendly.
In the next blog we’ll delve into this concept more thoroughly. Meanwhile, if you have questions or would like to learn more about incorporating SEO into your workflow, give us a call. Our Director of Digital at K9 strategy+design – Richard Carmichael – is happy to help.
Don’t let your great content sit there. Figure out how to get it found and those engines working for you.
Social media and the management of it, is the topic of a lot of our conversations these days. Whether your goal is to sell more copies at the newsstand or to gain new subscribers, building a strong brand for your magazine is still the key. Your ability to gain new readers, and engage with your current, devoted readership, comes from your brand’s authority - and one of the best ways to build that is through the savvy use of social media.
You may be thinking that social media is the last thing on your to-do list and we hear from publishers regularly that they don’t have the time or manpower to dedicate to it. But it doesn’t have to be a crazy, arduous task. With some strategy and planning, creating your social content can easily be incorporated into your magazine timeline, resulting in that sought-after brand authority.
As magazine publishers, you are actually in an ideal position for populating social channels as you are already engaged in a dialogue with your audience. Social media is a natural extension of that conversation. Think of it like a dinner party with your audience; you wouldn’t read them a whole article from your magazine over dinner but you might casually bring up a great piece and give them a highlight or two.
Getting your magazine out there in the social universe doesn’t have to be a reinvention of your content - you already have the copy and images to work with. We suggest to our clients, that for efficiency and to maintain intent, it is optimal to create the content for your social channels while you are creating the magazine. Here are some strategies we follow when planning for a magazine’s social:
1. Choose your channels wisely.
You already know who your audience is so you can easily figure out what social channels they’re on and you can choose to be there too. Check out Futurpreneur.ca (http://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/2016/a-breakdown-of-social-media-platforms-and-their-uses/) for a great breakdown of who is hanging out where. We suggest that you only commit to the channels that you can maintain on a regular basis and if you find that you can’t keep up with one, delete it rather than letting it get stale.
2. Use a Strategy Roadmap.
(We have a template that is available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org) A roadmap will allow you to clearly define goals, objectives and initiatives. Having a plan for each channel is helpful - at K9, for example, we use Facebook for our fun, team-based posts and Twitter and LinkedIn we keep more business focused.
3. Define your voice for each social media channel.
Remember that this is the more casual dinner party chat so we recommend that you keep it short, simple and channel specific - what works for Facebook may not work for SnapChat for example. Give some thought to being consistent with both content and image treatment.
4. Create shareable content.
By creating useful and shareable content, you widen your reach as your followers repost, retweet, and ‘like’ your posts. This is incredibly valuable for your brand authority and recognition. Have a look at this example from Forbes Magazine - they’ve taken an article from their publication and created smaller, bite-sized pieces with related images. These are more appropriate in length for social and they are also shareable by their audience.
5. Be SEO ready.
For Search Engine Optimization, when you post an image to a social channel, you have an opportunity to create a title and description. We advise using words that relate to the topics that your audience is searching for. This is a great way to drive readers back to your social channels, website and ultimately convert them into magazine buyers. Look for our post on this blog next month for a more in-depth look at SEO and your magazine brand.
When in doubt of whether or not a post is appropriate for a social channel, ask yourself if it’s inline with your magazine brand. We have created a handy checklist for ourselves that we use in-house for our social content with questions like, ‘Is this information useful for my audience?’ and ‘Is this something my audience would share with their friends?’. With your brand voice front of mind, and some dedicated time to your strategy, you will be able to post consistently and grow your audience.
Norm is Creative Director and founder of K9 strategy+design and has 25 years of experience directing, strategizing and designing for publishing clients such as Rogers, Ski Canada Magazine, Alternatives Journal, Homes & Cottages Magazine and Metro News. Over the years, Norm has also assisted TELUS, Bell, Sirius, BMO Nesbitt Burns, American Express and countless entrepreneurial, professional and non-profit clients with their branding and communications opportunities.