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SplinterNet: How to get to the top of Google News

December 5th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Freelance, Search

The SplinterNet blog provides an interesting insight on how news organisations can increase their Google News ranking.

Writing on the blog, Oliver Conner explains that “Google doesn’t divulge the secrets of its trade – so it is up to the SEO specialists to try and work it out” and links to a September study which asked the top SEO practitioners of major news organisations what they thought were the most important factors.

He highlights some of the “most important/interesting considerations” – and the terrifying suggestion that one spelling mistake can “blacklist your site”.

1. Category authority – if you keep writing optimised stories about a topic then you will gain authority in that area;
2. Keywords in headline and page titles;
3. Domain authority – the news organisation domain has lots of quality inbound links’;
4. Social sharing – lots of tweets, Facebook shares and Google+ mentions. This is set to become more important, as it has recently been announced that articles that your friends have G+’d will be highlighted;
5. First to publish the story – this will increase the amount of inbound links;
6. Citation rank – the number of high quality sites that link to (cite) a news story;
7. Unique articles;
8. High CTR (click through rates) – the more clicks a site gets from either Google News or other Google SERPs (search engine results page);
9. Quality content – Google evaluates the quality of the content and looks for things like typos and copied content. Apparently, one spelling mistake can blacklist your site!
10. Use of Google News XML sitemap – a way of structuring your news site in a way that Google can easily understand.

The post “Getting to the top of Google News” is worth reading as it also includes other important factors to consider when thinking about optimising your news site for Google News. has a couple of handy guides on search engine optimisation:’s news:rewired – media in motion conference for journalists will have a workshop on SEO for journalists. The agenda is at this link.

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#jpod: Does SEO kill the carefully crafted, clever headline?

August 26th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Podcast, Search, Traffic

For some time within the industry there has been an often lively debate about the impact of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) on online news. Just recently the Los Angeles Times took on a new SEO chief, whose job it is to build newspaper headlines fit for the internet, by ensuring they’re web-friendly and searchable.

The new role has been credited with contributing to a 65 per cent rise in traffic from search and a 41 per cent jump in traffic from Google compared to this time last year, according to a report by the Nieman Journalism Lab.

So does SEO’s demand for keywords really take the art out of headline writing?’s technology correspondent Sarah Marshall speaks to SEO consultant Malcolm Coles and Duane Forrester, senior product manager at Bing to find out more.

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#Tip of the day from – SEO tips for bloggers

March 25th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Search, Top tips for journalists

Take a look at this post on Blog Herald outlining eight search engine optimisation tips for bloggers looking to appear top in search results and draw in more traffic. Tipster: Rachel McAthy.

To submit a tip to, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Daily Mail hides SEO job ad in search crawler file

August 24th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs, Search

It’s possible that SEO types have a sense of humour. Evidence comes courtesy of the Daily Mail, which has hidden a job advert for an SEO manager inside a file that should only really be read by search engine crawlers.

The job ad was discovered by eagle-eyed SEO man Malcolm Coles in a robot.txt file, which blocks the crawlers from indexing certain parts of the site.

Disallow: /home/ireland/
Disallow: /home/scotland/

# August 12th, MailOnline are looking for a talented SEO Manager so if you found this then you’re the kind of techie we need!
# Send your CV to holly dot ward at mailonline dot co dot uk

# Begin standard rules
# Apply rules to all user agents updated 08/06/08
ACAP-crawler: *

Very clever. People who don’t read these kind of things need not apply, obviously.

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#Tip of the day from – optimising web pages

August 17th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

SEO: Really straightforward guide to what you can do to web pages to optimise them for search engines from PR agency Stone Junction. Tipster: Laura Oliver.

To submit a tip to, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Google News founder says aggregator has responsibility to protect hard news

June 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Search

Krishna Bharat, founder of Google News, told an industry conference last week that it was the search giant’s “editorial responsibility” to protect hard news’ place in a more personalised news agenda.

I think people care about what other people are interested in, most importantly in their social circle (…) but beyond that the world at large. I think there is an influential, intellectual component to our audience that cares very much about getting the hard news of the day. I don’t think there is a risk of us personalising so much that we keep the hard news out the picture. We have an editorial responsibility not to do that.

Chris Horrie from the University of Winchester’s journalism school was at the the IJ-7 ‘Innovation Journalism’ conference at Stanford University last week and grabbed Bharat for a quick interview afterwards, in which the head of Google News gave his advice to journalists on writing for the web and search engines:

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NYT: Will an obsession with SEO kill off the clever headline?

May 17th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Traffic

Is search engine optimisation ringing the death knell for the poetry of headline writing? Successful web headlines are, according to New York Times blogger David Carr, a “long way from the poetics of the best of print headlines”. But, he goes on to argue, there is a middle ground between the witty headline aimed at a thinking brain and the information stuffed headline aimed at a processing algorithm. And while Carr’s own headline – “Taylor Momsen Did Not Write This Headline” – does not quite stand up in the information delivery stakes, it does score pretty high on both wit and SEO.

Don’t know who Taylor Momsen is? Neither do I, beyond that she is the mean one on “Gossip Girl.” But Facebook knows her well, Twitter loves her, and she and Google have been hooking up, like, forever.

One more fact about Ms. Momsen: she has nothing to do with this column, let alone the headline. But her very name is a prized key word online — just the thing to push my column to the top of Google rankings.

Full post at this link…

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#Tip of the day from – understanding social search

April 23rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Social Media today shares five articles on social search to help you get to grips with SEO and its relationship with social media at this link. Tipster: Judith Townend.

To submit a tip to, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Tip of the day from – an SEO slideshow

April 24th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Search, Top tips for journalists

SEO: Cyberjournalist’s useful slideshow on search engine optimisation explains why fresh and unique content is important, and how you can tweak layout to improve your rankings in natural search. Tipster: Laura Oliver.

To submit a tip to, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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WAN Amsterdam (audio): Mobile is not emerging: it’s here and we know how to monetise it, say speakers at Digital Revenue Goldmine

October 16th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Mobile, Online Journalism

A range of mobile experts at the WAN World Digital Publishing Conference gave a more optimistic picture than at the AOP summit earlier this month, where speakers, including ITV’s head of mobile, said that we are still waiting for the year of mobile.

But in Amsterdam, just a few weeks later, that sentiment was turned on its head. That next year will be the year of mobile is what people have said each year for five years, said Ilicco Elia, head of mobile for Reuters. No, ‘it’s here’, he told the assembled range of newspaper experts at the World Digital Publishing Conference 2008.

Where as Elia once was employed in ‘emerging media’ for Reuters, he now very much part of the mainstream product: “mobile has since emerged,” he said.

Elia certainly objected to one of Martha Stone’s slides during her presentation on online media, which said ‘mobile advertising to become a real business in a few years’. ‘My boss will shoot me, if he sees that’ he said. Elia’s been telling him that is already the case for a while; it is a real business.

While Elia stressed that he did not think “you should be going into mobile to make a lot of money immediately.” He said, “you can make more and more money slowly, slowly. Integrate into the rest of your products and it will come.”

His presentation touched on examples where Reuters have successfully monetized mobile: in the IBM ‘Stop Talking, Start Doing’ campaign (a slogan that should be applied to mobile, Elia said); by using Nokia phone cameras on for fast and effective reporting, and for widgets on iGoogle.

To think about search engine optimisation (SEO) is “a complete and utter given,” he said.
“You have to do it – SEO and SE marketing – and it is a cheap way to send people to your site,” he said.

The other mobile speakers sharing the stage, Jorma Härknönen, the senior vice president at MTV Media in Finland, responsible for internet and consumer businesses said were of similar opinion and Fredrik Oscarson, the founder and VP new business director for Mobiento, a Sweden based mobile marketing agency, were of similar opinion.

“Give it five years time, and I think people will choose to surf news on the mobile, because the mobile will have functionality [e.g GPS] that the internet doesn’t,” Fredrik Oscarson told

A short interview with Oscarson can be listened to here. He talks about mobile content for newspapers and different ways of advertising on mobile.

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