News sites (and some social news sites like Soshable!) have unique concerns compared with traditional business and commercial sites. Whereas most places can post a blog or article and leave it be, news sites might have to come back to the same story three or four times as they get new information. This has caused a lot of consternation in the community, as they try and reconcile their Business SEO with the fluctuating nature of the medium. Luckily, we do have a couple best practices to follow to ensure your news site doesn’t get buried.
The most common question about news sites is if you should create a new page as a story unfolds, or if you should return and continue updating and appending the same page. According to Google’s Matt Cutts, it’s almost always the right choice to update a single page. This makes sense, as it’s the page most people have been monitoring and it also has all of the page rank. Updating this single page over and over will cause readers to bookmark it and return to it as a reliable source on the story, which should be the goal of any news site.
If you must spread out stories over multiple pages, be sure you do so in a trackable way. Too often, news sites will elaborate on a story over multiple days, and the only way to get the bigger picture is to go to the homepage. Instead, ensure that every post on a topic has links woven throughout that lead to the other posts on a topic. Sometimes, you’ll be able to do this organically in the copy. Other times, you’ll need to include a short list of “related stories” at the bottom. Organically is always the goal, but get them in there however you can.
Finally, news sites should utilize the Google meta tags for news. These tags tell Google what the article is about. They were designed so that news sites could write creative copy with metaphor and allusions without accidentally ranking for incidental terms. The format example given by Google is for a story about the World Cup:
<meta name="news_keywords" content="World Cup, Brazil 2014, Spain vs Netherlands, soccer, football">
As you can see, you insert it into the HTML code on your page. Google allows up to ten terms, separated by commas, per story. DO NOT use more than ten or any punctuation other than a comma in the field. It’s also worth noting that each term is given equal weight, so the first term you list is equally valuable to the last term you list.
Of course, these things are only a small part of Google’s overall ranking algorithm. You still must have a solid strategy from front to back, but when you are following Google’s rules and producing quality content, implementing these three small strategies just may be enough to put you over the top!