2024 SEO Playbook: 11 Proven Tactics to Dominate Single-Day Live Events (Like Oscars & Super Bowl)

Planning and preparing thoroughly for major cultural events like the Super Bowl or Oscars (Academy Awards) is key to driving significant search traffic and engagement. Some of these events reach +100 Million searches in a a couple of days.

Planning your SEO strategy for such events is crucial for any publisher. These events offer a unique opportunity to capture high volumes of organic traffic, engage a broader audience, and enhance online visibility. The key to success lies in meticulous planning, team collaboration, agile execution, and insightful analysis.

As we dive into the 2024 edition of our guide, "11 SEO Steps to Optimizing Any Single-Day Event," we'll unfold a strategic roadmap tailored for these high-impact occasions. This comprehensive guide is crafted to navigate you through the nuances of event-based SEO, from analyzing historical data and trend forecasting to real-time content optimization and post-event analysis. Whether you're a seasoned SEO professional or just starting, these actionable steps will equip you with the knowledge to leverage these events effectively, ensuring your content resonates with the audience and ranks higher in search results.

Optimizing Single-Day Events can be summarized in the following 4 phases and 11 steps:

Phase 1 -- Pre-Event: Preparation & Strategic Planning 

1. Analyze Past Year's Performance

  • Own Performance
  • Competitors and Best Ranking Sites
  • Search Interest

2. Conduct In-Depth Keyword Research

  • Top Evergreen Trends
  • News Trends
  • Topic Clusters

3. Editorial Team Collaboration

  • Editorial Calendar, publish time 
  • Primary Landing pages 
  • Primary keyword
  • Content Production

4. Editorial SEO Training/Bootcamp on Event Optimization

  • Headlines & Titles 
  • Article Body
  • Next-Day Content Refreshes 
  • live blogging 
  • Internal Links
  • External Links
  • URLs

5. Product and Engineering Sync

6. Audience Development Integration

 

Phase 2 -- During Event: Real-Time SEO

7. Set Up a War Room
8. Monitor Live Trends
9. Monitor Top Stories Rankings

 

Phase 3 -- Post-Event Day: Content Refreshes & Expansion

10. Content Refresh and Expansion

 

Phase 4 -- 2-3 Weeks: Full Event Analysis

11. Comprehensive Event Review

 

Phase 1: Pre-Event: Preparation & Strategic Planning 

 

1. Analyze Past Year's Performance

There are 3 parts to last year's data; 1) own performance 2) Competitors and Best Ranking Sites and 3) Search Interest last year

  • Own Performance: Review analytics (Google Analytics, Chartbeat, etc.) for top-performing articles on total and organic search traffic. 
  • Competitors and Best Ranking Sites: Use NewzDash or other tools for competitor and top-ranking site performance data.
  • Search Interest: Utilizing Google Trends, measure the search interest for the event over the past 5 - 10 years to get a holistic overview on how the event is trending over years. 

 

2. Conduct In-Depth Keyword Research

  • Evergreen Trends: 
    • Employ SEO tools like NewzDash, SEMrush or others for historical top keyword analysis based on search volume over the past 12 month.
       
  • News Trends: 
    • In addition to getting the top keywords for any event, you should definitely get what was trending last year to understand the news trend patterns.
    • Use Google Trends and NewzDash for last year's trending topics, understanding news patterns. Google Trends provides 25 Rising and Top trends while NewzDash provides every single news trends during the selected time period along with which ones trended the most.

    •  
  • Adjacent Keywords
    • ​Every event has its own adjacent keywords and trends; these are keywords that may not be directly connected to the event but definetly rise in search interest due the event. 
    • For example, buying TVs, snacks, food recipes keywords increase before the super bowl.
       
  • Keyword Clusters
    • Keyword clustering is essential to help establishing an editorial calendar that covers all topics or selected the must-cover topics
    • Develop content clusters around key themes, like 'Oscar nominations' or 'Super Bowl commercials', to guide the editorial calendar.
    • here are 2 examples for Oscars and Super Bowl
Oscars Super Bowl
  • Nominations
    • ​Oscar nominations YYYY, Oscar nominated movies 2019 -
  • General
    • Oscars live stream, Watch Oscars online -  Sunday Morning
    • Oscar predictions, Oscars Ballot
    • Oscars host, Oscars [host name]
    • Oscars + [artist name]
    • Best/Worst moments of Oscars
  • Performance, Host, Presenters
    • Oscars performance, Oscars performers list 
    • Watch [artist] perform [speech/song] at Oscars YYYY
  • Fashion
    • Oscar dresses, Oscars fashion/outfits/looks, Oscars 2019 red carpet, Oscars best-dressed, Oscars 2019 red carpet  - Sunday after red carpet begins
  • Winners
    • Oscar winners 2019 - Sunday
    • Oscars Speeches
    • Oscars [category] winners
  • General
    • How to watch Super Bowl YYYY
    • Super Bowl live stream
    • Super Bowl Commercials YYYY
    • Best Super Bowl Commercials ever
    • National anthem
    • Super Bowl predictions
  • Super Bowl top Performers
    • athletes
  • Super Bowl teams
    • team names
  • Halftime
    • Super Bowl YYYY Halftime Show 
    • Best Super Halftime show performance 
  • Game
    • game highlights, team analysis, MVP, prop bets, player profiles, historical facts, big plays
  • Food
    • Best Super Bowl recipes, food, snacks, etc.
    • Super Bowl party, party tips 
  • Shopping
    • Best TVs to buy
    • Super Bowl outfits, jerseys, etc.

 

 

3. Collaborate with the Editorial Team

  • Plan Editorial Calendar and Publish Times 
    • Start publishing evergreen content 1-2 weeks before event
    • historic lookbacks, how to watch, articles are good to publish in the 1-2 weeks leading to the event
      • timing of content publishing should be based on when does the interest in the event starts rising
      • It may be beneficial to publish throwback pieces in the week or two prior to the event to increase Discover visibility
      • "How to watch event", "When is the event", and "Everything you need to know about event" might be are good articles to publish ahead of any event. Note Google may provide quick answer boxes for some of these questions.
      • Event predictions, odds, Ballot, etc.
    • Think of articles that will help increasing Time on Site; for example focusing on fashion and red carpet may increase time on site via higher engaged minutes
    • Some articles should be republished the day after the event. For high coverage events freshness is a very important factor, Google most probably will not show many day-old stories. 
      • The Winner’s List should be republished the morning after the event, around 8am. 
    • Identify individual celebrities, and athletes who resonate with your audience to cover as breakout articles
    • Brands facing limited bandwidth should focus on high search volume articles and top breakout moments to generate search visits and time on site.

pro tips:

  • Discuss content syndication of your content to other sister brands (same language) and translated syndicated content to fill all the gaps that can’t be written locally.
  • Perspectives might be big this year for many events. Make sure you have a solid strategy around YouTube, Reddit and X (Twitter)
  • Short Form videos visibility in Google SERPs is on the rise, coordinate with the social team and establish a strategy around anticipated key moments for reels and short-form videos
  • TikTok and YouTube SEO is a thing, work with the social team and share SEO strategies

 

  • Identify Primary Landing page(s) 
    • Note: most likely the primary landing page will not get much traffic as the event will trigger QDF (query deserves freshness) and most of the results will be new articles in addition to official event landing page and official social media accounts for the event; the main goal is to distribute link juice from Homepage to listed articles on the landing page. 
    • Identify (or create) the Primary landing page and all important articles that should always be linked to, and link to essential information (schedule, nominees, voting).
    • Optimize all SEO elements like SEO title, etc. and behind the scene elements like canonicals, og:title and image
    • The primary landing page could be a customized event landing page or simply the tag page of the event but it can't be both
    • Pin most important content to the top of the page
    • Make sure your Primary Landing page is updated with Event Name [Primary Keyword] and updated year YYYY
    • The same landing page should be used every year
    • Here are some major pages to include
      • Event Landing Page: A customized landing page will include a 1-2 leading phrases - a 100 words intro paragraph even better, latest articles, categorized content if possible, and a river of articles for all event content.
      • How & Where to watch: Start with an info article that you can turn in live streaming "Watch Event" page if live video streaming embeds are available, utilize BroadcastEvent structure data for your live stream.
      • Event Live Update: create a live article for latest updates, follow LIVE SEO tips below 
         
  • Identify Primary keyword
    • Everyone in the editorial team should know the primary keyword to optimize for (Oscars YYYY, Super Bowl YYYY or Super Bowl Number)
    • Use alternatives like Academy Awards and Super Bowl IV as secondary terms
    • Every headline should contain the Primary Keyword in the beginning of the headline/SEO title or as early as possible
      • The only exception if another entity becomes very important, for example Chris Rock–Will Smith slapping incident became more popular that Oscars itself
         
  • Estimate Content Production Levels
    • ​Get an estimate on content production levels - less content may simply results in less traffic
    • Identify content production levels of you major competitors and top ranking sites around the event during last year event 

Pro Tip: Go to Google Search and search for Primary Keyword + site:domain.com (example: Oscars site:abcnews.go.com) and select the desired time (1 day before event to one day after event)  frame of last year event. Then search the Source Code of the page for " results " (note the space before the results word), this will provide you with an estimate of how many articles got indexed by Google around this keyword from this site at that time. 

 

4. Retrain Editorial Team on Event Optimization

  • Headlines & SEO Titles 
    • Front loading the key topic target in the SEO Title is fundamental
    • Always include Primary Keyword in every SEO Title + Hed related to the event, including breakout articles.
    • It is essential to always include trending topics with Primary Keyword to maximize reach (Oscars YYYY + [Celebrity], Super Bowl + Team Name, etc.).
    • When writing breakout articles, always frontload the celebrity name before the event name
    • Always mention the year in your title/headline

Pro Tip: Always use 2-part titles/heds: One part drives rankings and the other part drives clicks. If you don't rank you will not get clicks, but if you rank and your headline is not engaging, you eventually lose your ranking spot rather quickly.

example: Oscars YYY Winners: [Celebrity] Leaves Party in Anger after ... 

 

  • Article Body
    • The Primary keyword should be mentioned in the first 1-2 leading paragraphs.
    • Article Intro paragraph should be between 100-150 words and contain What, When, Who, Where, and Why 
    • Optimize sub-headers - "H2 headers" are critical for rankings. Include target keywords naturally in them. 
    • ​categories should be marked up as H2s (Best Actor, Best Picture, etc).
    • Embed media - Include relevant images, infographics, videos and graphics. Optimize media file names and ALT text with keywords.
    • Format text for scannability - Break content into sections with descriptive headers and short paragraphs. Use bullet points and numbered lists when applicable.
    • Include secondary keywords (synonyms and alternatives)
    • A list of winners alone will not make an article win; include a strong leading paragraphs and closing paragraph
    • Link to additional content using optimized anchor text. 
    • If the template allows it, include a brief  summary at the top of the most important pieces of information (i.e. bulleted list of no more than 3-4 items) to give users some context without having to scroll to the bottom of the page for the first postings
    • Check How to optimize every article before publishing, and step-by-step news article template optimization
       
  • Content Refreshes if any
    • Identify which articles will be refreshed for the post-event day
    • Follow SEO Best practices for refreshing these articles - see SEO recommendations below
       
  • live blogging 
    • Should be published 5-7 hours ahead of the event
    • Should be updated continuously throughout the event
      • Update headline at least once every 30 minutes
      • Maintain Primary Keyword and change the remaining headline 
    • Titles must include Primary Keyword  [Oscars YYYY Live Updates:] + [major update]
      • Change Title for important updates (Oscars 2022 Live Updates: [celebrity]  wins Best Actor)
    • Update timestamp every time new copy is added (not including typos, spelling fixes, grammar changes, etc.)
    • For breaking news, publish immediately with a timestamp update, no matter how short the copy is. Then add longer context and update the timestamp again
    • Embed relevant multimedia: Add photos, videos, gifs, or graphics of winning moments, celebrity arrivals, performances etc.

Pro Tip:

  • for multi-day events, utilize the same article but update the URL everyday. Make sure to redirect each day URL to the following day URL
    • for example /event-live-updates-1 then /event-live-updates-2
  • Don't embed multimedia before 100 words of the article, sometimes Google News thinks the article has ended and reject the article is it is "Short Article"

 

  • Internal Links
    • You must optimize these 4 primary internal links:
      • Homepage: A prominent link on homepage and top nav to the event primary landing page. The homepage link should be listed at least 1-2 weeks ahead of the event.
      • Articles: all articles should link to primary landing page the top 5 articles for the event
      • Footer: link to the primary landing page
      • Top Nav: list top searched keywords and trends that you want to rank for and link to thos articles 
        • Oscars YYYY Winners, Celebrity Performance, etc.
    • Create internal links to & from relevant pages with specific anchor text describing the linked page
    • When creating internal links to other pages, ask yourself what that page’s keyword phrase would be
    • All content should link to the the Primary Landing page using the Primary Keyword
    • Create sections (groups of content) on homepage for "event" major event keyword clusters 
    • Create internal links to & from event pages with specific anchor text describing the linked page.
    • If possible, look for links pointing to older / outdated Event content from previous years & update links to new 2023 content.
    • Find older relevant news content and link Primary Keyword to the main event page
       
  • External Links:
    • All links pointing to affiliate or commercial sites must have ‘nofollow’ tag attribute added to them. 
    • Don't use keywords that you want to rank for as anchor text in external links - I know it is silly but sometimes it is important to bring editorial team's focus to the internal links anchor text. You can use external source name as the anchor text.
       
  • URLs
    • Don’t use older URLs for your articles, it will not show up in Top Stories (News Box)
    • Create NEW URLs and redirect old stories to new ones. 

 

5. Sync with the Product/Engineering team (Tech SEO)

  • You would be surprised how frequently things can get wrong during major events
  • Run few tests ahead of the event on redirects
  • Make sure new URLs are reflected in your canonicals, internal links, RSS feeds and XML Sitemaps
  • Do a quick Technical SEO Audit and identify any major issues that may impact the event
  • Make sure Primary Landing pages are still working and in good standing

 

6. Coordinate with other Audience Development Teams

  • Launch Event email sequence - Send a series of emails counting down to the event and highlighting upcoming stories.
  • Share live updates - Give real-time updates on social media. Use event primary hashtag and Encourage social sharing among editorial teams
  • Work closely with the social media team to promote new content
  • Share links on social media, email newsletters, and other owned channels upon publication.
  • Alert Google of new content in Search Console.
  • Email Marketing: Leverage email lists to alert subscribers about upcoming deals.
  • Influencer Partnerships: Collaborate with influencers for wider reach.

 

Phase 2: During Event: Real-Time SEO

 

7. Set Up a War Room

  • War Room:
    • Form a central command center with leads from SEO, Social Media, Editorial and Engineering
    • Utilize a dedicated Slack "messaging" channel for instant communication, Q&A, title optimization, new news trends, and SEO updates.
    • Send Slack updates to editorial teams on latest event trends
       
  • Monitoring and Utilizing Trending Keywords:
    • Use tools like NewzDash, Google Trends, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to identify and incorporate trending keywords in real time.
    • Responsive Content Creation: Quickly create and publish content related to trending topics, such as unexpected moments, viral speeches, or top performances.
       
  • Real-time Coverage
    • Focus on real-time coverage: Highlight key moments like the Oscars' red carpet events or the Super Bowl's halftime show.
      • Oscars: red carpet, winners, performances, speeches, shocking moments, etc.
      • Super Bowl: halftime, etc.
      • Live Blogging: Keep your audience engaged with live updates during the event. See SEO recommendations above
      • Break stories early and fast - don't sacrifice accuracy
        • publish breaking news with 100 words or more
        • update content after publishing to 300-600 words
        • Publish winners immediately: As each award is announced, publish a post with name of winner and category, linking back to your main Event page.
      • Create a dynamic Related/Latest Event Articles that has the best and latest coverage of the event and make sure it is dynamically listed on all relevant pages 
         
  • Monitor traffic in real-time:
    • use Google Analytics, Chartbeat and other tools to monitor traffic in real-time
       
  • Social Media Integration:
    • Live Tweets and Posts: Share real-time updates, insights, and content links on social media platforms.
    • Hashtags: Use trending and event-specific hashtags to increase the visibility of your posts.
    • Engage audience through polls, quizzes, and questions. Run contests and giveaways to incentivize participation. Post Comments and shares are major part of the social algorithms and play a major role in getting posts more visibility
    • Prepare assets ahead of time 
       
  • Track keyword rankings in real-time:
    • NewzDash allows you to track your rankings in Top Stories and Web Results every 15 minutes. Identify top competitors, content production, headlines changes and more. 

Pro Tip: many news sites prepare content ahead of time for many if not all of the possible outcomes of an event. For example of Team 1 wins, they have an article ready, same thing for Team 2 with another article that is also ready. 

Same principle applies to celebrity death where many publisher have those articles ready.

 

8. Monitor Live Trends on Search and Social Platforms

  • Keep track of emerging & rising trends with Google Trends and NewzDash.
  • Regularly update the SEO team via Slack on any notable shifts in social media trends.
  • Monitor Social Trends and update the SEO slack channel of any new trends

 

9. Monitor Top Stories Rankings

  • Maintain a close watch on the performance and ranking of key stories
    • check missed rankings where your competitors are ranking but you are not
    • check lost rankings, these are low hanging fruit opportunities as you already ranked before. The article might need a refreshing or you can optimize based on top ranking article.
    • check which stories are getting LIVE red pill and see if your live template is ranking
    • check content production levels of your competitors 
       
  • When rankings drop, connect with editorial teams and optimize based on what's ranking in Top Stories.
  • NewzDash provides instant SEO rankings based on live data.

 

Phase 3: Post-Event Day: Content Refreshes & Expansion

 

Pro Tip: there is more traffic Post-Event day than event night especially for events that end up late where most of the viewers go to sleep early and wake up the next day looking for latest news, analysis, etc of the event.

 

10. Refresh, Republish & Expand Content

  • Republish the most important articles on new URLs, and redirect old URLs to new URLs
  • For high visibility events, there will be a lot of coverage and such high content production levels and high demand, Google Top Stories will have a higher freshness threshold where many articles from the day of the event will not rank during the day after the event. 
  • Make sure you target freshness signals 
    • Updated Timestamp on article and schema - make sure to update timestamps (modified) on page and schema every time you update the page
    • Updated content: there is no hard rule but I recommend at least add/update 30% of the content. Must be meaningful and helpful
    • Minor changes in headline wording without impacting primary keywords
    • Social Shares and Buzz - Higher social activity and buzz around new content tells Google there is fresh interest in a topic or piece of content.
    • Multimedia: Add few new images; inclusion of latest images, videos and media formats indicates fresh and updated content.
  • Republish event Live Blog as an event recap Article
  • Continue to monitor trends on search social platforms
  • New Content
    • recaps and winner roundups:
    • Social Reactions

Pro Tip: In order to maximize traffic from Search engines, all content should be created on new URLs in coordination with the recommended publish time above. URLs should only be republished when noted.

 

Phase 4: 2-3 Weeks: Full Event Analysis

 

11. Conduct Full Event Analysis

  • It is important to tell a story not just list numbers 
  • Don't just highlight wins, but make sure you also highlight missed opportunities
  • Provide total organic search traffic and YoY 
  • Analyze Brand Visibility (traffic share) in Top Stories utilizing NewzDash

  • Separate Google Discover in its separate bucket and not to combine with Search Numbers
  • Content Production is a key, compare Year-Over-Year content production and correlate to traffic
  • Get Google Trends Search Interest in the event and correlate to traffic. If total search interest dropped by 10 points and your traffic to the event dropped by 5 points, you actually increased your traffic YoY.
  • Analyze the SERPs; how much real-estate did Google keep and how far top stories were pushed down 
  • Share findings with all leads and provide Learnings for next year and future events

Pro Tip: Search Interest Measurements
It is important to measure search interest year after year, this will give you a strong indication on how popular the event is. 

wait 2-3 weeks after the event
measure search interest in Google trends, make sure you select the "topic" not the "search" https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=%2Fm%2F0200gn...
Calculate % increase/decrease from last year to this year. For example in the image below, Search Interest in Black Friday dropped by 4 points from 2021 to 2022. So if you traffic dropped by the same %, you actually in a good place because the whole search interest has dropped

 

 

 

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