A Step-by-Step News Article Template with SEO Best Practices

Optimizing your News Article Layout is an important task especially for big publishers. Optimizing this one template results in optimizing 80%+ of your organic search traffic. Find below a step-by-step SEO guide for each of the news article elements. 

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    URL

    • This component has a minimal impact on rankings. So, don't fret over URL optimization. An optimized headline will naturally optimize your URL.
    • Keep URLs free of dates.
    • Recommendations include the use of lowercase and hyphens.
    • Eliminate stopwords.

    <HTML> Title (SEO Title)

    • This is visible in Google's Top Stories.
    • Compose clear, descriptive, and unambiguous headlines to appeal to readers scanning search results.
    • Ensure your primary keywords/entities are placed at the start or as early as possible in the title. Place quotes and brands towards the end.
    • Aim for optimized rankings (SEO Keywords) and clicks (Engaged).
    • Use passive voice when required (e.g., "[Celebrity Name] was bitten by a dog").
    • Include entities (like full names, organizations, events, locations) coupled with keyword qualifiers whenever you can.
    • Avoid abbreviating crucial terms unless they are commonly recognized.
    • Prefer digits over text (e.g., "9" instead of "Nine").
    • Use terms people are actually searching for and avoid uncommon language (e.g., prefer "Pope John Paul Dies" over "Papacy Change").
    • For annual events, the year should follow the event name (like "Oscars 2019").
    • Steer clear of generic franchise headlines like "Things to Know this Morning".
    • Aim for headlines of 60-65 characters (or 512 pixels).

    Article Headline

    • Should always be the only H1 on the page
    • Same SEO as SEO Title when possible
    • This is the visible headline in the article and Google News.
    • A headline length of 5-12 words is optimal.
    • It should closely align with the SEO title.
    • While it can be creative, it must include main keywords.

    DEK

    • helps readers get an idea of the story and make a decision about whether they should continue on to read the full article

    Byline

    • By Author: The author of the article. 
    • Publish or Modified Date and Time. 

    Images & Videos

    • Include and optimize Rich Media for better rankings.
    • High-quality images (1200 px minimum + enabled max-image-preview-large) are strongly advised, particularly for Google Discover.
    • Provide captions for gallery images.
    • Embed keywords within image filenames & video files.
    • Use keyword phrases to describe images in alt text - necessary for ADA compliance and useful for SEO.

    First Paragraph (lede)

    • In the first one to two paragraphs of your article, include all keywords and entities and answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
    • Maintain a focused writing style, applying the Inverted Pyramid method where the most critical content facts are stated first.

    Article Body

    • Engage readers with unique and valuable content, enhancing readability by using short paragraphs and bullet points. Remember to naturally incorporate keywords throughout.
    • Start your content with a location when relevant.
    • Naturally incorporate keywords into the first paragraph & throughout the body – remember to write for your readers and Google.
    • Highlight and embolden important words throughout.
    • Publish fast, then update - News content should be at least 100 words. 
    • Avoid embedding (social media) in the first 100 words.
    • Trigger Freshness Signals by: updating content when new significant info is available, add/swap images, update headline, tweak subheadings
    • Answer relevant questions, especially the ones that appear in Google People Also Ask.

    Bolded H2 Subheadings

    • Use subheadings to break up the article every few paragraphs, giving an indication of the upcoming content and providing multiple entry points for the reader.
    • Make content more readable for those who scan content.
    • Highlight secondary keywords.

    Links

    • Include internal links to related articles and main tag/topic pages.
    • Avoid using generic phrases like "click here", "view more" for internal linking.
    • Link externally to authoritative relevant content, but not with keywords you aim to rank for.
    • Avoid external links in the first paragraph.
    • Never link to spammy or harmful websites.
    • Inline Contextual links are stronger than links placed below the article.

    End of Article

    • End the article with a compelling CTA to engage readers, increase conversion rates, and guide users towards the desired action.

    Behind the scenes

    • Ensure usage of the NewsArticle JSON-LD Schema.
    • The NewsArticle Headline should match the SEO Title and appear in Google's Top Stories.
    • Include the following info: Author, author.name, author.url, datePublished, dateModified, Image.
    • Optimize your OG:Title for social media and Google Discover.
    • Meta Description: Think of this as a brief summary for search engines, which helps in driving click-throughs. Include your focus keyword and maintain a length of 150-160 characters.

    Social Sharing

    • Boost visibility by incorporating easy social sharing options for readers.

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