The Ultimate News SEO Checklist: How to Optimize Your News Articles Before Publishing

Editorial teams have a lot on their plate, from writing the story, crafting headlines, verifying stories, adding rich media and much more. Here is a complete list of all must-have SEO items before publishing a news story online.

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    IDENTIFY TARGET KEYWORD

    • Monitor top and emerging trends
    • Use tools like NewzDash, and Google Trends to identify your target keyword before writing. 
    • Most news keywords are in the format "Entity + Qualifier". Entities are Full Name (Taylor Swift + New Album), Organization Name, Event + Year (Oscars 2023 + Winners), Entertainment Title, or Location (NJ Beach + Murders).
    • Target Keyword is 2-4 words long to avoid vague search intent.
    • Examine Search Results (SERPs) to make sure it has matching intent to the intent of the story.

        

    OPTIMIZE SEO TITLE & ON-PAGE HEADLINE

    • The SEO Title is the most impactful SEO element and is what appears in the search results (SERPs).
    • Keyword is placed near the beginning of the title & headline.
    • On-Page Headline should match (or closely match) SEO Title. Google News may reject stories if headline and seo title are very different.
    • SEO Title must include 2 parts (Keyword part that helps the story to rank + Enticing Phrase and/or call-to-action that helps the story to get clicks. (ex: Oscars Nominations 2023 List: See All the Acting Nominees)
    • Use passive voice to bring Target Keyword early in headline if needed (ex: “Celebrity Name” bitten by a dog)
    • Recommended Length is within 3-12 words, or 50-70 characters. 

        

    WRITE AN ENGAGING SEO DESCRIPTION

    • While it is not ranking factor, the SEO Description appears directly in the SERPs and is used to entice users to click through to your site.
    • Include Keyword, and a call to action (Learn, Watch, Discover, etc.)
    • Recommended length is within 120-160 characters

        

    OPTIMIZE YOUR ARTICLE BODY CONTENT

    • Analyze top-ranking news articles in Top Stories for your target keyword to get an idea of information/format needed in order to be competitive. 
    • Recommended minimum Length is 300 words. For breaking news, it’s okay to publish 100 words and update & republish as story develops. 
    • Incorporate Primary Keyword in first 30 words (lede paragraph), and use exact match & variations throughout rest of the story.
    • H2s are used to break content into digestible sections - Avoid using other heading tags (H3-H6) in your content.
    • Use unique images with descriptive ALT text preferably including keyword. Avoid using stock images if possible.
    • Add Internal links throughout story with optimized anchor text (~1 link per 100 words)
    • Add "Nofollow" tag to links when linking to retail/commercial sites.
    • Don’t embed any widgets (Social Media, frames, etc.) before the first 100 words. This may cause the story to be rejected by Google News for being too short.

        

    POST-PUBLICATION STRATEGY

    • After the story is published, identify relevant, top performing content to link from to your new or refreshed story using the target keyword as the anchor text.
    • Promote your story on Social Media accounts.
    • Update the story if any significant changes need to be made

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