By Laura D’Alessandro
Search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be a part of today’s editorial planning.
Editorial planning isn’t what it used to be. A decade ago, I sat in a newsroom with a team of reporters, each who knew his or her beat in and out. Some of us could see the news before it was coming and that nose for news and news judgement was part of what gave us value as reporters. But things have changed.
Back then, in the dark ages, we had standard buckets for news content—breaking news, government news, arts news, entertainment news and the like. But at your B2B publication, your topics are likely niche and go much deeper. So why pick those topics based on what type of news you’ve reported in the past when the internet can help you cover topics that will be trending in the future?
Keyword data, which can be gathered on a variety of platforms including Google Keywords or Answer the Public, to name a (very) few, helps inform you of what people are searching for. And while we all hope these people are searching for our content, if they’re not (and that’s likely), we need to find out what they’re searching for and tailor our content toward it. Finding the keywords that are relevant to your content and maximizing their use on your website is called search engine optimization, or SEO. Editorial planning without SEO isn’t wise and isn’t editorial planning at all. Here’s why.
1) Google has a better nose for news than you do.
These days, when folks have a question, they’re not calling 411. They’re not turning on the TV. They’re not picking up the newspaper. And they’re likely not even asking a friend. But they are asking. They’re asking Siri and Alexa, and those questions go to Google search to the tune of 40,000 per second, according to—what else—a cursory Google search. Not to mention those searches are tied to IP addresses with locations, as well as dates and times, so Google Keywords can tell you when the searches for a certain topic peak and who’s interested.
2) Conversations are taking place on different platforms
We all know everyone is on Facebook. Or is it Twitter? Or are the kids mostly on Instagram these days? Wherever the people are, social media monitoring apps track the keywords people use on these and additional platforms to keep you in the know about the buzz. It’s not as simple as being on Twitter. That’s micro. Think macro. An editorial strategy needs to track major trends on all platforms. These trends can drive news coverage and feature ideas to help you hit the nail on the head with tailored content for your audience.
3) Readers aren’t finding your content the way they used to
And it’s not what you think. We’ve already covered the Google searches. That’s still the preferred mode of information gathering. It’s how people are gathering information through Google search that is changing. Years ago, before voice-powered devices became ubiquitous, a common Google search would just include the most relevant words. That means that keywords were shorter. Now, people can actually ask a question through a device that performs a search for them. That’s why we’re seeing so many articles with questions as headlines. And while it may have always been our goal to inform, it’s now more imperative than ever that our stories answer questions. You can use your SEO strategy, combined with long-tail keywords, to pin down what those questions are and then get creative with answering them.
4) Your content needs to rank if you want it to be read at all.
The thing is, everything I’m telling you isn’t cutting edge and many organizations, mostly those with the aim to sell, are doing it and doing it better than news organizations. If you don’t make SEO part of your editorial strategy, your content won’t rank on a search engine results page. If your content doesn’t rank, when someone asks Alexa for the top five tips to make their online business cybersecure, the story you’ve crafted to answer that very question won’t be found. There’s a lot more than just keyword research that goes into ranking—just know that it’s important and while the work may be tedious it’s very worth the time for this reason.
5) Every brand is trying to do your job for you – with better SEO.
If you’re still not convinced you should invest in SEO, here’s the reason that convinced me to dive into it. The internet has changed the way information is delivered. In the era of fake news, many people trust brands more than they trust the unbiased reporting. As a result, brands are investing in brand journalism more than ever. Many B2B publications, including one I edited for four years, are produced by brands. These brands are often able to invest in SEO much more than traditional news organization, which means once they pair brand journalism with their SEO strategy, their content will rank higher than yours. Speaking as a brand journalist myself, we’re hired to drive sales. True journalism deserves to rank just as much if not more.
Laura is a digital content strategist in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the former editor of two ASBPE award-winning publications and a former member of the ASPBE board. Find Laura at this link to learn more about combining content strategy and storytelling.