Keyword Research & Strategy – Working with Editors – Top Tips

by on February 9, 2011

This is a follow up to part 1 and part 2 of the series on keyword research. It deals with one of my favorite categories to work with, large publishing sites, those with editors who produce content every day. I have compiled a number of tips below to help your keyword strategy for these sites.

1. Don’t interrupt their work

If you introduce SEO elements to an editors day that have a negative impact on their daily work load, you have already lost the battle. Editors are working to different targets and they are not concerned with checking for keyword volume before writing every article, and this isn’t necessary. You want to find ways to integrate SEO into their daily routine, ones that will enhance the great work they are already doing (always tell editors they are doing great work :)). For example, if you can provide checks that are seen as mandatory, much like spell check, you will have a great chance of making these stick. One thing an editor always needs is ideas for content:

a. Google Trends

This is very much dependent on the publication you work on but for a topical site, Google Trends could be part of an editors first check before drawing up plans for that day. Better yet, build a small tool that scrapes this on a daily basis and feeds it to the editor via an RSS feed.

b. Google Insights

If they have an idea of the story, use Google Insights (set at last 7 days) to find rising searches around it.

c. Create their own industry feed

This is probably one of the best options. Create a feed of popular content relevant to each editor that can be delivered to their RSS reader. Full details here.

All of these checks can be done in the first 30 minutes of an editors day and helps them map out their content. It enhances their work, rather than having them look for keyword volume related to every post.

2. Tags & Internal Links

Tags can be a huge part of a large publisher site, but if not managed correctly they can lead to nothing but headaches. Letting editors pick and choose what tags they use can lead to duplicate content Armageddon.

I recommend defining a strategy for your tags and then using a tool to auto insert internal links. For example, the below is a small extract from a site all about entertainment.

Google Keyword Strategy

The categories for film are:

- “Film Reviews”
- “Film Trailers”
- “New Film Releases”

The sites tag strategy is to target

- Film Genres i.e. Action Film Reviews | Comedy Film Reviews| Thriller Film Reviews etc
– Action Names i.e. Tom Cruise Films | Eddie Murphy Films etc
– Country of Origin i.e. US Films | Swedish Films etc

Your core goal now is to maintain a list of all tags and ensure internal links are auto inserted + you vary the anchor text. If you have WordPress this can be done using Simple Tags and and the internal link plugin from SEORoi. If you are using a different CMS, I would consider building a couple of custom plugins to do this. It’s not too difficult and will really help with your traffic.

Just to repeat, don’t let editors have control of the tags !!

3. Introduce Analytics into Weekly Meetings and put it at the core

Web Analytics should be a major part of every companies online strategy. It shouldn’t be left to some data loving nerd sitting in the corner pulling down reports that no one ever looks at. The key is to make your company one that embraces data across the board and uses it in lots of wonderful ways. Introduce customised reports for editors that show how their articles are performing and how many goals they are driving for the company. This is a great article from Richard Baxter over at SEOMoz detailing how you can segment traffic by author name.

Another good idea is to look at what content is driving most traffic and is it related. If you find a bunch of articles with a related theme driving lots of traffic – well you have got yourself a feature.

If you can add some friendly competition via analytics, again, it will help put SEO at the core of what editors do. Great tip is to have a big writeboard up where all editors can view goals driven by their articles on a monthly basis (much like a sales team would).

4. Plan Features in Advance

Features provide a great opportunity to plan for your keywords in advance. Most large publishing sites will have their features planned out for the month. This gives you the opportunity to research in advance and apply the following:

Seasonal

- If the feature is seasonal (i.e. New York Fashion Week) look back at what keywords performed well the previous year, what didn’t and use Google Insights to look back over the past year to see what keyword opportunities were missed. Begin planning to have content out before the curve:

Better yet, have a go live plan for each feature, especially if it’s a big topic like “New York Fashion” week. Start planning articles before the main feature to target long tail keywords that were popular the previous year. For example, you may have “Look back at Top 5 Outfits from New York Fashion Week”. Each article is optimised for a long tail keyword. Once you set the core feature live for this year, link all long tail articles to it. If you have previous features on the same topic, consider 301 redirecting those with link equity to the new one (the decision should be based on how much traffic those past features are currently getting).

Features Based on Analytics

As I mentioned in step 3, pull together feature ideas based on popular content related by certain themes. Link related posts to your feature and link to your feature from both the home page and relevant category page to give it a boost.

and of course ensure you create a editorial calendar.

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