How, When & Why to use
News articles are used to disseminate information that is timely and of particular interest to a target audience. The big question here is newsworthiness… what makes something newsworthy? If the term “breaking news” applies, meaning that something of significance is happening at this moment and you can supply news coverage of the event as it unfolds, that can create newsworthiness. If the story features something of impact or consequence to the target audience, or if there is an interesting conflict involved, that can supply newsworthiness. Other themes of newsworthiness include: Loss of Life or Property, Proximity (closeness to audience), Prominence of People or Organizations involved, Novelty or deviation from the normal. The most important thing is that the facts of the story are interesting enough, without added opinion, that people will want to know about it.
Features and Functions
News articles are based on facts, must be credible and verified and cannot contain opinion (with the exception of editorial articles which must clearly be labeled as editorial). News articles must be written in AP style. AP style is simply a standardized way of writing everything from dates to street addresses to job titles. The AP stylebook (https://www.apstylebook.com/) is used by Journalists and editors as a reference guide.
The type of subject matter that is fitting for news articles must pass at least one and hopefully several of the following qualifying questions:
- Is it new?
- Is it unusual?
- Is it interesting?
- Is it significant?
- Is it about people?
- Will it affect people?
Journalistic Exploration of Subjects
News articles typically present the facts about the story through the following questions:
- Who? Who is or will be involved?
- What? What happened or will happen?
- Where? Where did this or will this take place?
- Why? Why is this happening?
- When? When did/will this happen?
- How? How did/will this happen?
- Remember, news is strictly factual, no opinion.
In addition to the considerations of site architecture, technical optimization and optimization of the static content, here is a list of news specific SEO strategies:
- Include the News Keywords meta tag and use the news categories the story belongs to along with 2-3 of the most important keyword phrases.
- Make sure the content is optimized according to the static content optimization checklist.
- Make sure any images or video are optimized according to their respective optimization checklists.
- Emphasize citations and resources with links to appropriate resources.
- Include an emphasis on social sharing.
- Include and encourage comments on the news article page.
- Become a Google News Source
- Include the news article in your Google News sitemap if you are accepted as a Google news partner
- Include the news article in your standard XML sitemap
- Include any images or video in their respective sitemaps
- Post on your site: Make sure the news is posted to the most appropriate category.
- RSS: Set up an RSS feed for the news section and/or each news category on your site and add your RSS feed to RSS feed directories such as the ones found at: RSS Specifications
- Google News: Become a Google News Source. Google News is incredible. Typically it takes a high level of optimization and months of link building to get a regular webpage to appear at the top of Google’s organic search results, but a news article from a Google News Source can get to the top of Google’s organic search results within 5 minutes of being published. That’s correct. Minutes after going live your story can be sitting at the top of the world’s most powerful search engine. However, you must apply and be accepted to become a Google News source and there are some strict requirements. Find the guidelines here: Google Support
- Social Syndication & Social Promotion: Regardless of where your content is posted, social syndication and paid promotion through Facebook, Twitter and possibly LinkedIn (depending on the target market) are absolutely critical for spreading your news. Start by posting with a message and appropriate hashtags on each service. Remember, each service has different character limits and a different audience that is on that social network for different reasons, so craft your post accordingly. Your goal is to get people to read, like and share it. Headlines and images are absolutely critical. Also, put some budget, even just $5 to $10 per post into promoting your post using the advanced audience targeting that is offered by each service. Don’t waste your money promoting the content to the wrong audience. Each of these social networks allows very granular control over the demographic profiles of who will be seeing your posts.
- Free Article Syndication Sites: Before Google’s Panda and Penguin Updates, article syndication sites such as EzineArticles.com, iSnare.com and others offered easy ways to syndicate your articles to large networks of sites. For years this was a very powerful backlink building strategy. However, after Panda those sites were devalued significantly and following Penguin, utilizing those syndication networks for optimized link building will do your site more harm than good. However, using these types of networks to syndicate content with navigational links (using anchor text such as “click here” or “go to: www.example.com/page for more information”), or “nofollow” links is still perfectly acceptable. What Google did was cracked down on “transactional links” (that’s links using anchor text that is optimized for the keyword the page is trying to rank for) because optimized anchor text links have the ability to manipulate Google’s algorithm. Because of this they are against Google’s guidelines. Therefore, these networks can still help spread your content somewhat, but do not use them for optimized link building. With all of that said, it is still a good idea to submit a small percentage of your articles to those article syndication sites, just don’t optimize the anchor text. The idea of co-citation, that is your brand being mentioned but not linked to along side relevant content, is a signal that seems to have gained strength in recent years. So, this can be good for your content. (See the list of Article Submission sites here).
- Paid Article Syndication: Paid article syndication is a very powerful and effective tool for getting your content to appear directly below relevant content on other sites. This can be the key to tapping into other website that are already drawing significant audiences, and because the audience has already shown interest in reading related content, this can deliver high quality traffic. (See the list of paid article submission sites)
- Newsletters: Email lists and newsletters can boost most businesses more than any other digital marketing strategy. Newsletters should feature your most recent news articles. This is a very common strategy. However, if you are looking to give your articles a tremendous boost, consider renting space in the newsletters of other established sites within your industry. You simply contact them and negotiate a fee to be featured in an email that goes to their database. Possibly even commit to a regular newsletter feature article. You can potentially tap into large and very targeted databases, on the recommendation of a site that the end user already trusts enough to give them their email address. This can be incredibly effective to help grow your audience. Just make sure that you properly vet the email list of the company before you pay for anything upfront. A good way to start a new relationship of this kind is to pay on a cost per acquisition basis if possible. Otherwise a cost per click. However, once you are familiar with the effectiveness of a specific newsletter, you can often negotiate a lower rate with a guaranteed fee.
- News Specific Social Networks: Set up Social Profiles in every News Related social network and make sure that you post to your articles and include links to your articles when appropriate in comments that you leave on other peoples posts. (See the list of News Specific Social Network sites)
Methods of News Article Distribution
One very important thing to understand about online news is that nearly all of it is consumed through news destinations, news feeds or through social sharing. Syndication of news articles is paramount to their success. The following methods are recommended for the distribution of news articles.