News Search Optimization — SES San Francisco

Second session of the day with those lovely folks from the traditional media. How does it look from out there in the Fourth Estate? What new tidbits will they have for us that we didn’t know before?


Dana Todd, CMO, Newsforce

news panel at ses


Dana (who is rocking some fantastic violet hair, I wonder what she uses) starts off by asking who the “real” journalists are, the bloggers, the publishers, the SEOs for publishers.  I raise my hand for none of it because I’m bringing you this coverage. You’re welcome.

Eleanor Hong starts the presentation. She barely makes it over the podium and stands on her toes so we can see her. Eleanor is an SEO for ABCNews and her first slide has a lot of words on it. I get out my glasses.

SEO Relevancy slide

They identify trends of the day to target for SEO. In the case of missing persons, people are looking for who it is, if they’ve been found, where they live. People usually read further stories from there.

Twitter feeds display on Google SERPs so you have to be aware of what’s going on there when you’re looking at real-time search.

For a follow up story on Bill Clinton’s health scare, they used the search terms trending on the day of the first story to target as keywords on the next day story. Clever.

All these tactics can work for all media types. Videos have trends just like news stories. Follow your metrics and see what your keywords and keyword variations are. Use them to convince your writers, editors and producers that they should be doing stories or videos on these topics.

Most stories have multiple SERPs. Look at them for next day stories.

slide ABC News Search Traffic

Dana points out that Eleanor is hiring.

Next up is Allison Fabella. Her presentation is Gilligan’s Island themed. She apologizes for the inevitable earworm. I don’t.

Where can you be found online? In the organic SERPs and in the News search.  How do you decide between Web and News? (Ginger vs Maryann) You don’t have to choose a favorite.

Differences between Web search and News search slide

To get into Google and Yahoo! news, you have to file an inclusion request.

Categorizing: Happens at the story level, cued by keywords: Location, subject, language

What you should do:

  • Open story with City, state.
  • Put stories in relevant categories on site
  • Basic SEO keyword best practices


Top trending stories
In each category

Ranks by:

  • Localness of source
  • Freshness – latest update of the story
  • Quality/trustworthiness of the source, % of original content (this can be a challenge because of wire preference)
  • Reader preference also plays a role
  • Citation – original source attribution (this can be a little squirrely)

What doesn’t count: Links.  Stories get ranked without links being a consideration

Do you need a sitemap? Not if you have perfect URLs, perfect code, perfect navigation…  Otherwise, yes. Both Web and News XML Sitemaps are needed

SLIDE: Other News Sitemap Attributes

More considerations:

In news search, image counts.

  • Jpeg
  • in-line nonclickable
  • alt text and caption
  • largeformat
  • good ratio aspects

Use Google Webmaster Tools and check it periodically to find errors. Use the Webmaster Forum to ask questions as well.

Final Points:

  • Request inclusion
  • SEO Best Practices
  • Use Sitemaps
  • Images Count
  • Use GWMT for feedback

Brent is up next. He’s got about a million slides because he hates me. The first 10 go by full of text faster than I can cover.  Have a picture of a kitten instead.


[As a side note, Brent parked his son next to me. He’s watching Pokemon. The kid, not Brent.]

SEO comes down to popularity, authority and relevancy.

Slide: Social media helps drive more links to your site

The next slide is labeled on as a good slide to tweet. It is not pictured here.  Neither is the next labeled better slide to tweet.

The point is that even though they’re a really big site, they have really really big sites as competition. They still need links.  He says you absolutely should be personally on social media sites and that all your excuses for not being on Twitter/Facebook/Digg/Reddit aren’t good enough.

Forget it. Use Knowem to find sites that DO fit your brand and use those. There are many many many out there.  See?

Best slide to tweet: 300+ choices

Be aware of nofollowed links.

[Brent’s son is taking a picture of his dad. Hee.]

Secondary benefits to being on social media: scrapers, blog/site modules, increased awareness


How many links can Digg generate? popular for less than an hour = 19k links

Story not popular, visible less than 24 hrs, still got 57 links.

Once a story is popular on Digg, the link becomes followed. Digg is a PR8.


Alyssa Milano tweeted something Brent posted – 512 inbound links in 24hrs

Your headlines for Social media are different than your headlines for SEO

Break things up into thirds. Don’t be all business or all personal.

social media balance slide

Topher wraps things up. He’s made his presentation available on SlideShare: What’s Next for SEO and News,

Try Now:


  • Better User Experience
  • Major push to index
  • Working across all platforms

Play on page is the key to Video. Content without context is not content. Make sure you give the video context and don’t make them leave the page to play the video.

Transcripts provide context as well. Put it on the page with the video especially if you don’t have play on page.

Video XML Sitemaps: Must. Have. If you want to rank for your videos, you MUST have video sitemaps.

Try Soon:

Semantic markup. Microformats will set you free.  Google and Yahoo! are working on them. Use them.

UGC: outranked all the major networks for the first hour and a half on the plane crash story in Texas.

Try Later: (one year out)

HTML 5 – He thinks we’ll all be talking about this next year, provided the browsers get on board.

Yahoo and Bing are merging. They’ll be 100% merged by the end of August or the beginning of September.  It’s not something to ignore anymore. You’ll be missing out on 10 to 12 percent of traffic.

Don’t forget the rumors: Facebook and MS deals, Apple and Bing deals.

Microsoft is putting money behind Bing. That will re

Testing: YOU MUST TEST. You MUST NOT do it on your main site. Don’t tell anyone. Make sure it scales to your main site.


  • Video is good
  • Have a test site (don’t tell people about your test site)
  • XML Sitemaps – News/Video/Standard
  • Semantic mark up
  • HTML 5
  • UGC
  • Yahoo!/Bing


How do you get into Yahoo News?

Topher: it’s a little bit of voodoo

Brent: You have to be a part of the Yahoo Consortium or know someone

Susan Esparza is former managing editor at Bruce Clay Inc., and has written extensively for clients and internal publications. Along with Bruce Clay, she is co-author of the first edition of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies.

See Susan's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
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One Reply to “News Search Optimization — SES San Francisco”

Ehh. I still use Google. I’v tried Bing (Set it as Omnibar search and homepage) but when searching the results where not as easy to find and get through as Google. But at least it’s more publicity and stuff for MS.


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