SEO, texting and reader engagement ideas for your 2024 election coverage

By: David Arkin
February 13, 2024
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We’re definitely moving into heavy election season with more and more primaries on the horizon and conversation in many newsrooms is heading toward how to cover what promises to be an interesting cycle. Even if your primary is at the end of the list (like the summer), it’s worth dedicating some time to how you’re going to approach the coverage and strategies you should start working on now to be there for your audience, who very likely already have questions.

I was visiting a client last week whose primary is not until June, but they are already starting to create content and are doing keyword research in hopes of winning the local SEO battle when those local searches really start taking off.

In this newsletter, I’m going to provide you with four actionable ideas you can do this primary season around reader engagement and SEO that are proven winners.

1. Do keyword research now for your page/election site

It’s a good idea right now — even if your primary is still a month or two away — to do some keyword research for your primary page. Tools like SEMRush and Answer The Public can provide you guidance on how to structure the URL and the meta description for the page.

Tip:Google will start indexing sections and content, even months in advance of an event, so if you are first to the market with the right keywords and most importantly, high-quality content, you have a much better chance of winning the Google game.

2. Use those keywords to build a content plan

The great thing about keyword research is that it will tell you more than just how to optimize your page and content, but can provide some insights into what your audience might be looking for.

Check out this simple Google search dropdown I did this week that showed what readers were looking for around the Texas Primary.

If I was an editor in Texas, I would create stories around key primary dates (registration, when the primary is), a ballot story featuring a list of the candidates, a list of polling stations and probably a breakout on results from past primaries.

This chart below which is from Question DB does a nice job of providing even more ideas around what readers might be looking for. Combine all of these data sets together to figure out all of the right things to build your content plan around.

3. Make it easy for readers to get answers

The Texas Tribune has built this very useful Help Desk that allows readers to text in their questions. My guess is that The Tribune will use this approach to also communicate updates and ask their audience what questions they have.

Subtextis a great tool to use if you want to consider how you can add a texting component to your coverage. Yes, many use notifications through an app to get information out, but that is a one-way communication. Subtext is very different as it is a two-relationship and the audience feels very much a part of what you are doing.

Tip: If you head down this path providing answers to readers, it’s a great idea to have a form in election-related stories asking readers what additional questions they have. The Tribune has this nice page and form set up that you could duplicate in your coverage.

4. Explain your processes to your audience

Readers have a lot of opinions on the decisions media companies make about election coverage and some of them are just very inaccurate.

It’s because we have not done a great job explaining it all to readers. Trusting Newsis such a good resource when it comes to best practices media companies can use to be transparent with their audience on how they do their work and why.

This is a nice guidethey created that shows you how to create an FAQ to your readers on how you cover the election. The goal here should be to make this more than just a promotion to follow your coverage online the night of a primary but rather how you make decisions around endorsements, profiles you do on candidates and general coverage.

David Arkin Consulting specializes in helping media companies develop content plans and optimize their content for areas like election coverage. Contact us today at david@davidarkinconsulting.com to find out how we can help you.

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