A huge local trial was unfolding earlier this month in an upstate New York town and the newspaper that has owned the story from the start was not seeing its award-winning coverage show up at the top of Google search result pages.
The Daily Gazette, who we work with on digital content and subscription strategies, was covering the trial of Nauman Hussain. In October 2018, he was the operator of a limousine company that rented the vehicle involved in a crash that killed 20 people.
The paper covered every angle of this story but as the trial was winding down, they could see plenty of direct and social media referral traffic, but when it came to search, they weren’t winning like they wanted to.
What should they do?
We could see regional newspapers and TV stations and even national news sites who were covering the trial or aggregating coverage, were all ranking higher than the Daily Gazette in Google News searches.
We suggested they do the following:
1. Change the headline
We could see that the term Schohaire limo trial was driving a lot of the top searched stories. While the Gazette had that name in the headline, it was at the back of the headline. We suggested to start headlines out with keywords like this: Schoharie limo crash trial: And then the specifics on what happened.
We know that Google likes searchable terms for ongoing coverage (elections as an example) to lead headlines, so this seemed like a sensible approach.
We suggested looking at Google Trends each day to see what is trending and on that day we were looking, that term we suggested above, was a top query.
2. Link, link, link
Anytime there is anything ongoing, it’s critical to make sure your past coverage is being showcased via links in your story. One of the best ways to do this with a trial is to have a nice set of links at the bottom of your story with a header: Our ongoing coverage of the limo trial.
This approach gets specific keywords that are linked that Google can see, all showing your expertise, which is one of the key indicators that Google looks at when deciding what to index and show in search results.
3. Create unique URLs
The URL for their story that day was long and was the same as their headline. We know that Google likes custom URLs that are short, 50-60 characters is preferred.
We suggested they have a unique URL that has a few keywords from the trial in the headline.
Here is an example of what they did after our suggestion:
And as luck would have it, we had an SEO training session scheduled for the newsroom on the same day we received this query from their leadership team, wondering why this story was not appearing high in search. The timing couldn’t have been better.
So what happened?
The paper put several of the recommendations into practice that day and the next (which was when the limo driver was found guilty) and their search results really changed.
“Our digital team was able to immediately implement information that David covered in his SEO training and apply that knowledge to our coverage on a local story that was trending nationally,” said Erin Piihlaja, Director of Digital Media and Brand Strategy for The Gazette.
The results were positive, Erin said.
“We went from not appearing in the top search results for the story at all, to being ranked at or near the top for the remainder of our coverage,” she said.
Here is a screenshot that shows those results:
“David’s consulting was very helpful for both our seasoned SEO practitioners to our up-and-coming, less experienced teammates,” Erin said.
David Arkin Consulting would love to help your organization for their SEO strategies. Contact us today at email@example.com.