Audience Community of Practice: All things SEO

January 29, 2024

The Audience Community of Practice met in February to discuss all things SEO with Jessie Willms and Shelby Blackley of the WTF is SEO newsletter. Willms is also an SEO editor at The Guardian, and Blackley is also the manager of newsroom SEO for The Athletic.

There are a lot of current challenges with search algorithms that have yet to be solved, especially related to AI and misinformation. But Willms and Blackley believe it would be a disservice to your publication to not focus on SEO in some way or another. They shared two key suggestions for navigating all this volatility:

  • Focus on your homepage. The homepage is the destination to really show off who you are as a publication. It should communicate your priorities and expertise to the audience. The homepage’s goal isn’t just getting people to your website, but also making sure that they are having a great user experience – make sure CTAs make sense and that you have a balanced amount of push notifications and pop-ups. A good way to achieve this is by keeping your business priorities top of mind when designing a homepage’s structure and information hierarchy. The right strategies are all dependent on the specific site, so there is a lot of trial and error involved.  
  • Double down on the things that your outlet uniquely “owns.” Whether or not that has anything to do with SEO, the best push back to constant algorithm updates is having and nurturing a really strong relationship with your readers, specifically on the platforms that you own and operate. Identify the places where you have the best, strongest, and most direct relationships and think about the search terms that are driving your readers there. This can help with Google’s whims.

The two offered their thoughts on the tools they’ve found to be most useful. A basic analytics tool such as Google Trends’ extension Glimpse, can offer more granular data for free. Similar Web also does a good job of understanding traffic share and market share. Another option is Keyword Everywhere which is solid, interesting, and user friendly. Chartbeat and are pretty standard options in the industry for homepage analytics, and Chartbeat is incredible for tracking things such as how long people are spending on the homepage and what has the most clicks on the page.

If you’d like to receive more SEO wisdom from Jessie and Shelby, sign up for the WTF is SEO newsletter or join the Slack channel.

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