Custom News Feeds Can Give You a Fresh Set of Tools
SEMPO Circle Membership
In the past two weeks we increased our commitment to one of our industry’s largest trade associations, SEMPO, by stepping up our membership level from General Member to Circle Member. Making this investment was a natural next step in our growth and as an extension of Andy’s work as Chair of the Board of Directors of SEMPO’s Boston chapter.
Derek Covering SES San Jose
Derek was invited to cover the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose (week of Aug. 10 to Aug. 14) as a journalist on the aimClear team. This invitation is a nice recognition of Derek’s status as a respected search engine marketing professional in the community.
Webinar Recording Available: SEO & CMS
On August 5th Andy and Dave Crouch (from ten24) co-presented a Webinar titled “Getting Your Website to Deliver Satisfying SEO Results.“ The Webinar’s content was educational in nature and discussed elements of a Content Management System (CMS) that facilitate your SEO strategy.
The Webinar is now available, free, for everyone to watch and listen to – view Webinar.
Andy Joins SEMPO’s Speaker’s Bureau
Andy recently became a member of SEMPO’s Speaker’s Bureau. SEMPO’s Speakers Bureau is resource for those seeking qualified speakers to present search engine marketing topics. The Speakers Bureau contains profiles of SEMPO members only – people actively participating in the world of internet marketing.
Derek Moderating B2B Social Media Forum
On September 16, Derek will be a moderator at the Business Development Institute‘s B2B Social Communications event in New York City. His roundtable topic is - Tools and Tactics for Integrating Social Media Strategies into Everyday Business Activities.
The event details are:
8:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Graduate Center of The City University of NY
365 Fifth Avenue
(at 34th Street)
Conference Level C
New York, New York 10016
I offered the following benefit statement in that newsletter:
Search engines like to provide fresh content to users, the engines will crawl sites more often that have fresh content, Google increasingly integrates news stories into its main search results pages, and each story has unique content that will attract search visitors for relevant terms.
In following newsletters I discussed the process we were following to fully integrate the feeds into our website and off-site marketing efforts, and offered some brief data points about the success of our feeds.
The graphic below highlights how much share of site activity the News stories have acquired, and how that share has increased:
Below are the Top 20 Keywords that have driven traffic to our News stories from January 2009 through July 2009:
WAYS TO USE YOUR NEWS FEEDS
Here are some ways that you can use a custom/tailored news in your Internet marketing mix:
A well-structured News section can be used to generate traffic from Google News. Gaining inclusion in Google News is a manual process where you submit your main News page(s) to a human editor at Google.
In order to enhance your chances of being accepted into Google News you should consider the following elements:
- Each news story’s URL needs to contain a unique, 3-digit integer
- Add a Google News Site Map to your site (and provide a link to it with your submission)
- Include images with your stories
- Bring your freshest news stories onto your homepage
- Design your News Section’s primary page to look appealing to visitors
Inclusion in Google News will open up many opportunities for your stories to be picked up on other Web sites that bring in Google News content to keep their own sites fresh. Below is an example of one of our stories being picked up by one of our industry’s largest trade associations, SEMPO (via Google News):
Our custom news feed is not actually an RSS feed. The feed that comes to our site is something we use to publish to our own site only. You can create your own RSS feeds of the content that is published on your site. Make the feed available through an icon on your site, and find Web sites where you can submit your RSS feeds.
Social Media Conversations
Use your news stories as another piece of your Social Media Marketing strategy. In a conversational setting such as Twitter, highlight key elements of your (more interesting) news stories and provide a link. For example, if a news story mentions statistics, craft a Twitter update to appeal to people who would be interested in that material.
Bookmark your news stories in places like Delicious, Stumbleupon, Reddit, etc. However, in many bookmarking/news-sharing communities, over-promotion of your own content is not welcome, so be sparing on sites like Stumbleupon or Reddit. Custom news stories are not often useful on sites like Digg where the community is very particular about the “news worthiness” of submissions.
On pages that you “own”, like Facebook or Squidoo, you can use an RSS feed that you have created to publish your stories and keep those pages fresh.
If the company that provides your news stories is willing (and able), you can provide press releases to the news provider and they can format the release to be included in your feed. This is especially useful if you have been successful in getting inclusion in Google News.
Consider conserving some of your marketing/PR budget by adding press releases to your feed that you may not want to syndicate through traditional press release services.
Use individual news stories and your main News Section pages to acquire links from industry Web sites and other sites where the owners/administrators would find value in linking to the story or News Section.
In our feed we had Brafton set up a series of automatic rules to cross-link Keywords to other pages on our site. We provided Brafton with a set of Keywords and their associated cross-link destinations. The first instance of any of the words will link to the appropriate page.
By doing this we are giving search engines another means of crawling our site, finding the most-important pages, and giving the engines a keyword context for those pages.
BENEFITS OF NEWS FEEDS
Below are some of the benefits that a custom news feed can bring.
Enhanced Crawl Frequency
The pages that are frequently updated with links to your news stories will often be crawled more frequently by search engines. You can attempt to give the engines some direction in increasing that frequency by adding a frequency notation to any XML Site Maps you may have. Often search engines will find on their own that the pages change frequently and the engines will automatically increase the frequency of their crawl.
One benefit of increased crawl frequency is that any other changes you might make to a page to refresh your keyword ranking strategy will be picked up sooner than they might otherwise have been.
Each individual news story has the opportunity to be ranked in search engines for a variety of keywords.
However, one of the primary benefits comes when you have incorporated a cross-linking strategy and those target pages begin to gain increased “relevance” and “importance” in an engine. The ideal scenario is when those cross links begin to increase your keyword rankings for those target pages (and for the target keywords on those pages).
Traffic From 3rd-Party Web Sites
Any links you may acquire, either through your RSS feeds being picked up or through specific link building outreach, will drive additional traffic to your site. Enough said.
The entire goal of an Internet marketing strategy is to increase conversions. The additional traffic that a news feed brings to your site increases the number of opportunities for a conversion. With a well-crafted cross-link strategy your can attempt to point visitors to key conversion pages.
You can also use your news stories, and your News Section, to place promotional banners to increase the likelihood of visitors seeing your offers.
See below for the issues surrounding news content and conversions.
ISSUES WITH NEWS FEEDS
The two primary issues with custom news feeds are Quality and Conversions.
Custom news stories are inexpensive on a per-story basis. It is a great way to add content to a site at a low cost.
However, because the stories are brief and written with an eye to quantity, you may find that you have to monitor for quality – especially early on in the relationship with your content provider.
The ways to overcome this hurdle are to write a comprehensive (and clear) “editorial brief” at the outset of the process and to monitor the stories closely at the beginning to provide guidance to the authors/editors to help them craft stories in the way you would like to see them.
Gaining conversions from a news feed is often difficult. Many visitors coming to a news page are only looking for the specific information they searched for or saw a link to. They are not in the buying mindset.
As mentioned above, by using cross-linking and promotional banners you can increase the likelihood of gaining conversions.
In the end, if you are planning on incorporating a custom news feed, you may have to accept that the key benefits come through the SEO benefits to your entire site, and that the news content itself will not convert visitors into customers.