In the aftermath of fake news and algorithm changes in platforms such as Google and Facebook, many publishers are now turning back to SEO to get their content in front of desired consumers. But with that shift, many are finding it’s a whole new playing field (see SEO Trends to Watch), especially with the rise in support for voice and AI.

There’s been a lot of buzz in the industry about this lately, so this month we thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the thinking and resources driving this trend.

Both Google and Facebook have realized the increasing dissatisfaction with their services, and publishers are finding new ways of working with them. Here are just a few examples:

  • Facebook’s “algorithmic kiss-off to news and magazine publishers” has driven a surge in adoption of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) formatting over the past several months, according to a Publishing Executive post. In fact, Google pushed 466 million more pageviews to publishers in February compared with a year earlier—mostly mobile and AMP-optimized—while Facebook views declined by 200 million in the same period.
  • And there are new SEO tricks to keep in mind, as “tactics like stuffing headlines with keywords and passing off old stories as new” doesn’t cut it with Google’s most recent updates, Digiday points out. Social swaps, whereby publishers link to each other’s content, is one way to gain favor with Google, which prioritizes posts others link to. Another shift in focus is time spent on articles. Previously, publishers would break up long stories into smaller pieces to drive more traffic. But now, longer articles are favored because Google gives stories that readers spend more time with a higher ranking. Also, because the HTTPS protocol protects users’ privacy, Google prioritizes those sites that have made the migration.
  • But all of this is not to say publishers should ignore social. As a Forbes contributor notes, there are ways publishers can optimize their content for FB’s new algorithm: 1) Post quality content that generates conversation, 2) don’t ask for likes, comments, or shares, as that’s seen as spam, 3) post quality live video, and 4) continue asking readers to follow you on your site.

As publishers turn to newer methods of working with platforms and SEO, they also need to account for more types of content, specifically voice. Here’s some of what we are following with respect to SEO and voice:

  • While Gartner predicts voice search will grow quickly, accounting for 30% of searches by 2020, it’s just emerging as a factor in optimization efforts today. Says Search Engine Land contributor Dave Davies: “The winners in the voice space will be those who pay close attention to the various devices that launch and how they are used.” That sounds simple, but there are many layers to voice search and the rules are constantly shifting. In a nutshell, he says, three things are needed to rank in voice search: 1) a strong domain, 2) quality content, and 3) content that’s divided into “easily digestible” pieces—with the latter being key.
  • More specifically, the Search Engine Watch list of 2018 SEO trends notes that with voice, there is now more focus on long-tail search keywords and natural language that matches the conversational tone of users. And as voice search increases, mobile optimization, particularly for local users, will become even more important.
  • Some PubExec articles offer media companies a starting point for forming voice strategies. To get their feet wet, publishers should begin with RSS and XML feeds and evaluate which platforms to develop for (Amazon, Google, or both). They also need to focus on building “skills” or “actions,” which are essentially ways of creating more personalized content and ways to access it.

The bottom line: Google, Facebook, and other platforms have been helpful to publishers in finding new ways to make content accessible, and in taking risks and learning where their audiences are. But now, it’s about taking back some of that control to own more of where and how content is consumed and staying ahead of technologies like voice and AI.

SEO is a wide and complex field, demanding expertise in current trends and technologies as well as constant learning as new ones emerge. Successful media organizations will be those that continue to take risks and can readily adapt their content to changing channel and consumption patterns. As always, solid content strategies, process, and underlying technologies make or break the game.

CEO Margot Knorr Mancini’s blog on content strategy shares valuable insights and observations from her experiences working with a broad range of clients in the publishing industry. Check out her other articles in our Content Strategy section. Have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to know more about? Drop us a note!

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.