10 tips for SEO from the New York Times

Christine Liang from The New York Times shares her latest tips and strategies for optimizing news for search. The tips will help you in the year 2021. News search has gotten more complicated. You need to stay up-to-date with the best practices in news search engine optimization.

Christine Liang, the SEO director for The New York Times, brought solutions at the 2021 News and Editorial SEO Summit by giving a presentation about editorial SEO. “The news space is intricate,” Liang pointed out. “Top Stories, Google News, domestic and worldwide algorithms—there are just so many of them. It may be quite daunting.”

She went on to clarify that, “I am not here to complicate things.”

Liang shared some news SEO tactics that The New York Times and other major publications like it employ to improve content visibility in search. Here are ten ideas you can use on your own website.


New York Times
New York Times


1. Keyword Research: Search Intent Is Your Focus

The 600 publishing and marketing professionals at NESS were told to begin their keyword research with Google's autocomplete option by Liang. “Analyze the many types of search results that appear for your term,” she advised.

Consider the following questions:

What are the main themes that searchers are discussing?

How are other business owners coping with the problem?

What kinds of content are being discussed in relation to the subject?

“Doing your research will assist you in determining the keyword and search intent,” she explained. Liang also advised using Google Trends to assess keyword interest.“ Look at different timeframes to understand the search demand for a subject.

She also stressed the importance of visiting “downstream pages on your site for breakout keywords and determining whether a popular topic has demand.”


2. Craft Compelling Headlines

“One of the most significant ranking criteria is the SEO headline (title tag). Keywords in the headline indicate to users and Google what your content is about.” She suggested performing the following tasks:

Make it as short as possible (no more than 65 characters).

Place the most important keywords in the front of your content.

Make it interesting! SEO headlines don't have to be dull.

Liang said it was a good idea to make headlines new with information and keywords. “Updating headlines is a wonderful method to guarantee that the reader receives the most current news,” she added.  It's an indicator of freshness – it tells Google to recrawl since there's new information.”

“Make it a quality update: integrate headline changes with other sorts of updates, such as an image change or increased body content,” she advised.


3.URLs should contain keywords.

He urged news publishers to include primary keywords in their URLs. "A website URL's keyword usage has some ranking significance," she informed. "It primarily informs users what the webpage is about," she said.

She also advised categorizing URLs. “In Google's search results, URL paths are regarded as a breadcrumb. This is an indication of your site's hierarchy.”

“Fill out the most appropriate category that will help you develop categorical authority,” she advised.


5. Include Pictures and Videos in Your Website

During visually leaning segments, Lai also encourages the use of visual content. “Allow people to make their own decisions! Not everyone that comes to your story is looking for a text-based approach. “Today, there are numerous ways for people to understand the content they are looking at. Images and videos offer another method for audiences to engage with the material.”

More photos would increase click-through rates (CTR) and engagement, according to Liang. “Pay attention to the competition's photos,” she advised. “A compelling image might be the deciding factor for a user to click through to your story rather than stories from competitors. As a result, keep an eye on what your rivals are up to.”

By adding videos, Liang encouraged attendees to improve ranking signals and interaction by participating in video sessions. She said, “When it comes to live events, Google prioritizes video in search results,” and added, “Include snippets when appropriate.”


6. Connect Internal Pages to Each Other

“Internal connections are links that connect one page to another on your site,” she said. They provide structure to the site by linking pages together, pass page value from one to the next, and assist users in navigating. “Link related sites to boost page authority and relevance,” she stated.

In terms of increasing discoverability and crawling, as well as improving internal link visibility, Liang suggested that adding internal links would be beneficial. “Link to important stories from relevant content.” “Use keyword-targeted anchor text to signify to Google what the connected page is about.”

“The homepage is a great page to link out from,” 


6.Prioritize the speed of publishing

“Being first to publish a story has certain advantages,” said Liang. “Your story attracts clicks, backlinks, shares, and social buzz before your competition – resulting in ranking benefits.” But Liang also advised spreading out your postings.

She added, “Google praises new, high-quality content and promotes the most relevant news in Top Stories. So don't give it all away at once!” “Make the most important facts first,” she advised. Then update with new content (around 50-100 words) after you've published everything essential. ”


7.It's also best to keep the timestamp current.

Liang also offered some more advanced recommendations for news SEO in addition to the six basic ones. She suggested refreshing the timestamp, for example.

“The timestamps in Top Stories are important. A current timestamp attracts readers. It informs users that the stories are more recent, indicating they are fresher.”


8.Over time, increase the authority of your website.

Finally, Liang encouraged NESS participants to gain expertise on a topic over time. 


9.Prepare as much ahead of time as possible.

Prepare as much ahead of time as possible, according to another sophisticated suggestion: Prepare as much in advance as feasible. 


10.Create Playbooks For The Following News Event

Finally, Liang suggested creating playbooks to enable you to plan for the next new occurrence. Ask yourself this question for a planned event, such as the Winter Olympics: 

When should I go live? 

What were the most effective formats?

What worked for your competitors?

"SEO is more than just keywords," says Liang. "It's all about quality, freshness, user experience, structure, technology, research and process." This implies that staying up to speed on the most recent search tactics is more essential than ever before. Because news search has gotten increasingly advanced, and continues to develop, this is especially true.