SEO for Local News: Growth of Organic Traffic by 1500%, big advertisers and a multi-million grant

News niche is a bit different when it comes to SEO.

Why?

Because you almost don’t have an evergreen content. You have to put fresh articles constantly and do it quicker than your competitors.

But that’s not all about who is the fastest; it’s also about how you can diversify your traffic sources and manage the creation of evergreen content.

This project came to us with a very low traffic, tons of technical mistakes, but it had a team willing to put in the work and grow their website.

Let’s dive into details.

Initial Data

Domain age: 15 years
Niche: Local News
Work Time: Aug 19 – Apr 20
GEO: Primary region – Russia
Organic traffic: 19 000 visitors per month
Technical Optimization:
  • Slow load speed
  • Duplicated meta-tags
  • Poor UX
  • Issues with images markup
  • No redirect from HTTP to HTTPS version
  • Missing Schema markup
  • Images didn’t have alt tags at all
Content: News. A few number of evergreen articles.

Work Process

If you’ve already read some of my case studies you know that I’m a big proponent of Pareto Principle.

And this project is not an exception.

Here is what we’ve done together with the client.

Tech Part

The website is running on a custom CMS, but luckily for us a client has its own developer to fix issues and implement new features.

After analyzing website with a Netpeak Spider (awesome software for audits, highly recommended) I’ve decided to get rid of duplicated meta-tags, fix HTTPS redirect and images markup.

You can’t optimize thousands of pages manually. Of course, you can try, but that’s not the best idea 🙂

So, what’s the solution?

Right! Generating tags using templates.

For each news category we’ve created its own meta-tags templates, as well as for news itself.

After finalizing templates, developers implemented it and with a quite few work we’ve eliminated the whole duplicated meta-tags story.

What’s next?

Fixing HTTPS redirect isn’t such a big deal, so there is no point in detailed review of this process. So, we’re going directly to images.

Why is their markup important?

Because it influences how they’re indexed by Google and, with that said, how much additional traffic they can generate for your website.

At the moment we’ve started a website has images marked up as <div> tags with CSS background-image property.

This is a BIG NO!

If you want to get traffic from Google Images, of course.

This issue required a little bit more of a developer’s time, but he was a rather skillful guy and handled it with no problems.

Ah, I’ve almost forgotten to tell you one more thing about images. For all the news I decided to make an auto generation of an alt tag. If you want to get every bit of image potential you should always fill in the alt tag.

I’ll show you what all these did with the traffic, but in advance I can say that we’ve got x35 in Impressions and x16 in Clicks from Google Images.

The tech part didn’t end here.

We’ve done a lot of other things to improve UX of the website as well as its structure and internal linking to get the maximum out of internal website resources.

Maybe I’ll write a blog post about it, but now let’s go to the content part, which helped us dramatically increase profit and traffic.

Link Building

There is nothing special about link building for this project.

We’ve done a little bit of outreach and because of expert content we have a decent amount of natural backlinks.

Take a look at Ahrefs chart:

Ahrefs Referring Domains

Content is King

“What kind of evergreen content can we use?” – we asked ourselves.

Well, we’ve got a local news website, a bunch of journalists with access to the experts in almost every field…

We can use ANY!

Isn’t it cool?

That’s the beauty of a general niche website and access to the experts.

Now, after this “Eureka” moment we’d have to decide which topics we will cover.

And there are two main questions:

  1. What content will bring us maximum profit?
  2. What content will drive the maximum amount of high-profitable organic traffic?

The answer to both of these questions is the same.

YMYL.

Your Money or Your Life (aka YMYL) according to Google General Guidelines are some types of pages or topics that could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

See where I’m going?

Finance, health, law – these topics have the highest paying advertisers and the amount of traffic in these niches is off the charts.

Besides from a profit point I have my own obligation when it comes to such content.

You know, nowadays a lot of web content is produced by copywriters. That doesn’t mean it’s bad content, but…

Copywriters often don’t have specific education and definitely can’t be experts in every topic they cover.

In this case we have it all different.

Not only articles were written by professional journalists, all of them were produced with the help of real experts!

Real lawyers, experienced doctors, government officials; the list can go on and on.

These content not only to make us money, no.

It’s more than that.

Working on this project we’ve tried to bring as much value to the reader as possible. We’ve shed light in the darkest corners of the topics we were covering. Readers comments, telephone calls and emails with the words of appreciation of our work tells it all.

And when I look at traffic charts I can see that I’ve done a good job.

So, I’ve carried away a little bit.

The main topics we’ve decided to cover were:

  • Health
  • Finance
  • Law

We’ve conducted massive keyword research to find the “low hanging fruits” of these topics, created tons of instructions for the editorial team and we’ve started.

Our goal was to produce at least 7 articles per month, but we exceeded it and achieved a rate of 10 articles/months, which is quite good.

It took some time to adjust journalists’ work for SEO requirements, but all of them were willing to put in a work and we’ve figured out everything pretty quick.

Content and traffic are both great. But what about the profit?

I know that results are the most interesting part of it all.

“Show me the money” like Tom Cruise yelled in the film Jerry Maguire 😀

Results

At last we’re here.

The sweetest part of each case.

First of all let’s look at the traffic chart:

Search Engine Traffic

Looks awesome, isn’t it?

And it’s all-l-l-l from SEO. But, of course, “SEO is dead” 🙂

As I mentioned earlier, image optimization is important too. The chart says it all:

Organic Traffic for Images

With big traffic (and not meme-traffic, but rather expensive, convertible traffic) you get big advertisers.

So happened to us.

Such numbers were caught by a government organization, which led to multi-million rubles grant for promotion of one of its projects.

There is no point in saying that all investments in my work and the work of the client’s team returned in huge profits.

Not to mention multiple ad contracts with the biggest telecommunication company in the country!

This case is showing how using decent keyword research, versatile approach and experts for content production can bring you tons of profit.

As the famous quote says “Hard Work Pays Off”.

Feel free to ask any questions in a comment section or request your quote.

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