AiroAV Antivirus Affirm: Why News SEO Is Crucial to Publishers Covering the Coronavi... - Jonathan Cartu - Advertisement & Marketing Agency.
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AiroAV Antivirus Affirm: Why News SEO Is Crucial to Publishers Covering the Coronavi…

Greg Jarboe

AiroAV Antivirus Affirm: Why News SEO Is Crucial to Publishers Covering the Coronavi…

If you’re a publisher, you already know that news SEO is absolutely crucial.

You might have also learned that optimizing stories for Google News and Google universal search results is fairly difficult to do on the fly.

However, if you’re an SEO or PR professional, then you may not even realize just how useful press release SEO can be for your company or clients.

Well, I’ve just spent the last two weeks testing a news SEO tool called NewzDash that can help thousands of publishers – especially the ones that are covering a rapidly evolving news story like the Coronavirus pandemic.

NewzDash can also help hundreds of SEOs as well as scores of PR agencies and departments – if they can learn how to collaborate more closely at a time when most marketing professionals are trying to increase their social distance or work remotely.

So, first I’ll show you what NewzDash can do for 25,000 publishers in 15 countries to:

  • Discover the latest news trends.
  • Optimize their news stories.
  • Track their keyword rankings in near real-time.

Then, I’ll explain how SEO and PR professionals can use a news SEO tool, too.

Just How Crucial Is News Optimization to Publishers?

As I mentioned, publishers understand why optimizing stories for Google and Google News is crucial.

In September 2018, Megan Radogna wrote The ultimate referral guide to your audience, which reported that Google and Google News were sending 51.5% of the external referral traffic publishers in’s network, while Facebook was sending just 29%.

Referrer traffic to publishers

Also in 2018, a Searchmetrics whitepaper on universal search revealed that Top Stories (the News Carousel formerly known as the News box) were blended into Google’s SERPs for 11% of keywords on desktops and 9% of keywords on mobile devices.

And, according to a study of the impact of search features conducted by Perficient Digital and AuthorityLabs Data Services, which was updated on March 3, 2020, News Carousels have a 20% click-through rate.

popularity of search features

In other words, organic search traffic has become as essential to online publishers today as single-copy sales by “newsies” were to Joseph Pulitzer back in 1899.

This is why news SEO is as crucial to journalism in the early 21st century as banner headlines were in the late 19th century.

Which Publishers Are Benefitting the Most From News Search SEO?

Now, during the early days of news search SEO, the only tool available to help publishers and SEO professionals to track their rankings in Google News was called Newsknife.

It was a project of Industry Standard Computing Ltd (ISC), a software development organization based in New Zealand.

And, back in December 2010, I wrote in a post in Search Engine Watch entitled, “Newsknife Ranks Top News Sites and Journalists of Google News for 2010,” which reported that Newsknife had analyzed more than 161,000 listings by 5,859 news sites in the U.S. edition of Google News and created a list of Top News Sites for 2010. They were:

  • New York Times
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Reuters
  • Washington Post
  • The Associated Press
  • USA Today
  • CNN
  • ABC News
  • BBC News, U.K.

Although Newsknife disappeared from the market a few years later, it’s worth comparing their list of the Top News Sites in the U.S. a decade ago with one compiled by NewzDash last week.

NewzDash was created by John Shehata, who is now the vice president of audience development and SEO at Condé Nast, home to some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Vogue, The New Yorker, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Wired.

I met him in 2009, when he was Director of SEO & Social Media at Advance Internet, which included 13 local online news sites like

We were both speakers at a session on “News Search SEO” at Search Engine Strategies (SES) New York.

Later, Shehata became the Executive Director of Search and Social Media at Walt Disney Television, which included ABC News, ABC Entertainment, and Oscars.

That’s around the time that I met other panelists at similar sessions at SES London, SES Chicago, and SES San Francisco. This included:

  • Topher Kohan of CNN.
  • Matthew Brown of The New York Times.
  • Brent Payne of The Chicago Tribune.
  • Allison Fabella of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Brad Balfour of the Huffington Post.
  • Paul Roach of The Guardiana.
  • Julian Sambles of The Telegraph.
  • David Radicke, a consultant for Welt Online.

That’s how I know that their news organizations have been optimizing their stories for Google News for at least a decade.

Today, there are more than 50,000 publishers in 127 countries with local editions of Google News and NewzDash is working to collect data on 25,000 of these publishers in 15 key countries.

However, for my two-week test, the data that I was able to analyze was limited to the top publishers in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Belgium, France and Germany going back to October 1, 2019.

The complete data set is available for subscribers and not available to trial accounts, which is what I used.

Nevertheless, here are the top news publishers in the U.S. edition of Google News from October 1, 2019, to March 6, 2020:

Top news publishers in the US

As you can see, CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today, are still in the top 10 – just as they were a decade ago.

But, missing from the old top 10 list are the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and the Associated Press, ABC News, and BBC News U.K.

Things have shifted significantly since I last looked at a similar list of top news publishers in Google News a decade ago.

What happened to some of the news publishers that were optimizing their stories a decade ago?

Well, NewzDash provides a partial answer in its list of the top video news publishers in the U.S. edition of Google News from October 1, 2019, to March 6, 2020:

Top video news publishers in the US

As you can see, ABC News is #1, followed by CBS News at #2, Fox News at #3, and CNN at #4.

So, ABC News seems to have mastered video news SEO on YouTube.

In fact, YouTube would be the #1 domain in Google News by far, but NewzDash chooses not to show YouTube as a publisher, opting to show individual YouTube channels for a long list of…


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