The Hidden Relationship Between SEO and Journalism

Nov 8, 2016SEO0 comments

What makes a website a good website for SEO?

The answer is constantly changing, as we’ve discussed before, which generally makes it difficult to have a high-ranking site. However, there are a few tricks that will make things easier as Google perfects its RankBrain learning algorithm. These tricks are found in the tradition of journalism, specifically in how reporters decide things are NEWSWORTHY.

What does newsworthy mean?

It’s essentially a formula that is used to determine whether or not a story is worth pursuing, and how quickly the article needs to be published.

How do journalists consider something newsworthy?

There are five factors that are used when making such decisions – there can be more than five depending on who you talk to, but let’s keep things simple.


  • Timely: The more current the news, the more relevant it is for people to be as up to date as possible. Events that happened a week ago are generally not on people’s minds.
  • Significance: How many people does a story affect? The larger the number, the more important it is that you can let them know.
  • Proximity: People like to know what’s going on in their communities. For that reason, newspapers in Denver are more likely to forego reporting on events in, for example, Texas or Wisconsin. However, communities are built by more than just location, so commonality of interests can often transcend physical borders.
  • Prominence: Let’s face it: readers like gossip. The more famous or important someone is, the more news coverage they’re going to get.
  • Human Interest: People are drawn to stories that make us consider the human condition, especially when there are obstacles to overcome.


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Depending on the scope of the story, most reporters want to satisfy at least three of the factors before even considering pitching it to their editor. Why? Because editors spend a great deal of time and effort making sure that their content is the most read by everyone. The more newsworthy a story, the more likely it is that people will want to read it.

Here’s where new developments in SEO come in:

RankBrain takes the algorithms we’ve grown to love and throws them into complicated formulas that change for almost every category of website. This new machine learning algorithm is considered Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), and it’s similar to what’s been used for email SPAM filters and Amazon Recommendations.

Now, Google still has their core algorithms, which we can continue to take advantage of. What RankBrain does is decide what mixture of those algorithms work best for each search result. That means that there are now standards for what constitutes a “good” website versus a “bad” website, and each site will fall into one or the other based on its classification.

Classification makes it sound like it’s going to continue to focus on keyword information, which it likely always will to some degree. But what is going to start changing is which content is the most important for searches and why. The more comparable a site is to what Google decides is the “best” of each category (shoes, books, contractor, health, etc.) website, the better its placement will be.

As a form of Artificial Intelligence, RankBrain is built to predict what people want to see in their searches. As it begins to think more and more like a human might, we can apply what we know about human behavior to SEO. One great way is by applying what is considered newsworthy to the content we put in our websites. Let’s break down how each category can work on its own to keep your site at the top.


Timely: One of the best ways to help your website is by keeping content fresh. This is why so many big-name companies keep either a blog or a “news” section on their website, especially those who provide services or products. When you’re constantly adding new content to your site, you’re able to show Google that you don’t have a static website just sitting there – instead you have a lively site that has people behind it ready to help their visitors.

Significance: This can be difficult for smaller businesses operating locally, but you can always reach more significant parts of your community. Sometimes that means expanding past your original demographic and appealing to a broader audience. Oftentimes language can do this for you. Overly technical writing, for example, may steer Google away from your site because a layman won’t understand it. You also want to clearly tell people why you’re the best at what you do – sometimes over and over on every page, but make sure you use a wide range of adjectives. This will help people find the “best”, “top-rated”, “reputable”, etc., businesses.

Proximity: This is SEO 101, but it will play a larger role in how search results are filtered, especially when people are on their phones. It may feel like it’s enough to have your address at the bottom of the page, but you also want to include your service area in each page’s content. Also be aware of continuing your community building in your social media. New communities are developing through social media keywords just as fast as they are through Google searches, so include the same keywords you use in your SEO in your posts as often as possible.

Prominence: Unless you’ve had famous people use your business, this may seem difficult. However, you can still create interest by proving how many people have loved your product or service. Testimonials and any positive rating you can find should be featured right on your website. They’re more than just words, they’re quickly becoming the best word of mouth that you don’t have to pay for.

Human Interest: Wait — how can a business make us consider the human condition? Easy: introduce people to your staff and share their stories. Mini biographies are a great way for customers to care who you are past your website. They’re also a great way to extend RankBrain’s search recognition. If someone remembers the name of the person who did work in their home, but not necessarily the company, they can search for the person’s name and the service provided.

Luckily, we’re fully prepared to help you create and maintain an SEO-effective website (and social media presence), even as RankBrain gets more advanced.


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