Along with blogging, a well-run news section is a great way of ensuring that a steady stream of new content is added to your website, bringing additional traffic to your site and giving the search engines plenty to crawl. It also shows you to be a source of relevant knowledge, demonstrating your expertise and interest in the area, making it a great way to enhance your brand. The principle is similar to retailers who produce their own free magazines (such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Boots) – it’s adding value to their customers, while subtly promoting them as a business.
To clarify, what I’m talking about is a section of your site dedicated to reporting on news stories that are relevant to your industry, as distinct from a section for storing your company press releases (though obviously it’s still good to have a separate page for these, to give journalists a helping hand).
For example, a travel site could have a “Travel News” section that would keep readers informed of things like forthcoming strike action and other things that might affect their travel plans, recent research on travel topics, changes in travel regulations, and so on. It could also report on things that may help encourage bookings, such as the Northern Lights being particularly strong this December.
In my last post I talked about Skyscanner’s Travel News and Features section as a great example of an engaging news section, with an entertaining mix of travel advice and topical news stories, with the example below being one of their recent stories.
Looking at other sectors, here are some other good examples of the kind of content I’m talking about:
A news section is a bit different from a blog, so if you wanted, you could have both without having any overlap of content. While a blog allows a greater degree of informality and a far wider variety of topics and formats, a news section should be more formal and impartial, with no room for the personal opinion of the writer.
Like a blog, adding a news section to your site provides fresh new content on a regular basis, and can be used to report on recent news for your industry, thereby capitalising on traffic for relevant ‘hot topics’. You might even be able to get your news stories featured in Google News, giving you an extra source of traffic.
To start with, where are good places to look for breaking news and other hot topics? Here are some suggestions.
If you have any you think should be on this list, let me know and I’ll update this post.
Here’s a summary of what you should and shouldn’t do with your news section.
If you do your news section well, you may be eligible to be featured in Google’s News results. It goes without saying that you can’t just submit any old site to Google News – Google wouldn’t be Google if it didn’t make things tricky for us, after all! Google offers some guidelines on the standards it expects from sites, with regard to quality and also the technical aspects that make your news stories easier for Google’s algorithm to crawl successfully. These guidelines are summarised below for ease of reference:
As you can see from the guidelines above, the Google News section isn’t suitable for all sites. The guidelines are also a reminder to maintain journalistic integrity and not to use your news section as a further promotional opportunity for your own products or services.
This is the link you need when you’re ready to submit your site.
One final tip: if you’re covering a story that’s rapidly evolving, keep updating the story on the same URL, rather than creating a new URL/story for each update to the situation. That way, you’ll gain SEO benefit from incoming links to a single strong page, rather than spreading links across several stories.
Hopefully these tips will have inspired you to create an interesting news section on your own site. If you need any further help or advice, do drop me a line.