Thoughts from our speakers: Frank Gosch on six steps to good SEO

In the final two weeks before news:rewired we’ll be publishing some thoughts from our speakers on the subject of their session. We asked Frank Gosch, Global SEO Lead at Microsoft for MSN, about SEO and how it functions beyond the editorial effort.

Frank’s session:

A: Search optimisation for business-to-business and specialist media

  • Following on from news:rewired – the nouveau niche, how can journalists and publishers maximise the impact of their specialist material and news for search engines?

With: James Lowery, head of SEO, Latitude; Malcolm Coles, director, Digital Sparkle; Frank Gosch, global SEO lead, Microsoft.

A successful SEO setup requires more than editorial effort.

There are six major areas that every site should work on in order to provide the best search performance:

  1. Crawlability describes how easy or difficult it is for a crawler to access and index the content of a site. Features to improve crawlability are for example: robots.txt, XML sitemaps, redirection management, 404 handling, duplicate content issues, RSS management or rich media experience. A good crawlability is essential in order to get indexed by the search engines. Most of the features are supposed to be enabled by engineering but managed or requested by editorial/business.
  2. On-page technical describes how SEO compliant is the actual source code of the pages is plus how much it enables editors to make editorial changes. This would for example include that development has to include a title tag but at the same time make it editable for an editor.
  3. On-page editorial describes the content on the page. This includes the proper keyword research of editors and the right usage of the keywords in order to improve SEO compliance (e.g. usage of targeted keyword at the beginning of the title or keyword density).
  4. Content Strategy describes what kind of content a site is actually publishing. Keyword research is part of this as well as to identify the right content for the targeted user group. On-page editorial should reflect the content strategy.
  5. Internal link building includes the internal link structure of the site and the anchor texts that are used. Good internal link building will improve crawlability and user experience. Internal link building should be a 100 per cent in control of the publishers.
  6. External link building is probably the most important tactic to improve SEO performance. At the same time it is the most time consuming one. There are various strategies to drive external link building and every site should identify what is the most appropriate way for them. In general you could say that a search engine policy compliant link building strategy will require more editorial and less development resources.

In order to perform well on SEO a website has to look into all of those mentioned points. The details vary from site to site and CMS to CMS. Some of those tactics are more in the influence of editorial, others are of engineering. However, there are certain best practices that should be followed by all site owners. It doesn’t make sense just to focus on one of the tactics. They are all depending on each other. A site can publish the greatest and most unique content but if search engines are not able to find it or to analyze it, it will hardly show up in the search results for the targeted keywords. A simplified view of it could look like this:

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