As Cisco’s public online newsroom, News@Cisco is a highly trafficked, content-rich site that – like almost every other news provider – is facing an increasingly fragmented audience. Potential visitors have more options for content than ever before, and they’re being diverted into news and social media channels like Google News, Facebook and Twitter.
In such an environment, it’s essential that audiences are able to find your content when they search for it, which means it has to appear in the first few results for a particular search term or phrase. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of improving visibility of your web pages via natural, or unpaid, search – is a key tool for achieving this goal.
How do you accomplish this? There are whole books, websites and blogs devoted to SEO, but a few basics we’ve learned include:
• Create quality content that is rich in relevant keywords and phrases. Try to use these keywords/phrases in titles, headlines, descriptions and a few times in the content. This holds true for video, too.
• Provide relevant links. In our case, we link to relevant Cisco.com pages whenever possible.
• Link wisely. Use descriptive phrases or words for the link rather than “click here” or “read more.”
• Inbound links to your web page improve its performance in search. Share your content via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other online outlets and allow your site visitors to do so as well using apps like ShareThis or AddThis.
To improve SEO for News@Cisco, we combined new technologies, processes and training to make it easier for our PR and news teams to create searchable press releases, feature articles and other content. Some of the specific tactics included:
• Building an online Search Dashboard tool to provide access to almost 3,000 keywords for the PR staff and content producers. This replaced multiple spreadsheets.
• Developing an SEO Wizard and integrating it into the press release approval process to optimize all of Cisco’s press releases. The SEO Wizard analyzes a release, and when necessary, offers feedback on how to better optimize it.
• Developing training (videos and webinars) to get the PR teams and writers quickly onboard with the new SEO processes.
• Allowing stakeholders to suggest new keywords and preferred landing pages to be added to the Search Dashboard.
• Building reporting tools to analyze SEO usage and report back to PR teams to help them improve performance.
The result? Search engine optimization in releases and features increased from 10 to 75 percent. Page rankings rose for Cisco.com’s preferred landing pages. And the average number of visitors per feature article climbed 50 percent.
The project, a collaborative effort by the Social Media Communications Team and Cisco.com’s SEO team also won us some recognition – a first place win in the 2010 PR News Digital Awards. Cisco also received six honorable mentions in a number of categories, including use of Facebook, podcast/videocast and viral campaign (for the “I am the World’s Most Interesting Intern” series).
To learn more about the PR News Digital Awards and see a full list of winners, go here: http://www.prnewsonline.com/digitalpr2010/.