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Search Engine Optimization Best Practices: News@Cisco Case Study

October 22, 2010 - 12 Comments

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 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’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’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:

As for SEO, we’ve only scratched the surface in this post. For more information, try one  our favorite SEO sites:,, and

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  1. Thank you for the post, was a real lesson for me seo.

  2. Great article, I totally agree that content is everything. Working on SEO without excellent content is a complete waste of time.

    Happy new year


  3. Terrific post. Five stars for you for writting it.

    Yours truly,

  4. I really loved this post. You describe this topic very well. Optimized content will help drive your site’s credibility and link building will add page rank to improve your placement on search results pages. Existing web sites in all industry segments will benefit from optimization, driving more traffic through organic placement and links.

  5. Content is King, but Linking is Queen !

  6. Excellent summary of the essential components of SEO. I would mention that patience is required as a new site may take months before the effort pays off and is noticeable in Google. Some have questioned whether there is a “sandbox” where new sites are analyzed and monitored before they actually start to be placed in SERP.

  7. I love SEO, it’s a great tool to use if you want to get your website popular, regardless of niche. It’s one of the few things in this world where the payout is commensurate with the work put in. I also really like this article, it has some really good tips that I nodded my head in agreement with when I read them. The tip titled link wisely, that’s the one that caught me by surprise despite it being so obvious an answer. I’ve alerted my staff and we’re about to re-work the site appropriately yet again.

  8. give the best ………..

  9. This is some very sound advice for everyone to follow. At the end of the day – content is king and without good, unique content, nobody is going to interact with your product or services.

    Another useful tip is to check your url structure to make sure that the content you are adding to your website is easily findable by users and search engines alike. We’ve written a small guide to url structure on our website that might help people out in this area: url structure best practise. Hope it proves useful.

  10. The four SEO basics you list above are on the money, as are the four favorite SEO resource sites. I’m also impressed by the new technologies, processes and training you are using. Content creation has become more democratized – inside and outside the organization. The tools and processes you are using take advantage of this.

    Because building inbound links is really the most important part of any SEO strategy, to your four basics I would add commenting and interacting on other authoritative websites and blogs. Is building inbound links part of the tools and training you use?

  11. Thanks for this interesting case.

    Congratulations with the award, I also noticed your PR moving from 7 to 8 !
    Keep up the good work.