Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Google News SEO Tips for Mathrubhumi English News Website

Cross posted from www.nikhilraj.com

I am a regular reader of Malayalam daily “Mathrubhumi”. Recently one thing caught my attention. Have I ever seen their news website appearing on Google when I search for regional(Kerala) news. Ha..! Never..! Have you?

Hmm Have you guys ever seen a regional newspaper’s website appearing when you search for kerala related news. Which one?

I searched for “bus strike Kerala September” and I got this. There are no regional news sites in the result. Click on the image to zoom.
kerala bus strike september

It’s time to take a deeper look into what’s wrong with my study website – Mathrubhumi. Let’s catch something..!

Here is a comparison of search engine traffic for mathrubhumi.com and manoramaonline.com

Search engine traffic for mathrubhumi and manorama online

Yeah! We have some real competition. Hope this report will help Mathrubhumi to achieve better impressions and clicks from Google.

To make things easier, I selected the English version at http://www.mathrubhumi.com/english/

Mathrubhumi English Latest Kerala News

The top menu urls are dynamic. For eg; clicking on the menu link Kerala returned http://www.mathrubhumi.com/english/liststory.php?sub=14 which is not search engine friendly. The url alone doesn’t provide any information to the user or search engines.

It should have been http://www.mathrubhumi.com/english/kerala based on the current site architecture. Anyone will understand what this page will contain by looking at the custom url.

Lets take an individual news post

The page title tag is Mathrubhumi English – Come clean on US observatory in Kerala, demands Achuthanandan

The most important factors in SEO that has direct impact on rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs) are Title tag and URL.

The title tag can have a length of 69 characters. Search engines will truncate the title tag beyond this limit on their result pages. So the most important keywords should be placed to the extreme left.

Truncated Title Tag Mathrubhumi

The current title tag for news posts is Mathrubhumi English – News Title. Placing the brand name to the left decreases the chance of top rankings for news posts. Thus for news posts the title can be rearranged as News Title | Mathrubhumi English

So for this post title will be Come clean on US observatory in Kerala, demands Achuthanandan | Mathrubhumi English. Even though the title tag has more than 69 characters, only the brand name in the title will be truncated and not the news title. Title tag problem solved!

Now the URL structure. URLs that contain keywords will rank better.

This can also be solved by rewriting the URLs to the form www.mathrubhumi.com/english/NewsTitle-storyid

Thus the SE friendly URL for this post is http://www.mathrubhumi.com/english/come-clean-on-us-observatory-in-kerala-demands-achuthanandan-128266

Why the story id? It is used to tell Google that this is not a static page but an article. This is important for URLs in news websites.

I tried to find out their CMS, but failed!

There is Meta description tag which is a short description of the webpage around 160 characters. Search engines displays it on their result pages. It doesn’t affect rankings but can improve the CTR as search engines will highlight the keywords on the meta description to help the user.

The meta description for this post is mathrubhumi, kerala, news, Come clean on US observatory in Kerala, demands Achuthanandan

Looks ok. But I would recommend using a short summary of the news post as the meta description like the one below:

Come clean on the proposed neutrino observatory coming up in the Kerala’s Idukki district and contiguous Theni in Tamil Nadu, demands Achuthanandan.

Now lets talk about Google News SEO for Mathrubhumi.com.

The content should be fresh and original. We are talking about news here. So speed of delivery/publishing also matters. Hmm, also don’t forget to check your spelling..!

Optimizing images in News posts are also an important factor. The particular post I have mentioned here has no image. Here is one you can use V.S. Achuthanandan’s smiling face!!

V.S.Achuthanandan smiling

The main image should be placed near the News Title. The image should be non-clickable.

The image alt text is a ranking factor. Use it for adding keywords. Also provide a small caption for the image. Google recommends using JPEG images. (Shh..My site has lots of PNG images)

Here is an example from Times of India

Times of India has a great News SEO

The best place to put the date of the news post is between the title and the body.

And now the Most Important Factor to let Google know that Mathrubhumi is a news website is by uploading a News Sitemap. The News Sitemap should be updated each time a new post is published. This can be done using programming/softwares. It also helps the Google bot to know the date of publication. Don’t forget to put the sitemap url in your robots.txt.

News Sitemap of BBC

Updating the news sitemap frequently helps Google to know about recent posts.

If Mathrubhumi can follow these tips how will they benefit? Ha..Just visit the site man..It’s Adsense! More clicks. More money.

Just being funny! Hope this will help the Mathrubhumi news site to be more SE friendly.

Here is an official video from Google about News SEO.


Also don’t forget social. Lots of sharing activities for news articles happening now. You can implement open graph tags for Facebook.

Thanks for reading! If you have any tips on Google News SEO or if I missed something or posted wrong information please add as a comment.

Google News SEO Tips for Mathrubhumi English News Website