We hear all the time from publishers – “We are the foremost authority in this area of expertise, and we publish tons of excellent and highly credible content, but we can’t find any of it on Google? What are we doing wrong?”
We have recently been honing in on the most important marketing aspects for magazines, including the importance of branding and how social media is used to drive awareness and engagement. There is a third aspect to your marketing strategy which may be the most important of all – Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO), is a process you’ll employ on an ongoing basis to ensure your work is found on Google search results.
Print magazines have struggled in recent years. Those who have continued to have success have done so because they have become competitive in the digital domain. While print magazine subscriptions have fallen off sharply in recent years, digital subscriptions have grown. People still want to read your magazine; they just want to read it online. In addition, they want to read your article because it has interest to them but they may not want to read the entire magazine.
This requires not only a shift in how content is marketed to the reader but how revenue is obtained as well. With most of its revenue derived from advertising, the traditional task of the average magazine is to deliver eyeballs to ads. The obvious metric for success in this mission is to deliver as many eyeballs as possible (with a “large and growing visitor base”).
Profitability relies heavily on marketing expertise, opening new markets and expanding reach via all relevant digital channels.
Publications are revamping their websites to accommodate this trend and optimizing their business models to reflect the shift to readership on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. That is great to see, but it is not enough to just be in the game. The magazine business is transitioning from a print-based industry to one which distributes content on multiple platforms, so subscriber and new visitor growth is critical. Consistent growth requires that the actual content work is done differently, as well as the marketing function.
For content to work in the digital space, it must be optimized for social media and for online searches. The content must market itself by being available digitally and by being easily searchable. This requires editorial teams to understand Search Engine Optimization and to create content that is aligned with keyword and topic search volume data.
This new rich media content must come from and go to a variety of platforms. By employing keyword optimization into the content, it becomes easier to find when readers search for content in which they have interest. Over time, this leads to greater readership and a higher ranking in the search engines.
In layman’s terms, this simply means that you want to choose words that are searched frequently in regard to the kind of information you provide, and then include those words in your content. Readers will look for content based on these magic words and find your articles. Over time, if your work becomes reliable in terms of providing the information searched for, you gain a higher ranking in the search engine results. The goal is to be on the first page of a Google search for your particular keyword.
Much research has been done on what words and phrases are most commonly searched in every imaginable category. However, this information is constantly changing, so the advice you receive from experts will constantly change as well. The truth is that keyword optimization is as much art as science, so there will always be a wide range of opinions as to what you should be doing. It is a tough job to stay ahead of this curve because what works today might not work tomorrow, so you always have to be learning.
A “defensive” (on page) approach (mostly using technical SEO behind the scenes) is a vitally important fundamental first step. This technique will get you started toward increasing your content’s rank in the search engines. However, the long-term strategy includes teaching editorial teams how to incorporate ongoing, purpose-driven SEO into their workflow. This is how your magazine evolves into naturally creating content that is both reader-friendly and search-engine friendly.
In the next blog we’ll delve into this concept more thoroughly. Meanwhile, if you have questions or would like to learn more about incorporating SEO into your workflow, give us a call. Our Director of Digital at K9 strategy+design – Richard Carmichael – is happy to help.
Don’t let your great content sit there. Figure out how to get it found and those engines working for you.
Norm is Creative Director and founder of K9 strategy+design and has 25 years of experience directing, strategizing and designing for publishing clients such as Rogers, Ski Canada Magazine, Alternatives Journal, Homes & Cottages Magazine and Metro News. Over the years, Norm has also assisted TELUS, Bell, Sirius, BMO Nesbitt Burns, American Express and countless entrepreneurial, professional and non-profit clients with their branding and communications opportunities.