From SMX- How SEO Can Win Over Editorial Staff

By Kaitlyn Smeland Dhanaliwala | Oct 10, 2008
More Articles by Kaitlyn


Just returning from SMX East, it’s back to work and catching up with clients.  But I’ve found one session topic from the conference has stuck with me.  On the panel designed to help in-house SEOs at newspapers and magazines, Ulli Muenker from Newsweek talked about her experience chipping away at the wall standing between the business and editorial sides of the publication in order to make SEO a success.

She had insightful observations about editorial staff and how to get them on board with an SEO program.  But I think many of these pointers can be just as usefully applied to certain agency clients.  At Search Mojo, we do work with a couple publications directly.  However, some non-publications present similar challenges; any company with creative branding content on site- or any company that puts out regular blog content- can be resistant to SEO efforts for similar reasons.  For example:

Common Concerns of “Editorial” Staff:

  • “Why should we have to change the way we write just for search engines?”
  • “Search engines will find us no matter what.”
  • “We have a strong brand- visitors will come on their own.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard these concerns from clients other than strictly publications.  It’s important to understand that these are legitimate concerns for people unfamiliar with how SEO works.  Part of the job is to educate.  Beyond education…

Ulli gives some good tips for working with these kinds of objections:

  • Win over high-level editorial staff and key influencers, educate them, and help them be SEO evangelists among their teams.
  • Appeal to a writer’s ego: Explain how a few SEO best practices can help them get more exposure for their articles.
  • Give them time.  Let them see the results others on their team get when they practice SEO.
  • Provide training, give recognition to those who are successful, introduce them to SEO metrics, and when possible suggest that bonuses or some other kind of incentive be tied to SEO results for individual authors.
  • Recognize that they are experts in editorial and you don’t want to change the way they write.
  • Compromise a bit.  Suggest the editorial writers keep the strategic keywords in mind when writing, but do not over-monitor this.  Instead, emphasize the search-friendliness of headlines, tags and descriptions, H2 subheadlines, and including keyword-rich link text.

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