Monetizing Newspapers Online: The Need for ‘Newspaper SEO’

With the announcement by the New York Times that they will be moving their online newspaper from a subscription service to a free access format we have seen all but one of the nation’s most important newspapers move to free access online.

This shift is ostensibly because these publications will be able to generate more profit from delivering ads and garnering visits from search than they do through the subscription service. In order to be successful with this strategy these papers, and indeed all news services, will need to beef up their search engine optimization.

There are so many newspapers available and it is such a specific niche that it should have it’s own name: Newspaper SEO.
newspaper search engine optimziation
Newspaper SEO shouldn’t focus on just the dynamics that generate high volumes of traffic from search, but how to ensure that the traffic generated is likely to convert to a click or a sale. This is a challenging question.

It is clear that certain sections of the newspaper will have a close connection between ads and offers and that search visits generated through newspaper SEO activities should focus on these sections. For instance the style section will likely convert ads for clothing or jewelry, while the sports section will fit nicely into people’s activity interests.

On the other hand approaching general news in this fashion is difficult. After all, what do you try to sell to someone when they are reading about the latest outbreak of bird flu or another international crisis? One method of newspaper online marketing is to use past preferences to determine future ads and what type of content to direct visitors towards. For instance if someone recently looked at the Auto section an effective newspaper internet marketing campaign would display ads for cars or auto shopping websites.

SEO services for newspapers could also dictate what headlines get shown to each visitor. Newspaper online marketing can be used to direct a visitor down the path of most likely conversion. If someone searched for “Chinese mine accident,” for example, they could be taken to the story through a search engine like Google. While on the story page they could be offered other stories, including one from sports, entertainment, fashion & style, travel, and a smattering of world news. In addition they could be shown an ad for a car.

Then, depending on their choice from that page, additional variations would be shown, all the while attempting to narrow down their preferences until a clear picture emerges and choices that will result in a high conversion rate can be presented to the user.

Furthermore, newspaper internet marketing would focus on the need to adjust marketing to the times and find ways to add more revenue streams to newspaper websites.

There are a multitude of mechanisms through which additional revenue can be generated online. Most will involve coordinating the topics searched for with page content and offers to generate sales for other businesses, combining the best of old and new technology. Like the original newspaper model, most revenue will be generated through advertising, and like search marketing, that advertising can be highly targeted and thoroughly tested to develop the highest possible revenue for the newspaper online.

Another powerful method of online newspaper marketing is the development of segmented user lists. The following methods can help newspapers maximize their online revenue:

1. Forced account sign-up for access to general news – this is news that one cannot attach a direct correlation to in terms of ad delivery. This will allow a newspaper to more thoroughly track user preferences in order to deliver more highly targeted ads. Additionally this allows the newspaper to capture an email to market to.

2. Use cookies to track users both logged in and anonymous

3. Deliver targeted ads on content pages and through email blasts

4. Develop RSS feeds that update regularly and deliver ads inside the RSS feeds (this is small but growing form of online marketing). The newspaper could also force an email sign up to enable an RSS feed.

5. Develop a dynamic web browser toolbar link listing most current stories and make this link configurable so that users can choose which type of news links they want to see. In this way the newspaper will instantly be collecting self-selecting information about users.

There are too many great ways to improve the monetization of newspapers online to go over all of them here. Much of the optimization will involve Newspaper SEO, and the rest will involve orienting the newspaper to function like a lean and mean website, a place where the publisher squeezes every last dime out of each user interaction. Some may think this is a cynical view of how to run a newspaper, on the contrary this is a treatise on SEO and website monetization designed to help newspapers survive their struggles and come out as successful institutions.

As ad money has moved from print to online, newspapers have suffered and have not competed effectively for ad dollars online, with the model suggested above for newspaper SEO and newspaper website monetization, newspapers can turn this trend around quickly and become some of the most profitable websites on the block.