In the 'golden-age' of print publications, newspapers and magazines had it easy. A newspaper was virtually assured of readership just by setting up shop in a city or large town—there might be local competitors but there were always plenty of readers to go around. Publications of any size to could find readers because they had direct access to its market: all it had to do was drop off a bundle of fresh editions at a newsstand or deliver a copy directly to a reader’s home.
Oh how the times have changed.
Imagine that aforementioned “newsstand.” In the past it would have been a small kiosk containing all the local papers and a selection of magazines. It created competition amongst publications, but it usually wasn’t all that fierce. Today, that newsstand is the first page of a search engine's results. Or it's a quick scroll through a Facebook or twitter feed.
And instead of a handful of local publications competing for your attention, there are now literally thousands, many of them reporting on the same exact stories. And they're all just a click away.
But only a select few of these online newspapers or magazines are ever going show up on your ‘virtual’ newsstand. And for publications that used to rely on a pre-existing body of readers simply because of physical proximity, that’s a very, very bad thing. Local newspapers and regional magazines are no longer the only mouthpieces for their communities. In fact, their voices are becoming increasingly hard to hear.
It's because the distribution model for online news has changed.
So how exactly can online newspapers and magazines survive in a digital world that no longer guarantees them a built-in audience? Well, one way is paying search engines for supported results or promoting a publications' stories on social media. But that’s something only publications with considerable financial flexibility—something that's rare these days— can realistically pursue as a distribution strategy. A small town newspaper or small market magazine would go bankrupt in a week promoting its stories on Twitter or Facebook.
Or they can try and charge their small readership with digital subscription models like paywalls and premium or "freemium" business models. But with so much quality content freely available, charging readers for access to online news is like practically gifting a large portion of your readership to another publication.
So are small papers and magazines doomed to be overshadowed by larger publications with the financial leeway to expand their digital reach, and slowly suffocate into oblivion? Not so fast.
There’s actually some pretty straightforward things a publication can do to improve visibility and attract readers, and do it without selling its soul (by handing over control to new owners with deep pockets) or by emptying the bank account (by buying visibility). It's something you’ve probably heard of over and over. It's something you might be sick of hearing about. It’s SEO.
To be more precise, it's properly optimized SEO. Some websites—regardless of what it's used for—have the content management infrastructure in place to harness powerful SEO practices. The failure to do so lies squarely on the site administrators.
Most websites though, haven't been properly developed to reach an elite level of SEO. Administrators can learn best SEO practices and attempt move forward despite technology limitations, but that's kind of like using a bucket to bail out ship slowly taking on water.
Properly optimized SEO begins with the right content management system, which after initial development costs, can provide a news publication with distrubtion tool that is powerful and free. And that makes initial development costs a small price to pay when compared to costly ad-campaigns and content sharing deals or the loss of market share because of subscription models.
These days, the vast majority of content management systems have the functionality to set up basic SEO tools—but that's part of the problem. See, that means nearly everyone has basic SEO infrastructure. And how exactly can you be "optimized" for search engines if every one else is too.
For a publication to stand out in a crowd and actually expand its reach and increase traffic, it needs more than just a random suite of basic SEO tools.
Here's where Drupal separates itself from the CMS pack. It offers all the basic SEO tools that every CMS uses, but it also has a wealth of additional add-ons in form of modules that turn a basic, run of the mill SEO set-up into a powerful, well-oiled SEO machine.
Drupal is open source—like many CMSs too— which means these SEO tools are free. Of course, unless you're a developer, you'll probably need to pay someone to build your website. So no it's not totally free. But then again, a publication is probably going to pay someone to develop its website anyway, so paying for proper SEO tools upfront turns the neat trick of turning two operational costs into only one.
XML Sitemap generates a dynamic sitemap built for search engines, adhering to the specification of sitemaps.org. It enables you to configure content types, taxonomy terms and more for intelligent crawls from search engines.
The Pathauto module is a staple of Drupal SEO, enabling keyword-rich paths for URLs. Enabling and utilizing Pathauto is double-value, ensuring search engines and site visitors may gather information on content through URLs.
The Page Title module provides the administrator with the ability to control individual nodes, setting content in the<title> tag. It's one of the single most important elements in a successful SEO campaign, and a vital module.
A vital download. SEO Checklist ensures you've dotted the i's and crossed the t's in your quest to be the best. The module doesn't actually enforce any function, but does provide a comprehensive checklist for on-site SEO, marking off each as you complete it. This can prove to be highly valuable for those who aren't so familiar with the logistics of SEO.
Building a web experience it is highly important to hire professionals that know what they are doing. Contact Vardot now and get a free quote and a detailed offer of an SEO-optimized good structured website.