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8 Secrets From Popular Blogs

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8 Secrets From Popular Blogs

How do you get more traffic to your blog or website? There are plenty of ways to increase web traffic, but some methods are better than others.

If you look at popular blogs, you can see what they are doing right, providing insight into different strategies or tactics you can take for your content strategy.

Now let’s break down the eight ways you can increase website traffic with insights from popular blogs and brands:

1. Get The Story First

Business Insider is one of the world’s fastest-growing financial, media, and tech blogs.

As it generates more than 49 million website visitors per month, there’s no doubt there’s some golden knowledge to uncover about its content strategy.

The key takeaway from this high-performing website include:

Creating Great Digital Content Fast

The news site was before its time because it focused primarily on digital content from the beginning. Not print content. Not broadcasting content.

They knew where their target audience was heading and got ahead of the curve.

Today, the need to create digital content is a no-brainer. So, what makes their existing content strategy different?

Timeliness

Business Insider always gets the inside scoop first. They stay ahead of the latest news stories, constantly chase leads, and update their articles with new facts as quickly as possible.

They don’t thrive on evergreen content, and that works for them. Instead, they aim to get the story first, attract the first clicks, and circulate trending content quickly.

This means that you, too, can have an ever-present content strategy by creating timely content and circulating it to the right platforms.

While having evergreen content is fantastic, there’s something to be said for creating fresh, “trending” content.

That’s because users not only look for answers to age-old questions but also for content relevant to what’s happening worldwide.

2. Publish With Purpose

Arianna Huffington’s namesake blog, Huffington Post or HuffPost, was never meant to be a business. Yet, since its start in 2005, the site quickly climbed the ranks to being one of the most popular blogs in the world.

The Huffington Post has become a massive success in web traffic and notoriety – bringing in thousands of daily visitors and becoming a household name as a political blog.

So, what made Huffington Post a traffic success? They publish with a purpose.

The Huffington Post originally started as a political news site to inform the public about critical global issues. It was the founder’s direct response to the corporate-controlled, money-hungry news sites. This resonated with people.

Finally, a website offered unbiased news stories and opinion pieces from both sides of the aisle. It fulfilled the public’s need for honest and raw political dialogue.

Avoiding Burnout

The Huffington Post’s shift from purpose to profit is a somewhat cautionary tale. Burnout is inevitable if you lose track of what value you aim to provide your audience.

Huffington experienced this when her site quickly grew far beyond what she originally envisioned. It became too much of a business.

Many content creators get into this predicament.

They create content focused on keywords, conversion rates, and click costs. But unfortunately, they forget that traffic and conversions are often proportional to the amount of interest their audience has in the content.

Before you create content, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I asked my audience directly what they are interested in reading?
  • Do I know their pain points, fears, needs, and desires?
  • Do I have the data to support this, or am I assuming this is what they want?
  • What is the primary purpose of this content?
  • What is the ultimate goal that I want to achieve with this content?
  • What action do I want users to take when they read this content?

Don’t veer too far away from the purpose of your content. Focusing on pleasing Google or optimizing for clicks will get you part of the way, but it won’t be enough to keep users interested in and engaging with your content.

3. Attract Reliable Sources

If Business Insider is the king of world news, then TMZ is the drama queen of Hollywood news.

TMZ is known for breaking the biggest stories in celebrity gossip and entertainment.

While TMZ hasn’t graced us with much insight into their traffic stats or strategy, a little detective work reveals a big secret about their success.

The Secret: ‘Tipsters’

As a content creator and writer, I was curious about where TMZ sources its writers (and how they find the juiciest stories).

Their website only uncovered that they hire a few “field reporters” and “researchers.” But, I wondered, who tips them off to the hottest celebrity gossip?

The answer, I discovered, is “tipsters.” Tipsters are their people “on the ground.” People who go digging for the inside scoop.

These people don’t work directly for TMZ but are incentivized to offer expert knowledge or reveal sensitive information to the magazine. As a result, they typically receive payment or notoriety.

The concept of “tipsters” sounds unsurprisingly similar to another type of content strategy: expert-generated content. TMZ has created a low-cost, consistent content creation model based on incentivization. And you can do the same.

Expert-Generated Content

This can take the form of expert interviews, roundup posts, webinars, podcasts, guest posts, and video content.

The idea is to incentivize industry experts to create content for your site, tip you off to new content ideas, and then share your content with their audiences.

You can hack this strategy for your site by inviting experts to create content for you or to participate in a piece of content you are making.

Open your site to guest posts, video contributions, exclusive interviews, or expert quotes. This will help you create a greater volume of content and broaden your reach.

In addition, a little ego boost can go a long way.

4. Boost Referral Traffic

The Verge is a “Jack of all trades” publication covering everything from entertainment to tech to science and product reviews.

Launched in 2011, they publish a combination of new articles, guidebooks, podcasts, and feature interviews. A common marketing saying is, “The riches are in the niches.”

Since The Verge doesn’t have a clear niche, it begs the question: How do they get their content to rank and generate so much traffic?

Verge’s traffic comes in via referral sites. The sites primarily reference the blog’s product reviews.

Not only do these referral sites send traffic to The Verge via external links from their content, but they boost the blog’s authority as well.

Affiliate Marketing

Verge’s content strategy reveals an excellent opportunity for websites to generate traffic from sources beyond organic search. This is especially the case for affiliate websites.

Suppose the purpose of your website is to promote affiliate products. In that case, your traffic strategy will benefit greatly from you creating content that draws attention from other industry-leading websites.

Not only will users venturing from these websites be interested in your content and products (making them more likely to convert), but high authority backlinks could give your site that added SEO boost.

What this looks like is creating content that provides value to your preferred referral sites – content that:

  • Reviews their products.
  • Offers comparisons of their products over competitors.
  • References other articles on their website.

By publishing content that provides value to other sites in your industry, you have the opportunity to create a whole additional traffic source beyond organic search.

5. Publish User-Generated Content

Lifehacker’s tagline “Do everything better” is a bold assertion that users can hack their way to success in life. (Ironic, perhaps, that we are doing the same regarding your content strategy here.)

The blog offers helpful, often time-saving and money-saving tips for how to work better, live longer, and lead a happier life.

Many of their articles are bite-sized posts that reveal one or two hacks or a bulleted list of tips.

Lifehacker doesn’t rely on keywords to come up with click-worthy content ideas. Instead, they generate a treasure trove of blog topics by asking their audience what they want to read.

How Do I Come Up With Blog Post Ideas?

Despite countless SEO and idea-generating tools, website owners still have difficulty finding topics that draw in traffic and keep their audience engaged.

That’s because we – myself included – often overcomplicate the process.

We try to guess what our readers want. First, we dig into the search data to see which keywords get the most volume. Then, we try to imitate the content our competitors are creating.

Your readers will often tell you exactly what they want. All you need to do is ask.

If you have an existing presence on social media, you can easily reach out to your target audience to get their input on what topics they are interested in.

You can also source ideas from the comments section, email responses, reviews, or feedback from past clients or customers.

Don’t overcomplicate. Start with your audience and generate a list of topics they want to read about. Then, use SEO tools to identify the appropriate keywords to target in that content.

6. Check Your Facts

VeryWell Health was founded in 2016 and quickly became a reliable source for health enthusiasts and trainers. They exceed at multiple aspects of establishing a popular blog, but none more than creating well-researched and accurate blogs.

The first step when writing any article is to check facts. It’s the foundation of creating a blog that people rely on and trust.

This includes checking your resources and spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Just think when you’re reading a blog, and there are grammar errors, links to outdated or broken resources, or purely incorrect facts. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy to stop getting return visitors.

But there’s a simple fix. Between tools like Grammarly or having another set of eyes fact-check and copyedit your work, you can easily avoid these pitfalls.

And remember, providing reliable tools and resources for your readers is a reliable way to keep people coming back.

7. Establish Editorial Guidelines

Treehugger is an excellent example of establishing editorial guidelines.

With the structure created by founder Graham Hill and their growing team, they established a foundation for research, making it easier for their consumers to get the information they need quickly.

Creating a vigorous and thorough standard operating procedure (SOP) can help brands avoid the previously discussed difficulties and streamline the editorial process.

This way, businesses can get blogs out quickly and efficiently.

8. Incorporate Interactivity

If you engage on social media, you’ve most likely taken a Buzzfeed quiz or read one of their engaging articles.

The amount of interaction they see with their content and through comments on social media or reactions on their site is unparalleled.

They are a prime example of creating an interactive space for readers and consumers. Through their site, you can have an inclusive and fun experience.

In addition, they allow their followers to rate articles with relatable themes such as “LOL” and “Win.” This helps readers feel like they are engaging in a like-minded community.

We can learn from Buzzfeed. For example, creating an interactive capability for a blog can help develop a sense of community.

You can accomplish this by properly organizing your information and leaving options to add comments or questions to your blog posts.

Final Takeaways

Regarding increasing website traffic, bloggers have been doing it right for years.

Taking time to understand why popular blogs perform well can give you ideas about what you need to do to improve your blogs.

Using these insights for your blogs can provide a steady stream of eager visitors to read what you produce.

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Featured Images: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock



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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

Content marketing has become one of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to get traffic to a website. When done right, the traffic keeps coming long after you stop actively promoting it.

If you own an e-commerce website and want to learn how to utilize blogging to grow your brand and increase your sales, this is the guide for you.

I’ve personally grown blogs to over 250,000 monthly visitors, and I’ve worked with dozens of clients in the e-commerce space to help them do the same. Here’s an overview of my seven-step process to starting and growing an e-commerce blog. 

But first…

Why start a blog on your e-commerce site?

Creating a blog has a whole host of benefits for e-commerce websites:

  • It can help you move visitors along your marketing funnel so they eventually buy.
  • You’re able to rank highly for keywords on Google that your product pages could never rank for but that are still important for building brand awareness and finding customers.
  • It can help you grow your email list.
  • You’re able to continue to get traffic without constantly spending money on ads.
  • It provides many opportunities to link to your product and category pages to help them rank better on the SERPs.

If you don’t know what some of these things mean, don’t worry—I’ll explain them along the way. But for now, let’s take a look at some e-commerce blogs that are working well right now so you can see the end goal.

Examples of successful e-commerce blogs

Three of my favorite examples of e-commerce websites using blogging are:

  1. Solo Stove
  2. Flatspot
  3. v-dog

Solo Stove comes in at the top of my list due to its excellent use of videos, photos, and helpful information on the blog. It also does search engine optimization (SEO) really well, bringing in an estimated 329,000 monthly visits from Google (data from Ahrefs’ Site Explorer).

Overview of Solo Stove, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In fact, it’s grown its brand to such a level of popularity that it even created search demand for keywords that include its brand name in them, then created blog posts to rank for those keywords:

Ahrefs' keyword report for Solo Stove

But that’s not all it did. Its blog posts also rank for other keywords in its marketing funnel, such as how to have a mosquito-free backyard or how to change your fire pit’s colors.

E-commerce blogging keyword examples

Then on its blog posts, it uses pictures of its fire pit:

Solo Stove blog post example

Ranking for these keywords does two things:

  1. It introduces Solo Stove’s brand to people who may eventually purchase a fire pit from it.
  2. It gives the brand the opportunity to promote its products to an audience who may not have even known it existed, such as the “mosquito free backyard” keyword.

Moving on, skater brand Flatspot also does blogging well, with a cool ~80,000 monthly visitors to its blog just from search engines.

Overview of Flatspot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

One of its tactics is to piggie-back on the popularity of new shoe releases from major brands like Nike, then use that traffic to get readers to buy the shoes directly from it:

Flatspot promoting Nike SB shoes in blog post

Finally, let’s look at v-dog—a plant-powered kibble manufacturer that gets ~8,000 visits per month.

Overview of v-dog, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

My favorite post it’s done is its guide to making wet dog food at home, which ranks for the featured snippet for “how to make wet dog food”:

Google search results for "how to make wet dog food"

This guide directly promotes v-dog’s product to make wet dog food. So people who search the query will be introduced to its brand and potentially buy its product to make their own wet dog food at home.

And there you have it—three examples of blogging for e-commerce that’s working right now. With that, let’s talk about how you can start your own blog.

Seven steps to start and grow an e-commerce blog

In my 10+ years as a professional SEO and freelance writer, I’ve worked with over a dozen e-commerce stores to help them grow their website traffic. I’ve also run several of my own e-commerce websites.

In that time, I’ve distilled what works into an easy-to-follow seven-step process:

1. Do some keyword research

I never start a blog without first doing keyword research. Not only does this make coming up with blog topic ideas much easier, but it also ensures that every blog post you write has a chance to show up in Google search results and bring you free, recurring traffic.

While we wrote a complete guide to keyword research, here’s a quick and dirty strategy for finding keywords fast:

First, find a competitor who has a blog. Let’s say you’re selling dog food just like v-dog—if I search for “dog food” on Google, I can see some of my competition:

Google search results for "dog food"

At this point, I look for relevant competitors. For example, Chewy and American Kennel Club are good competitors for research. But I’ll skip sites like Amazon and Walmart, as they are just too broad to get relevant data from.

Next, plug the competitor’s URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and click on the Organic keywords report to see the keywords its website ranks for on Google:

Organic keywords report for chewy.com

In this example, it has over 700,000 keywords. That’s way too many to sort through. Let’s add some filters to make things easier:

  • First, set the KD (Keyword Difficulty) score to a maximum of 30 to find easier-to-rank-for keywords.
  • Then we can exclude brand name keywords using the “Keywords” dropdown, set it to “Doesn’t contain,” and type in the brand name.
  • If the website has /blog/ in its blog post URLs, you can also set a filter in the “URL” dropdown to “Contains” and type “blog” in the text field. In Chewy’s case, it doesn’t do that, but it does use a subdomain for its blog, which we can search specifically.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Ahrefs keyword filters

In the case of chewy.com, this only shaved it down to 619,000 keywords. That’s still a lot—let’s filter it down further. We can apply the following:

  • Minimum monthly search volume of 100
  • Only keywords in positions #1–10
  • Only show keywords containing “dog,” since my example website only sells dog food, not all animal food

Here’s what it looks like with these new filters applied:

Filtering down Ahrefs' Organic keywords report

Now I can find some more related keywords like “what to feed a dog with diarrhea” or “can dogs eat cheese.”

Data for keyword "what to feed a dog with diarrhea"

In addition to picking interesting keywords, you can also get an idea of how to become a topical authority on the topic of dog food by searching “dog food” in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Overview for "dog food," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This keyword is extremely difficult to rank on page #1 for. However, if we go to the Related terms report and set the KD to a max of 30, we can see keyword ideas that are still relevant but may be easier to rank high in the search results.

List of keywords related to dog food

Go through and click the gray + sign next to any keywords you may want to target to add them to your list of potential article ideas. 

2. Create templates for future blog posts

One of the first things I do when I create a new blog is to establish a repeatable template that I use for every post. Typically, it looks something like this:

Blog post template example

It has breadcrumb navigation to help with SEO and navigation, the article title and the date it was last updated, then a short intro with an image on the right to make the lines shorter (and easier to skim). Finally, I include a clickable table of contents to help with navigation, then get into the article.

Within the article itself, I will use headers (H2s) and subheaders (H3s) to make my content easier to skim and to help Google understand what each section is about.

You can make templates for every kind of post you plan on creating—such as list posts, ultimate guides, tutorials, etc.—and reuse them for every post you ever create. It’s a huge time-saver.

While you’re at it, you should also create a standard operating procedure (SOP) that you go through for every article. This could include writing guidelines, what to do with images, formatting, tone, etc.

3. Outline your article

I never dive into writing an article without outlining it first. An outline ensures the article is well structured and planned before you start writing, and it bakes SEO right into your writing process. It’s another big time-saver.

Typically, you want this outline to include:

  • Potential title or titles of the article
  • Target keyword
  • Brief description of the article angle
  • Links to competing articles on Google for research
  • Headers and subheaders, with brief descriptions of the section as needed

Here’s a look at part of an example outline I’ll either send to my writers or write myself:

Content outline example

I wrote a guide to outlining content, which you can follow here for the full step-by-step process.

4. Write, optimize, and publish your post

Next up, it’s time to write your article. As you write more articles, you’ll find what works for you—but you may find it easier to fill in the sections then go back and write the intro once the article is finished.

Here are a few writing tips to help you become a better writer:

  • Ditch the fluff – If a word isn’t needed to bring a point across, cut it.
  • Keep your paragraphs short – Two to three lines per paragraph is plenty, especially for mobile readers where the screen width is shorter.
  • Use active voice over passive voiceHere is a guide for that.
  • Make your content easy to skim – Include photos and videos and make use of headers and bulleted lists to share key points.

Once you’ve written your article, do some basic on-page SEO to help it rank higher in search results:

  • Ensure your article has one H1 tag – The title of the article.
  • Have an SEO-friendly URL – Include the keyword you’re targeting, but keep it short and easy to read.
  • Link to other pages on your site using proper anchor textHere’s a guide for that.
  • Ensure your images have alt text – This is the text Google uses to read what the image is about, as well as what is shown to readers if the image can’t render.

Finally, publish your post and give yourself a pat on the back.

5. Add product promotions, email opt-ins, and internal links

Before you promote your content, there are a few things you can do to squeeze more ROI from it—namely, you should add a way for people to either push them through the funnel toward purchasing a product or subscribe to your email list. I’ll give an example of each.

First, Solo Stove wrote an article titled “Ambiance Is A Girl’s Best Friend,” where it promotes its tiny Solo Stove Mesa as a way of improving a space’s ambiance: 

How to promote your products in a blog post

Beyond directly promoting your products in the articles, you can also add email opt-ins that give people a percentage off their orders. You may lose a little money on the initial order. But once you get someone’s email address, you can promote to them again and get multiple orders from them.

For example, Primary sells kids’ clothing and uses this email pop-up to promote money off its products after you spend a certain amount of time on its website:

Email opt-in pop-up offering a discount on first order

Just make sure your discount code only works once per unique IP address. You can learn more about how to do that here if you use Shopify.

Finally, when you publish an article, you should make it a point to add internal links to your new article from older articles. 

This won’t be as important for your first few because you won’t have a ton of articles. But as your blog grows, it’s an important part of the process to ensure your readers (and Google) can still find your articles and that they aren’t buried deep on your site.

Refer to our guide to internal linking to learn more about this step.

6. Promote your content

At this point, your content is live and optimized for both conversions and search engines. Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on it.

We have an entire guide to content promotion you should read, but here are some highlights:

  • Share the article on all of your social media channels
  • Send the article to your email list if you have one
  • Share your content in relevant communities (such as relevant Reddit forums)
  • Consider running paid ads to your article

There’s a lot more you can do to promote a piece, including reaching out to other blog owners. But I won’t cover all of that here.

The other important piece of promoting your content is getting other website owners to link to your new articles. This is called link building, and it’s a crucial part of SEO.

There are many ways to build links. Some of the most popular include:

Link building is an entire subject on its own. If you’re serious about blogging and getting search traffic, it’s a crucial skill to learn.

7. Scale your efforts

The final step in blogging for e-commerce is scaling up your efforts by creating repeatable processes for each step and hiring people to do the tasks you yourself don’t need to be doing.

You can hire freelance writers, outreach specialists, editors, and more. You can put together a full SEO team for your business.

If you’re not in a place to start hiring, there are still things you can do to squeeze more output from your time, such as creating the SOPs I mentioned earlier.

Final thoughts

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your e-commerce store’s traffic and sales. It costs less than traditional paid advertising and can continue to provide a return long after a post has been published.

This guide will hopefully help you start your e-commerce blog and publish your first post. But remember that success with blogging doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes three to six months on average to see any results from your SEO efforts. Keep learning and be patient.

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

Looking to launch a successful digital marketing campaign for your business?

How do you select the best SEO keywords to expand your brand’s reach?

What can you do to determine the most effective ways to allocate your marketing budget?

Facing these tough decisions can put you on your heels if you’re not equipped with the right information.

Luckily, there’s a new way to leverage your company’s data to estimate your ROI and take the guesswork out of your next campaign.

With a simple mathematical formula, you can predict the amount of traffic and revenue you’ll generate before even setting your strategy in motion – and you can do it all in just five steps.

Want to learn how?

Join our next webinar with Sabrina Hipps, VP of Partner Development, and Jeremy Rivera, Director of Content Analysis at CopyPress, to find out how to analyze specific keywords and forecast your SEO results.

Not too fond of math? Don’t worry – we’ll provide access to free tools and a downloadable calculator to help automate this process and save you time.

Key Takeaways From This Webinar: 

  • Learn how forecasting your SEO can help you build better campaigns and choose the right keywords.
  • Get step-by-step instructions to predict revenue and website traffic for your next SEO campaign.
  • Access a free handout, resources, and online tools that will save you time and supercharge your content strategy.

In this session, we’ll share real-life examples and provide guidance for the decision-makers within your organization to start getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

By better understanding the market potential of your product or service, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and effectively maximize your ROI.

Sign up for this webinar and discover how you can secure a sufficient marketing budget and use SEO keywords to forecast the results of your future content campaigns.



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Google SEO Tips For News Articles: Lastmod Tag, Separate Sitemaps

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Google SEO Tips For News Articles: Lastmod Tag, Separate Sitemaps

Google Search Advocate John Mueller and Analyst Gary Illyes share SEO tips for news publishers during a recent office-hours Q&A recording.

Taking turns answering questions, Mueller addresses the correct use of the lastmod tag, while Illyes discusses the benefits of separate sitemaps.

When To Use The Lastmod Tag?

In an XML sitemap file, lastmod is a tag that stores information about the last time a webpage was modified.

Its intended use is to help search engines track and index significant changes to webpages.

Google provides guidelines for using the lastmod tag, which could be used to alter search snippets.

The presence of the lastmod tag may prompt Googlebot to change the publication date in search results, making the content appear more recent and more attractive to click on.

As a result, there may be an inclination to use the lastmod tag even for minor changes to an article so that it appears as if it was recently published.

A news publisher asks whether they should use the lastmod tag to indicate the date of the latest article update or the date of the most recent comment.

Mueller says the date in the lastmod field should reflect the date when the page’s content has changed significantly enough to require re-crawling.

However, using the last comment date is acceptable if comments are a critical part of the page.

He also reminds the publisher to use structured data and ensure the page date is consistent with the lastmod tag.

“Since the site map file is all about finding the right moment to crawl a page based on its changes, the lastmod date should reflect the date when the content has significantly changed enough to merit being re-crawled.

If comments are a critical part of your page, then using that date is fine. Ultimately, this is a decision that you can make. For the date of the article itself, I’d recommend looking at our guidelines on using dates on a page.

In particular, make sure that you use the dates on a page consistently and that you structured data, including the time zone, within the markup.”

Separate Sitemap For News?

A publisher inquires about Google’s stance on having both a news sitemap and a general sitemap on the same website.

They also ask if it’s acceptable for both sitemaps to include duplicate URLs.

Illyes explained that it’s possible to have just one sitemap with the news extension added to the URLs that need it, but it’s simpler to have separate sitemaps for news and general content. URLs older than 30 days should be removed from the news sitemap.

Regarding sitemaps sharing the duplicate URLs, it’s not recommended, but it won’t cause any problems.

Illyes states:

“You can have just one site map, a traditional web sitemap as defined by sitemaps.org, and then add the news extension to the URLs that need it. Just keep in mind that, you’ll need to remove the news extension from URLs that are older than 30 days. For this reason it’s usually simpler to have separate site map for news and for web.

Just remove the URLs altogether from the news site map when they become too old for news. Including the URLs in both site maps, while not very nice, but it will not cause any issues for you.”

These tips from Mueller and Illyes can help news publishers optimize their websites for search engines and improve the visibility and engagement of their articles.


Source: Google Search Central

Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock



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