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SEO For News: Complete Top Stories Keyword Research Guide

Before you click on this article thinking, “it’s not a keyword research guide,” let me tell you something I learned firsthand from working with national news publishers: Keyword research for publishers is completely different.

The skills, methods, checklists, and tools you use now won’t be useful here.

Forget about presenting your list of keywords to the editorial team using the traditional keyword research method. Keywords are already obsolete!

Also, let me save you hours of typing in the thousands, if not millions, of keywords on news websites that rank organically.

SEO in the news is different – and so is keyword research.

It’s about the successful development of Super Stories. This will get you the lion’s share of daily search traffic on the news website.

The purpose of this guide is to equip you with a quick keyword research framework to teach your journalists to win more of your Top Stories spots.

Why Is Keyword Research For News SEO Different?

Trending Topics

News websites require a different approach to keyword research than other types of websites.

They usually focus on timely, breaking stories that are often only relevant for a short period of time.

As a result, news websites need to quickly identify and rank the keywords that are being searched for at any given time (otherwise known as topic optimization).

Optimizing for trending topics requires a different approach to keyword research.

Traditional keyword research is generally based on 12 months of aggregated data, while keyword research is often based on trending topics (that is, topics that have not been searched for before).


Most local and national news websites cover many topics. If the story is of public interest, you can expect the press to cover it.

For example, around Christmas, you can expect most news websites to offer holiday cooking tips or buyer’s guides.

You also expect these publishers to cover public interest stories, such as COVID-19.

And like seasonal events like Christmas, or world events like disaster, these topics come in and out of the public interest.

The difference is information; When looking at query data on a news website, you have seasonal and trending factors to consider. These factors can also be the reason your traffic increases or decreases.


When a topic is trending or newsworthy, Google gives news sites a preference for this query. This is known as a “demand worthiness update” (QDF);

“QDF’s solution revolves around determining whether a topic is “hot.” If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the sample indicates that it is one that users are likely to want current information on.”

Because of this, news websites can jump in and out of the search engine results page (SERP) for any query.

A simple example to explain this is to compare two American presidents, one past and one present.

If we take the current president, Joe Biden, and compare him to George Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, we can see QDF in action.

For Joe Biden, the two Top Stories rose to the top of the SERP, and the news site topics are listed below.

Photo courtesy of Ahrefs, November 2022

Whereas, if we observe Bush’s results, SERP is mostly informative.

Photo courtesy of Ahrefs, November 2022

Note the placement below of the top stories, too.


Keyword patterns for news websites are based on the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, and why.

These are the basic questions every journalist should ask when covering a story.

Answering these questions in a story generally gives the journalist a good foundation.

To help journalists implement good SEO with their headlines and sub-headlines, focus on the W’s and less on “keywords” as we know the benefits of SEO.

Forget explaining concepts like keyword difficulty, monthly search volume, click-through rate, or even impressions. Trust me, you will lose them, and they will go back to ignoring SEO.


People forget that the story is online, it can also be in the newspaper – and journalists need to tailor their work to both audiences.

In print, you can immediately capture everything around the title, such as all images and subheadings. In digital, there may be a general image and a title.

Space is the real issue, as there is only so much space in the digital format.

In publishing, short and impactful words are key. Sometimes, that is also related to the number of lines in the title.

But for SEO, this can be a barrier to reaching that story.

The most important improvement tip you can give journalists is to include one of the five W’s in your headline.

Don’t be afraid to give too much detail in the address.

Here is a simple framework for non-SEO journalists to help them understand keyword research.

Who Is The Story About?

People search for the name of a person, place, or thing.

Tip: Using the full name of a person, place or thing will work best for searching.

Elon Musk will have more search volume than Musk.

Photo courtesy of Ahrefs, November 2022

What Is The Story About?

To help search engines return our stories when people search for them, we need to tell both readers and search engines the truth of the story.

If this is about options, then this needs to be in the title.

Search engines are the first to use your site every time; they cannot see the displayed image as humans can.

In SEO, if a title does not contain the keyword or what the reader was looking for, search engines are more likely to show the story in the search results.


Tip: Including the exact location of where the news happened or is happening will help your story stick better.

People may walk by, hear the news briefly on the radio/TV, and use their smart phones to find out what happened.

Sometimes, they may even Google the site to find out the news. For example, “Ukraine”.

Photo from search [ukraine], November 2022

It’s less about keyword research and more about the parts of the story that people are looking for.

The Why?

When something happens in the news, people have questions – and many people turn to search engines to help answer their questions.

For example, in 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union; people looked for answers related to how it affected them. ie, “Why did Britain vote to leave the EU,” “What does Brexit mean,” “How will Brexit affect business” etc.

Commenting on the news is very useful for both SEO and generating new customers.

Breaking News Keyword Research

Breaking news is a term used by media professionals to describe real-time events or events that have just happened.

The news can be something that has just happened in your area or something that is happening in the world.

In most cases, the topic may have had little prior search. As a result, traditional keyword research tools are less effective here.

Keyword research tools generally base their data on 12-month average search volume.

For example, before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, covered by almost every media outlet, it was hardly ever researched.

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

And before February 2020, if you were to use your standard keyword research tool, a search for COVID-19 would not return data (or it would show zero searches).

So, how do we do keyword research for breaking news when data is missing?

It’s simple: stop thinking about keywords as usual. Instead, think about organizations when doing keyword research for breaking news.

Focus On The Five Ws

To prove this method works, let’s use Google Trends for the top keywords around COVID-19 now that we have over a year of keyword data.

The top word for COVID-19 is, unsurprisingly: Covid 19.

Photo courtesy of Ahrefs, November 2022

Even the third or fourth keywords, “Covid vaccine” or even “Covid 19 symptoms,” are also still answered by the question, “What is the story?”

Tip: Keywords in the headlines are a very powerful signal that Google uses to display the news article in the top stories.

And don’t just take my word for it. Check out what the Google docs themselves have to say:

“The most important indicator that content is relevant is when the article contains keywords similar to your search” and is referenced in Google’s guide to how they rank content.

This is probably why many media outlets have directed their SEO teams to use the so-called kicker before their main headline, ie, {SEO Keyword}: {Editorial Headline}, as close keywords. The beginning of the title has great weight.

Using this method can help your story rank higher in Top Stories. But this is not always the case.

Depending on the printer’s capabilities, including the requirements for any address space may also work.

When the story breaks, as mentioned several times in this guide, the most important keywords to cover are the five Ws.

The What, Who, And Where Components Of The Story

Unlike social, push notifications, and newsletters, where people are notified of updates, when people search, they actively search for information on the topic. This is especially true for breaking news.

Many times, people hear stories about other media, such as radio, TV, or even a friend. They are given the bare facts of the story. But people have questions.

Many people, when they have questions, turn to search engines to find answers.

The best place to start researching breaking news keywords is to open Google Trends and use the first keyword the story is about.

Google Trends

At the time of this writing – the topic of “Typhoon Hinnamnor” was breaking news.

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

As you can see, before the news spread, there was no interest in the topic.

Making sure that the keyword is used in the title of any news about the topic is the first step.

As we can see from the archived SERP below “Typhoon Hinnamnor,” all publications are using the keyword in the title.

Image courtesy of Google Search, November 2022

Tip: You can use – to save time searching.

It is very useful to capture the results of the top story, since when the topic is no longer news or the publications are not talking about the topic, the Top stories in the SERP carousel will no longer show.

Let’s break this keyword down again using the formula above.

What Is The Story About?

Where Is The Story Taking Place?

Typhoon Hinnamnor in South Korea.

Most of the time, people will be looking for the latest news coverage of a story – but as you can see above, Google has introduced video, which means that people are also looking for video.

Once the latest news and trends are covered, the next place to look is Google Trends.

Step 1: Type The Main Keyword Into Google Trends

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

What you will see is that there are topics and queries that are breakout queries.

According to Google Trends, the term search break means that it has increased more than 5000% in the requested period.

Related queries give you clues about what searchers might be looking for.

What you want to do here is to search for related topics and search for the highest terms.

For example, if we take the word “Typhoon” and filter the top related queries, we can see that “What is a typhoon” is one of the top queries.

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

Note: Trending queries are the trending queries, and Top queries are the most searched queries.

Step 2: Use Google’s Related Searches

The next step is to type in the keyword and use the related Google search.

Image from the search [what is a typhoon], November 2022

This can be a great place to find related keywords and topics to add an explanatory section to the news. These are also called “branches” of the story.

The main story is about the news about the typhoon in Japan, but the branches are what people also want to know now that they are aware of the news.

Tip: use the icon as a symbol to represent a space that can be filled with anything. This will give you even more related questions to target.

For example “what are the effects of a hurricane” can be a great suggestion for explaining what a hurricane is.

Image from search [what is “typhoon”], November 2022

And if you want to do this research on a large scale, freemium tools like and will help here.

Incorporating these branches as part of the editorial workflow of breaking news should make these descriptors green.

Here’s a great example of an evergreen description created by The New York Times that ranks over 400 key words related to the difference between hurricanes, tornadoes, and hurricanes that can be used whenever they there is a breaking story related to it.

Photo courtesy of Ahrefs, November 2022

This is the magic formula when working with editorial teams.

It’s the secret to getting editorial teams to commission content that isn’t green.

When the story is breaking and it’s good news, give them the evergreen topic they need to write about too – but framed as “this is what our search audience is looking for in our news.”

The beauty about the workflow is that this not only serves the purpose of the audience of the daily news agenda, as well as the purpose of the customers, but it is evergreen and can be updated as well as reconnected when another storm or similar load occurs. The topic of climate is entering the news agenda.

Now, apply this logic to seasonal events, such as Christmas, Easter, and summer. There are topics that will be published each year.

The key is timing and providing evergreen vocabulary topics when the topic is on the news agenda.

News Event Keyword Research

Google Trends is a great starting point when researching keywords for an upcoming news event.

Let’s take Black Friday as an example.

Step 1: Input The Target Keyword In Google Trends

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

This gives us information about when this topic is predicted to change based on the last five years. Of course, it goes up in November when Black Friday happens.

Step 2: Find The Related Keyword And Filter By Top

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

This will give you an idea of ​​the top keywords that people search for.

You’ll need to help your editorial team understand when and what to publish for search – not just look at what keywords are trending right now, but what has changed historically.

You can use Google Trends to provide you with this information.

And David Esteve, an expert in media audience, has produced the best Twitter topic on how to do this every hour. According to David:

Given that Google positively evaluates the proximity of the time your news is published than when there is an increase in search trends for that information, having “predictive” knowledge of when those searches will begin to occur, gives it a very strong advantage. the printer as I plan.”

Photo taken from Twitter, November 2022

The key to finding information on any topic is modifying the default URL parameters that Google Trends gives you.

For example, if we were to do this on Black Friday 2021, which was Friday, November 26, we would need to modify the default URL that Google Trends gives us: explore?q = black%20 friday&geo=US.

We are interested on Friday, 26 November 2021.

Therefore, the first step is to use the date filter to find a customized date, for example, from the 21st to the 27th.

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

Now, if you look at the top queries, you’ll find specific queries that searchers were searching for during that period:

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

On Black Friday, to distinguish when and what to publish using David’s formula for adding hourly data, for example 09- 27T20&geo=US&q=black%20Friday.

We can see that the morning had the highest search interest – in the sense of Black Friday, it would be important to let your editorial team publish as soon as possible and not wait for them to come in, such as search. The interest rate may drop the next day.

Image courtesy of Google Trends, November 2022

In terms of SEO news and keyword research, what we are looking to accomplish is to tell the editors what the audience is looking for, but also when they are looking for it, in order to increase the reach of the story.

As mentioned above, Google Trends is a really useful tool to help inform editors of what people are searching for and when.

Key Takeaway

News websites traditionally include thousands, if not millions, of keywords.

There is no point in doing keyword research in the news using traditional methods when the topics have not been searched before.

Instead, focus on the five W’s, and teach journalists how to use these in headlines and pages to increase the SEO of news websites on the Top Stories Carousel.

Featured image: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

To provide you with the most useful information, search algorithms look at many factors and indicators, including your query terms, relevance and usability of the pages, resource expertise, and your location and settings. The weighting applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query.

How do I find the perfect keywords?

Use keyword research tools If you are using Google Ads you can use their keyword tool to research your target keywords. With these tools and others like SEMRUSH and Raventools, you can collect data on keyword volume and trends, keyword competition, similar keywords and more.

What are the 3 most important factors in choosing a keyword? When doing keyword research for SEO, there are three factors you must consider: the relevance of the individual keyword, search volume and user intent.

What are four things to consider when choosing a keyword? 4 Tips to help you choose the right keywords For that to happen, you need to optimize your site using the right search terms. Your target keywords need to meet four criteria – significant search volume, high relevance, strong conversion rates, and reasonable competition.

What is the easiest way to find keywords?

Free Keyword Research Tools

  • Google Keyword Planner. Google has several tools that make it easy to do keyword research, and their free AdWords tool called Keyword Planner is a great place to start – especially if you use AdWords for some of your campaigns. …
  • Google Trends. …
  • The tool.

What are main keywords?

In terms of SEO, it’s the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also known as “queries.” If you cook everything on your site – all images, videos, copy, etc.

What are the 3 types of keywords? Keywords for information – searchers looking for an answer to a specific question or general information. Keywords in the directory – searchers who want to find a specific site or page. Business keywords – searchers looking to research brands or services.

What are examples of keywords? Keywords are words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they are looking for. For example, if you were looking to buy a new jacket, you might Google something like “leather jacket for men†. Although this sentence contains more than one word, it is still an important word.

How do I find my main keyword?

How to find and choose keywords for your website

  • Use Google Keyword Planner to narrow down your keyword list. …
  • Step 2: Prioritize the low-hanging fruit…
  • Step 3: Check the monthly search volume (MSV) of your chosen keywords. …
  • Step 4: SERP features features when you select keywords.

What are important keywords?

Keywords are important because they tell search engines what is on your website. âKeywordâ is also a term used to describe the words and phrases that people enter into a search engine to find the information they are looking for.

What are good keywords? Your target keywords need to meet four criteria – significant search volume, high relevance, strong conversion rates, and reasonable competition. If any of these are missing, your SEO is likely to suffer.

What are the 4 types of keywords? When researching to find out the user’s motives behind making a search, we can classify all keywords into four main categories of purpose: business, transaction, information, and navigation.

What are the 5 SEO factors?

What Are the Most Important SEO Ranking Factors?

  • A secure and accessible website.
  • Page speed (including mobile page speed)
  • Mobile friendly.
  • Domain Age, URL, and Authority
  • Curated Content
  • SEO techniques.
  • User Experience (RankBrain)
  • Connection

What are the main issues of SEO? Page speed has been identified as one of the SEO ranking factors for many years. Google wants to improve users’ experience on the web, and fast web pages will do just that. Google announced an update to its search engine algorithm focused on mobile page speed that began to affect sites from July 2018.

What are the 4 most important components of SEO? Knowing and understanding each of the 4 key areas of SEO is critical to improving your brand’s search results. Each part builds on and complements the others. The stronger the link between each of the 4 components of SEOâ technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-SEO, and contentâ the results are better.

How many SEO factors are there? You may already know that Google uses more than 200 ranking factors in its algorithm⦠But what are they, exactly?

What are the five most important on page SEO factors?

Many things contribute to the SEO of a website, but some of the most important ones include title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, keywords and internal links. All of these things help search engines know what the website is about and how relevant it is to users.

What are the important aspects of website SEO? On-page SEO helps search engines analyze your website and content to identify if a searcher’s query is relevant to your site. Google constantly updates their algorithm to better understand the searcher’s intentions and deliver search results that meet the user’s needs.

What is the most important part of website SEO? The first and most important part of website SEO is of course; your content. If your content isn’t interesting to read, you probably won’t get many views and high search engine rankings. That is why it is so important to write ‘VUUSP-content’.

What is No 1 most important Google ranking factor?

Besides creating content and getting backlinks, one of the most obvious ranking factors is the use of keywords on your website. Keywords are the search terms that users use to search for something on Google. So, it is important that your website contains the keywords that your audience is searching for.

What is the most important factor that affects search engine ranking? 1. Relevant, high quality content. The single most important factor in Google’s ranking is the quality of your content. This is related to the continuous publication of high-quality content, user engagement, and niche expertise in the table above.

How do you rank No 1 on Google? To rank high in Google search results in a competitive niche you will need: To follow the Google Webmaster SEO Quality Guidelines. The website’s reputation for publishing original, useful and informative content. A satisfying user-friendly experience for search visitors.