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SEO differences between ECommerce and News websites

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SEO differences between ECommerce and News websites

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

I work in ECommerce, and it’s one of my jobs to manage my company’s SEO. This means I read a lot of blogs and keep ontop of ECommerce events, trends and changes. Setting up an ECommerce store online would require an SEO journey that looked something like these (disgustingly simplified!) steps:

  1. Make sure your site is crawlable and has a sitemap.
  2. Using keyword research, pick the keywords you want to target and optimise your main landing pages for them (usually product category pages). Link to these pages from your homepage.
  3. Resolve any duplicate content issues usually brought about by on-site search results, URL casing and sorting or pagination of product lists.
  4. Submit your site to Google by registering for Webmaster Tools.
  5. Start content marketing for your site and brand – taking notice of Google’s webmaster guidelines. This will get you quality, natural, organic links which are good for SEO.

SEO Similarities: Ecommerce & News

News or Publishing websites face some different challenges to ECommerce websites when it comes to SEO. Firstly, the inevitable similarities:

  1. Website architecture: Any website must structure its content or inventory in a logical hierarchy to be optimised for SEO. Rich snippets and URL structure will help with defining this, as will how successfully the website’s internal links pass equity around the website.
  2. Keyword research: If you want to rank in SERPs and haven’t picked keywords, it’s like saying you want to run quicker but not timing yourself.
  3. Authority websites: In ECommerce you’re playing fruitless catch up with Amazon. In News or Publishing it’s likely you’ll always be in the shadow of the BBC.
  4. Inbound Links: Says it all really. Although Google have attempted to bypass backlinks as a ranking factor they are still one of the strongest indicators that your site is worth Google ranking it. We’ve written a detailed technical SEO audit guide that will help you understand this better.
  5. Homepage is king: In terms of link equity passed throughout the site, the homepage is the primary entry point as it will most likely acquire the most natural, brand links over time. Links from the homepage, therefore will rank quicker than if linked from deeper pages.

SEO Differences: Ecommerce vs. News

Managing the SEO for a News site, however throws up a number of additional considerations when compared to Ecommerce:

Google News

For News websites, It doesn’t get much bigger than performing well in Google News. Aside from ranking at the top of SERPs (see screenshot below), it’s also your chance to demonstrate strong journalistic qualities to Google which in turn will help you become a more authoritative website. Use Google Webmaster Tools to keep on top of your News sitemap.


Keyword research

Keyword research is vital to rank in SERPs, but the nature of content vs. inventory for News vs. Ecommerce websites is important. An Ecommerce website will likely plan long term to acquire authority for keywords which cover a large range of products. This might be done through on site and off site content marketing. News websites do not have the same luxury.

A News website’s content is updated multiple times per day and fluctuates randomly with current affairs. For every generic keyword e.g. “UK Politics”, there are thousands of other keywords about UK politics which have a much higher search volume at any given time. These keywords will vary dramatically as a News team reacts to world or local events which they choose to report on. This makes keyword planning more difficult to do longer term, and requires an editorial gut instinct and flexibility when articles are produced on certain breaking stories to target keywords users are expected to search for.

Related reading : Top 9 SEO Audit Tools to get your site ranking better within one month.

Landing Pages

Regardless of the randomness of keyword topics, I believe that News sites should still optimise key hub or news category pages based on their journalistic specialism (e.g. Celebrities, EU Politics, US Sports). Having relevant landing pages like this will assist the website in becoming an authority on a certain topic area. When a story then breaks in your specialist area, you will have a head start on the competition.

Website Architecture

The homepage is king, but News websites will also have a lot of traffic driven (accumulatively) to article pages as they are shared via Social Media and blogs. As link equity passes into article pages, it should be channelled into the rest of the website by linking to other related, relevant or popular topics, categories and stories. For example, by using a Most Shared / Most Popular module on article pages.

News content is usually time sensitive, as a newsroom must react quickly to breaking news. This means there’s a race against time for your news site to inform people before other news sites do. Being first with any content is certainly an SEO asset in additional to being a journalistic one. Passing link equity into breaking news stories is therefore paramount, which means they have to be linked to throughout the website. For example a Breaking News module on the homepage, and article pages and on relevant category pages.


Although SEO is generally regarded as a single discipline, there are subtle but important differences between the needs for different types of websites. For more information on managing the SEO of a News/Publishing website, I suggest you read this excellent article. To find out more about Digital Marketing Audits for E-Commerce or News websites, click here.


Main newsroom photo credit

1 Comment

  1. Katrina McKinnon Reply

    Hi George,

    How’s things with Paperstone? Hope it’s going really well for you.

    I was going to ask you for a bit of help with my online store ‘thing’ but realise now that your main game is running your store, rather than blogging.

    So, I suppose just a quick ‘hello’ and one thing that you might find interesting.

    Your store is looking strong with Domain Authority etc, but still … just in case it’s useful … http://www.smallrevolution.com/ultimate-ecommerce-lists/the-a-to-z-list-online-store-seo/

    And I love your home page. In terms of social proof it’s the schiznit. Would love to borrow some of the ideas to share with our members at SmallRevolution.com. Best practices and all that!

    That is all. Thanks.

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