SEO For Publishers: Challenges, Solutions, And Essential Strategies

April 12, 2024 | Basic SEO

Most authentic websites publish blogs quite regularly. However, there are websites for which it is their primary business model. Yes, we are talking about publishing websites, an industry that has drastically changed in the last few years. 

The significant shift from physical books to online reading triggered a marketing shift from print and broadcast outlets to the Internet. If you want your publishing company to succeed in today’s digital world, you must have a solid online presence and ensure that your readers find you online. SEO Publishing helps you achieve both.

This article shall discuss the prime challenges of SEO for publishers, solutions, and eight valuable tips to optimize your SEO Publishing.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Publisher SEO?

Publisher SEO is the optimization process of a publishing website for search engines.

SEO for publishers

SEO publishing helps websites boost online visibility and drive more organic traffic. This, in turn, generates more revenue.

Why Is SEO For Publishers Essential?

Publications like news, trade, and media websites significantly depend on ad revenue to monetize their content. SEO Publishing helps publishers draw more impressions and clicks on the sponsored articles and ads on their websites to stay profitable.

SEO funnel for publishers

Advertisers usually pay publishers on a click-per-mille basis. It means advertisers pay a set amount to the publisher for every 1000 views their ad receives on the publisher’s website. It is the publisher’s responsibility to draw those views as effectively as possible to stay profitable. This makes SEO for news publishers even more important.

The Top 5 Publishing SEO Challenges And Their Solutions

Publishing websites face typical challenges in implementing SEO that stop them from ranking higher. We will discuss five such obstacles and their solutions in this article section.

Crawling Of An Ever-Evolving Website By Google 

Google uses web crawlers to understand the relevance and purpose of web pages and find new content online.

Crawlability problems

But as the name suggests, publishing sites publish content in bulk regularly. That makes it difficult for crawlers to keep up with so much new content.


You must direct Google to crawl and index your revenue-earning pages with updated sponsored content and ads to make them visible to the searchers instead of crawling your older content or pages like privacy policies and sitemaps. You can achieve that by following the below-mentioned tactics,

Create an easy-to-navigate website architecture by organizing menus and categorizing blogs by topic and subtopics to make it easily understandable for search engines and searchers.

Optimize the meta description and meta tags of your web pages.

Regularly update your sitemap to ensure indexing of your most essential landing pages and sponsored posts.

Include ‘disallow’ commands in robots.txt files to stop search engines from crawling less important pages. 

Once you finish implementing the above tactics, you need to choose a reliable tool like RankWatch site auditor to check your crawl status.

RankWatch site auditor

The crawler shows an overall site score after crawling all your web pages.

Overall site score shown by RankWatch crawler

The tool also categorizes the SEO issues found in your website after crawling depending on their criticality.

Issues distribution in RankWatch crawler

You must resolve the issues with high criticality without any further delay to enhance your SEO Publishing.

Discoverability Of Paywalled Content

Unless a web page is discoverable, Google crawlers cannot render the same and rank on search results. The process of making web pages discoverable becomes more challenging when it is paywalled content or a subscription-based web page.

Google web crawlers render content by following the below steps,

Flowchart for web page rendering

  1. Retrieving your web pages
  2. Running the code
  3. Assessing the website layout
  4. Judging the web page quality

If crawlers find it too difficult to render your web pages, they may doubt you for cloaking. Cloaking is the black-hat SEO technique publishers use to show different content to crawlers and searchers to bypass Google’s ranking guidelines. You must ensure that your paywalled web pages are easily discoverable and crawlable to get them indexed.


You can provide Google access to your paywalled pages in any of the following two ways.

Paywall SEO checklist for publishers

Flexible Sampling

It allows crawlers and readers to access a portion of your content by following any of the following models,

Metered Views: This model offers readers a definite number of articles per month for free. They need to subscribe to read beyond that.

Workflow of metered paywall

Lead-in: This model offers a portion of your web page content to readers for free, and they need to subscribe to read the full article.

Example of lead-in model

Structured Data

You can add structured data to the HTML code of your paywalled pages to provide access to Google. You need to follow the below steps to add structured data,

First, you must add class names in the paywalled portions of your web page.

Code for adding class names

Next, you need to denote the content format by adding structured data. For example, the following is an example of structured data for a paywalled news article.

Example of structured data for a paywalled news article

You can add codes like this for other content formats like blog, article, review, comment, how-to, web page, course, etc.

Adding Effective Structured Data For Different Content Types

Google prefers to index web pages it understands fully to provide the most relevant content to searchers on search results. Adding adequate structured data using the Schema markup helps Google understand the relevance of web pages and index various types of content.

The following are the most important structured data for SEO for publishers,

  1. Articles
  2. Events
  3. Videos
  4. Carousels
  5. Review snippets
  6. Video tutorials
  7. Recipes
  8. Podcasts

Hence, adding Schema markup data to the above content format is essential to enhance publishers’ SEO.


You can add Schema markup for your SEO Publishing by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper by following the below steps,

Step 1: Data type selection

First, you must select the type of data from the list. For example, we have chosen ‘Articles.’

Choosing data type in Schema markup

Step 2: Entering URL of your web page

You need to enter the web page URL of your publishing site where you want to implement the markup data. The tool also allows you to paste the HTML code of that web page as another option.

Entering the URL of the web page in the Schema markup

Then, once you click ‘Start Tagging,’ the selected web page will appear on the left side, with data items accompanying on the right side of the tool page.

Web page appearing on the left side with data items accompanying on the right side of the Schema markup page

Step 3: Marking up your web page

You need to highlight the portion of the web page where you want to apply the markup. For example, in the case of an article, you can highlight the name of the article and select the ‘Name’ data item to add a Name markup.

Adding ‘Name’ markup in article in Schema

The tool will take the article name and place it alongside the ‘Name’ data items on the right side of the tool page.

‘Name’ data items on the right side of the Schema markup page

The tool also allows you to tag items on your web page manually. You need to go to the right side of the page and scroll down to the ‘Add missing tags’ button.

Adding missing tags button in the Schema markup

Clicking on the same will pop up a menu allowing you to manually add tags.

Adding missing tags manually in Schema markup

Step 4: Generate HTML 

Once you finish adding tags manually, click on the ‘CREATE HTML’ button at the top right corner of the tool page. It will provide you with the data to add to your web page.

Choosing between microdata and JSON-LD in Schema markup

You must click the drop-down menu at the top of the page to choose between microdata and JSON-LD. 

Step 5: Adding markup to the site

Finally, you must add the updated JSON-LD markup to your CMS (Content Management System). You can download the HTML file or copy and paste it into the header section of your web page to add the markup.

Adding markup data in the header of the web page.

Clicking on the ‘Finish’ button will provide instructions to add structured data to your web page.

Using Tracking Pixels Correctly

Tracking pixels are snippets of code that transfer users’ on-page behavior information. For example, what a user does after reading a sponsored post or clicking on an ad.

Working principle of tracking pixels

Tracking pixels are transparent single pixels, so they are not visible on web pages. These microdata inform publishers and advertisers about ads’ performance, the number of visits or sign-ups they are getting, and the amount of sales or conversions they are generating. This, in turn, helps advertisers to measure the outcome of their PPC campaigns.  

However, SEO for publishers is often hurt by slow page loading speed due to lousy tracking pixel practices. Page loading speed is a confirmed Google ranking factor, and hence, you must ensure that your SEO publishing does not get hurt by tracking pixels.


It would help if you remember the following while using tracking pixels to avoid slow page loading speed,

  1. As mentioned earlier, tracking pixels are basically code snippets. Hence, if you add too many tracking pixels (code) on your web page, the loading speed will drop. Hence, you must try to limit the usage.
  2. Placing the tracking pixels at the bottom of the web page allows the main content and other elements like images to load faster.
  3. You must use asynchronous coding to ensure both web page content and tracking pixels load simultaneously.
  4. Once you finish adding or updating tracking pixels on your web page, measure the impact of the changes by entering your web page URL in Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

However, it would be great to be transparent about your tracking pixel usage to the readers and offer them an option to opt out. That would help you maintain visitors’ privacy and comply with norms like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Solving Keyword Cannibalization Issues

Keyword cannibalization takes place when multiple pages of the same website target similar keywords, if not the same. It makes them compete against each other, ending up damaging the website’s SEO and SERP rankings. 

If several web pages of your publishing site are targeting the same set of keywords and with the same search intent, then it’s simply a case of keyword cannibalization.

What is keyword cannibalization, and how can it be fixed?

Keyword cannibalization confuses search engines about the relevancy of those web pages. Due to this, search engines are unable to decide which web page to rank. As a result, the search engines either do not show any of those web pages or show multiple pages targeting the same search intent. Both scenarios can deeply hamper the SEO publishing of your website.


  1. You must set up website redirects on your duplicate pages to send visitors from one page to another.
  2. It would help if you placed canonical tags on the duplicate pages to tell search engines about the preferred version of your web pages.
  3. You can differentiate your duplicate pages by optimizing them for another different keyword.
  4. If none of the above solutions work for your publishing site, you can add a noindex tag to guide crawlers not to crawl or index your duplicate pages.

The 8 Essential Strategies For SEO Publishing

Now that you know the prime challenges of SEO for publishers and how to overcome those hurdles, we will discuss eight SEO publishing good practices that every publisher should follow in this section of the article.

Here you go!

Create People-First Content

Google prioritizes user experience the most and primarily aims to serve the most relevant content to its searchers. This is why publishers must focus on creating valuable content that engages readers and satisfies their search intentions instead of creating content to get ranked on search results pages. Google advises the same as well.

Google’s view on content

You must create content avoiding keyword stuffing or any black hat SEO technique to rank higher. It would help if you remembered that your content is for adding value to your human readers and not for crawl bots.

Perform Keyword Research

Performing keyword research is the best way to know what your readers are searching for on the internet. It reveals the terms they frequently use while typing their search queries. Knowing those keywords can immensely help you to create content on the most relevant topics. However, you must ensure that your keyword research is accurate by choosing a reliable free keyword research tool like the one RankWatch offers.

RankWatch keyword research tool

The tool will suggest a list of organic and long-tail keywords related to your seed keyword in the blink of an eye.

Keyword suggestions in the RankWatch keyword research tool

The tool also provides search volume, cost-per-click, keyword difficulty (competition), and keyword trend for each keyword.

Optimizing Content For Google News

Google’s news aggregation service is known as Google News. After compiling and organizing articles from various news sources, it provides them to users as personal feeds based on their previous searches and preferred topics.

Homepage of Google News

If your SEO publishing content can rank in Google News, it can significantly boost the organic traffic to your website. For that, focusing on curating top-notch content on relevant topics your target audience will be interested in should be an essential part of your SEO publishing.

You must optimize your content and headings by including relevant keywords. Adding a Schema markup will provide search engines with additional relevance. Once you finish creating content, you must share it through the Google Publish Center.

Google Publisher Center

You can submit your content using URLs, RSS feeds, or videos.

Adding publication URL in Google Publisher Center

Google Publisher Center also allows you to analyze the performance of your article in Google News. That helps you to measure user engagement and plan your content strategy accordingly.

Adding Image Alt Texts

Adding alt text to your content images is vital in SEO publishing. It helps search engines understand the context of your images and rank your content better. It also helps readers understand the image’s intent in case the browser fails to load. Moreover, it also makes your images accessible to readers with visual imparity.

Though most reputed content management systems offer dedicated fields for adding image alt texts, you can also manually add them by adding alt attributes in the HTML code of the image, as shown below.

Adding alt attributes in the HTML code of the image

You can apply the following tactics while writing your image alt texts to impact your SEO publishing optimally:

  1. Your alt text must accurately describe the image using concise language.
  2. You can naturally include relevant keywords in your image alt texts, provided it makes sense.
  3. Avoid writing alt texts for decorative images.

It would be helpful to choose an on-page SEO checker like RankWatch to check the provisions for further improving your image alt texts.

RankWatch on-page SEO checker

The RankWatch SEO IQ feature shows the usage of exact keywords in your image alt text and suggests action for further optimization for SEO publishing.

Keyword suggestions for image alt texts in RankWatch SEO IQ

Implementing HTTPS For Data Privacy

Hypertext Transfer Protocol ensures data privacy and security by encrypting the communication between your publishing website and the reader’s browser.

RankWatch uses HTTPS for user’s data privacy and security

Though HTTPS is not a confirmed Google ranking factor, Google prioritizes user security. That way, it would be better to use HTTPS for your publishing website. Moreover, using HTTPS offers you the following additional benefits:

  1. HTTPS provides you with the opportunity to use the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) framework to ensure the quick loading of your web pages on mobile devices.
  2. Users feel more secure by the extra layer of security offered by HTTPS and feel more comfortable sharing their data or making a subscription to your publishing website.

You need not worry if your publishing site is yet not using HTTPS; you can simply switch by following a few simple steps,

  1. Purchase an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate from a web hosting company or a third-party provider.
  2. Follow the installation instructions provided by the service provider to install the SSL certificate. 
  3. Update the version of internal links from HTTP to HTTPS.
  4. Set up redirects manually to ensure browsers point to HTTPS versions of the web pages.

Adding Internal Links

Internal links allow you to link your web page content to another web page of your website. It helps readers to gather more relevant information from your website. Interlinking your content to your other authoritative web pages builds trust and reliability in the eyes of search engines.

Internal linking structure

On the other hand, you can place internal links on your authoritative web page content that point to other relatively new web pages to boost traffic.

Link Building

Even SEO beginners know the importance of backlinks in achieving a higher position on search results pages, and the same is applicable to SEO publishing. Backlinks are hyperlinks that point from one page to another web page of a different website.

Acquiring high-quality backlinks from other authoritative publishing websites that are key players in your industry will significantly enhance your SEO publishing. Besides, it will boost the trustworthiness of your site to readers and search engines. It is worth checking your website’s total number of backlinks and their sources using a free online backlink checker tool like RankWatch.

RankWatch backlink checker tool

The tool shows the total number of your active and deleted backlinks.

Backlink overview report

You can also check the percentage of active backlinks providing link value (DoFollow backlinks) to your site from the backlink overview report. The tool also provides the quality of your backlinks and their source domains.

Quality of referring backlinks and domains.

It allows you to reconsider the inclusion of backlinks received from domains that are not that trustworthy. Next, you need to take action for the deleted backlinks, at least on the ones that were from authoritative sources. You can contact and follow up with those sources to learn the reason for the issues and resolve those issues immediately to earn those backlinks.

Spying on your competitor’s backlink strategy is another way to earn high-quality backlinks. It allows you to know the sources from which they are earning their backlinks. You can also approach those sources to earn backlinks for your publishing site as well, which can help you further optimize your SEO publishing. You only need to analyze your competitor’s domain using the RankWatch backlink analyzer to fetch those sources.

Authority of referring pages and domains

The tool not only shows the list of referring pages and domains your competitor is receiving backlinks from but also shows their level of authority.

Use Canonical URL Tags

Suppose your publishing site offers duplicate web pages. In that case, you must use canonical URL tags for the main pages to guide Google and other search engines to provide ranking authority to the primary version of the web page only.

Publisher sites often face the issue of showing wrong versions of duplicate pages in search results even after using canonical tags due to the overuse of parameterized URLs.

Example of parameterized URL

The canonical tags help Google understand the principal page with canonical URLs.

Example of canonical URL tag

A typical canonical tag in the <head> section of the source code of a web page looks like the above example.

Final Thoughts

The importance of SEO for publishers has gained a different height, especially after the drastic shift towards online reading instead of physical books during the pandemic. As most publishers understood the importance of and tried to implement SEO publishing for their websites, the ball game of SEO for publishers became more critical.

SEO publishing is always challenging with criticalities like crawlers’ limitation of crawling bulk amounts of new content, discoverability of gated content, the requirement of different structured data for various content types, correctly implementing tracking pixels and facing keyword cannibalization issues.

If you are new to this, you can take this article as a guide for SEO for news publishers. Even if you are not new to the industry, following the SEO publishing tips discussed in this article can help you enhance your SEO publishing in leaps and bounds. However, you must ensure that you choose the right tools while implementing the SEO techniques for your publishing site.

Share Your Thoughts

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more articles

Want to stay on top of the latest search trends?

Get top insights and news from our search experts.


Try Rankwatch Today For FREE !

Start Your FREE 14 Days Trial

25,000+ Active customers in 25 countries use RankWatch as their primary SEO software