Episode Overview: Optimizing SEO for the news and media industry is difficult due to the news’ timely nature and the never ending flow of breaking news, which quickly outdates almost any strategy. New technology is emerging on the horizon to finally combat the issue and finally give SEOs an edge in the news and publishing industry. Join Ben as he interviews Condé Nast’s VP of Audience Development and SEO John Shehata about his new product NewzDash and how it provides a valuable toolset the industry can use to keep up with and analyze rankings within hours.
- The product’s main audience is publishers, media outlets and local newspapers as they can use it to track local views.
- NewzDash tracks rankings of keywords like SpaceX, impeachment and Taylor Swift in real time every 15 to 60 minutes.
- It also pulls schema and provides the top authoritative writer for any given topic and planned further improvements to NewzDash aim to calculate the estimated search volume for a particular trend.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
Ben: Welcome to a product and tools edition of the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and this month we’re taking a quick look at a new product that we think that you might be interested to optimize your SEO and content marketing efforts.
Ben: Joining us today is John Shehata, who’s the vice president of audience development and SEO at Condé Nast. John oversees a team of experts across 18 brands, spanning multiple departments in SEO, social media, email, operations, cross brands initiatives, and organic partnerships. He’s also the creator of a new product called NewzDash, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Okay. On with the show. Here’s my conversation with John Shehata, vp of audience development at Condé Nast and the founder of NewzDash. John, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.
John: Hey Benjamin, it’s good to be back.
Ben: Great to have you on the show. We’ve talked to you a bunch this year about your work at Condé Nast. You’re the head of a very important team that not only does SEO, but email, and operations, and all sort of audience engagements, but it turns out on the side, you’re also a product founder. Before we get into what NewzDash does, how the heck do you have the time to found a product?
John: Yeah, I’m very efficient with my time, I think.
John: Yeah. This is not something just I created today, this is something I started working on five years ago. So there’s not much time. Right? It was mainly for me to understand news better, and a lot of advice I got recently that I should push this product to the market. I’m a computer science X developer. I love product development. I think that’s why I always created, and I’m still creating, SEO products for the companies I work at. That was my one toy that I enjoyed outside of work where I started developing this product.
Ben: It’s time for your side project to go prime time. Tell me about what NewzDash is.
John: Sure. So, in Newzdash.com with a Z, it’s N-E-W-Z-dash.com
Ben: Being N-E-W-Z-D-A-S-H.com. Newzdash.com, one word.
John: Correct, yes, yes. One word. Thank you. There are a lot of great SEO tools out there that we use every day and all the publishers use, but there is a void. When it comes to publishers and news, we need more. Because, we deal with real time. We deal with breaking news, we deal with planned events, and so on. There was always that void. So, I decided to create this tool.
John: The tool is like three parts. The first part is tracking the rankings in near real time, of all newsy terms that are important. So SpaceX, impeachment, Taylor Swift, all of these kinds of things, right? You know that freshness is very important factor. Specifically, when it comes to top stories in Google web results, or Google search.
John: The results change all the time. You can just go to other ranking tools and say, “Yeah, I ranked today.” I was like, there is 24 hours, and 60 minutes at each of these hours. So, a daily rank, a weekly rank, doesn’t cut it to tell you if you’re doing well in the news space, or not. That’s why we are able to track rankings every 15 to 60 minutes, based on whatever the client decides their needs. So this is one part of it, rankings and then having a holistic view.
John: For Oscars, when you start tracking rankings a day or two before Oscars, and the day after the Oscars, because most of the traffic for Oscars comes the day after, you want to see, did you own this?
John: We did a study on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for 25 keywords, 25 days. And you can see, I’m not going to say who dominated this, but you can see the side that dominated that. You can understand their tactics, how they were switching the URLs, how they were updating the same content every day and so on, and that’s why they won. So, this is the first part in near real time tracking of keywords.
John: The second part is, everything about Google News. For publishers, Google News traffic anywhere from 4-8% of their topo traffic. Google News becoming very important. Since Google merged Google News web, Google News app, and news and weather app altogether in one, Google News web gives you a very clear insight in what’s in Google News app. I think last year, or few months ago, I looked at the similarities and it was almost about 80% similar. By studying or monitoring, Google News and everything happening there, we have clear idea on the app, as well.
John: So, we look at who owns different verticals, who is the most visible publisher in entertainment, in business, and so on. How many content is visible from their site? How many times they’re ranked number one? Who are their close competitors? What subdomains are coming?
John: We were working with this publisher, and we found that one of their subdomains, proxy.domain.com it shouldn’t be in Google News, and it was a leak of news from that subdomain into Google News. We’re able to discover a lot of content and tactics, and also some technical stuff in Google News. That’s the second part.
Ben: So tell me, what’s the third and final part?
John: Sure. The third part is trends, right? So trends are very important. Right now, we have an okay trends product so we get Google News trending topic, Google Trends. We’re trying to work with a couple of big analytics tools for publishers, to get some trends from them. But we want to take it further, and we want to analyze who is the authority in each of these trends? When you talk about Donald Trump, it’s who is the authority? Who is the most visible, right?
John: We want to take a step further and grab schema and give you the top authoritative writers on the topic as well. For each of the topics, we want to calculate the estimated search volume for that trend. If you look at the current SEO tools, they can give you only what they have, the historic information about the keyword, or a topic. Because they have been tracking that. But, when a new keyword, or something happening right now, they can’t tell you what’s the estimated volume. So we are in the process actually to come up with the translating what step, or interpreting what’s the total opportunity around a new trend that’s just emerging. So publishers can evaluate, is it worth it, or not?
Ben: So, between following keywords in real time, understanding Google News and understanding trends, who do you envision this product to be for? Who do you think is going to be the user of these products?
John: This is mainly for publishers, and media outlets, and local newspapers, because we have a local part as well. We can track local views. That’s mainly the main audience for this product.
Ben: Talk to me about your monetization. How are you thinking about pricing the products, for the local news companies, all the way to the Condé Nasts of the world. How do you think about the value that that creates, and what you charge for it?
John: I mean we have four plans, all the way from free to premium, and they’re priced from $100. Because there so many people who are not publishers, but they want to get data on the news and what’s going on. That’s why we created the 99.
John: But we also have another line which, it’s not on the site, but you can pay per usage. There is a lot of expensive tools out there. We didn’t want to create an expensive tool. We want to create a tool that is customized to each publisher needs. So if you want to track 10,000 keywords, it’s different from tracking 20,000 keywords, so we have a product where you can just buy what you need.
Ben: Well John, I’m going to go back to my original statement. I have no idea how you’ve been able to build so much utility and help people understand obviously, what keywords are changing in real time, what’s happening in news, and what are the biggest trends on Google. But the tool seems like it has some great utility, and if you’re a publisher, or you’re interested in following Google News and Google Trends; NewzDash, N-E-W-Z-D-A-S-H.com, hopefully is a product worth checking out. John, any other contact information, or anything else you could tell us about the product?
John: You can contact the team from the site itself, or you can just email use email@example.com, and someone from the sales team, or support team, will get back to you.
Ben: Awesome. John, you’re a man of many talents. Thank you for being our guest again, and congratulations on the launch of NewzDash.
John: Thank you so much for having me, and I welcome any feedback. If anyone has any feedback, send it my way. I love feedback stuff.
Ben: Okay. And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with John Shehata, VP of audience development strategy at Condé Nast, and the founder of NewzDash. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting John, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is J_Shehata, J-S-H-E-H-A-T-A. Or, you could visit his new website which is newzdash.com, N-E-W-Z-D A-S-H.com.
Ben: Just one more link in our show notes to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes, the contact information for our guests. You can send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.
Ben: Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is voicesofsearch on Twitter, or you can contact me directly. My personal handle is benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.
Ben: If you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes multiple times per week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.