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The Axios news SEO Playbook: Speed, Power and Conciseness

If you've ever read Axios, you'll remember it. At least that's what Ryan Kellett, Axios' VP of Public, is hoping for. A news article on Axios has a d

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Axios news SEO Playbook

If you’ve ever read Axios, you’ll remember it. At least that’s what Ryan Kellett, Axios’ VP of Public, is hoping for.

A news article on Axios has a distinct look. All in the name of Smart Brevity.

Smart Brief: “Axios makes you smarter, faster at what matters.” This is their mission. They have five excellent guiding principles:

  • audience first
  • elegant efficiency
  • always smart
  • There is no BS for sale
  • Excellence always

What about search engine optimization? Axios received 24.8 million visitors in March, with 16% of the traffic coming from organic search, according to Semrush’s traffic checker. (For comparison purposes, the New York Times is the largest news site, with over 1 billion visitors in March — but Axios doesn’t cover nearly as many topics as Times, CNN, or other big news publishers.)

The news is incredibly competitive. And clever brevity seems to go against what many consider best SEO practices. That is, longer and more is better.

So how does Axios SEO and Smart Brevity work together?

deepen. Here are some highlights from my recent Q&A with Kellett. Edited for wit and brevity.

SEO is an entry point. For Axios, the audience is always first. Kellett said Axios delivers breaking news and trustworthy insights in the smartest and most effective way possible. So what role does SEO play in Axios? Here’s what Kellett said:

  • “The goal of our SEO system is to familiarize readers with our fact-based coverage and smart succinctness in a way that earns their time, attention, and trust. You will notice that Axios is outstanding not only in the quality of what we produce but in the actual appearance of the written article. Have you ever seen our bullet points and bold? forgotten.”
  • “If we can convince a search reader to select Smart Brevity wherever they see Axios next (for example, in a social feed, Apple News, or a forwarded email from a friend), they will likely eventually turn out to be a subscriber to one of our many great newsletters. “.
  • “Sure, we’d love it if they signed up for a newsletter right away after they came from searching, but mostly search is an entry point at the top of the conversion funnel for readers who might come to us for the first or second time.”

One exception: Axios Pro, which is a specialized news subscription. Kellett said that professional readers coming from the research may be looking for a specific company or individual covered by Axios.

Intelligent brevity is the essence of Axios. It’s hard to stand out in a crowded news space. Making the content longer will conflict with everything Axios is trying to do. Kellett thinks shorter is better. And that most news articles across the web can benefit from being shorter and more readable:

  • “Everyone focuses on the brevity part. But it is brevity as well as making the reader smarter that drives everything we do.”
  • “Sure, we run into this in search rankings, but we have to take comfort in knowing that the reader will appreciate clever brevity when confronted with us, recognize it in the wild, and eventually look for it from us. Obviously we can’t commit if our stories aren’t indexed or ranked on the The launch, so we’re looking to avoid that. But other than that, we have broad shoulders and are sailing as best we can.”

Why axioms matter. As Kellett pointed out, Axios articles have a distinct appearance. And this look has an internal name in Axios: Axioms. The pattern can be traced back to the main newsletter of Axios founder Mike Allen, Axios AM. Kellett said the axioms have debatable value for SEO — but it’s an undeniable value to their audience:

  • “How many articles have you read where the most important point is buried and the whole reason should you care about it in the seventh or tenth paragraph? We use the axiom of ‘reason for importance’ so that you, the reader, can quickly determine why the story is important in the first place.”
  • “Part of the axioms SEO can be very subtle. I can make the argument that we provide a consistent pattern for search engines to select and analyze our content. But I’m not sure how practically it helps us with rankings right now. If you have creative ideas on how to scale the axioms For research, my Twitter direct messages are open until Elon Musk shuts me down.”

“Start in a good place and improve from there.” Their CMS defaults help prompt reporters to write good URLs and SEO-friendly headlines. Kellett said that Axios does not have a separate research team outside of its larger audience, so it relies on its news desk, copy editing and audience teams every day.

Headings are one area that Axios regularly tries to improve to improve performance. Their teams do it manually, by looking at performance and going through a CMS. Axios does not use any kind of automated testing of addresses.

5 Best Axios SEO Practices

1. Teach search engine optimization. This is ongoing and an important part of keeping up with changes to SEO, Kellett said.

  • “I’m always on the lookout for myths and bad habits to correct. Audience manager Neil Rothschild writes a weekly email (produced with our Axios HQ software) to the newsroom to review examples and changes in best practices, which is very helpful to spread the word internally quickly.”

2. Power and depth. Axios is not CNN.com. They don’t cover every subject under the sun. Kellett said that Axios is focused on strengthening its areas of authority:

  • “Readers may see some of the breaking news coverage that we publish, but we also have surprisingly deep coverage of narrower topics like space, sports betting, electric cars, China, privacy, and immigration, to name a few. All of these are forward-looking areas that will be even more important to the country over time. the time “.
  • “And that depth could come into play in the future. For example, Axios had more power than you thought when the war in Ukraine started because we covered Volodymyr Zelensky, including this great interview we had with him at Axios on HBO in 2021. Using this expertise advances pure journalism and SEO objectives.”

3. Interpreters.

  • “I loved working on the explanation, which really helps us step back and give regular readers a chance to get into a story using clever brevity. Axios Explains Ukraine is a great example of where we’re headed.”

4. Speed. For breaking news, Axios is fast. Really fast.

  • “Being among the first URLs on the web in a big story helps us rank as the news develops. We often get knocked down when the big publishers knock but generally stay fast, pointing out our expertise through internal links, and peeling back the corners of a really cool story gives us a fighting chance” .

5. Column and evergreen content. Axios publishes more than just short articles.

  • “We have a bunch of deep dives covering topics in depth and from a range of different angles. These stories have the potential to be great core content and also evergreen with some ongoing technical and editorial SEO work.”

Breaking Seo News Axios: Axios just hired its first SEO manager: Priyanka ForaFormerly Quartz Audience Editor. It will help build your Axios SEO practices further.

  • “I’d also like to keep an eye on Axios’ job listings page as the company is in a growth mode across a number of areas, in and around our newsroom.”

Choosing a SEO tool in Axios. “We’re a Semrush store right now,” Kellett said. Although it is personally biased for exporting GSC data to Google Sheets.

The most important KPIs or metrics for SEO? Initial referrals are important to Kellett the most. Also, the percentage of total traffic indicated from the search.

“Although, of course, I will also celebrate with anyone in our newsroom who sends me a screenshot showing when Axios is in the Top Stories library,” Kellett said.


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About the author

Danny Goodwin is Senior Editor at Search Engine Land. In addition to daily writing on SEO, PPC, and more about Search Engine Land, Goodwin also manages a roster of Search Engine Land experts in the search field. It also helps with programming for our SMX Conference Series – Search Marketing Expo. Prior to joining Search Engine Land, Goodwin served as Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, where he led editorial initiatives for the brand. He was also an editor at Search Engine Watch. He has spoken at many major research conferences and virtual events, and his expertise is drawn from a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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