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Secrets of Successful SEO Editors in Newsrooms

High-achieving SEO editors are crucial in today’s digital newsrooms, blending editorial expertise with search optimization to maximize content reach and engagement.

By Sakshi
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SEO Editor
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In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the role of an SEO editor is crucial for any newsroom aiming to maximize its reach and impact. These professionals bridge the gap between editorial quality and search optimization, ensuring that content engages readers and ranks well on search engines. What sets a high-achieving SEO editor apart? It’s a blend of strong editorial skills, a deep understanding of the search landscape, and exceptional interpersonal abilities.

1. Editorial Expertise

A successful SEO editor combines editorial sensibility with search expertise. “High-achieving news SEOs can combine a strong editorial sensibility with a strong understanding of the search landscape in which their newsroom is trying to compete,” says Alexia LaFata, Senior SEO Manager at Vox Media. This dual capability allows them to craft pitches and recommendations that perform well in search and resonate with the editorial team. They need to intimately understand the publication’s brand to ensure their suggestions are on point.

2. Data-Driven Decision Making


Understanding and analyzing data is fundamental. A good SEO editor can turn an SEO analyst’s recommendations into traffic success for their brand. This requires a robust grasp of data analysis and the ability to translate insights into actionable strategies. Candace Mitchell, the Senior SEO editor for the Washington Post, emphasizes that great audience editors can “translate research into actionable insights” and effectively communicate the reasoning behind their recommendations.

3. Relationship Building and Trust

Building strong relationships within the newsroom is vital. Kyle Sutton, Director of SEO at The Points Guy, highlights the importance of earning trust: “If SEO consulting has been a revolving door for a publisher, it can be difficult to hear new or potentially conflicting guidance.” Establishing trust through continuous communication and collaboration is key to getting buy-in for SEO initiatives. Erin Seims, SEO Director of Cooking at The New York Times, supports this view, stating that successful SEO involves continuous communication and relationship-building.

4. Embedded Within Editorial Teams

An effective SEO editor is deeply embedded within the editorial team. This involves participating in standups, planning sessions, and post-mortem meetings. By being a visible and active team player, SEO editors can foster collaboration and ensure their insights are integrated into the editorial process. Kyle Sutton notes that by presenting oneself as a team player, section editors are more likely to reach out directly and collaborate on strategy.

5. Audience-Centric Approach

Understanding what the audience is searching for and tailoring content to meet those needs is crucial. Candace Mitchell explains that it’s more effective to communicate guidance in terms of reader needs and intentions rather than just trends. This approach helps create content that genuinely serves the audience’s interests and enhances engagement.

6. Accountability and Adaptability

A strong SEO editor is accountable and adaptable. They should be able to differentiate between good and bad pitches and take responsibility for the outcomes of their efforts. Claudio E. Cabrera, VP of Newsroom Strategy and Audience at The Athletic, stresses the importance of accountability, encouraging SEO teams to reflect on their performance and strive for improvement.

7. Educational Role

Evangelising SEO in the newsroom goes beyond just focusing on traffic numbers. It involves educating colleagues about why certain content performs well and what can be learned from it. Claudio Cabrera points out that great SEOs explain the reasons behind the success of coverage and the lessons that can be drawn from it.

8. Curiosity and Tenacity

Curiosity and tenacity are essential traits for an SEO editor. Rocky Rhodes, Senior SEO Manager at Foundry, emphasises that the best SEOs are driven by curiosity and are relentless problem solvers. They seek answers to complex questions and are willing to explore unconventional avenues to find solutions. This curiosity drives innovation and continuous improvement.

9. Collaboration Skills

Collaboration is a cornerstone of effective SEO. High-achieving SEO editors work well with both technical and non-technical staffers, translating SEO best practices into terms that resonate with different stakeholders. Erin Seims highlights the importance of this skill, noting that it’s essential for integrating SEO strategies across the organisation.

10. Big Picture Thinking

Understanding how SEO efforts align with the broader goals of the publication is crucial. Audience editors should not feel isolated from the wider newsroom. Candace Mitchell notes that her team’s skills shine best when they are engaged with editors early in the planning phase. Celebrating wins and connecting editorial efforts with overall success can bridge gaps and motivate the team.

11. Continuous Improvement and Ownership

High-achieving SEO editors are always looking for ways to improve. They take ownership of their work and are willing to dig into tough problems to find solutions. Rocky Rhodes advises that ownership involves advocating for best practices, asking questions, and over-communicating roadmaps and initiatives to stakeholders.

12. Effective Communication

Communication is key to success. Effective SEO editors articulate their strategies clearly and celebrate the successes of their colleagues. Kyle Sutton emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s role in the bigger picture and how team efforts contribute to overall goals.


High-achieving SEO editors possess a unique blend of editorial and analytical skills, strong relationship-building abilities, and a relentless drive to improve and innovate. They understand the intricacies of search dynamics and can translate data into actionable insights. These professionals are not just traffic chasers; they are integral members of the newsroom who contribute to audience growth and engagement through effective communication and collaboration. By fostering trust, being accountable, and continuously seeking to learn and adapt, SEO editors can significantly enhance the impact of their publications.