What influences our choice of one source or another when it comes to keeping ourselves informed? Our ideological affinity, our socioeconomic profile, the credibility we give to each medium or simply our personal taste are factors that determine our preferred sources of information, which we refer to on a recurring and systematic basis.
But we must not forget that before accessing information, on many occasions we must go through the domains of an influential intermediary: Google.
With hundreds of means which we can use to keep ourselves informed (including blogs, social networks, applications, etc.), the competition to attract and retain an audience becomes a fierce battle. And this is where SEO comes in to play, as the key element to boost traffic and content consumption. Without a proper SEO strategy, the media audience is highly dependent on external factors, beyond their control. But can anyone afford that uncertainty?
The challenge of positioning a communication colossus
In this context of intense competition, in 2010 we started a collaboration with Radio Televisión Española that extended until 2018. We developed a comprehensive SEO strategy for the public entity, which included ongoing training, technical consultancy and daily operations: a complete programme of actions aimed at capitalising on the maximum volume of organic traffic from search engines to any type of content. The priority objectives were focused on increasing organic traffic, boosting consumption of their audiovisual content and increasing app downloads.
We cannot forget that RTVE is a medium characterised by certain particularities. In the first place, as its income does not depend on advertising, the SEO is not monetised. On the other hand, and as it is a public entity at the service of the citizen, its purpose is to encourage the consumption of informative contents, particularly audiovisual ones. Appearing higher on search engines or generating a greater number of page views is not a priority from the point of view of financial survival, as it is in other media. That is why we often refer to the work developed for RTVE as “romantic SEO”.
Secondly, it is a medium with multiple open fronts. It’s not just a matter of positioning current news, practically in real-time and in tough competition with many other informants. We also had to take into account seasonal events, marked in red on the calendar and with months of preparatory work: the Christmas Lottery draw, the Eurovision Song Contest, flagship programmes (Operation Triumph, Masterchef), sporting events (the Tour de France, the King’s Cup final), etc. Not to mention the enormous historical archive of programs, digitised and available to users through different platforms.
Finally, we always work following a premise established by the steering committee. We wanted to ensure that the RTVE website was not conceived as the digital version of a television channel, but as an information medium with its own identity and autonomy, capable of competing with the leading digital Spanish media outlets. This forced us to pay special attention to the positioning of real-time content, without neglecting the rest of the work areas. Each type of content generated by RTVE (news, series, documentaries, children’s programming, sports, etc.) has specialised competitors, which forced us to define a specific SEO strategy for each of the areas.
Designing the SEO strategy
To optimise an SEO-oriented product, it is necessary to start working from the moment of conceptualisation. Each piece of content must comply with clearly defined technical adaptation parameters: we must think about how it is going to be laid out, what type of code and markers are going to be incorporated into the labelling, which keywords are going to be associated with it, which links are going to be included, what is the page loading speed, etc. Therefore, the piece will only achieve the goal of standing out in search engine results if it leaves the factory properly optimised.
RTVE’s website is very complex: it integrates gigantic sections that encompass thousands of URLs, continuously incorporates new developments and operates with a very complex content manager, among other factors. In order to adapt the entire technological infrastructure to the requirements of SEO, from Kanvas we carried out a continuous work of technical consultancy for eight years, working hand in hand with the RTVE developers on the SEO optimisation of all issues related to the platform – product development, support, implementations, etc.
At the same time, we provided training to RTVE editors, instructing them on how to write to optimise their texts from a SEO point of view (headlines, information structure, descriptions, bold, links, etc). We provided training on a recurring basis – three or four times a year – to refresh the writing criteria and adapt them to the frequent changes in the search algorithm.
“Several SEO consultants worked permanently in house during the eight years of collaboration with RTVE”.
To carry out all this work, several SEO consultants worked permanently in house during the eight years of collaboration with RTVE. It was necessary to interact with multiple departments to define the overall strategy for free traffic acquisition: IT, metrics, editorial, social media, innovation, mobile. Everything within a constant flow of definition, implementation, measurement of results… and starting over.
Thanks to this continuous learning and implementation work, we managed to increase the number of unique users by 140%, the number of page views from Google by 280%, and the traffic from mobile applications by 190%. Our work was also recognised with the award for Best SEO SEM Campaign in the 2012 eAwards.
Two flagship projects: Rio 2016 and RTVE Lab
Among all the projects we developed during eight years for RTVE, we want to highlight two for their complexity and importance: the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and RTVE Lab.
The Olympic Games are perhaps the event that generates the greatest expectation and audience on a global level. For Rio 2016 we developed an independent website, conceived from the beginning with a view to SEO positioning of news and audiovisual content, mainly videos.
As a complement to the web, we created a mobile app and performed an exhaustive ASO (App Store Optimisation) work to achieve the maximum volume of downloads. To this end, in addition to taking care of the technical criteria (metadata of the application) from the beginning and promoting downloads from the entire RTVE media ecosystem, we aligned the contents with the most popular searches and carried out a meticulous content healing process, including exclusive content for the app users.
As a result, we managed to position the app at the top of its category in both Google Play and the App Store, surpassing 680,000 downloads, 5 million hours of video consumed, and an average of 3.5 daily app queries.
On the other hand, the LAB project – RTVE’s Audiovisual Innovation Laboratory – is a place that provides creative approaches to audiovisual content. For this area, we carried out different works aimed at improving the content indexation in Google and optimisation for mobile environments.
The most successful project was related to the award-winning Isabel series. With the aim of increasing organic traffic, we carried out a technical redefinition of content, making previously untraceable content visible to Google, and transforming a non-indexable structure into one that was. Thanks to this work, the series’ character map alone exceeded 80,000 organic visits and 560,000 page views.
In conclusion, for eight years we worked with RTVE to optimise SEO positioning long before the publication of a piece of content: researching and understanding user behavior, advising technicians and writers to work with Google in mind, applying technical SEO to all types of content – news, programming, live shows and events. With all this, we contributed to making RTVE.es the reference media in digital information that it is today.