New AudioMag: Richard Carmichael on the Power of Search

Richard Carmichael
Richard Carmichael

Showing up on page one of Google search results is something every publisher aims for. But getting there can be a real struggle, even if your content is of a superior quality to what lands on that page.

For some publishers, it has been the battle between devoting resources and staff to their print product versus their digital products. And often times digital has taken a back seat to the print product.

“What we find is that traditional print-based businesses are very reluctant to go whole-hog into digital,” says Richard Carmichael, director of digital at Truth and Dare, a full-service creative and digital agency.

Carmichael says in the latest episode of AudioMag that he hears one common concern from publishers: “‘If I go full into digital my clients who buy print ads are going to think the print ads are no longer valid, and we lose our business model.’ So they are afraid to go fully immersed in it.”

Carmichael and his colleague Rob Campbell will be presenting some of their key strategies to move stories higher up in Google searches, through proven methods that all publishers can incorporate.

Coming up April 25 at MagNet 2018 they’ll walk through a top-down SEO strategy completed for Horse Canada.

Founded as a print magazine, Horse Canada was frustrated by its lack of presence on page one as they knew they were the authoritative voice for all things horse in Canada.

In this session, Richard and Rob will share how they helped Horse Canada refresh their content curation and publishing strategy to focus on leveraging the value of their subject matter authority online, as well as how they helped them to develop new content that would be of interest to readers.

“Magazines are rich—they are loaded with amazing content but you can’t actually see or appreciate or spend any of that wealth until you turn that content into currency,” explains Carmichael. “Let’s harness the value of all the work you’ve put together over the years and get found on search for those things, and then how do we optimize your activities going forward, both on page and off page, to make sure you are found on page one for things that you want to be relevant for.”

Truth and Dare also will provide tips on training editors and writers on how to optimize content and what tools for online publishing need to be utilized in order to optimize all content moving forward.

Overwhelmed? Where to Start

Let’s be realistic. If you’ve been publishing for years, you have tens of thousands of articles to choose from for optimizing. That can be daunting for staff.

“It can be an overwhelming thing to contemplate and what we’ve found is there is no silver bullet. We have to get a really good idea of what the lowest hanging fruit is. Rather than getting 1,500 pages of content up to date right away we say, ‘What can we go after in priority and get the biggest leaps?’ We basically started by looking for pages that are really popular on the web already but may only show up on page two or page three as opposed to buried ten or twenty pages deep,” says Carmichael.

“If it’s only one page behind we focus our efforts on what’s going to get the quick wins first and then put together a longer-term strategy to help us migrate the next set of priorities. Go for your priorities—set your goals and write it into a content calendar so that everybody has a manageable amount of work to make it achievable.”

Know Thyself—And Don’t Confuse Google

Creating content that consistently delights and informs readers doesn’t have to change in order to play well in the digital space. And to do that there are behind-the-scenes tools on Google that can help.

“Google wants to know who you are, why you’re important and why should anybody care about you? So addressing those things and answering the questions that the robots want to know are primary. That’s all done behind the scenes on page,” says Carmichael.

“The other things you can do on page are to make sure all your titles, all your content itself is focused, so you’re not all over the map but what you’re doing is communicating very effectively in a strategic way about what you’re trying to achieve on each page.”

Carmichael says that really understanding who you are as a publishing company, and what you want to be for readers is of course key to focusing your content—and has the added bonus of not confusing Google. A sign that a publisher might be off track somewhat: he sees a lot of publishers including things like recipes, or Top Ten lists—stuff that looks out of place both on the page, and on a website.

“So ask ‘Who are we and what is our value to our communities?’ And really focus on delivering that. Some publications are publishing things that have nothing to do with their core offering and people are getting distracted. And what happens is while you are providing some extra nibbles for your readership you are actually confusing the heck out of Google,” he says.

“They don’t really know how to define you if you are going off on all these tangents so really understand your raison d’etre. And stay focused on that by leveraging experts in your articles who are people who are widely known outside your circle as being expert.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Richard Carmichael.

Richard presents Magazines, SEO & the Power of Search: Getting Found on Page One on Wednesday, April 25 at MagNet 2018.

MagNet is the largest gathering for magazine media professionals in North America, with keynotes, panels, awards and unparalleled networking. The two-day event kicks off April 25 in Toronto. To sign up head to the MagNet 2018 website.

Find more episodes of AudioMag in our resource centre. AudioMag is available to download and subscribe to on iTunes.

AudioMag is produced by Tina Pittaway, an award-winning independent writer and broadcaster. Tina has been a contributor to CBC Radio and Television for more than 20 years. Her radio documentaries have been recognized with honours from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, the New York Festivals, Amnesty International and the Gabriel Awards. Visit Tina online to learn more about her work.

Subscribe to our Cover Lines biweekly industry newsletter for magazine media, and we’ll let you know when we release a new AudioMag episode. Or sign up for our RSS feeds on or on iTunes.

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)   Logo for the Government of Canada Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada

AudioMag is made possible with the support of the OMDC.

Magazines Canada acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as the Canada Council, for this project.


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