Search engine optimisation in digital journalism: A case study of the Grupo Joly media company [open access book chapter]

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Given the confirmation of the fundamental role of the application of Search Engine
Optimization (SEO) in digital news media as part of the media’s commitment to its readers, this chapter proposes to analyze the process of implementing SEO to the productive routines of Diario de Sevilla and its consequent transfer to the rest of digital news media that make up the Joly Group and collect the quantitative results of web visibility resulting from said implementation, specifically from 2018 to 2021.

To carry out this research, first of all, the case study was used, specifically of the editorial team of Diario de Sevilla. For an adequate triangulation, a participant observation, a battery of semi-structured interviews, and a qualitative analysis of the content of the internal manual on SEO of Joly Group, a media group to which Diario de Sevilla belongs, have been carried out. All this has been complemented in turn, with a quantitative study, where, thanks to Google Analytics, the web traffic obtained from the group from the year of implementation to the present (2018 – 2021) is collected.

The results confirm that in order to comprehensively implement the SEO of a newsroom, it is necessary to clearly separate the work of the journalists/editors and that of the SEO experts or managers at the level of the entire medium. In this sense, the SEO department has a strategic function of analysis and generation of guidelines for editors. While it is up to the newsroom to apply the SEO optimization recommendations without affecting the journalistic quality of the news.


Digital news media, SEO, search engine optimization, digital journalism, online journalism, website visibility.


With two decades of accumulated history both in Spain (Salaverría and Martínez-Costa, 2021) and worldwide, the online news media have had to respond to the challenges of a communicative situation that have little in common with those that affected the traditional media.

Today’s panorama is characterised above all by processes of interactivity (Cebrián-Herreros, 2009; Rodríguez-Martínez et al., 2012; Caminero & Sánchez-García, 2018), the constant renewal of internet technology and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic that has, as of 2020, resulted in a heightening of the problems and processes of digital adaptation that have impacted the media as they strive for survival.

These changes mean the news media have few options other than to reorient their content and strategies (Rodríguez-Martínez et al. 2010; Díaz-Noci, 2018; García-Avilés et al., 2018) as swiftly as they can (Suárez-Sucre, 2017) and, clearly, the integration of newsrooms into the online world has become one of the primary initiatives taken by media companies (Muerza-Ferrer, 2017).

To this we need to add the growing importance of the role being played by
social networks, on the one hand (Trillo-Domínguez & Ollero, 2018), and by search engine positioning, on the other (Giomelakis & Veglis, 2015a), in what is very much a new context of enhanced web visibility and the dynamization of the news.

Indeed, this critical need for web visibility has meant that the news media are obliged
to optimise their search engine performance (Carlson, 2007; Norris, 2007; Smyrnaios &
Rebillard, 2009; Smyrnaios, 2015), given that part of the traffic the online media receive
comes from user searches on platforms such as Google (Norris, 2007; Machill et al., 2008). For this reason, it is essential that newsrooms implement strategies of search engine optimisation (SEO) (Smyrnaios & Sire, 2014;), that is, the techniques or procedures applied to websites that help increase their chances of appearing among the main search results (Gonzalo-Penela et al., 2015; Lopezosa et al., 2018) and, so, of having greater visibility and attracting more readers.

Logically, in terms of their fine detail, SEO techniques and strategies can differ from one
medium to another (Dick, 2011; Giomelakis & Veglis, 2015b; García-Carretero et al. 2016), primarily because each medium has at its disposal a series of different resources, be they of time, finances, technical capabilities or managerial support (Dick, 2011).

However, there is little question – and this is a point stressed by more than one study – that the convergence between journalistic and SEO principles has favoured online newspapers (Asser, 2012; Lopezosa et al., 2020).

Given the blanket acceptance of the fundamental role played by the application of SEO in the online news media as part of the newspapers’ commitment to its readers (Richmond, 2008; Iglesias-García & Codina, 2016), this chapter has two primary objectives: (1) to analyse the implementation of SEO in the production routines of the Diario de Sevilla and its subsequent transfer to the rest of the online papers that make up the Spanish media company, Grupo Joly and (2) to study the quantitative outcomes of this implementation in terms of the Group’s web visibility between 2018 and 2021.


Full document


Lopezosa, Carlos; Trillo-Domínguez, Magdalena; Cabrera-Méndez, Marga; Codina, Lluís (2022). Search engine optimisation in online journalism: A case study of the Grupo Joly media company. In: Freixa, Pere; Codina, Lluís; Pérez-Montoro, Mario y Guallar, Javier (ed.). Visualisations and narratives in digital media. Methods and current trends, (pp. 67-80). Barcelona: DigiDoc-EPI.

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