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The Drum Search Awards Awards Case Studies Technology

Inside CNN's SEO efforts to crack Brazil


By The Drum, Editorial

November 28, 2023 | 4 min read

CNN Brasil and NP Digital won the Media and Entertainment Goods category at The Drum Awards for Search. Here is the award-winning case study.

The CNN Brasil website

CNN Brasil is the first news channel in the country to debut first on digital and then on television. With 24-hour multiplatform programming, it is possible to follow CNN Brasil through the main pay-TV operators, through the website, through social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin), through Youtube, through podcast platforms, or even receive CNN content in your email every day through newsletters.

Challenges / Goals / Objectives: While CNN is already an established authority in the news market, it had not positioned itself for long-term relevance in the local Brazilian market, which is essential for consistently attracting new audiences and readers. NP Digital (NPD) was tasked with increasing organic search visibility, organic sessions, and the number of pageviews coming from the organic search channel. Our critical KPI was to help deliver 1 billion pageviews in 2022. CNN also aimed to increase the percentage of organic traffic compared to all other digital channels.

Strategy / Solution: NP Digital partnered with the CNN marketing teams to develop a holistic SEO and content strategy. Our efforts encompassed in-depth research, on-page optimization, targeted content development, best practice workshops, and the implementation of technical SEO best practices at scale. Our roadmap included internal linking and technical "quick win" strategies designed to improve crawl frequency, increase overall rankings, and influence the number of results that included featured snippets.

Our technical SEO audit prioritized recommendations to increase page speed and the overall user-experience. The NPD team also supported the technical implementation efforts, focusing on schema mark-up and increasing Core Web Vital scores. Additionally, we implemented our proprietary “6R” Content Audit methodology to better optimize any existing content to align with searcher intent. This 6R Content Audit told us what content should be “reformatted”, “repurposed”, “refreshed”, “retired”, “redirected”, or what content should just “remain” as-is in order to meet user intent for different search queries.

Our initial focus was on updating and optimizing articles using the "evergreen" methodology- target articles that can support keywords with high search demand throughout the year. Answer The Public, NPD’s proprietary content recommendation platform, helped us identify rising search interest for current and on-going news events. The World Cup and controversies surrounding the elections in Brazil presented significant opportunities. We capitalized on this in the form of new content, in a variety of different formats.

Research showed us that Google rewarded (better ranking) different types of content for the various keywords that we were targeting. While written articles might work in some cases, images or videos are what were needed to rank in the top 3 positions for others. CNN’s business strategy was to grow authority in the categories of Politics, Business, and Sports. On a weekly basis, we developed and launched new content pieces.

We created and posted articles with optimized schema-markup that were rich with relevant imagery, video embeds, and other features that matched user-intent. Internal linking strategies helped to tie relevant articles to each other, this helped to develop the critical E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) signals that both Google and potential readers were looking for. In addition to the content strategy and development, NPD conducted SEO and Copywriting Best Practice workshops for members of CNN’s editorial team. This was part of our long-term SEO strategy. It was critical to give our partners at CNN the resources and training required to develop well researched and well-written content on their own, from the beginning.

Results: We hit our goal of 1 billion pageviews in early November, over a full month ahead of schedule. 50% of all pageviews originated from the organic search channel, a 91% increase in organic pageviews. 77,500 keywords were now ranking in the top 10 positions on Google, up 19%. The total number of results returning featured snippets in Google increased by 79%. According to ComScore, the CNN Brasil website advanced four positions in the number of unique visitors. With this, the site enters the Top 10, occupying the seventh ranking position in the “News and Information” category.

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