Seo strategy

How The Telegraph’s SEO strategy led to a surge in Brexit-related traffic

According to ABC figures released this week.

Interest in the referendum was massive in June and peaked on June 24, the day after the referendum. Yes, it’s the same day as search ‘what is the EU?’ and ‘what does Brexit mean?’ dope.

This gave a massive boost to newspaper sites in general, but especially the Telegraph and the Guardian.

The Telegraph’s growth was bigger (up 20% month-over-month) than the rest, and I bet it was down (at least in part) thanks to some intelligence SEO work of the Telegraph team.

Here are the growth numbers:

UK Unique Users, June vs May:

  • Telegraph up 20% MOM
  • Goalie up 14%
  • Mail online, no change.
  • Rising Sun 5%
  • Mirror up 2.9%

World Uniques, June vs May:

  • Telegraph up 21%
  • Goalie up 9%
  • Online mail up 5%
  • Sunrise 12%
  • Mirror up 5%.

The Guardian and Telegraph are two of the more “serious” newspaper sites (the Times paywall means it’s not listed here), which partly explains how they profited the most from an event-related spike. news.

On the other hand, The Sun (which is not a serious source of information) was one of the few sites that did not see a post-Brexit improvement. The spike you can see comes after the 24th and is from the Dream Team football app, rather than anything news related.

Perhaps, given that The Sun was very pro-Brexit, to the point of reporting no possible negatives, netizens didn’t trust it as a reliable news source.

Indeed, when the Sun talked about the post-Brexit negatives, readers suddenly wondered why they hadn’t been told this before.

The Growth of the Guardian

The Guardian announced its strongest month ever with over 1 billion first-time page views in a calendar month and a record 167 million monthly unique visitors.

Moreover, thanks to content such as its live blog on Brexit, itself the most popular article ever published on the site, with more than 10 million unique users, The Guardian saw its daily traffic on highest ever recorded.

Brexit blog

It attracted over 17 million unique visitors and 77 million page views on June 24, the day the referendum results were announced.

The Guardian does a lot of things right in terms of SEO, and there’s no doubt that contributed to those numbers.

The growth of the Telegraph

The Guardian figures were impressive, but The Telegraph topped them in terms of monthly growth.

In the graphics tweeted by the Telegraph’s director of digital media, Malcolm Coles, we can see the Brexit effect:

I suspect a solid SEO strategy has a lot to do with The Telegraph’s impressive performance. This strategy put him in a strong position to benefit from additional traffic around such a news event.

It consistently ranks high in Google News results, while ranking well for key topics thanks to a well-executed strategy that includes effective internal linking and landing/hub pages for key topics.

For example, this is from an article on Mail Online’s strategy, showing how effectively the Telegraph has used links. He shows the performance of his “David Cameron” page:


This page works consistently because The Telegraph links the rest of its Cameron content to this page, which tells search engines this is the page to view for that phrase.


This means that instead of having multiple articles on them competing against each other causing fluctuating search rankings, it has a dedicated hub page.

The Telegraph seems to have repeated this approach for the EU referendum, with a front page on the issue. Searching this morning is the top ranked newspaper site for the term.

telegrpah eu reference page

With this groundwork and consistent linking, when traffic soared on June 24, The Telegraph was in a strong position to attract search traffic.

european referendum

Additionally, The Telegraph has been very smart in capturing traffic for news searches around events like the referendum or Euro 2016 – where the events are taking place, start times, where you can watch them etc. .

For example, this page appears for searches around the Tour de France today, providing information on stage start times, TV coverage, and more.

TDF Telegraph

This content provides useful information for viewers that directly answers some informational questions, but also helps showcase the rest of the site’s cycling coverage to help attract additional users.

This strategy appears to have been applied to a range of news and sporting events, and is a great tactic for leveraging “who, what, where” searches.

I don’t have detailed data on where the Telegraph’s monthly growth came from, but I bet a clever SEO strategy allowed it to take full advantage of the extra interest in news around the Brexit vote. .