Google News organizes a significant portion of the world’s news and makes it accessible to its users, providing those users with timely and useful articles. But the world of news, media and blogs is so saturated, with a massive amount of posts being published daily, there’s only so many of those posts that will make the cut for Google News.
In this post, we provide a detailed breakdown of the guidelines and standards Google uses to determine the sites and types of posts that will be included in the news feed.
What is Google News?
It’s a section of search results that features a list of news and breaking news updates taken from over 25,000 news websites. Google News launched back in January 2006, using Google’s algorithm to gather relevant and up-to-date news stories.
What is the main advantage of Google News?
The sites that get listed in this feed will see a huge influx of insane amounts of traffic … for free. For example, on January 19th, Google celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. day with a Google Doodle featuring an illustration of the late civil right’s activist and revered political orator.
This got a great deal of traction and sparked a flurry of searches about the illustration.
Search Engine Land cleverly saw an opportunity to publish a post about the artist and the intention of this popular doodle. And when users then searched about the doodle, the Search Engine Land post appeared at the top of the SERPs under “In the News”.
Many publishers like Phone Arena and Huffington Post use news jacking to drive traffic and earn links on a daily basis.
The greatest advantage here is that getting listed in Google News doesn’t require a lot of SEO work to be done. Strong topical content floats to the top through its own merit.
How much does Google News impact traffic?
News attracts 100 times more traffic than regular organic traffic. The service will drive tons of traffic to your site and boost the domain authority of your page. Both these things will increase the shares and backlinks to your site, and thus increase organic visibility.
Which sites are most likely to benefit from Google News?
Some sites are more likely to get picked up by Google News than others. Websites that publish a large quantity of strong and helpful content written by multiple authors in various categories are more likely to make the cut over, for example, bloggers who publish sporadically.
Regular and frequent updates are valued over length of posts. Also, churning out large volumes is not a strict requirement, but it does help.
How many days do posts get highlighted on Google News?
Fresh updated content is given a direct ranking priority in Google News. Most posts are pushed down within two-to-four days.
Now the Million Dollar Question: How Does a Site Get Approved for Google News?
It’s not an easy task to get listed in Google News. But you can increase the chances of your website getting approved by following these simple steps.
Have a Custom News Theme with a Specific Silo Structure
Your website has to go through a manual approval process first. Therefore, it’s important to create a professional news or magazine style theme for your website. The website should have a specific silo structure meaning that posts and articles should be categorized clearly on the site into education, technology, politics, sports etc., and this should be very evident in the navigation and UI.
Take a look at the websites of The New York Times, CNN and Fox News. Do you see the pattern?
The ideal news site would have a number of authors, covering a variety of topics every day. Always try to have a number of authors or reporters and a separate biography page for the contributing authors.
This is where most of them get it wrong. While crafting headlines, follow this order of priority:
- The headlines should be professional and news-y
- They should have relevant keywords
- They should be attractive and should pique interest
Article Frequency and Website Authority
Google doesn’t have any official statement on these two. But most listed sites publish at least 2-3 times a day and already have a consistent history of publishing, with an archive of at least a couple hundred posts.
It’s also important to demonstrate accountability and transparency for what you publish. Have clearly accessible email and physical addresses and phone numbers.
It’s very important to publish original and fresh content. Duplicated and curated content is a total turn-off for Google News approval.
Have a Valid Business Model
It’s always better to show that the site has visitors and has a functional and non-intrusive business model. Ads are what push the content model that the internet runs on.
Have Updated News
Always be up-to-date and generate multiple news articles daily with fresh content as Google always looks for heavily active sites. Also, do remember that you won’t rank longer than 2-3 days in Google News for a single post.
It’s important that you follow a specific structure for your articles. Always specify the category, tags and publish date before the article. Have an image that can be displayed in the SERPs and drive CTRs, non-intrusive sharing buttons, and a comment section that can drive engagement.
Make sure that your website is Mobile Friendly
It’s very important to have a mobile-friendly site. Google favours sites that have responsive design, which most contemporary news sites have.
Importance of Google News Sitemap and News Keyword Tag
For the beginners out there, a sitemap is simply a file that webmasters create for search engine crawlers, so that they can easily crawl and index the web pages on a site. The Google News sitemap has a number of distinctive features from the normal sitemap. For news posts, time is of the essence, and the purpose of the news sitemap is to aid the search engine crawlers to discover newly posted news articles faster. The sitemap can have a maximum of 1,000 URLs in its index at a time, and should only include URLs of articles published in the past two days, so that the latest posts and stories are always included.
For WordPress users, the best method is to use the Google News XML Plugin to dynamically create feeds that comply with the Google News Sitemap protocol and XML formats. The plugin also automatically pings search engines on new post publications.
For non-WordPress sites, users can add sitemap entries manually using news-specific tags. Here is an example of a news sitemap entry.
Definitions of various news-specific tags are also available here. After creating the sitemap, you can easily submit it through Google Webmaster Tools.
News articles you publish should also have an additional news_keywords tag. Most news headlines are very poorly optimized, but Google introduced the news_keywords tags for news articles so help categorize those articles properly and make those posts more search friendly.
You can add up to 10 keywords. The wonderful thing about this is that these keywords need not be included anywhere in the body text or headlines. This gives publishers a lot of freedom to write news articles as they like. For WordPress users, the Google News Keywords from Tags plugin is the best way to add keywords without meddling with code. However, the metatag has a simple structure:
meta name=”news_keywords” content=”keyword1, keyword2, keyword3″
Note: Google has emphasized that the news_keyword tag is just like any other ranking signal, and doesn’t hold as much priority as the quality of the news article.
1. Do not post about job updates, notifications or how-to guides. Posting job updates is completely against Google News TOS. It would be ideal to have a dedicated career page for job updates and to simply drop a link to it in the footer.
2. Do not update an article often after it’s posted. This will create problems with the crawler.
3. Do not publish news posts that have just images or videos.
4. Site re-designs should be done in a completely non-intrusive way. Site revamps are known to affect coverage in Google News.
5. Separate non-news content from news content. Churning out news articles just for promotion or marketing might cause Google to remove your site from news results.
How to Submit your Website for Google News
If your site meets all the above requirements, you are ready to request for inclusion in Google News. Keep in mind that while Google allows applying more than once, you won’t be able to reapply for another 60 days after rejection. So make sure that you’re completely done with all the requirements.
Visit Google News Publisher Center, and verify your site in the Google search console. The verification process is fairly easy and involves three steps:
1. Enter your domain details.
2. Download verification file, upload it to your site, and confirm the upload. Alternatively, add a meta tag to your site’s homepage, verify this tag by signing in to your domain name provider, Google Analytics account or Google Tag manager account.
If you already have websites linked to your Google account, they will be readily listed in the Google News Publisher Center, and you can go ahead and request for inclusion in Google News.
3. A popup will prompt you to enter a number of details:
Go ahead and fill in this form and submit it. You will get a notification within seven days if your site meets their guidelines and you’re approved. Your site may be rejected for various reasons, but you can always make changes and re-apply after 60 days.
Well, that’s a basic overview of making it into Google News, and though there’s a lot more involved, these tips and tricks should help your site get much closer to gaining access to the club!
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