With the current tragedies such as the Norwegian massacre and the death of Amy Winehouse, news has been buzzing about the two incidents. Google has been swamped with searches for these stories and thus one would wonder, how does Google rank news stories, and what makes your news better than someone else’s?
Google News is one of the premier news portals on the web, and is driven by aggregated news sources. Of course, Google news sees a large amount of traffic and being visible on it is a great opportunity for sites to get their content seen by millions of viewers. Surely anyone, whether they are involved in Internet marketing or not, would want to rank in Google News for the boom in traffic?
So what do we know about Google News and how they rank? We have all no doubt seen what they said a few years ago as far as the truths and myths about ranking news:
- Having an image next to your article improves your ranking: MYTH
- Updating an article after posting it will create problems with Google News: TRUE
- Timing the publication of your article improves your article ranking: MYTH
- Articles that are just images or video won’t be included: TRUE
- There’s no way to see why my articles weren’t included in Google News: MYTH
- Publishing a sitemap helps my rankings: MYTH
- Redesigning my site may affect my coverage in Google News: TRUE
- If I put AdSense on my site, my article rankings will improve: MYTH
The sitemap won’t help rankings, but it will help Google find those pages, which is useful because if it can’t find them they can’t rank. Google especially recommends using a News Sitemap if your site is new, has dynamic content, or requires users to follow several links to reach your news articles. If you are like myself and have any SEO knowledge, those statements are either common knowledge or pretty vague.
So what else do we know?
Submitting a site to Google News for consideration to be added to their aggregator is relatively easy, simply visit http://www.google.com/support/news_pub/bin/request.py?contact_type=suggest_content and fill out the form.
However, there are certain criteria that need to be met, some similar to the normal ranking scenarios and some unique to Google News…
Now this is something we should all know – that to have unique news articles that have not been seen by anyone will make Google’s spiders crawl with joy.
For Google to respect you as a news source, you’ll need to keep all of your content archived. That means, once that URL has been taken, there should be no recycling – archive all your files so that Google knows you have a wide collection of news that’s a resource for them to use.
Display a three‐digit number
This is probably the most vital factor. The URL for each article must contain a unique number consisting of at least three digits. As long as you have at least three digits in your URL (and the digits don’t resemble years), they can be anywhere – not necessarily at the very end.
In true Google fashion, we have to take what they say and try and decipher the riddle that they have laid before us. Often Google will deviate from what they’ve said – in the case of the three digits, a news representative once said that you do not need them in your URL if you submit content to Google News in the sitemaps format.
Let’s look at the debatable factors:
This is the interesting bit and where the so called experts are divided on the answers on how to get a site ranked on the top of Google News. Of course recency, as in having up to date articles, will play a part as Google wants the latest news. Google News also pays close attention to what kind of editorial interest a story gets, but that is similar to organic search and how viral your site and content can go.
What interests me most is how experts are torn on the concept of Page Rank. Many claim that unlike normal organic rankings, page rank does not play as big a role in Google News. Quentin Muhlert, a supposed SEO specialist claims this in an article:
“This stands to reason as the newest, most relevant articles that would makes sense to rank well would not have the time to accumulate links. The fact that Page Rank should not be a concern is a boon to younger websites, as they can take advantage of this to push public awareness of, and traffic to, their sites.”
Some of you may agree with this however I don’t. Though he makes very good points in his article, I feel this one has some flaws. If you simply look at Google News and type in a current search term you will see the sites that are at the top – ABC News, Fox News, BBC, E News – and these are not new sites yet they certainly have a powerful page rank.
The power and reputation of the site definitely helps when it comes to news rankings. A little different to the normal rankings, once Google identifies a site as a news source it will list it in their rankings. However it is clear that trust is needed in order to be seen as an authority site (Page Rank). What I would recommend here is that, like your organic rankings, work on the authority of your site and grow its rankings and trustworthiness. Google pride themselves on no short cuts, and only hard work will get you to the top. Through this, and once you are trusted, you will see your news stories start to rank and in turn your traffic start to flow.
Other up in the air factors include adding images and videos. As to whether they add value, Google stated a few years ago that they don’t but I feel that nowadays, with the growth and the importance of multimedia, Google will certainly favor them rather than not. Keywords also appear to play a bigger role with Google News as Keyword content in articles determines ranking for specific key phrases. More so, it helps to categorize your news and enables it to show up in the different news search results. As with most articles, the title and tags should be carefully chosen to maximize your chances of getting results.
There are many views to what the Good ranking factors in Google News are, and there are other factors that I am sure have not been touched on. What you need is to submit, organize the URLs, get the sitemap and make sure that you are recognized as a trusted source by Google. If you feel you are not, then get down to some old fashion SEO and start writing quality content that will get you noticed.