Many websites create fantastic news content on a regular basis, but the audience that it reaches is limited because it’s not getting into Google’s News search vertical.
In this article, we explore the common pitfalls preventing businesses from appearing in Google News and discuss practical tips and advice for getting your content included in the future. Many of the practical advice areas will help you get your news content into other digital resources too (including Yahoo News and more).
If you want to know how to get your newsworthy website content into Google News, this post is for you!
What is Google News?
Google News is a computer-generated search engine vertical which collects and aggregates news stories and headlines from over 50,000 sources of information spanning the globe. Google then displays them based on user preferences and interests, or through search filtering. You can access Google News directly by going to https://news.google.com/ or by selecting the ‘News’ section below the main search bar on Google’s homepage.
Here’s an example of what the Google News home screen looks like (the default view is top stories’ and is driven by location as well as user preferences):
Some of the features to take note of include:
- Search bar functionality (typical search engine use)
- Supporting filtering (region and news type i.e. modern, classic, headlines or compact)
- Side navigation (quick topic filtering functionality)
- Weather app
- Location and preference based information widget (displaying local news based on preferences and location data)
- Editors’ picks
- Top stories (region set and global)
- Suggested for you (user behavior and preference-based data)
Why do Websites Want to Get into Google News?
The obvious answers to this from a holistic point of view are brand/expert/service reach, visibility and traffic (some of which will ultimately lead to increased sales and end results). Realistically, though, the answer is more complex.
Over 60% of people trust Google News over the news originators. This level of trust when combined with the previous expected returns, opens up broader business value outside of the traditional search metrics of impressions, traffic and revenue. Trust can be a core online differentiation between brands and websites, impacting user behavior at pre-click (advert), and post-click (website) stages.
For many businesses, inclusion within Google News is another way of making more out of current and future content. When you invest a great deal of time, money, and resources into any area of your website, you need to make that investment work hard for you as a return. Omitting Google News, or simply failing to see the potential of it, can be a fairly common oversight – one which I’m keen to help businesses overcome.
Here’s an example of a Google News search engine results page. In this case, it’s tied to some of the more recent newsworthy content I’ve written myself:
Getting into Google News
As with all of Google’s search results, there are clear guidelines and best practices which must form the basis for getting your content included and ranked highly in Google News. In the following sections, the focus is on the core guidelines you must follow for any likelihood of success within Google News.
Content types: As you might imagine, the content must being timely, relevant,and of perceived interest to the Google News audience. Some of the content not falling into this area includes: tips and advice, job adverts, or information-only content, like the weather or share prices.
Originality & readability: Content has to be accurate and created, first-hand, by you. If your site has a mixture of self-generated and aggregated content, you need to clearly differentiate this, otherwise none of it will get into (or stay in) Google News. The content created needs to be well written, and void of excessive distractions i.e. adverts, videos, and so forth.
Expertise & trust: Content that reflects industry-leading thought and expertise has a greater chance of getting into Google News. It should offer clear opinion, based on experience within the field, and be supported with trust signals including a physical address, supporting authorship, and telephone numbers.
See the full list of Google News ‘general guidelines’.
Google uses algorithm-based processing when it discovers and crawls articles for inclusion in Google News, and there are a number of technical factors must be satisfied. Many of these are traditional SEO ranking factors and others relate specifically to Google News. At a top-level you need to ensure the following:
- URLs and anchor links are descriptive of the content, unique and permanent
- The domain on which the content is hosted needs to be accessible to search engine bots
Access the full list of ‘technical guidelines‘.
Quality is present throughout every aspect of the Google ethos. If you are unsure about what determines quality in content, take a look at the Webmaster Quality Guidelines, and objectively look at your content so you can compare it to the top ranking sites on the same topic. Ensure your content exceeds the basic requirements, like depth, variation, opinion, expertise, trust, and statistics.
It’s worth stressing again at this point that Google News accepts news content only. Trying to get all of your pages in is a poor tactic and you’re destined to fail. Content in most cases will be industry-specific, and company-neutral in that it is not marketing or PR-based. Also, while it may include expert quotes and opinion, it cannot be a business advert or anything promotional.
Google News Tips & Advice
There are a number of other tactics that can be deployed to help you get your content to display and rank in Google News; here are a few of the most practical ones.
Doing the basics well: There are broader areas that can directly impact Google News success, and many of these are down to getting the basic stuff right. News content should be clearly labeled as such; it should have a unique sub folder (i.e. exampledomain.com/news), and each news story needs to have a descriptive URL reflecting the content topic.
New content needs to load quickly, be rich in information and accessible. It should also have value, be topical, supported by fact and independent of ‘salesy’ tones. You should publish news frequently and on a consistent basis – every week or every day, for example, rather than 10 articles one day, and nothing else for a month. Make the content easy to read, share, and engage with – the more user quality signals that come from the content, the better.
News sitemap: By creating a unique sitemap for Google News and submitting this directly to Google, you are able to take control over the news content items which are meeting or exceeding the Google guideline criteria, and highlight those most likely to deliver the results you are looking for. As with all sitemaps, this can speed up and improve the success rates for Google finding your content and displaying it within the search results.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs): At a top-level, AMPs are versions of web pages that have been stripped of almost all types of non-text content that could potentially cause slow loading. AMPs are predominantly for publishers, as people want to digest news content fast, on the move, and using almost any device and varying levels of internet connection.
Submitting your website: Before you submit it, check that your content is not already being crawled and indexed naturally. You will be surprised how many website owners forget to actually go through the application process. By doing so you will gather feedback to improve your likelihood of getting accepted and increase the chances of your content being picked up in the future
Editors’ picks: You can provide Google with up to five news content items on which you want it to place more prominence. This could be done for a number of reasons; it could be content you are especially proud of, or it may be particularly topical. Perhaps it relates to content that you feel Google News has missed but should be picking up on.
Meta news keywords tag: Note: this is different to the deprecated and historically spammy meta keywords tag. See the following example from Google:
“In an article about the World Cup you could add the following code to help Google News better understand the nature of your content:
<meta name="news_keywords" content="World Cup, Brazil 2014, Spain vs Netherlands">
Keywords could also be used to help disambiguate between related terms. Again, if this particular publisher wanted to specify that this article was about the football World Cup – as opposed to the rugby World Cup – then they could try the following:
<meta name="news_keywords" content="World Cup, Brazil 2014, Spain vs Netherlands, soccer, football">"
Source: Google Support: News Help – ‘Keywords and search queries’.
Follow the action points in this post and get your unique, authoritative news content ranking in Google News.
Let me know how you get on! Share your success stories with me, and by all means give feedback on this post; I love to hear about the actions people take after reading my updates.