How to Rank Your Content in Google News

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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 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…

Be unique

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.

Be permanent

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.

Cale Pissarra

Cale Pissarra

Cale Pissarra works at R.O.I. Media as a SEO consultant. His passion for social media and the online world led him search engine optimization
Cale Pissarra

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  • ReDeYe

    I’d disagree with a couple of things in this one, particularly this:

    Timing the publication of your article improves your article ranking: MYTHMalcolm Coles has already demonstrated (many times in fact) that the earlier you post a piece about a topic, the more likely you are to rank higher earlier on. In fact, HolyMoly often pre-empts stories it thinks might be popular on a given day (if its someones birthday, someone famous died etc) and publishes them early for JUST this reason – to rank high, early on. Ranking high early on in Google News has garnered significant traffic that otherwise would have been lost had it been published later (and therefore further down the list).It does greatly depend on the size of your site in the first place, for example BBC wouldnt have to worry too much about when they posted, but a much smaller blog for example would.
    Updating an article after posting it will create problems with Google News: TRUE
    Hmm, kind of, but actually you can benefit from posting a story early without any content just the headline and a small blurb and then updating it minutes later with the final version. Whilst technically this will cause problems, it can also lead to duplicate listings in Google news (which can actually be a good thing!).

    • Moravcsik Andra

      Specifically, we deal with the nature and purpose of a Google News site and reveal what it takes to make real cash through Google News. More advanced marketers will also learn different ways to monetize their site through Press Releases, site flipping plus non-Google methods of site promotion.

  • Orun Kabir

    Having a blog/publication site that features multiple writers is almost a must.

  • Debra Collins

    Excellent article, very helpful, I learned quite a lot! Yes, I agree along with you.

  • arsenal blog

    Great Article, I think that is so true that the page rank or power of your site does matter as you can just see it when you search in Google news. Mirror, ABC, E News all big sites, so the little man does have some work to do 

  • PratikBhatt

    Its all depends upon the Uniqueness and the content powerness as per the new update to the Google.So best the writing and content better you rank in Search Engines.

  • SEO Professionals

    Higher rankings in search engines like Google can prove to be really helpful in getting organic traffic and as a result high CTR and one of the easiest ways to do this is to do this is to get backlinks from high PR dofollow social networks.

  • Kaloyan Banev

    I think only Google knows that and I believe that this depends. Some of my articles have been published at Google news even 100% duplicate content. Previously it was working well with article directories and press releases, I guess after Panda v2.3 things have changed dramatically.

  • Press

    Thanks for this article 

  • Ewan Kennedy

    Hi Cale,

    Your statement “Many claim that unlike normal organic rankings, page rank does not play as big a role in Google News” seems to me to be implying that PageRank plays a big role in normal organic rankings.

    If so, I think it is worth reading Rand Fishkin’s view on this and his estimation of a meagre 0.11 correlation factor between organic rankings and PageRank.

    Do you disagree with this correlation?

  • Jason Kelley

    I think the correlation between page rank and organic rankings is an important one. Even if like you say Ewan it is small. This is because you are making the assumption that everyone is doing everything else to some degree that makes up your ranking position. Whereas I believe that most sites are not getting any ranking from certain areas and thus between these sites page rank could well count for 50% of their ranking position. These sites will often benefit from a PR increase quite dramatically.