At the moment, Google News does not receive nearly enough coverage. It’s possible that this is due to the introduction of modern, fancy methods of printing (we wrote about one of these on our blog; check out our post about Google Web Stories). It may also be that things became a little more complicated after the launch in 2002.
Whatever the case may be, we believe Google News is deserving of your consideration. I was working on a keyword analysis project recently, and when I looked at competitor insights, I discovered that none of the brands I was looking at earned any traffic from Google News outlets – simply because they hadn’t tried.
If you work in the publishing industry, there are many more reasons to be interested in this guide. Why wouldn’t you want more ad sales and traffic?
Immersing yourself in a new medium, like anything else, can be intimidating, so let us assist you in finding, or rediscovering, Google News for SEOs.
The fundamentals of Google News
Google News is designed to keep users up to date with any news that is important to them. This may be through customized content in the ‘About you’ portion, or more generic world events and news from a variety of publishers in the feed. Users can also save and upload content, as well as use the service both online and offline.
If you’ve been away from Google News for a while, you may have skipped some of the ways it’s evolved as a service.
“The trick to optimizing your news content for exposure and traffic is finding out what has changed and what hasn’t,” according to Search Engine Journal. One example is that publishers are no longer required to upload their sites in order to be considered for inclusion in the Google News app and website.
You may be curious about where news reports go after they’ve been written. Stories can appear on a variety of surfaces, including: Top stories (when appropriate, this appears in Google Search) and on the News search tab or app.
The Publisher Center is one of the most important sections of Google News for SEOs to become familiar with. The most recent version of this was released in 2019 and combines a number of tools into a single interface.
The Google News Publisher Center
You will be able to add information about your publication, such as contact information and headquarters site, to the Publisher Center. You can customize the design of your posts, add logos, and set up AdSense. And what about the big one? This is where you’ll put your stuff, such as feeds, website URLs, and videos.
Since the Publisher Center is not a content management system, the content must be hosted elsewhere before being pulled into the Publisher Center for post-production and delivery.
Appearing in Google News
So far, it’s been pretty straightforward, right? From here, things start to get a little more complicated, as we’ll talk about how to actually appear in Google News, as well as some of the policies you’ll need to know.
The Google News algorithm is made up of a handful of ranking variables in the most basic sense.
“Ranking in Google News is calculated algorithmically based on a variety of factors, including: freshness of content, diversity of content, rich textual content, originality of content, and user preferences for topics or publishers,” according to the Google News Publisher Help Center.
Trystan Upstill, the Google News Engineering and Product Lead, may also have some thoughts to share. The reimagined Google News, he explained, employs “a modern set of AI techniques to take a continuous flow of information as it hits the web, interpret it in real time, and organize it into storylines.”
“Google News recognizes the people, locations, and objects involved in a story as it unfolds, and connects how they relate to one another,” he said. This technology, at its heart, allows us to synthesize data and combine it in a way that makes you understand what’s going on and what the effect or reaction has been.”
Let’s look through some of the different areas you’ll need to master in order to get through the algorithm.
The first is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
This is the format that content must follow in order to be eligible for the mobile carousel section of ‘Top stories.’ Google Search Console has an AMP Status Report that can be very useful to you as a publisher; it will highlight content that has AMP issues. Notice that the table can only show 1,000 URLs at a time, so consider it more of a sample list.
In an ideal world, you’d find no site errors for AMP, but if you do, they might be one of the following: URL not found, missing embedded video, image size smaller than recommended, AMP page domain mismatch, etc. The complete list can be found by clicking on the link at the top of this page.
The second thing you should know is that adding ‘article’ structured data to your news and other story pages will improve your search engine rankings. The ‘Top stories’ carousel, host carousel of rich results, Visual stories, and rich results in mobile search results can all display AMP pages with this organized data.
Next, let’s take a look at some of Google News’ content policies. These measures are intended to ensure that consumers and publishers have a “positive experience” with Google News. To be able to appear on news surfaces, websites must first follow Google’s webmaster requirements, although there are additional policies unique to news surfaces. We’ll go over them briefly below.
- Ads and sponsored content: content shouldn’t be outweighed by ads and other paid promotional material on your pages.
- Copyrighted content: content isn’t allowed that infringes on anyone’s intellectual property rights.
- Dangerous content: you can’t add content that could facilitate serious or immediate harm to people or animals.
- Deceptive practices: impersonation sites or accounts are not allowed, and you can’t misrepresent or conceal ownership or primary purpose.
- Harassing content: harassment, bullying or threatening content is not permitted.
- Hateful content: content must not promote or condone violence, or incite hatred against an individual or group, including for protected characteristics.
- Manipulated media: no images, videos or audio content can be manipulated to deceive, defraud or mislead the user.
- Medical content: when content contradicts scientific or medical consensus and evidence-based best practices, it will not meet the guidelines.
- Personal and confidential information: private information such as anything confidential or personally identifiable may not be included within content.
- Sexually explicit content: this is self-explanatory and includes imagery or video.
- Spam and malware: much of this falls under the Webmaster guidelines, but links are not permitted to malware, viruses, or harmful software. Link schemes are also banned.
- Terrorist content: this includes anything that promotes terrorist or extremist acts.
- Transparency: news sources must provide clear dates and bylines, and information about the story author, publication, publisher, company, and contact information.
- Violence and gore: this includes content that is violent or gory, and has an intent to be shocking, sensational, or gratuitous.
- Vulgar language and profanity: self-explanatory; this isn’t permitted for Google News.
The list may seem extensive, but it ensures that news surfaces are secure for users. If your publishing website breaches one or more content rules, news manual actions will appear in Search Console, letting you know if something is wrong with the content you’re publishing.
Other SEO tips for Google News
Aside from implementing AMP and standardized data and ensuring the content does not violate any Google News rules, there are a few other things to bear in mind.
Keyword research is not only important for eCommerce and service websites; it is also important for publishers. Google Trends has a neat feature that allows you to look up trend information for a particular search term, such as ‘News.’ Toggle between options by clicking the drop-down menu, which is normally set to web search.
Headlines are crucial: newspapers are adept at using clever puns in their headlines, but this does not translate well online. In the end, you want your material to be found, and a pun might easily confuse news search engine algorithms.
Use more media: Since Google News shows images associated with posts, you should try to improve the chances of your own images being displayed. Use related images (avoid logos), Schema.org or og:image tags, and regular filename extensions (e.g.,.jpg,.jpeg, or.png) with a minimum image size of 60 x 90 pixels. Make use of image captions and try to put photos near the title of your post.