Google News SEO can be a game changer for news sites because, while your website may create excellent content, your audience is limited if your articles don’t appear in Google News. Google’s news aggregator organizes news from more than 50,000 sources worldwide, and inclusion in Google News has several benefits, including the potential for driving website traffic.
To gain inclusion in Google News though, content creators must optimize their website and articles through Google News SEO, a niche discipline that helps publishers become approved news sources. However, keep in mind that no amount of search engine optimization (SEO) is going to get a website approved as a news source if it’s not truly a news source.
We’ll walk through the basics of how to get into Google News, and if you just have a piece of news you want covered in Google News, we’ve got a few tips for you, too.
How the Google News index works
Google News doesn’t operate like a news publisher itself. Rather, it aggregates news from different sources using algorithms that choose which news story to show users based on interests, location, prominence, authoritativeness, freshness and usability. Then it categorizes the results into topics and subtopics.
Very little manual curation is done by Google staff. Occasionally, though, staff will engage in curation of major international news events or a topic that’s gaining interest in popular culture, such as an awards show.
To reduce the visibility of misleading information, since 2018, Google has placed more emphasis on displaying authoritative results over the freshest or the most relevant during breaking news or crisis situations. Google collaborates with publishers to structure data and embed quality signals to help the search engine identify the most reliable news results.
As you can see in the screenshots below, Google News results (on the right), display differently from regular Google search results (on the left). A general search for “lunar eclipse” displays multimedia results, such as videos, but a News search shows only news stories.
Another unique aspect of Google News results is that users can interact with items directly from the search results, allowing them to view additional information, as well as customize their news results in the future.
As you can see in the image above, users can indicate whether they’d like to see more or fewer stories like this, and they also have the option to hide stories from a specific news network or publisher.
Benefits of getting into Google News search results
Google News SEO isn’t just about driving traffic to your website. In fact, you may not see large amounts of traffic directly from Google News in your Google Analytics account. The biggest benefits may be more indirect.
For one, inclusion in Google News signals that your brand is trustworthy and authoritative, as Google enforces rigorous standards. Websites accepted into Google News must publish original content, and the amount of advertisements and sponsored content must not exceed the site’s news content. Google News sources must also display clear dates, author bylines, and information about the publisher.
Another benefit of inclusion in Google News is that your content will appear in search results within minutes of publishing, much faster than other news sites. This is especially valuable during breaking news situations.
Because Google News feeds are customizable, if you consistently publish great content to your site and establish a noteworthy brand, you may also see that users are more likely to engage with your content. Users who interact with your content and opt to see “more stories like this” will be served additional content from your website in the future.
Google News also supports publishers in various ways. For example, in 2018, Google announced a $300 million initiative to strengthen quality journalism and combat misinformation on the Web. The Google News Initiative is a three-year project that includes a variety of tools, including features that help publishers drive subscriptions and increase their revenue.
Finally, inclusion in Google News can help your content get listed in the “Top Stories” feature on Google’s main search tab.
Inclusion in Google’s Top Stories can lead to increased traffic because of its prominent display at the top of the page as indicated in the example above.
How to get into Google News
If you run a news website, there are two main ways to get your content indexed in Google News: You can license your content through the Producer tool, or you can submit your website for inclusion through the Publisher Center.
What’s the difference between Producer and Publisher?
Google News Producer is a publishing tool that lets you create a branded feed of your existing content, serve ads, and grow a subscriber base. Within Producer, you can link to or import content from your site, add multimedia elements like video and audio, and optimize content for multiple digital devices.
Google News Producer is a part of Google News, and items in your feed are eligible to show in the main Google News results. However, it’s important to note that Producer isn’t an authoring or content management tool. All Google News Producer content is created elsewhere and simply pulled into or linked from Producer post-production.
The Publisher Center, on the other hand, is a portal for publishers to manage their news sites within Google News. Once your site is verified within Google Webmaster Tools and included in Google News, you’ll be able to manage your website details, update URLs, and label sections of your site with specific identifiers such as “Business” or “Politics.”
However, before you can manage the various aspects of the Google News Publisher Center, you must first submit your website for inclusion in Google News so that your news site can be automatically crawled.
Google News SEO: 6 Tips to Get Your Site Crawled as a Google News Publisher
1. Follow Google’s technical guidelines to make sure bots can crawl your site.
2. Optimize further to improve your chances of inclusion.
As with all SEO, you’ll want to make it easy for bots. Use structured data (NewsArticle) markup for each article, which includes such information as a headline, dateline, keywords and publication date. Also, avoid interrupting the flow of the news content with other items, such as videos, photo galleries or related articles. HTML code that’s one continuous block of code from headline to the article conclusion is the most efficiently indexed by Google News.
You can also use Alexa’s Site Audit tool to optimize content and identify any issues with your site. This tool grades websites on 29 SEO best practices and provides a list of recommended actions to improve your site’s SEO.
For example, in the image above, Alexa’s Site Audit tool has given this particular website an overall grade of 88/100 and listed steps that can be taken to improve the site’s SEO performance, such as giving important pages unique titles and adding links to hard-to-find pages.
3. Demonstrate that your site is an authoritative source.
Google News wants visitors to trust the news sources it includes, so it’s important to be transparent and accountable. News sources should provide easily accessible information about the publication, the publisher, and the company or network behind the publication, as well as contact information. News articles should also feature clear dates, bylines, and author information.
Notice that, in the article below, the publication time and date appear at the top of the page, along with the author’s name, which links to the writer’s bio, as well her other articles. The “Washington” byline also appears before the body of the story.
Having expert contributors create original content for your site is also valuable and makes it more likely that Google News will approve your website for inclusion.
4. Publish fresh content daily.
Your news site should be updated with multiple new articles on a daily basis. While your site can feature syndicated content from news services like The Associated Press, Reuters or United Press International, don’t rely too heavily on wire services. The majority of content should be unique to your site.
5. Develop a niche.
Google looks for news sources with unique points of view, so it’s helpful to have a specialized focus that sets your website apart from others. There are numerous news sites that report on general news, so niche sites that provide in-depth reporting on specific topics or industries are more likely to be indexed and warrant placement in Top Stories. For example, Space.com, which reports exclusively on space and astronomy news, has established itself as a leader in this type of reporting.
6. Create a sitemap.
After your site is accepted into Google News, create a Google News sitemap for faster, more efficient indexing of your news items. Sitemaps contain information about the content on your website, and a Google News sitemap lets you control which content you submit to Google. Even if your website already has a sitemap, Google recommends creating a separate one exclusively for news content. This allows Google’s crawler to quickly find articles on your site.
Get your company website in Google News
Maybe you just want a company news announcement, or a specific news report related to your industry, to appear in Google News. All is not lost.
One way to accomplish this is to use a press release service approved for Google News. Or, if you don’t have the budget for a press release, consider reaching out directly to sites that cover news for your industry.
How can you find potential websites to reach out to? Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool can help. Just enter your website to see clusters of other websites that have similar audiences or keywords. Using Zillow as an example, we can see several possibilities.
Next, you will need to visit each site to evaluate whether they might cover your announcement. You’ll also want to verify that it is included in Google News. Simply search Google News; if their material appears in the News section of search results, they’ve been approved. Then look for an editor that writes for your topic and go ahead and reach out to him or her.
Also keep in mind that even if your information is not captured by Google News, your content can still appear in Top Stories in Google’s main search results.
Take the first step to get into Google News
If you’re operating a news website and not yet included in Google News, it’s time to change that. Yes, Google’s guidelines are strict, but you may find that going through the preparations above will improve your site overall. And if you’re not yet ready for Publisher status, the Google News Producer tool might be an option for you.
Be sure to try the Alexa Advanced plan to see opportunities to engage your audience and beat your competitors, either way.
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