Getting your news site ranked in Google News is a game changer. Appearing there means you automatically get more traffic and, consequently, more options for monetization. In this article, we’re going to provide technicalities imperative to know if you’re planning on including your news website into Google’s top stories.
Let’s jump right in.
Google News has been around for almost 20 years now. It is a news aggregator owned by Google that gathers articles from thousands of publishers and forms a continuous news flow, helping readers find fresh news from different industries. The system prefers news websites that contain relevant information on trending topics, with such factors as trustworthiness, credibility, and authoritativeness being determining in the selection process.
Do people still trust search engines over commercial websites and owned media? It is a great question. 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that currently, all information sources are losing trust. However, despite being short on 6 scores as compared to 2020, search engines are not the ones that hit the chart’s bottom.
Owned and social media are still less credible sources of information than search engines. Last year’s research by Morning Consult found that Google is the most trusted brand among Gen Z and millennials.
It means friendship with Google is not mandatory for a news publisher, but strategically is a great chance to acquire tons of free traffic and move up the trust ladder.
How to get ranked in Google News: best practices
The good news is that publishers no longer need to submit their news articles for eligibility. Previously, it was required — moreover, pages were rated manually by Google team’s experts.
Since December 2019, news pages have been ranked by Google’s computer algorithm according to their relevancy and compliance with Google News content policies. It means that if you own a news website and publish articles according to the content policies and technical requirements, theoretically, no other efforts are required from you. In practice, there are some measures that better the chances of getting into Google News. Let’s look at some of them.
1. Only a news website will work
First and foremost, only a dedicated news website stands a chance to appear in Google News. eCommerce websites with a news section cannot count on getting on the top stories.
A proper news website:
- Publishes multiple articles a day. If you produce one piece of content a day, you’re not qualified as a news website
- Has a news XML sitemap (digital maps help the crawler recognise news articles)
- Uses Google AMP-pages (optional, but very likely)
- Has separate sections for different topics
If you’re serious about appearing in Google News, these are the basics to start from.
2. Niche news are of high-priority
Google is very keen on including focused niche websites into the top stories carousel. Provided you’re writing on a specific topic regularly, Google will acknowledge that editorial specialty you have and perceive you as a trustworthy news website to publish on that topic.
For example, if you type in “marketing news” or just “marketing” and switch to the “news” tab, you’ll see sites on top of the newsstand that specialize in marketing.
Google News algorithm is slightly different from regular Google’s. It doesn’t have much time to deeply analyze the content because it has to find articles to put into the top stories carousel quickly. It basically scans headlines and title tags to get a grasp on what’s the article about. That’s why you’ve got to make sure that you regularly put the keyword — the topic that you want to rank for — in your headlines.
3. Google News and headlines
The best strategy with headlines when it comes to ranking in Google news is to stay as much clear and simple and possible. The news headlines also have a strict character limit: 110 characters. Some editors like more elaborate headlines due to their role in brand differentiation. However, Google News doesn’t understand poetry, so it’s better to stick to the facts and apply creativity someplace else. In line with this, avoid being funny or sarcastic with your headlines because it only adds barriers for the crawler to understand what your content is about.
As you can see from the example, all the featured top news stories have short, comprehensive headlines that clearly define what follows.
About numbers in news headlines
If you input numbers in your headlines, make sure it won’t be associated with “listicle” content. If it does, Google will know you’re trying to create a “linkbait” type of content, and that’s not what you need. There is no way that listicle content is going to place you on the Google news sitemap file. If you are not convinced, think about how often do you see authoritative news websites posting listicle articles? Almost never. Stories that Google news features in the top news carousel are called upon to report events, not promoting a website. Here you may found out more about how to create a good news headline.
4. Look up trends
Even if you’re not familiar with SEO, monitoring trend fluctuations is something to get a grasp on. The most efficient tool for this purpose is Google Trends. It helps to find out what’s trending now and figure subtopics for your articles.
This simple tool shows what’s trending on the web now so you can get an idea of what’s on the agenda. It also lists related topics that help define direction for next publications.
Inclusion in Google News depends not only on accurate headlines, compliance with Google news requirements but also on the ability to produce content on hot topics that users are searching for at the moment.
In general, a useful free tool to help you sort things out and stay in the loop. This guide provides a full overview of how to use Google Trends for news SEO.
For any news publisher that specialises in a particular niche, it’s useful to identify the main keyword for using in headlines and texts from time to time to give Google an understanding of where your editorial expertise lies. There are plenty of tools on the web for researching keywords that will give you a clear picture of what keyword might be the most attractive to you in terms of search volume. Start your news SEO journey with one of them.
5. Produce original high-quality content
As much as the original search algorithm, Google News crawler won’t approve any copied or twisted content. Stick to the professional journalistic standards and make sure your external links lead to trusted sources.
To ensure the credibility of content, Google now pays attention to the author’s rank as well. Suppose the system can find publications of a particular author on any other trusted resource (let’s say, “Forbes” or “The Independent”). In that case, it adds up credibility scores to the author, and therefore, to your website. Because Google does its best to exclude irrelevant content from the search, implementing such measures lets it be more confident about the quality of the content it pushes up.
One more thing here: transparency. Google says transparency is a big deal, since readers want to know who wrote the article, when it was published, and the company’s contact information that produces the content they consume.
Google requires you to arrange your site in the way most convenient for the bot to crawl. To make its life easier, adhere to the following guidelines.
- Google News Sitemap
To make your stories easily accessible to Google’s bot or spider, you have to build a simplified path on your website. Google suggests you use Google News sitemap for this. If you already have an XML sitemap on your website, Google recommends creating a separate one for news articles. A WordPress site can use this plugin that will create dynamic feeds in line with Google News Sitemap Protocol.
Once you create a news sitemap, submit it and manage through your Google Search Console account.
- Static URLs
A static URL is the one that does not alter, so it usually does not have any URL parameters. Google News bot likes this kind of URLs because it wants your pages to be easily accessible to crawl. Dynamic URLs, reversely, create blocks for the crawler so they don’t tend to work well for Google News.
- Plain HTML
- Structured data
It helps if you can keep the code clean with the use of structured data. Structured data is a general format for providing Google with clues on what your content is about. It saves the system’s time of understanding the topic and the content of an article. It also helps Google to structure data by elements, so users can find your page while searching for a particular element in the article.
Having a clean code is a must-have for a news publisher, as everything about crawling news websites comes down to speed enhancement.
- Headlines and tags
The important step is to ensure that all your H1 matches pages titles. It’s very frustrating for the bot to stumble upon different places on the page that point to different headlines. With regular SEO, it may be alright to alter the title slightly, but Google news perceives this as a barrier to understand what the article is about.
Google states that having AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) on your website does not make any difference to your appearance on top stories. However, because Google strives to provide best user experience, having accelerated mobile pages in place significantly enhances site navigation on mobiles. Sticking to core web vitals is absolutely advisable for any news publisher, as it ensures users have good experience with your website without annoying factors like low page speed or bad content stability. News sites that provide great user experience automatically rank higher because this is among the decisive factors for Google while ranking web pages.
What is Google News Publisher Center
The Google Publisher Center is a simplified tool that help editors with content post-production. It is not a CMS: your content should be host on your source. You can use it to send articles that you want to surface on the top stories for submission. It requires publishers to provide RSS feeds and website URLs.
Signing up to Google Publisher Center doesn’t guarantee placing on Google News, but it provides some customisation features. This includes adjusting styling of sections and content.
How Google News algorithm works
Google news crawler is a regular Googlebot that searches the web for documents, except for its primary focus is speed. To index as many sites as possible at full tilt, the crawler only parses the raw HTML code. Adding an XML sitemap to your website eases the process of parsing all your webpages and guarantees that Google bot will index all of your pages and will be able to find new articles quickly.
What is a Google News app?
Google News is available as an application on Android and iOS.
A Google news app has nice a interface with several tabs: headlines, newsstand, following, and “for you” section with the list of top 5 stories right now that a reader might be be interested in.
The app has some similar features with Apple news app.
Google News is a news aggregator that collects news stories from credible publishers and surface them based on user preferences. A user can chooses brands to get feed from, as well as discovering hot trends on the newsstand. It also gets a reader covered on the news from local communities.
Today a Google news publisher has numerous benefits: from acquiring free traffic to improving regular search ranking results. Inclusion in Google News does not require a news publisher to submit articles for approval manually. Producing high-quality, relevant and regular content, making sure a website “beats to the rhythm” of Google’s technical requirements is the best strategy for making your site appear in Google News. A news publisher should pay close attention to getting compliant with Google news content policies, as well as implementing some of the practices we’ve listed above. It will help them to get visible for the web crawler and better the chances of surfacing on the Google’s top stories.