Google News has become an essential platform for content publishers aiming to increase traffic and visibility. According to 2020 statistics, Google News directed users to news sites 24 billion times a month, underlining its significance in the digital ecosystem.
However, the web search landscape has evolved since Google News was launched in 2002, making it more challenging for publishers to rank prominently in search results. Effective search engine optimization (SEO) for Google News has become increasingly complex and essential. This guide will provide an in-depth understanding of Google News SEO best practices, which should be an integral part of any editorial strategy for publishers seeking to optimize their online reach on Google search.
What is Google News?
Google News is a news aggregation service that compiles articles from various global sources based on user preferences and settings. Available through web browsers as well as native Android and iOS apps, the Google News app aims to provide a comprehensive, tailored news experience. Its primary mission since its inception has been to curate high-quality content from reliable publications, emphasizing its relevance to individual users.
The service uses a sophisticated indexing and management system to offer diverse media catering to user interests. Whether you’re interested in breaking global top news stories or in-depth reports on specialized subjects, Google News has something for you, all easily accessible through the news tab. To streamline this wide array of information, Google News categorizes content into three main sections:
- Top News: This section collates articles covering pressing and significant events, providing a general overview of the most important news.
- Personalized News: Tailored to individual user interests, this section presents headlines that are most relevant to you. It also integrates with Google Discover to provide an even more personalized experience.
- In-depth News: This category offers comprehensive coverage of critical issues, featuring multiple perspectives and authors, but is not customized to individual user preferences.
Through intelligent categorization of google news search results and emphasis on reliable sourcing, Google News is a vital platform for readers and a significant traffic driver for publishers. To effectively tap into this audience, understanding Google News SEO is crucial.
How Google News Works?
Understanding how the Google News algorithm works is essential for publishers who aim to maximize their visibility and reach within the platform. Since the introduction of the Google News Publisher Center in 2019, the ranking of news articles has been determined algorithmically, a shift from the previous manual submission process. Google utilizes a set of seven key factors to rank news articles algorithmically on search engines:
- Relevance: The extent to which the story matches the user’s search query.
- Location: The searcher’s geographical location influences the stories and news outlets displayed.
- Prominence: Factors such as the depth of coverage, frequency of citation by other outlets, and original reporting contribute to a story’s importance.
- Authoritativeness: Assessed through feedback from Google’s Search Quality Raters, the perceived usefulness and reputation of a page, along with backlinks from reputable websites, determine its authority.
- Freshness: Stories that offer the most current information, particularly on trending topics, are likelier to rank higher.
- Usability: This factor considers the website’s user experience, including load speed, responsive design, and cross-browser compatibility.
- Interests: Personalized user interests and reading habits contribute to the content displayed in the “For you” section of Google News and Google Discover.
By optimizing google news articles for these factors, publishers can enhance their chances of ranking higher in Google News, thereby driving more site traffic.
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Branding Essentials for Google News SEO
Branding for Google News SEO goes beyond the surface level of logos and catchy headlines; it delves deep into establishing credibility and trust, essential factors in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. Here are four key tactics to curate credibility and strengthen your brand’s authority:
Establish a Strong Presence in the Google Publisher Center
While it’s not mandatory to submit your site to Google Publisher Center, doing so offers numerous advantages:
- Improve Discoverability: Becoming eligible for the Newsstand area in Google News increases your site’s visibility.
- Branding Control: Customize your publication’s name, category, language, location, and visual style.
- Topic Optimization: Leverage Google’s Knowledge Graph by classifying your content into section feeds to demonstrate your expertise in specific topics.
- Grow Your Following: Allow readers to follow your publication, increasing the likelihood of your content appearing in personalized sections.
- Convert Readers: Utilize the “Subscribe with Google” feature to convert casual readers into subscribers.
Highlight Author Expertise
Promote credibility by linking every article’s byline to the author’s professional page, which should include:
- Author’s Full Name: No pseudonyms; real names establish trust.
- Professional Headshot: Adds a personal, trustworthy touch.
- Bio: A concise 2-3 sentence bio highlighting relevant experience and credentials.
- Social Media & Published Articles: Links to professional social media accounts and other published works.
Provide Newsroom Transparency
Cultivate trust with a comprehensive About page that includes:
- Publication Information: Your mission statement, editorial policies, brief history, and key achievements.
- Publisher & Funding Source: Who owns and funds the publication.
- Staff Information: Names and roles of editorial and business staff.
- Contact Info: A physical address and non-generic contact information.
Invest in a Strong Social Media Presence
Although the influence of social media on Google News rankings is debatable, a solid social media presence can still offer competitive advantages. Frequent tweeting can make you eligible for features like the “From Twitter” section in Google News’ “Full coverage” reports and the Twitter stories carousel in universal search results.
By implementing these branding essentials, you’re not just optimizing google news content for visibility; you’re building a credible, authoritative brand that Google—and your readers—will trust.
Technical Essentials for Google News SEO
To truly unlock the potential of Google News for SEO, having a solid technical foundation is critical. Here’s a breakdown of four key actions to improve your visibility:
Entice Googlebot to Crawl Faster
Speedy crawling is especially vital for Google News since it operates on a short-term index and favors fresh content. Here are some methods to achieve faster indexing:
- Google News Sitemap: Submit a news sitemap to Google Search Console and include its URL in your robots.txt file.
- WebSub: Use WebSub to notify Google of new content instantly; otherwise, updates from section feeds will be hourly.
- Content Submission: Use Google Publisher Center to submit news articles, YouTube videos, or section RSS feeds.
- Embed Videos: Use a <iframe> tag to embed externally hosted videos, preferably from YouTube.
Exceed Image Expectations
Images drive click-through rates. Follow these guidelines to ensure your article images are optimized:
- Resolution: At least 50,000 pixels when the width is multiplied by height.
- Aspect Ratio: Preferably 16:9.
- Format: JPEG, JPG, or PNG.
- Placement: Near the article title.
To go beyond, aim for:
- Higher Resolution: 1,200 x 674 pixels.
- Additional Aspect Ratios: 4:3 and 1:1.
- Max-Image-Preview: Use ‘max-image-preview: large’ or AMP to encourage larger previews.
Eliminate Any Date Confusion
Ambiguous dates can confuse both users and algorithms. Stick to a single, unambiguous date format and label it clearly, like “Published” or “Last Updated.” Also, consider using structured data like “datePublished” or “dateModified” to be more precise.
Utilize News-Specific Structured Data
Leverage ‘NewsArticle’ structured data to provide Google with a better understanding of your news search content and enhance your appearance in the Google search results. Additionally, include:
- Author Markup: To associate your brand and authors.
- NewsMediaOrganization: For better categorization.
- VideoObject: To promote video content.
- Speakable: If targeting the U.S. English-speaking market.
- ClaimReview: To label fact-checked content.
- FAQ: These often feature in complete coverage reports.
- LiveBlogPosting: For live event coverage, which can receive a “LIVE” label and higher ranking in breaking news scenarios.
By diligently applying these technical essentials, you’ll be better positioned to capture the immense value that Google News can offer.
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Content Essentials for Google News SEO
Consistent Topic Coverage
- Editorial Planning: Incorporate keyword research into your editorial calendar and use Google Trends to gauge topic interest.
- Topical Authority: Focus on your niche to establish E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness). Straying off-topic can dilute your authority.
Focus on Freshness
- Regular Updates: Content should be fresh, given Google News’ preference for articles less than 90 days old.
- Content Refresh: When an article loses traction, consider updating it. Make sure the update triggers a new publication date and gets reindexed.
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- Keyword Focus: Use relevant, entity-focused keywords in the headline. It should align closely with the <title> tag but mustn’t match precisely.
- Character Count: Google recently relaxed its headline character limit, but the best practice is still to keep titles concise to avoid truncation.
- Clarity Over Wit: While puns and lengthy headlines may work in print, they’re less effective online, where brevity and clarity rule.
- Syndicated Content: Use it to supplement, not replace, original content. Google may favor freshness over originality, but original content is crucial for establishing authority.
- Ongoing Relevance: Regular publishing is essential. Google News considers the overall brand freshness, not just individual articles.
- Active Voice and Present Tense: Make headlines more compelling to increase CTR.
By adhering to these content essentials and the previously discussed technical essentials, publishers can significantly improve their performance and ranking in Google News.
Google News SEO Tactics
Speed of Coverage
- Rapid Initial Coverage: Speed trumps comprehensiveness for breaking news. The goal is to get indexed by Google News quickly.
- Real-time Updates: If you missed the first wave, continuously update the story to vie for attention against already-indexed competitors.
- Quality Over Quantity: Increasing the publishing frequency doesn’t mean compromising quality. Both should go hand-in-hand.
- Competitive Analysis: Knowing how often competitors publish can give insights into how much you should aim to post for maximum ROI.
- Pre-planned Content: Leverage predictable events like elections, sports tournaments, and cultural festivities to plan and prepare content in advance.
- Repurposing Content: Utilize existing content in new ways. A report can become an infographic, a series of blog posts, or even a podcast episode.
Pillar Cluster Strategy
- Topic-centric Architecture: Treating an original news article as a “pillar” around which other “cluster” articles revolve can build topical authority and improve internal linking, which is crucial for SEO.
- Resource Management: As you rightly mentioned, time and resource constraints make it feasible to refresh and repurpose existing content. This becomes especially valuable when the news cycle is fast and unforgiving.
- Seasonal Planning: This tool is invaluable for understanding seasonal trends and preparing your editorial calendar in advance.
- Longtail Focus: Google Trends’ “Related Queries” can give insights into what the audience is interested in but isn’t widely covered, providing a competitive edge.
- URL Parameters: Your point about modifying URL parameters to get more granular data from Google Trends is especially noteworthy. This is often overlooked but can yield invaluable insights.
- Breaking News: Building topical authority isn’t just for long-term gains. When breaking news happens in your area of expertise, that established authority can significantly impact how well you perform in a very competitive space.
- Flexibility: It’s essential to apply these tactics, understanding when speed trumps depth and when evergreen strategies like Pillar Clusters can be adapted for news content.
- Data-Driven Decision: Use analytics to measure the success of these tactics, allowing you to refine your strategy over time.
Optimizing for Google News is far from a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It’s a multi-faceted strategy that involves an intricate blend of technical SEO, content quality, and speed of delivery. From aligning with Google’s E-A-T guidelines and ensuring technical fundamentals to crafting engaging and fresh content consistently, each element is crucial in determining your news site’s success in the increasingly competitive online news landscape. Advanced tactics like Pillar Cluster Strategy and leveraging tools like Google Trends further refine this approach, giving you a competitive edge in topical authority and audience engagement. Remember, staying ahead isn’t just about quick wins; it’s about building a sustainable, data-driven strategy tailored to your publication’s unique strengths and challenges. With diligent planning, insightful analytics, and a relentless focus on quality, you’ll be well on your way to consistently earning a coveted spot in Google News’ “Top Stories.”
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