Natural Search

Google News: A POV

Have you ever considered including your news content in Google News? It tends to be overlooked by non-publisher sites, but this platform  represents a huge opportunity for brands to get the edge over their competitors.

What is Google News and Why is it Important?

Google News is a vertical engine created to collect and aggregate news stories and headlines from more than 50,000 worldwide websites – a list that keeps growing daily. Headlines are selected by computer algorithms, based on factors such as the timeliness of a story, its newsworthiness, and its originality.

More than a mere source of traffic – amounting to ‘6 billion visits per month’ back in 2013 – Google’s news impact is expressed in terms of trust. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global study carried out over 33,000 people across 28 countries, 63% of people surveyed trust Google for news more than they trust the news outlets contained in Google’s index. In comparison, only 53% trusted ‘online-only media’.

So if you are not a publisher, how can you find out if Google News can help you increase your visibility in Google? Start by checking if your main competitors appear for your primary keywords. If they do, what type of content and news are they covering?


 

A competitive analysis should allow you to determine whether there is an opportunity to be had. In the process, you will probably find that most sites in Google News are publishers, but don’t let this discourage you. If your content is good and newsworthy, and so long as you comply with Google’s guidelines, you can take advantage of this huge opportunity to increase your online visibility in Google.

How to be included in Google News?

Google tries to include as many different types of sites as possible in Google News, but this only includes articles that offer timely reporting on matters that are important or interesting to Google’s audience. Generally, how-to articles, classified ads, job postings, promotional content or strictly informational articles like weather forecasts or stock data are not included.

If you believe your content broadly matches these requirements, you next have to check it complies with general, technical and content guidelines.

Guidelines:

Generic Rules

As per these guidelines, content must be original, easy to read and accurate. It needs to reflect industry-leading thought and expertise and offer clear opinion, based on experience within the field. Ideally it should be supported by trust signals, including a physical address, supporting authorship, and telephone numbers.

There are also a number of technical factors that must be satisfied. Many of these are traditional SEO ranking factors while others relate specifically to Google News. The main requirements are the following:

  • URLs and anchor links need to be descriptive of the content, unique and permanent.
  • Content is provided in HTML format only.
  • The domain needs to be fully accessible to search engine bots via the robots.txt.
  • A Google News sitemap can help by being submitted directly to Google via the Search Console.

Content Quality Guidelines

Quality is essential to Google. If you are unsure about what determines quality in content, take a look at the Webmaster Quality Guidelines, and objectively compare your content to the top-ranking sites on the same topic. Ensure your content exceeds the basic requirements, like depth, variation, opinion, expertise, trust, and statistics. If you create information-rich content that describes your topic clearly and accurately, you will improve your chances of appearing in Google News’ search results for relevant queries.

What About Press Releases?

If Google News only accepts news content which is industry-specific and company, does this mean that other types of content such as press releases can’t be included? Absolutely not. The following tips can help you get your press release content accepted in Google News even if you are not a publisher.

As mentioned, Google does not allow individual articles or ‘traditional’ press releases. This means that only websites publishing a large number of regular articles can be considered as a potential source of content for Google News.


Figure 1: Google's guidelines for sites containing press releases

However, if you search for ‘mortgage press release’ in Google News (UK) you can see a number of press releases listed on page 1 from generic publishers or news aggregators (MoneyMakingArticles, Property118) to dedicated press release websites (e.g. Press Release Rocket, Satellite PR News). How is this possible?

The answer can be found deep in Google’s documentation: Google accepts press releases, provided they are not self-promotional, are clearly labelled and differentiated from the rest of the site, and they comply with all other guidelines.

To illustrate the types of changes potentially required to satisfy Google’s guidelines, here is a real-life example of recommendations put together for a website containing a large amount of valuable press releases.

A Real-life Example

The website www.domain.com contains more than a thousand pages in the Press Releases section: http://www.domain.com/uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/.  This content is abundant, varied and time-sensitive, making it ideal for Google News users.

A number of structural issues prevent this content from meeting Google’s guidelines but the main issues relate to the URL structure: URLs are too long and don’t include the press release’s title as suggested by Google. Based on these considerations, a new optimised URL for press releases could be a truncated version of the current title with a unique page ID:

http://www.domain.com/uk/media-centre/press-releases/1.6-m-research-centre-[ID]

These recommendations are both specific to Google News and in line with standard search engine optimisation rules, which means they can be addressed as part of ongoing SEO changes.

Is it Really Worth it?

Getting included in Google News might require a number of technical changes to meet Google’s strict guidelines, but given the increasing emphasis placed on good content by search engines and especially by Google, this could represent a unique opportunity for non-publishers to get a competitive advantage on an unexplored territory.

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