Online news consumption – including visitors to websites, apps, and social media – has spiked across all age groups in the U.S. over last two years. To stay relevant to modern consumers, it has become increasingly important for publications to build and maintain strong online presences. One of the best strategies for doing so is getting your content featured in Google News.
In this article, you’ll learn how U.S. news consumption has evolved over the last two years, how Google News can benefit your publication, and lastly, the key ranking factors and optimizations needed in order to succeed within the search engine!
HOW AMERICANS PREFER TO GET THEIR NEWS
According to the most recent research study conducted by the Pew Research Center for Journalism and Media, TV continues to be Americans’ #1 preferred method of staying updated on the news, while online is closiing in at #2. This same study found that 43% of U.S. adults “often” get their news from online sources.
Americans’ preference for getting news from their mobile devices has particularly accelerated over the last few years. The Pew’s study also uncovered that 85% of U.S. adults get their news at least ‘sometimes’ from mobile devices.
When data is segmented by age group, the Pew Research Center found impressive data across the board: 94% of 18-29 year olds reported getting news at least ‘sometimes’ from mobile devices, while approximately (67%) of adults in the 65+ age group also reported getting news at least ‘sometimes’ from mobile devices.
HOW GOOGLE NEWS CAN BENEFIT YOUR PUBLICATION
Visibility: Getting your publication’s articles featured in Google News can spike your visibility to readerships unlike any other marketing strategy.
In May 2018 alone, the domain News.google.com received 551.51 million visits, with 40% of visits coming from the U.S. For perspective, two of American’s top news publications the New York Times (363.08M million visits) and LA Times (51 million visits), traffic doesn’t even come close.
What is more, Barry Adams – an award winning technical SEO consultant specializing in newspaper publications – expands upon this idea: saying that nearly 60% of all searches now come from mobile devices, and that 12% of those searches now include a ‘top news’ carousel at the top (something that can only happen if you are apart of Google News).
Numerous case studies have showcased the power of Google News representation. One such study performed by Skyword in 2014 reported that the month after being accepted into Google News, overall page views jumped 58.96 percent in the first month and unique views increased 61.9 percent.
Trust: A 2017 research study performed by global communications giant, Edelman, found that 60% of digital news consumers trust Google News more than the original sources of the content from their index. In other words, getting your publication featured in Google News is like a giant thumbs up from Google that your content is trustworthy and credible. These concepts combined can help improve the stability and profit of your publication.
GETTING YOUR PUBLICATION ACCEPTED INTO GOOGLE NEWS
For good reason, Google News has strict guidelines for accepting and featuring publications in its index.
Whether you are a brand new, local publication, or a well known, international one, gaining a better understanding of ranking factors involved and key elements to optimize for help you get accepted. I’ll review them below:
A quick note for those who have not yet gone through this process: The first step is to submit your publication to Google Publisher for consideration. It typically takes a few days to hear back, and it is common to get rejected once or twice before getting in.
5 KEY RANKING FACTORS IN GOOGLE NEWS SEO
So how do you actually get into google news? Unlike Google search, It’s a manually curated index. Meaning, it has unique ranking signals from ‘regular’ Google search.
“Because [Google News] is so fast moving, it doesn’t have time to give a page in depth crawling over and over again. So you have to give Google some extra tools as a news publisher to help your articles be quickly crawled, indexed, and ranked.”Barry Adams, Award winning technical SEO consultant, specializing in news publications.
So, here are some key ranking factors:
Timeliness and originality of article:
Ensure your article relates to breaking news and that your publication is the original source of story (versus curated).
Authoritative, genuine, original news:
Content is well researched, publication specializes in topic, and is, well, news (not just basic information). Some syndicated content is ok, however it should largely be original.
Clicks act as votes for your article within the search engine.
Local news publications are favored for local news queries.
Overall mobile friendliness:
Consult your website’s search console recommendations to improve this area.
KEY ELEMENTS TO OPTIMIZE FOR
Submit a Google News XML Sitemap to Google:
A well-optimized sitemap will encourage Google to spend more time crawling more of your content; increasing the likelihood that you get featured.
Have unique, static, HTML pages for every article:
Include target keywords in the headline, metadata, images, URL slugs, and within the body of the article.
Barry Adams offered three additional recommendations for optimizing headlines in last years conference. 1- ensure that your target keywords are used within the first six words of the title. and 2- avoid headline puns, as they set you at a disadvantage in Google News (Google bots don’t have a sense of humor) and 3- avoid using special characters, as Google can accidentally flag this as missing a title, and therefore, exclude it from its results.
Showcase author biographies:
… Including their contact information, and date and time of article posting.
Avoid distracting ads or typos site-wide:
This boosts the overall authority of your publication and has been known to be especially helpful for publications experiencing difficulties getting accepted into Google News.
Incorporate multimedia resources:
… Including video, text, and podcast version of same news story. This improves user experience by allowing more than one way to interact with your publication and more ways to get featured within Google News.
Implement news article structured data and AMP:
This provides search engines with more context surrounding what your articles are about and speeds up load times. There are actually several plugins that are available that can automate this for you, as well as Chrome extensions to validate it.
Utilize news meta keyword tags:
These are not the same as traditional ‘black hat’ meta keyword tags.
Adhere to GDPR regulations:
As many of Americans’ top publications are currently blocked in Europe because they did not comply to the GDPR fast enough, impacting international traffic.
Post fast, and update your article as new news comes in:
Don’t forget to make a note on your article page of your last update.
Interlink your related posts:
News sites don’t have to try very hard to get backlinks from outside sites. Strategic internal linking and anchor text, on the other hand, is hugely important.
News publications with an editorial specialty (e.g., celebrity entertainment) stand a better chance of being featured.