How to Optimize for Google News like a Pro!

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Google News is a computer generated news site that aggregates headlines from news sources worldwide, group similar stories together and displays them according to each reader’s personalized interests.

After the advent of universal search, Google often shows news results in web search. If your site is approved by Google and properly optimized for Google News, you can get good amount of traffic.

How Google News Works

Google picks the stories from the sites that have been approved by Google News. Articles are ranked by computer algorithms. There is no human editor who decides which story comes up in ranking. Although there are many ranking factors, Google mainly considers following factors:

  1. Freshness
  2. Relevancy
  3. Diversity
  4. Location

Until now Google has 70 regional editions of Google News in many different languages. At present Google News has more than 50,000 news sources worldwide.

How to increase visibility in Google News

Google news can become a good source of traffic if you rank well in News SERPs. There are certain guidelines from Google to follow in-order to rank better in Google News.

Quality Guidelines

a)     News Content

Google news generally prefers the timely reporting of the matters that are important or interesting to the audience. Try to report on the issues that are current and hot.

b)     Don’t Market or Promote

Google News will not include the content that aims to promote or market a product or organization. In order to get included in Google News, the content should be news worthy.

c)      Unique Articles

The articles should be unique. Google is smart enough to judge the original source of the news content. Always try to produce unique content.

d)     User Friendly

Sites should load quickly and use URL redirects rarely. Clearly written articles with correct spelling and grammar also make for a much better user experience.

 Technical Guidelines

a)     3 digits in Article URLs

The URL for each article must contain a unique number consisting of at least three digits. For example, Google News can’t crawl an article with this URL: http://www.google.com/news/article23.html. Google can, however, crawl an article with this URL: http://www.google.com/news/article234.html. Please note that this rule is waived with News sitemaps. It is recommended to use both 3 digits and news sitemap.

b)     Unique  URLs

Each page that displays an article’s full text needs to have a unique URL. Google can’t include sites in Google News that display multiple articles under one URL or that do not have links to pages dedicated solely to each article.

c)      Permanent URLs

Google wouldn’t be able to crawl the page www.yoursite.com/news1.html if it displays a different story every day. In order to ensure that Google News links to articles function properly, each news article needs to be associated with one unique URL, and that URL must be permanent (i.e., it can’t be recycled).

d)     Internal Links

All news articles should be linked with at least one source, so that they can easily be crawled. The links should be in HTML. Related articles should be inter-linked with other articles. This makes the crawling faster.

e)     Article Formatting

Google crawler is only able to crawl HTML articles, so in order to ensure proper crawling, the articles should not be in PDF or other non-HTML formats.

f)       Multimedia content

Google currently is unable to include audio files or multimedia content; however, it can sometimes crawl supplementary text on pages with this type of content and does include some videos from YouTube.

g)     Images in the Articles

Images should be included in the articles. Google can pick the articles from news to show in web search results. It shows image along News results. That can help increase CTR.

Meta Keyword Tag for Google News

Google introduced Meta Keyword Tag for News Publishers. With the help of keyword tag you can give key terms related to the article. Google consider the keywords that you put in keyword meta tag. This tag is placed along with other Meta tags in the Head section of the page.

Comma is used as a separator between keywords. You can use up to 10 keywords in keyword Meta tag.

Following is an example of keyword Meta tag:

<meta name=”news_keywords” content=”Diet, food, healthy eating, weight loss foods “>

Google News Sitemap

 A Google News Sitemap is a file that allows you to control which content you submit to Google News. By creating and submitting a Google News Sitemap, you’re able to help Google News discover and crawl your site’s articles. Following things should be considered regarding News Sitemap:

a)     Sitemap Size

A Google News sitemap can contain 1000 URLs. If URLs exceeds 1000 then you have to make another sitemap.

b)     Only Include Last 2 days Articles

A News Sitemap lists news articles which have been published on your site within the past two days. You shouldn’t include older articles; there should be some auto service that makes sure that at any given time URLs in sitemap are of the last 2 days published articles only. Google will not consider URLs in the sitemap that are older than that.

c)      Robots.txt Reference

Sitemap address should be included in robots.txt file.

News Sitemap Tags

Following table describes the tags used in Google new sitemap.

Tag Required? Description
<publication> Yes The <publication> tag specifies the publication in which the article appears. It has two required child tags: <name> and <language>.
<access> Yes, if access is not open, else should be omitted Possible values include “Subscription” or “Registration”, describing the accessibility of the article. If the article is accessible to Google News readers without a registration or subscription, this tag should be omitted.
<genres> Yes, if genres apply, else can be omitted A comma-separated list of properties characterizing the content of the article, such as “PressRelease” , “Blog” or”UserGenerated.” . Your content must be labeled accurately, in order to provide a consistent experience for our users.
<publication_date> Yes The date when the article is published on the site.
<title> No, but strongly recommended The title of the news article.Article title tags should only include the title of the article as it appears on your site. Please make sure not to include the author’s name, the publication name, or publication date as part of the title tag.
<geo_locations> No, but recommended The <news:geo_locations> tag can help our system identify the geographic location of your articles.
<keywords> No, but recommended A comma-separated list of keywords describing the topic of the article.

 

Sample Sitemap Entry

Following is a sample sitemap entry . Highlighted tags are required while remaining are optional, but it is highly recommended to use all the tags that can be applied.

Sitemap Protocol and namespace
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<urlsetxmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″
xmlns:news=”http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-news/0.9″>
<url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/article34.html</loc>
<news:news>
<news:publication>
<news:name> Example</news:name>
<news:language>en</news:language>
</news:publication>
<news:access>Subscription</news:access>
<news:genres>PressRelease, Blog</news:genres>
<news:publication_date>2012-12-23</news:publication_date>
<news:title> How Google News Works? </news:title>
<news:keywords> Google, news, Search Engine</news:keywords>
</news:news>
</url>
Remaining entries as above
</urlset>

Google News can be a great source of traffic for news sites, if they are approved by Google for inclusion in Google News. I hope this article helped you in mastering the Google News optimization techniques.

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About Author

Muhammad Kamran is an internet marketing enthusiast and researcher. He has been a part of the SEO industry for 5 years now and calls Technical SEO, Local SEO and Video SEO his fortes. Currently working as a Senior Internet Marketing Analyst in Sofizar, he also provides SEO consultancy to Naseeb Networks.

6 Comments

  1. Nice Post Kamran! am little confuse with this line “Only Include Last 2 days Articles in sitemap”, mean 3-4 days stories can’t access in google search? my understanding is search engine bot access your site urls via robots file and sitemap may be am wrong 🙂 how can access any user our remaining stories URL’s ? can you explain this point ? thanks.

    • Thanks Bevlyn!
      Google news sitemap is a specialized sitemap only meant for ‘news’ sites, this is different from regular sitemap that we normally use for our sites, in which we can include all pages regardless of their publishing date. So here we have to differentiate news sites and regular sites.

      Reason behind including 2 days old articles is that Google prefer ‘latest’ news , because users want to get latest and fresh news. Google shows latest news against news related queries. The articles that are older than 2 days remain in Google news index at least 30 days after removal from sitemap, so the user can still access them in Google news search.

      You are right that search engine bots access site URLs from sitemap, but remember sitemap is one of many recommended ways to tell search engines crawlers about your site URLs. There are many other ways a search engine bot can access the URL(s). E.g site URLs can be crawled by the links pointing to these URLs.

      I hope this helps! , let me know if you have any other queries.

  2. Thanks Kamran for descriptive reply, second thing in my mind you mentioned in your article “3 Digits in Article URL” e.g /news/article234.html, mean if digit not in url then we can’t rank our articles in google news? if we use like this /news/health-diet.html or something other unique url for each story or article. what you say about this they can rank or not ? i am looking descriptive like above reply thanks…

    • Hi Bevlyn,

      I admire your curiosity regarding Google News, pleased to know that previous answer helped you.
      ‘3 digits in article URL’ is a method that Google News uses to determine what is, and isn’t, a news article. if you have URLs that don’t have 3 digits , still these articles can be considered as ‘News’ if you submit News Sitemap for them.

      So basically there are two methods by which Google can determine a ‘news’ article. You can use any one of them (but i recommend using both)

      Option 1: Add three digits to your article URLs

      Option 2: Submit a Google News sitemap (recommended whether or not you choose to follow Option 1 above)

      I have given details of news sitemaps in the article. I hope that helps!

  3. Hi, Thanks for the post. I’ve just started a site and was curious about this. I have a doubt about the digits in url. As I use wordpress my permalink structure is SITE.COM/POST-ID/ARTICLE-TITLE, so the digits are automatically gets into url via POST-ID. MY question here is, what if POST-ID exceeds above 3 digits? Like 4- digits and 5-digits? Will it still get indexed in Google News or I would have to find another method? I think this shouldn’t affect anything. I know we can change permalink of every post in wordpress but my editors may find it tiring to do it every time.

    • Hi Nik,
      Yes, you can include more than 3 digits as well, article URL should contain AT LEAST 3 digits. If you have 4 or 5 ,its okay!. Remember this 3 digit rule is exempted if you submit specialized news sitemap, as i have explained in the last section of my article.

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