There are many signs that Google News is a key initiative within the company. With the launch in 2018 of the Google News Initiative (take a look at what’s happening one year in), it was clear that Google was taking this product seriously. That they understand the responsibility for Google to place correct, accurate and unbiased news in their search results. By their own definition, “The Google News Initiative is our effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age.”. Google News results runs on a separate algorithm than their search results, this team is much more manual than others.
Google News can be a great source of traffic but it’s becoming harder to get approved. And once approved, with so much competition it’s difficult to get the click from the search results. Because of this, we’ve put together a list of tips and insights for you that explain everything we’ve learned about Google News over the years.
But first, interesting fact! Did you know that up until 2002, Google did not place news stories directly in their search results. On September 11, 2001 many people turned to Google to search for information of the day’s horrific events to only find restaurant recommendations and tourist activities. Prior to this, Google’s team hadn’t connected the idea that people would turn to their computer to look for events happening in real time.
Google News traffic can come in 2 forms. The first being from users directly on the News platform: https://news.google.com. The platform looks like this:
The interface is nice in that Google doesn’t post the source’s content whatsoever (lookin’ at you, Yahoo) but sends the user directly to the original piece on their first click. To see how much traffic you’re getting from this area of Google News in Google Analytics, look at source: news.google.com / referral.
The other place your site can appear in Google News is directly from the search results. On certain queries, you see results at the top of both desktop & mobile pages, under “Top Stories”. On mobile, this usually comes in the form of a carousal that scrolls left to right. For SheKnows.com & StyleCaster.com, I’ve always believed the majority of our Google News traffic comes from the main results. But it’s hard to know for sure because traffic from this area is lumped into the total number of Google organic traffic.
Mobile News Results
5 Tips to Get Your Site Approved to Google News:
1. Sites most likely to really see a lot of traffic from Google News are the ones publishing a high frequency of news content.
2. Make sure your URLs are unique, your content is static HTML and your code is clean. Google News has a team of actual humans who are constantly approving/rejecting/moderating websites. They are looking at both the code and the layout as well. If it is too choppy on the page, too many tiny paragraphs or ads are blocking the content, expect to be dropped. From there you have 60 days to find and fix the issue before you’ll be able to reapply.
3. Your news content needs to have an author associated with it. And one step further, Google prefers if there is an author bio attached with it. In their quest to exclude false, fake, bias, hateful content in their news results, a lack of author would be one red flag on credibility. SheKnows.com and Soaps.com were dropped from Google News for a brief period of time several years ago for a “lack of author accountability”. Once we had full bios up with pictures, social handles and a description of the author’s expertise, we were re-approved back in.
4. Google accelerated mobile pages (AMP) may have a higher chance of being placed in their mobile news carousal, but non-AMP pages can also appear. At one point, it was thought that this area exclusively displayed AMP pages but that isn’t the case. Mobile results that are AMP have a little lightening bolt next to them in the search results. The average user may understand this to be a symbol of a faster loading page, but I’m skeptical on how many people even notice it or know what it is.
5. Once approved, submit a feed of your news-specific content to Google Search Console. This is believed to be Google’s primary way to access and ingest news content.
Don’t think evergreen content is out of the running for Top Stories placement. We’ve had great results in Google News for topics that are more on the evergreen side, like our gift guides, recipes and baby name related content. Best practice would be to still exclude them from your News-specific sitemap, but that doesn’t mean Google won’t choose to display them in these results.
Results for search query: “back to school”
Once you’re ready to submit your site and confident you meet the guidelines, you can follow the instructions here: https://support.google.com/news/publisher-center/answer/7526416?hl=en. If you’re a SHE Media Partner and have questions on whether or not you qualify, shoot me an e-mail, we’re happy to take a look!
Read our thoughts on the Future of Google News.
More information on how Google News works.