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
TV remains #1, but online is closing in at #2
According to a 2017 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. However, the gap between it and online platforms is narrowing – from a 19 percentage point lead in 2016 to a 7 percentage point lead in 2017.
This same study found that 43% of U.S. adults reported that they “often” get their news news from online sources – up five percentage points from 2016. (Regardless of if it was their preferred method).
Mobile projected for fastest growth
Americans’ preference for getting news from their mobile devices has accelerated particularly fast over the last two years. The Pew’s study also uncovered that 85% of Americans currently get their news at least “sometimes” from mobile – up 13% YoY.
When data is segmented by age group, 94% of 18-29 year olds reported getting news from mobile devices – up 2% YoY. Perhaps the most compelling result from The Pew Research Center’s study was from the 65+ age group. They discovered that approximately ⅔ (67%) of adults in this age group reported getting news from mobile devices in 2017 – up 24% YoY!
HOW GOOGLE NEWS CAN BENEFIT YOUR PUBLICATION
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 America’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).
Greater perceived authority
Getting featured in Google News can also help improve your paper’s perceived authority from readerships. 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.
Do actual case studies support this? You bet.
There are plentiful case studies that showcase 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.”
SO, HOW DO YOU GET YOUR CONTENT FEATURED IN GOOGLE NEWS (+ ‘TOP NEWS’ CAROUSELS)?
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 achieve the results you want.
A quick note for those not yet accepted: 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.
- User clicks: clicks act as votes for your article within the search engine.
- Geography: local news publications are favored for local news queries.
- Overall mobile friendliness: consult your website’s search console recommendations to improve this area.
13 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.
- Target keywords: Include target keywords in the headline, metadata, images, URL slugs, and within the body of the article.
- Emphasize headlines: 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: plus 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 America’s 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.
- Editorial specialty: news publications with an editorial specialty (e.g., celebrity entertainment) stand a better chance of being featured.
Ready to amp up your publication’s app game as well? Check out my Beginner’s Guide to ASO 2018.