Google News SEO: 2022 Edition

    Fact checked by Vahe Arabian
    Vahe Arabian

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and… Read more

    Edited by Andrew Kemp
    Andrew Kemp

    Andrew joined the State of Digital Publishing team in 2021, bringing with him more than a decade and a half of editorial experience in B2B publishing. His career has spanned the technology, natural resources, financ…Read more

    Google News SEO 2022 Edition

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and...Read more

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and...Read more

    Google News should be the focus of any digital media and content publisher, given the traffic publishers receive from it every month.

    However, given the multitude of changes since its launch in 2002, surfacing in Google News search results requires a greater degree of expertise and finesse than ever before.

    For digital publishers, staying ahead of these changes means applying the most up to date practices for search engine optimization (SEO) in a constantly evolving landscape.

    Keep reading to learn more about Google News SEO and why it needs to be at the forefront of every content strategy.

    Stay up to date on the latest news, trends, and best practices in digital publishing.

    What is Google News?

    Google News aggregates news articles from the last 30 days and clusters them by topic.

    The service organizes them in seven or eight categories, depending upon user location and language settings. This means that articles from several sources around the same topic — for example, “rising oil prices” — will be presented together without duplication.

    The purpose, as stated by Google, is “to help everyone understand the world by connecting people with high-quality news from a variety of perspectives”.

    Google News, which was launched in beta in 2002 and officially in 2006, has undergone several evolutions. For example, the Full Coverage feature was launched as part of Google News in 2018, before being rolled out to Search on mobile phones in March 2021.

    Google’s latest update was announced in December 2021, with the search giant saying it would organize multiple relevant results for a particular story on Search desktop to make it easier to decide which articles meet user needs. 

    Google News is available in 141 countries and 41 languages, according to the last update from Google in December 2019. Users can access content in two different languages simultaneously via the Google News app.

    While there is no definitive data on the number of sources the aggregator scans, The Guardian claimed in 2013 that the number was around 50,000, up from 4,000 at launch.

    How Google Ranks News Articles

    Google’s news article rankings are determined algorithmically, a state of affairs that came about after the launch of the Google News Publisher Center in 2019. Prior to this, publishers had to manually submit their stories.

    The search engine algorithm takes the following factors into consideration:

    • Relevance: Whether the story is relevant to the user’s query. This factor is key to determining what users see in query-based experiences such as in Top Stories.
    • Interests: The interests that are defined when a user sets up Google News, coupled with the user’s reading behavior, will determine the content that appears on both Google Discover and the “For you” section in news.google.com. Google ignores political or ideological perspectives when ranking content.
    • Location: This factor helps to surface stories relevant to the user’s geographical location in the “Your local news” section. This setting also factors in regional nuances in search queries, allowing a query such as football to return different results in different countries.
    • Language – The audience and how they consume news content is important to tailor for that particular language result.
    • Prominence: This reflects both the number of articles a publisher is producing on a certain topic — with more being better — as well as whether the topic itself is trending.
    • Authoritativeness: Google’s algorithm is set up to search for authoritativeness and trustworthiness signals so as to prioritize the most reliable sources. This system is designed around feedback from Search raters, click-through rates (CTRs) in search engine results pages (SERPs) and backlinks.
    • Freshness: Recent articles that provide additional information on an evolving story have a higher chance of surfacing than older articles.
    • Usability: Google takes into account how usable and accessible a website is when presenting search results. Loading speed, responsive design and cross-browser compatibility are key requirements.

    The Google News Landscape

    Google News comes in many shapes and sizes across both desktop and mobile platforms. News readers can experience content from a range of surfaces and verticals, some of which they can greatly influence.The Google News LandscapeGoogle News — news.google.com

    While Google News is accessible via the news tab of Google Search results, its dedicated homepage is news.google.com.

    Visiting the main page of news.google.com — on desktop and mobile — not only shows the Top Stories of the day, but also the following sections on the left-hand side of the screen:

    • For you
    • Following
    • News Showcase
    • Saved Searches
    • The user’s current country
    • World
    • Business
    • Technology
    • Entertainment
    • Sports
    • Science
    • Health

    The Ultimate Guide to Google News SEO

    In some languages, such as Spanish, the Science and Technology categories are merged.

    For you

    This section presents a selection of news based on the user’s interests. Google uses past behavior in Google News, Search and other Google products to populate this section.


    Users can create customized news feeds by tracking topics, locations and media outlets.

    News Showcase

    This section consists of publisher-branded and curated panels of news stories, providing users with some access to paywalled content and publishers with a monthly payment from the search giant.

    Google launched the initiative to counter growing criticism that it was not doing enough to support the news industry.

    Read our analysis of this somewhat heated topic to find out more.

    Google News App

    Mobile users can access Google News either through their browsers or via the app on iOS or Android.

    Google News AppThe app contains For you, Following and News Showcase sections, alongside a headlines section that amalgamates Top Stories with all of the other categories except for Saved Searches.

    Google News is trackable for desktop users via Google Search Console, however, very little will be visible since it is the mobile app (pictured above) that drives most of the traffic for publishers for this surface due to its real-time features.

    News on Search

    Google Search can also serve as a source of news traffic, thanks to the Top Stories carousel at the top of SERPs as well as within the News tab.

    Articles included in Google News have a higher chance of being featured in search results via Top Stories and carousels, both in desktop and mobile search.

    We’ve explored not only the benefits of securing an appearance in the Top Stories carousel — boosting organic web traffic and content exposure — but also what it takes to make it there in the first place.

    It is worth noting, State of Digital Publishing (SODP) has seen from working with a variety of news outlets that traffic from the News tab of Google Search queries is typically much lower than that from either news.google.com or the Google News app.

    Google announced at the 2019 I/O Conference that news would receive an increased presence in search results. For example, when searching for a relevant topic, the search results will present the relevant news for that topic first.

    Search can also be a focus for indexing and ranking real-time articles with an evergreen design. This can result in ongoing steady traffic once the main announcement has been finished.

    For instance, the below search for Manifest Season 4 not only shows Top Stories within the results but also in the first free relevant evergreen news article results, as a result of regularly being updated.

    manifest season 4

    Google Discover

    Google Discover is a content recommendation engine that presents content to mobile users based on their interests and behavior.

    The Discover feed — which is found in both the Chrome and Google apps on iOS and Android — provides fresh content and evergreen content, depending on the personalization settings.

    Discover is a different beast, however, with challenges relating to both SEO and also traffic attribution.

    Read our analysis of how Discover has the potential to change the face of SEO for publishers in the future.

    Google DiscoverNews on YouTube

    Google has developed a couple of news features for YouTube, including the Breaking News and Top News shelves on the video platform’s homepage.

    The Breaking News shelf, which is available to users over 18 years old, only appears when a “significant news event” occurs. Google does not define what events qualify as “significant”.

    The Top News shelf, however, is available regardless of age and can appear if the user is either watching or searching for news content.

    Live Tags

    The Live tag is applied to web pages that individual publishers update to provide continuous coverage of an event.

    These pages can appear in either the Top Stories carousel or a branded live blog carousel.

    To be eligible for the Live tag, publishers need to implement the LiveBlogPosting schema markup. Eligibility for the branded carousel is locked behind Google’s approval process.

    News in Web Stories

    Google has been pushing its version of tappable content — Web Stories — since 2018. 

    These stories, which are a visually rich form of media, can either be presented as a short-form video or as “swipeable” articles.

    Web Stories are built using the open-source AMP framework and can surface in Search results, Discover and Google Images. As Web Stories are still web pages, publishers need to remember best SEO practices when creating them.

    Read our article about Web Stories to learn more about what they are and how they can be used to reach new audiences. 

    News on Google Assistant

    The search giant’s AI-powered Assistant can answer relevant user queries.

    Google unveiled in 2018 its plan to include personalized audio news as part of the Google Assistant’s capabilities.

    Google’s research from 2018, the latest available, showed that 27% of the global online population was using mobile voice assistants.

    Assistant was upgraded to include “Your News Update” in addition to the original “News briefing” in November 2019.  Google then decided to streamline its audio news content delivery in November 2021 by removing the new feature.

    Google News Content Policies

    Google provides content guidelines for sites that want to appear in Google News. Most of these guidelines are common sense, however. For example, Google asks publishers to feature well-written, well-structured content, with no grammatical errors or misspellings.

    It also requests that all articles have datelines and bylines, with easily accessible information about the authors. Publishers should also make their own contact information — emails, addresses and phone numbers — easy to find and accessible.

    Censored Content

    Bear in mind that Google News disapproves or bans certain types of material it deems to contain:

    • Dangerous content
    • Deceptive practices
    • Harassing content
    • Hateful content
    • Manipulated media
    • Medical content
    • Terrorist content
    • Sexually explicit content
    • Violence and gore
    • Vulgar language and profanity

    Advertising and Paid Links

    News sites should also contain a reasonable and nonintrusive level of advertising.

    Google will penalize sites trying to pass sponsored content as independent journalism. In general, Google won’t allow any site that tries to mislead users or misrepresent or conceal information about themselves.

    Publishers should also avoid paid and unnatural links in their content. If content that has paid links in it is detected, Google News won’t pick it up unless said links are blocked with either “nofollow” or “sponsored” tags.

    Publishers must also block links that have been sold for ranking purposes or that otherwise violate Google’s guidelines about link schemes.

    Duplicated and Syndicated Content

    It’s also necessary to take steps to avoid duplicating content in Google News. Using a canonical tag is necessary when the same article appears on different pages across the same or multiple sites. That tag tells Google which article is the original version.

    In the case of syndicated content, only the original version should appear in Google News.

    For publishers looking to syndicate their content to bigger media players, they need to ensure their partners avoid Google Search and Google News indexation.

    Partners can do this either through inserting a canonical <link> tag in the page’s <head> section, which points back to the canonical page, or by blocking Google’s crawler altogether.

    Using a canonical link tag will do the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to ensuring that Google can identify the original content, but it does not guarantee that the search giant will listen. 

    Google has warned that even when publishers indicate their preference, Googlebot may still pick a different page as canonical “for various reasons”.

    For this reason, it’s a good idea to ensure that syndication partners also add a note in the website content saying where the content was originally published accompanied by a link.

    An example of such a note might be: “This article was published at example.com/originalstory”.

    While blocking Google’s crawler is the most effective way to ensure the canonical page is selected, the downside is that the canonical page doesn’t receive any link equity from syndicators.

    Smaller publishers will definitely benefit the most from having syndicators link back to their site.

    However, some syndicators may prefer to block content entirely for fear of diluting their website’s content mix. Too small a percentage of original content may undermine their search engine rankings.

    Content can be blocked using a robots.txt file, adding noindex and nofollow metatags or in the HTTP header.

    Google News Technical Guidelines

    Google also provides technical guidelines to facilitate site crawling. Following these guidelines will help to maximize Google’s discovery and indexing of content.

    Permanent Sections and URLs

    Google recommends using permanent URLS for a site’s main news sections to ensure that Googlebot can crawl new content.

    At the same time, publishers need to make sure that they use HTML links for articles, as the crawler cannot follow image links or links embedded in JavaScript.

    Ensure the anchor text of article links matches both the article title and page title. Article URLS should also be unique and permanent, with Google noting that if a single URL displays multiple articles it won’t be included in Google News.

    Site owners should also avoid re-publishing articles under a new URL.

    Verify Robots.txt Settings

    Verify that the robots.txt file, meta tags or HTTP headers are not preventing Google crawling bots from accessing article directory pages. If such a block exists, Google won’t be able to crawl and index articles in Google News.

    Language and Encoding

    If a site has content in more than one language, different publications should be set up to avoid confusing Googlebot.

    To get the best results, websites should be encoded using UTF-8.

    Ranking Factors: How to Optimize Content for Google News

    With the revamp of Publisher Center in 2019, Google ended the need for publishers to manually submit stories. Instead, it relied on its search algorithm to surface news content.

    Read our article on Publisher Center to learn more about how to use it to manage both content and branding.

    Securing a spot in the Google News results, however, now requires more from a news site than simply publishing high-quality content.

    While this is the bedrock for ranking in Google News results, publishers also need to be aware of both off- and on-page techniques if they hope to succeed.

    Technical SEO for Google News

    Design and Layout

    Make sure that articles can be rendered effectively in plain HTML and avoid using Javascript for rendering the body of the article or for links.

    Googlebot can’t index content and follow site interlinks otherwise. Googlebot is also unable to follow image links, crawl PDFs and other formats besides HTML.

    Code should be clean and well-structured, and should be able to appear correctly in all browsers, devices and sizes. The article should be presented without interruptions, such as related article carousels or image galleries.

    The order in which the article elements should be presented is:

    • Headline
    • Image
    • Date
    • Article body

    Site architecture

    Making it easy for Google to crawl and index a website should be front and center of any site architecture.

    Doing so requires a clean and easy to understand taxonomy to classify articles. Whether using categories, tags, sections or any other custom taxonomy, the aim should be to make it easy for both users and Google to navigate the site.

    Keeping the site structure as shallow as possible is ideal, as it will help to minimize the number of clicks needed to travel from the homepage to any other page on the site.

    Numbered pagination is recommended in archive pages, as opposed to relying solely on previous and next buttons.

    What this means: Having a clear, well-defined taxonomy and site structure will allow Google News crawling bot to index and discover content more effectively.

    Google News Sitemap

    While having a separate Google News sitemap is not a ranking factor, it’ll certainly improve Googlebot’s ability to discover and index sites more effectively.

    A separate sitemap is recommended and should include up to 1,000 URLs for articles published in the previous two days. Moreover, it should be updated as soon as the new articles are published.

    Additional sitemaps can be created if the URL count exceeds 1,000, while a sitemap index file can be used to manage them all.

    A Google News sitemap follows the standard sitemap XML schema but adds some specific Google News elements.

    Each included article URL has three mandatory tags: 

    • <publication> — with child tags:
      • <news:name>
      • <news:language>
    • <news:publication_date>
    • <news:title> 

    Other tags mentioned in the schema are optional and, in some cases, deprecated, like <genre> and <news:keywords>.

    Once the sitemap has been created, it should be validated using an XML sitemap validator and submitted using Google Search Console.

    The most common errors in sitemaps have to do with mismatches between the URL included in the sitemap and the URL as seen by Google News, for example by missing the “www”from a host name.

    Another is including articles from sections that are missing in the publication settings of Publisher Center. Add the section there before including its URLs in the sitemap.

    What this means: A sitemap helps Google discover new articles more efficiently, but be aware that sending a large number of new URLs can stretch a site’s crawl budget.

    With this in mind, prioritize high-value content so Googlebot indexes it faster.

    Article Schema vs NewsArticle Schema

    There are currently two structured data schemas for articles:

    • Article
    • NewsArticle

    The Article schema entity is more widely used, which means it is better documented and easier to maintain in the long run. However, NewsArticle schema is increasingly being used for subscription content.

    What this means: Regardless of the schema used, implementing structured data will increase the chances of any article appearing as a rich snippet in Google search results.

    AMP vs Non-AMP Pages

    The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) open standard allows for the creation of web pages that Google can load faster for mobile users.

    While Google used to prioritize  AMP pages in its news carousels in search results pages as well as other rich media carousels, it removed this requirement in June 2021 following its Page Experience Update.

    Non-AMP pages can now compete for these spots in the SERP features.

    However, there are still some advantages to using AMP pages, such as reduced load times and also lower bounce rates. Page speed and mobile friendliness are still core ranking components.

    When using AMP pages, Google recommends using it with structured data (either Article or NewsArticle schema).

    When implementing AMP, make sure that the content is exactly or almost exactly the same as the regular version of the article. Otherwise, Google may decide that the content is misleading users.

    AMP pages can be monetized through ads the same way as the standard, canonical version of the site. There is a growing number of custom components and increased integration of AMP by advertising platforms.

    What this means: Implementing AMP correctly will almost certainly positively affect rankings and CTRs in mobile search, even though it’s technically not considered a ranking factor.

    Loading Time

    As noted above, loading speed is a ranking factor and must be taken into consideration. All the usual speed optimization techniques can be applied, such as image optimization, CSS and Javascript minification, compression, caching, etc.

    Loading speed also affects crawling speed and frequency. If the server is slow or experiences downtime, Googlebot will reduce the frequency of visits to avoid overloading the server.

    What this means: Content from fast-loading sites will consistently rank higher and will be discovered and indexed by Google faster.

    Crawl Speed and Frequency

    How often Google crawls a site is defined algorithmically and depends mainly on publication frequency. If several new articles are published each day, Google News will be able to surface them to users in a very short time.

    Once a new article has been discovered, the crawling bot will check for changes and updates to the story several times on the first day after discovery. After that, the crawling frequency will be significantly reduced. If there’s an error in an article that has already been fixed, it may take a while for Google News to show the updated version after that first day.

    What this means: Content from publishers with a high publication frequency will be discovered and indexed by Google faster.


    Using HTTPS is highly encouraged, given that Google announced in 2o14 that the protocol was a ranking factor in both Google News and Search.

    As adoption of HTTPS increases, not having a secure website will become a penalizing factor. Browsers send visual cues to users about whether they are on a secure site or not, meaning a secure website is likely to increase trust and reduce bounce rates.

    When using HTTPS, make sure that URLs are consistent in both Publisher Center and the Google News sitemap and start with “https://”.

    Also, make sure to redirect any non-HTTPS traffic to HTTPS using a 301 redirection.

    What this means: Secure sites using HTTPS will rank higher in Google News and be more trusted by users.

    Links to Sponsored and User-Generated Content

    Google unveiled its new implementation of link attributes in September 2019. In addition to “nofollow”, there exist two other attributes — “sponsored” and “UGC”.

    Sponsored is used to qualify links that are part of an advertising or sponsorship campaign. UGC stands for user-generated content. The attributes can be combined, so a link can be tagged as “nofollow UGC”.

    Also of note is that Google treats the nofollow attribute as a recommendation rather than directive for ranking purposes. This means that Google may indeed follow and crawl a nofollow link.

    On-Page and Content SEO for Google News

    Title and Headlines

    Google News will determine the headline for the article based on the title and H1 tags, but the algorithm might also use sub-headlines or article text as a headline. It may also shorten the headline in news boxes and carousels in Google search results.

    Google has provided some best practices to prevent this from happening. These include:

    • Ensuring that the title tag and H1 tag match.
    • Match the headline with the anchor text in section pages.
    • Avoid using the article headline as a link in the article text.
    • Don’t include dates or times in headlines.
    • Keep headlines between 2 and 22 words, with at least 10 characters.
    • Include the target keyword in headlines.

    Research from NewsDashboard suggests that keywords in headlines tend to appear between the 15th and the 22nd character. Technology, science and entertainment articles surface the keyword earlier in the headline, while health news articles place their keyword towards the end of the headline.

    Make the headline as clear and compelling as possible to increase CTRs. Use the active voice and present tense in headlines and avoid repetition.

    Meta Keywords

    Google stopped using the meta keywords tag in search in 2009, and it also stopped support for it in Google News in 2017.

    What this means: While some SEOs may still advocate the use of meta keywords tags, citing the “no harm” philosophy, there is no practical benefit to including them.

    Develop Original Reporting

    Google News took steps to reward original reporting in 2019, with higher ranking positions and SERP features. The move benefits news organizations that can be the first to cover a story.

    Google will give visibility to the original reporting with rich textual content along with other more comprehensive articles that were published later.

    The changes Google has made affect not just their algorithm, but their search rater guidelines as well.

    Search raters are a team of 10,000 humans that rate search results to help fine-tune and improve search algorithms. Their new guidelines reinforce the idea of rewarding original reporting in search results.

    Google News prioritizes original content. If content is syndicated, scraped or rewritten from other sites, it won’t be featured in Google News.

    Publishers need to be transparent and tell Google which pieces are duplicated content by either using a canonical tag to point to the original source or to block the crawling bot from indexing content. That way original stories that use credible sources will have a higher chance of being discovered by Google News.

    Content Freshness

    The Google News algorithm tends to favor sites with a high content output, as this usually correlates with content freshness and authoritativeness.

    It’s also logical that by publishing many stories daily, there is a greater chance of at least some of them surfacing in Google News.

    Depth of Coverage

    While more recent, up-to-date articles have a higher chance of being presented in Google News, the personalization aspect of the platform means that some older stories can still surface.

    Google’s algorithm will determine, depending on the topic, which is more useful to a user: a more recent, updated article or an older, but more extensive article.

    Dating Tips

    Do not include more than one date on a page. In our experience, including more than one date on a page — such as the publication date of articles in section pages — can confuse Googlebot.

    Publication dates should be reserved for between the article’s title and text. When using a sitemap, verify that the dates have been provided correctly in Google Search Console. Otherwise, the articles won’t show in Google News.

    An article can be given a new date and time following an extensive update or the addition of significant information.

    Don’t try to game the system by rewriting a story and updating the publication date without adding significant new information. Google will flag this and the content won’t be picked up.

    Topicality and Relevance

    Apart from freshness, the other main consideration Google takes when ranking an article in Google News is how relevant it is to the current search or a given news topic.

    Topics can be followed by users in their Google News account. They can also be manually showcased in the Google News homepage in case of major events. Topics are not just stories or events. They can be entities, like places or people.

    To rank for any given topic there are several actions than can be implemented: