Introduction to Google News
Google News is a news aggregator that presents a customizable flow of news articles from the last 30 days. They are organized in seven or eight categories, depending on your location and language settings, and they are clustered by topic. This means that news articles from several sources around the same topic (i.e. “oil prices going up”) will be presented together, avoiding duplication of information. 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 was launched in beta in 2002 and officially in 2006. It was created by Krishna Bharat, a research scientist at Google, reportedly after a frustrating experience searching for news after the terror attacks of September 11 in New York City.
There is no clear data on the number of sources used by Google News. An article published in The Guardian in 2013 claimed the number of sources globally was around 50.000. It’s currently available in 127 countries and 65 languages.
Users can access Google News in up to two different languages. They will see articles from news organizations in different countries together in the app while applying the same level of personalization. Read through to learn more about Google News SEO.
How Google Ranks news articles
Most of the news items that Google ranks are based on their search engine algorithms, which takes into consideration:
- Relevance: Whether the story is relevant to the user’s query. This factor mainly influences what you see in Top Stories.
- Interests: The interests you define when setting up Google News and/or your reading behavior will determine the kind of news you see on the Discover and For You tabs. Google won’t take into account political points of view.
- Location: This factor accounts for surfacing local news related to where you are. But it also takes into account regional nuances in search queries.
- Prominence: Articles that cover a key topic that is currently trending will have more chances to be surfaced.
- Authoritativeness: Search raters heavily influence the signals Google manages when assigning trustworthiness and authoritativeness to a news source. Click-through rates in SERPs and backlinks also influence this factor.
- Freshness: Recent articles can have a higher chance of being surfaced over older articles if they provide additional information.
- Usability: As in search results, Google takes into account how usable and accessible a website is to surface their pages in search results. Loading speed, responsive design, and cross-browser compatibility are key requirements in this area.
Besides these factors, which influence the chances of Google’s algorithms surfacing a news story to a user, there are other instances in which the Google News team will manually pick up stories for specific news events, showcase news sources in Newsstand and highlight experimental, interesting stories in Discover.
Google News Layout
Google News Top Stories
The main Google News screen on the desktop shows you the Top Stories for the day. On the left, you can select a category: Current Country, World, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Sports, Science, and Health. In some languages, like Spanish, the Science and Technology categories are merged.
Google News now allows you to select two languages in your settings, so you’ll be able to access news articles and headlines from both languages at the same time.
Google News For You
The For You section presents you with a selection of news based on your interests. Google uses past behavior in Google News, as well as Google Search and other Google products, to populate this section.
Google News Favourites
Under Favourites, you can find the topics, locations and sources you are currently following, as well as saved searches and saved stories. The topics, locations and sources you follow will also impact the stories you see in the For You feed.
Google News Beyond the Headlines
The Beyond the Headlines section features in-depth reporting around key issues and topics, like environment or healthcare, selected algorithmically. The content presented in this section goes beyond the daily news cycle, so it’s not necessarily linked to a specific news story.
News on other Google Products
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. Google announced at the 2019 I/O Conference that news will get an increased presence in search results. For example: when searching for a relevant topic, the search results will present you first with the relevant news for that topic.
Google Discover is a content recommendation engine that presents content to users based on their interests and behavior. The app regularly features news content along with more evergreen content like recipes or instructional videos, depending on the personalization settings.
YouTube is also developing new features to highlight news sources when searching for a news topic on YouTube. During certain newsworthy events, they may also add a Breaking News section on their homepage.
The Google Assistant can answer queries from users to show top news stories or play a summary of the top stories of the day in audio or video format. You can also ask the Assistant for specific news sources or topics.
Google News Requirements
Google News Content Guidelines
Google provides content guidelines for sites willing to appear in Google News. Most of these guidelines are common sense and you probably are already following them. 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 accessed information about the authors. You should also provide accessible and transparent contact information, like emails, addresses, and phone numbers.
Keep in mind that Google News disapproves or bans certain types of content as per its Adult Content Policy, which includes:
- Sexually explicit content
- Child sexual abuse imagery
- Mail-order brides
- Adult themes in family content
Google will also pull any content that falls in one of the following categories:
- Graphic violent content
- Hateful comments, inflammatory language, propaganda
- Harassment and cyber-bullying
- Promotional medical content
- Dangerous or illegal activities
CONTENT TO BLOCK
Furthermore, Google News encourages those that republish material to consider proactively blocking such content or making use of canonical.
Publishers must block content that scrapes all or nearly all of an original work without providing any substantial or clear added value.
Publishers must block links that have been sold for ranking purposes or that otherwise violate Google’s guidelines about link schemes.
Advertising and paid links
The amount of advertising on your site should be reasonable and not intrusive.
Google will also penalize you if you try 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.
You should as well avoid paid and unnatural links in your content. If Google detects that your content has paid links in it, it won’t be picked up by Google News, unless you block those links by tagging them appropriately with either “nofollow” or “sponsored” attributes.
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 site 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. Partners that syndicate external content should take steps to avoid that content from being indexed by Google Search and Google News, by implementing the canonical tag referencing the original article or by blocking Google’s crawler from indexing syndicated content.
If you want your original content to be picked up by Google News you should block duplicated, syndicated and scraped content from being indexed.
You can block content using a robots.txt file, adding noindex and nofollow metatags or in the HTTP header.
In short, if you publish original, respectful, clear and well-written content with datelines on a site with transparent information about the authors and the company behind the site, you’re good to go.
Google News Technical Guidelines
Google provides technical guidelines as well to facilitate the crawling of your site. Following these guidelines will help you maximize the discovery and indexing of your content in Google News.
Permanent sections and URLs
All your articles should be on the same domain as your main site. Subdomains and folders are considered to be the same domain.
Your section pages must have permanent URLs. Once your site has been included in Google News you can modify the site sections and their URLs, or add new ones if needed through Google News Publisher Centre.
Your article URLs must be unique and permanent. This means that each article must have a different URL, and that URL can’t be recycled and used for a different article. You also can’t republish an existing article with a different URL.
Verify robots.txt settings
Verify that your robots.txt file, your meta tags or HTTP headers are not preventing Google crawling bots from accessing your article directory pages. If you have such a block in place for Google’s crawling bots, Google won’t be
able to crawl and index your articles in Google News.
You can block specific sections of your site to Google News by restricting access to the robot crawler Googlebot-News using either robots.txt, meta tags or HTTP headers. This content would remain crawled and indexed in Google search, but it won’t surface in Google News.
Language and encoding
If your site has content in more than one language, you should set up different publications per language, to make it easier for users to get content in their language. Having more than one language in a single article confuses Google News and the content may not get picked up by Google.
To get the best results, websites should be encoded using UTF-8.
Top Stories ranking factors
Keywords, of course, matter a great deal for ranking in Google Top Stories and, therefore, the standard rules of using relevant keywords in the H1 and H2 tags along with the opening paragraph apply. It goes without saying Keywords have a strong influence in Google Top Stories results.
However, there are a number of other factors that you can actively pay attention to in order to increase your chances of having your content picked up by Google for its Top News section. Below is your checklist
Identify the most relevant keywords from the readers’ perspective and feature them prominently in your content.
Users search for news around entities: Person (who did what), Event (details about a specific event), Organization (what a certain organization did or said), Places (where did the event take place), and Concepts (e.g. 2020 elections).
Consistently covering a smaller selection of topics with trustworthy content builds up your website’s authority in the eyes of Google.
Make sure your content is up-to-date, is written by credible authors, covers relevant topics, and is sought-after by readers.
Stories that are clicked on more often are pulled into the Top Stories section more often as they indicate relevance.
Make sure to optimize your headlines – both H1 and H2. Sometimes, a sub-headline is preferred by Google News and is picked up by Top Stories.
Is there a buzz/engagement around your URL? Are users clicking, sharing, and liking the articles from your URL on social media?
ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES
AMP articles get a preferential treatment. AMP pages are features as part of mobile search, rich results and carousels.
Ranking factors: how to optimize your content for Google News
Technical SEO for Google News
Design & layout
Your code should be clean and well-structured, and it should be able to appear correctly in all browsers, devices, and sizes. The article should be presented without interruptions like related article carousels or image galleries.
The order in which the article elements should be presented is:
- Article body
Your site architecture must make it easy for Google to crawl and index your website. To do so, you need a clean and easy to understand taxonomy to classify your articles. Whether you use categories, tags, sections or any other custom taxonomy, the aim should be to make it easy for both your users and Google to navigate your site.
You should keep your site structure as shallow as possible, to minimize the number of clicks you need to get from your homepage to any other page on your site.
Numbered pagination is recommended in archive pages, as opposed to using only 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 your content more effectively.
Google News Sitemap
It’s not necessary to create a Google News sitemap, but it’s recommended. It’s not a ranking factor, but It’d certainly improve the ability of the Google News crawler to discover and index your site more effectively.
If you already have a sitemap on your site, it’s recommended that you create a separate sitemap just for Google News. This sitemap should include up to 1000 URLs for articles published in the last 2 days. If you need to add more than 1000 URLs you can create several sitemaps and use a sitemap index file listing all the different sitemaps. Article sitemaps should be updated as soon as the new articles are published.
A Google News sitemap follows the standard sitemap XML schema but adds some specific Google News elements. <news:publication> (which has two child tags: <news:name> and <news:language>), <news:publication_date> and article <news:title> are the three mandatory elements for each article URL included in the sitemap. Other tags mentioned in the Google News sitemap schema are optional, and in some cases, deprecated, like <genre> and <news:keywords>.
Once you have created your sitemap, it should be validated and submitted using Google Search Console. The most common errors in Google News 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 ‘www’. Another common error is including articles from sections missing in your publication settings defined in Google News Publisher Centre. Add the section there first before including URLs from that section in your sitemap.
What this means: Having a sitemap helps Google discover your new articles more efficiently. But be aware of your crawl budget when sending Google a large number of new URLs. Prioritize your high-value content so that it’s indexed faster by Google News.
Using structured data: Article schema vs NewsArticle schema
There are currently two structured data schemas for news articles: Article and NewsArticle.The Article schema entity is more widely used, which means is better documented and easier to maintain in the long run. However, increasingly NewsArticle schema is being used for subscription content.
What this means: Regardless of the schema you use, using structured data will increase the chances of any of your articles appearing as a rich snippet in a Google search result page, which would improve your click-through rate.
AMP vs Non-AMP Pages
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. When you implement AMP you create a version of your site that will allow Google to present them faster to the user when tapped on a mobile search result page. Google also uses AMP pages almost exclusively on its news carousels in search results pages as well as other rich media carousels.
Using AMP pages with structured data (either Article or NewsArticle schema) is the recommended implementation by Google.
When implementing AMP, make sure that the content is exactly or almost exactly the same as the regular version of the article. Otherwise, Google will think you are misleading users.
AMP pages can be monetized through ads the same way as the standard, canonical version of your site. There is a growing number of custom components and increased integration of AMP by advertising platforms.
What this means: Implementing AMP correctly will certainly have a positive impact on your ranks and your click-through rates in mobile search, even though it’s not a ranking factor for the standard, canonical version of the article.
Loading speed also affects crawling speed and frequency. If your server is slow or experiences downtime, Googlebot will reduce the frequency of their visits, to not overburden your 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 your site is defined algorithmically and depends mainly on your publication frequency. If you publish several new articles per 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 you have already fixed on your site, 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 on your site is highly encouraged. As of now, it’s a ranking factor both in Google search and Google News. As adoption of HTTPS increases, not having a secure website will, in time, be a penalizing factor. Browsers are also increasingly signaling visually to the user whether they are on a secure site or not. Having a secure website will increase trust and reduce bounce rates.
If you use HTTPS, make sure that in both the Google News Publisher Centre and your Google News sitemap the URLs are consistent 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 consistently rank higher in Google News and be more trusted by users.
Links to sponsored and user-generated content
Google has developed a new implementation of link attributes. Besides Nofollow, now 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 you could tag a link as being “Nofollow UGC”.
Another important change is that the Nofollow attribute will now be interpreted as a recommendation and not a directive Google will follow. This means that Google may indeed follow and crawl a Nofollow link.
These changes, which have the objective of helping Google better understand the link graph, could potentially have a deep impact on rankings, as links previously ignored under the Nofollow attribute could now be taken into consideration by Google.
On-page and content SEO for Google News
Title and headlines
Google News will determine the headline for the article based on your 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 search results.
To prevent this to happen you can:
- Match the headline in both the title tag and the H1 tag.
- Match the headline with the anchor text in your section pages.
- Avoid using the article headline as a link in your article text.
- Don’t include dates or times in your headlines.
- Keep your headlines between 2 and 22 words, with at least 10 characters.
- Include your target keyword in your 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 your headline as clear and compelling as possible to increase click-through rates. Headlines should be accurate and easy-to-read. To achieve that, write them in the active voice and the present tense, and avoid repeating words.
Google stopped using the meta keywords tag in search in 2009, and it also stopped support for it in Google News in 2017.
Develop original reporting
Google News has taken steps to reward original reporting with higher ranking positions and SERP features. This will benefit news organizations that can be the first to report a story. Google will give visibility to the original reporting 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 tune and improve search algorithms. Their new guidelines reinforce the idea of rewarding original reporting in search results.
Google News prioritizes original content. If your content is syndicated, scraped or rewritten from other sites, it won’t be featured in Google News.
As a publisher, you 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 to index your content. That way your original stories using credible sources will have a higher chance of being discovered by Google News.
More recent, up-to-date articles have a higher chance of being presented to the user in Google News for most types of stories. It’s not always the case. Google’s algorithm will determine, depending on the topic, which could be more useful to the user: a more recent, updated article or an older, but more extensive article.
Do not include more than one date in your article. For example, don’t include the publication date of related articles in a carousel. More than one date in a single article can confuse the Google News crawler bot.
The publication date should be between the title and the text. If you are using a sitemap, verify that you’re providing the dates correctly in Google Search Console. Otherwise, the articles won’t show in Google News.
If you update an article extensively or add significant information, you can give the article a new date and time. 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 by Google News.
Topicality and relevance
Apart from freshness, the other main consideration Google takes when ranking your 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 you can implement:
- Demonstrate the relevance of your content to that topic, including the use of keywords related to that topic.
- Publish a regular, continuous coverage of that topic. For breaking-news topics, that means steadily publishing new, fresh and relevant information. For other topics, you can expand your coverage with opinion pieces, analysis, profiles and articles providing context and exploring different angles.
- Feature that content prominently on your site. If you are writing lots of articles about a particular story, and this content is featured on your homepage and section pages, that would signal to Google that a particular story is newsworthy.
- Do a keyword research exercise before writing an article to make sure you are optimizing for the right keyword. It can also be useful to uncover trending news and topics.
- Image optimization
Google News can include images and video embedded in your articles, as long as they are relevant to the story.
Images need to be placed after the article title and before the date and article text. They should have well-written and relevant captions and alt-text. You should use structured data (schema.org or Open Graph protocol) to signal to Google which should be the main image that should be used as a thumbnail next to your article headline in Google News.
Remember that the Google News crawler won’t follow any image links.
If you have images included in your articles and they are not being picked up by Google News, verify that:
- Images have a minimum size of 60×90 pixels.
- They are hosted in the same domain as your article.
- The image ratio (height and width) is reasonable.
- You are using a standard image format like .jpg or .png.
- Your robots.txt file or a meta tag isn’t blocking your images to the crawler.
Including video content in Google News
If your organization has a strong focus on video content you have also the option to submit a YouTube video channel to Google News. You should have a site already approved in Google News before submitting a YouTube channel for approval.
- Video content should follow these guidelines:
- Videos should have a good image and audio quality and be published regularly
- They should feature reporting on recent events.
- They should be original and unique.
- Optimize your video by including relevant and well-written video titles and descriptions.
- You should also include some information about your company or organization.
Google News requires that every article has a byline attributing authorship to a human, not a company name or any other entity. Google stills assign Author Rank to content creators and their reputation has an impact on the trustworthiness of the site and their articles.
You should provide information about the authors on your site. The Economist is a singular exception.
You could do that in each article, including their full name, a picture, and a small bio. Another option would be to link the author page from the byline. In this author page, you should include that information, plus contact details like office number, address, email, and social profiles, as well as a list of published articles.
This information has two objectives. First, it shows accountability and transparency. You are answering the question of who is responsible for this content. Second, you can demonstrate the expertise or authoritativeness of your writers. Don’t hesitate to include titles (like PhD), awards and any other distinctions in your authors’ biographical information.
Information to include for each author:
- Full name
- Short bio
- Office address
- Office number
- Office email
- Social links
Trustworthiness and authoritativeness
Google will prioritize high-quality information coming from reliable sources. There are no shortcuts here. To build trust, you need to have a proven track record of publishing high-quality, engaging content that users signal as valuable, by clicking through your stories and reading your content.
Trust is assigned for a specific topic and location and doesn’t translate to other topics.
How does Google assign trust? By analyzing search and traffic patterns, as well as the number of backlinks to your site. Social media is not inherently a factor, but if you have a sizable social media following that probably correlates well with other trustworthiness indicators.
What this means: If Google sees your site as providing trustworthy information about healthcare in France, a news story about finance won’t carry the same weight for Google News.
Google News tends to favor sites with a high content output, as this usually correlates with content freshness and authoritativeness. It’s also logical that if you publish many stories daily, you have a higher chance of at least some of them being surfaced by Google News.
What’s the minimum publication frequency? There’s no hard answer to that, but at least publish 2 news articles per day to increase your chances of Google News picking up your content.
Google News only shows articles going back a maximum of 30 days. With such a short time wind, you can’t follow the usual strategy of building links over a long period. Instead, you should build your overall site trustworthiness over time, and that, among other things, means links to your main site.
In the short-term, the only winning strategy is to be the first to break news in any given topic or event. If other publishers link and reference your article, it’s an indicator to Google that your piece is the original, and most authoritative source on the topic.
Some articles will rank higher for some users based on their location. Local events and stories will surface more easily to local users.
What this means: A local news organization could, for example, rank higher than the New York Times for a local news story as they are a more relevant source for the story.
Infographic: Google News ranking factors
How to get into Google News
There are two ways to get your content into Google News. First, Google may pick up your publisher’s feed through normal search crawl, and that content may surface in Top Stories. You can also submit your site through Google News Publisher Centre is available in Google News App. The second is by helping Google News discover your content, by adhering to their policies.
Google News Publisher Centre
This tool allows you to submit your site to be crawled by Google News. Once again, all posts are eligible to appear in Google News, however, leveraging the publisher centre provides several advantages over normal web crawl:
- Improves the discovery process of your site.
- Improves the classification of your content.
- Improves the efficiency of the crawling process.
It’s not required to submit your site to appear in Google News, but it has clear benefits. Submitting your site doesn’t guarantee the inclusion in Google News. To improve your chances to be included you must follow certain content and technical guidelines.
Once you’ve submitted your site, it may take between 1 and 3 weeks for Google to manually approve or reject your submission. Google doesn’t provide a specific reason for rejection, but they provide forums where you can seek answers, and you can re-submit after 60 days.
The Google News Publisher submission process
To submit your site for inclusion in Google News Publisher Centre you have to follow these steps:
- Verify ownership of the site using Google Search Console
- Check your compliance with the content and technical guidelines of Google News
- Click on Request inclusion in News Index
- Fill in your publication details:
- Brief description of your site
- Name and URL of the site
- Location (City, State/Province and Country/Region)
- Provide labels to your publication. These are broad, general terms to describe the content of your articles and help Google News to classify and show your content. Most labels are applied algorithmically. Some examples of labels are ‘opinion’, ‘user generated content’, ‘blog’, ‘satire’.
- Add sections of your news site. Section URLs have to be on the same domain as the main site. You can add as many sections as you need. The labels of each section are based on traditional newspaper categories (economy, politics, science, health, sports).
- Submit your request.
Content behind a paywall or a subscription
You can have a paywall on your site and still be included and featured in Google News. When using a paywall you have to follow Google’s guidelines to properly mark paywalled content with structured data.
You can decide how many articles a user can see from your site through Google News per month, to test what’s the optimal sampling figure to convert the reader to a subscriber. You can also offer access to only part of your articles. When reaching a certain point in the article, the user will be prompted to register or subscribe to keep reading.
Tactical strategies to surface in Google News
Ensure the breaking or trending news you publish is done as quickly as possible.
Do link to previous news stories or content pieces in your news, in order to create a story cluster.
Headlines + URLs
Keep your headlines SEO-friendly, under 60 characters and adapt the on-page/social headlines to suit other audiences. Review the story’s performance and update your headlines accordingly, per hour if necessary.
Create URLs that target exactly what users are searching for.
Google News and Google Top Stories
Rather than aiming to rank top on Google News and Google Top Stories at the same time, accrue traffic on your Google News position and then use strategies to get it to rank in Top Stories.
It’s important to not overlook the power of increasing your baseline traffic to enable eligibility for other Google News surfaces such as Google Discover.
Original News Reporting
The first point is that the original source of a breaking news story or exclusive should rank first for awhile. However, a better strategy to serve out breaking news is to focus on expanding other aspects of a story people are searching for (i.e. related content trends) that the breaking news story may not have covered.
Analyzing impact and success
You can use Google Analytics to understand and analyze the impact of Google News on your traffic. There are two possible cases:
- If your content was included in Google News via a bot crawl, the content will be either linked directly to the article on your site, or the article on your site may be shown in Google News. Either way, you will see Google News traffic under referral sources, from ‘news.google.com’ and ‘news.url.google.com’.
- If you have licensed your content to Google News using Google News Producer, or if you have submitted and manage your site in Google News from the Publisher Center, you can link your site to Google Analytics. Besides tracking referral traffic to your site, you can monitor and analyze the behavior of your readers on content rendered natively in the Google News Android and iOS apps. Using Producer you can also implement tracking pixels in your editions and articles to analyze reader behavior with other tools.
In this second case, you can analyze with a lot of granularity the behavior of your users and how they consume your content and navigate your edition. For example, you could see if the user was a subscriber or not, if the user accessed your content offline, or if they bookmarked an article.
But for either of those options, there is more to the story. Google News articles can also be featured in Google search result pages. Usually, they appear prominently in News Boxes and Publisher and Video Carousels, both in desktop and mobile search results. When different news stories could be a match for a search query, Google now groups news results in a carousel by story. According to Google, clustering results by stories helps users to better identify the content they need. Carousels now also include specific parts of the content like key quotes from the article.
While these results can include links from anywhere on the web, most of them are from publishers indexed in Google News, according to research from NewsDashboard. Traffic from these boxes will be attributed to Organic Search.
Future-proof your Google News content
Smart speakers and other voice-controlled devices, as well as voice assistants, are becoming nearly ubiquitous. According to Adobe Analytics, 36% of Americans own a smart speaker. But voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana or Google Assistant are present in most mobile devices by now. This means that a lot of search and content consumption will be not text-based but audio-based. 21% of people are using voice-based search now.
What this means: Interaction with search engines like Google will be more conversational, and rely more on questions and natural language than keywords. Answering the user’s questions will be key to position your content for voice search.
Presenting audio content to users
In line with this trend, Google has unveiled a project of including personalized audio news as part of Google Assistant capabilities. It includes top stories selected for the user, as well as updates to previous stories. The user can control the playback of these audio news stories via voice.
Right now this feature is limited to an unspecified number of people using Google Assistant in the United States in English. It’ll be released publicly in 2019. If you produce audio content in English you can already submit your audio feed for approval.
Google has also started to include podcast episodes in search results, which you can play directly from the search result page.
What this means: Publishers that work with audio will see increasing opportunities to increase traffic in search engine optimization, as Google surfaces audio content more effectively to users.
Google keeps investing in journalism
Google is making great efforts to support and reward the creation of high-quality content. Besides prioritizing in-depth quality coverage in Google News and Search, the Google News Initiative has outlined its 4 main programs to support journalism in 2020:
- Supporting local journalism. Google has partnered with Archant in the UK and The Atlantic in the US to develop two local news initiatives. The objective is to help “develop sustainable business models for local news”.
- Developing technology to increase subscription conversion rates. Google has partnered with Lee Enterprises to apply artificial intelligence to learn when a reader is most likely to convert into a paying subscriber.
- Providing reporters with tools to cover elections. Google has partnered with the Boston Globe to develop a tool that allows readers to explore how candidates have voted or acted about an issue. Google is also developing video content for the 2020 US elections to enhance the coverage of local news outlets that don’t have the capacity for producing video.
- New technologies and training. The first result of this initiative was the release of new content creation tools in Google Earth to create time-lapses, animations, and other storytelling formats. Google has also released training courses to help news reporters take advantage of these new opportunities.
Including your site in Google News can have a huge positive impact on your search results. Besides traffic from Google News, you can also benefit from prominent placement in news-related search results in Google through SERP features.
Google is investing resources to develop new programs and initiatives to support quality journalism and is rewarding trustworthy and authoritative publishers with increased organic traffic and increased exposure.
You can take advantage of that by making sure you meet Google’s technical and content requirements and developing your authority and your author’s profile in your area of coverage. Even if you are focused on a niche area, the benefits of optimizing your content for Google News can provide great rewards. And will benefit your actual and potential audience as well, as they will be able to discover and enjoy your content more easily.