Google News is a vertical search engine that Alphabet began in 2002. Results from Google searches – mostly news – are listed very prominently as a box in the organic search results in the event of current topicality. For a website to be listed as a snippet in Google News it must fulfill various technical and quality criteria and be included in the news program for publishers by Google. If a page is included in Google News it can generally benefit from significantly higher traffic than conventionally indexed websites.
How is Google News issued?
The news compiled by Google is issued both in desktop search and mobile search. Mobile news sites are usually listed as AMP in the SERPs. Those who want to search for news using a certain keyword can also specifically select the “News” section within the Google search. The display of news and the ranking of the URL has its own criteria that deviate from the conventional algorithm of the search engine. The topicality of the source plays a very important role as does its authority.
Requirements for uptake in Google News
For a website to be successfully listed in Google News, both general guidelines and technical guidelines must be observed. If these are fulfilled, Google can take up the site in News:
- Topicality: All articles must overwhelmingly report on current events.
- Originals: All submitted content must be original and cannot be copied from other sources. Authors must therefore create unique content, even if this inevitably does not apply, particularly in reports from news agencies.
- Transparency: It is recommended that every published entry should contain the name of the author as well as contact information of the editor.
- No misrepresentations: Google News must touch upon correct facts and cannot include any misrepresentations or incorrect information. This allows the network to assert itself against fake news, for example.
- Minimal share of advertising: If a site is to be listed in News, the share of advertising on the site must not be too high.
- Sufficient share of text: For a headline to appear in the news search, the associated text must not be too short. Google does not specify a text length; however, guidance is more than 350 words.
- Non-advertising: News entries should offer news like a news portal, not advertising contributions on products or services.
- Mobile optimization: The submitted sites should also be optimized for mobile end devices.
The technical requirements include:
- Clear URLs: Every article should be reachable via a clear URL.
- HTML: The entries should be submitted as HTML and not as PDF or other formats.
- Crawling and indexing: As with other websites, news-optimized sites should not be excluded from crawling via robots.txt.
What’s important in Google News optimization
In order to optimize a website for Google News, the technical and content recommendations of Google must be upheld. Otherwise it is likely that the application for admission will be rejected.
It is not absolutely necessary, but it is recommended that a Google News sitemap be acquired. Typically, Google will crawl all the URLs of the articles that a website has published within two days. Also, note that the sitemap should not contain more than 1,000 URLs. This is what differentiates it from a conventional sitemap.
For practical work this means the following:
- News must be regularly produced that actually represents news.
- The technical guidelines must be met.
- The content requirements must be fulfilled.
If the website is rejected, it is no longer listed in News.
Criticism of Google News
Publishers and newspapers often criticize Google News. Many media companies see the use of article headlines and teasers as a violation of copyright laws, as Google takes these text elements and shows them in the News snippet on its site. In Spain in 2014, the dispute with publishers even went so far that Google excluded several news websites from Google News. In turn, many of these sites suffered up to a 15% decline in visitors.
The origin of this dispute with Google was in ancillary copyright, also known as “Lex Google” and which was also introduced in Germany in 2013. According to the copyright, publishers must be remunerated if articles on the web are used by other websites. Google itself does not see a violation of ancillary copyright in the display of snippets and headlines. Publishers, on the other hand, see even this use as subject to license.
However, in many cases the law is too vaguely worded, meaning that it is not clearly ruled when fees are applicable and when not. Furthermore, for media companies the dispute with Google is a very difficult topic, as apart from that, Google provides a large proportion of traffic via Google News.
What is the use for SEO?
Google News pages benefit from a very high level of traffic. This applies predominantly to so-called “trending topics” that are searched for by many people.
Those who want to benefit from these “traffic boosters” must publish articles, the current topics of which are actually searched for by users.
An online shop for household goods will likely find it harder to be listed on Google News with its blog as an info website about smartphones. Whilst very few news items interest a broad audience, the other areas have a lot of interest.
This means that webmasters and SEOs must weigh up whether the high editorial cost, and therefore high cost in terms of finance and time, is worth it to be listed in the News.
Google Alerts as an “SEO tool”
The Google news pages are suitable for monitoring the web in terms of new content on previously defined keywords with the help of the notification function known as “Google Alerts”. For this, users must first call up the Google News search. In the lower area there is a “Create alerts” button. After clicking it topics in the form of keywords can be “subscribed” to in a certain way. As soon as new content appears in the Google News index, the subscribers to the keywords are informed via mail.