Getting listed on the Google News Index can give your site a major leg up in terms of SEO. However, this is the same process as being featured on the SERP, as there are very different criteria one needs to fulfil. Luckily, we’re here to show you the ropes and get you started in the right direction.
The Advantages of the News Index
First things first: why would you want to be featured specifically in Google’s News section? The answer is that the Google News Index is a useful tool because it disambiguates types of information. If you run a news website or an information column on a website (like a university press release page), the news section is the place to be. It’s where Google features sources dedicated specifically to new information and often becomes a sign of trust for users.
Unlike a lot of other Google listings, the News section is curated manually. This allows Google to remove news pages that aren’t entirely about relaying news or are commercial websites that merely have a news section. This improves the fidelity of the overall news feed. What they do want is dedicated news websites whose sole purpose is to provide news and content on specific topics and specific niches.
As a result, the first thing you’ll need is a website that is entirely about relaying some form of news. This is the primary criteria that you’ll need to clear to get on their radar.
Website & Page Requirements
There are several things that Google prefers in terms of how you operate your website. The first of these is having static URLs. This means that an article or a section is always on the same URL for reliability purposes. This way, Google can crawl it and recrawl it on that URL without having to work with any redirects. On that note, users need to make sure their links and headlines are not changing all the time.
On another similar note, keep your code as clean as can be by keeping the article content in the HTML source code as a single block of code from the headline to the end. Users can do this by keeping the article deprived of content like related article blocks or photo galleries in the middle of the text. These elements interfere with how Google indexes content, so keeping it a more or less continuous block of text is for the better.
While not as mandatory (yet still highly worth it), 2 details that could help are having a news XML sitemap and marking up articles with news article structured data. The former is useful in that an XML sitemap that lists articles that you’ve published in the last 48 hours, up to a maximum of 1,000 articles, is favourable to Google when it tries to find new articles. With the news markup, you have a better chance of ending up on the news carousel.
Google News Tips & Improvements
There are some other minor things you can do that may help how you fare on Google News listings. Having multiple authors, for example, is pretty crucial in getting Google workers to approve your website. It shows that your website isn’t some fringe blog and that it has a more elaborate operation.
Similarly, daily updates can lend even more credibility on your part. Ideally, it should be multiple news stories every day. Google also looks at unique content. This is how much information and stories that are only yours and are originating from your site. While there is no set rule for this, the ratio should be about 70% original content.
Another factor that can help is that you have a very specific niche. Niche content and specialised topics are more favourable to Google as it has its fair share of general news-coverage sites. Furthermore, with certain keywords, it is best to have a specialist site that can provide more in-depth reporting (e.g. science websites for science-specific keywords).
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