Tweet I have done a lot of newspaper SEO (aka “Consejos SEO” for mis amigos al sur de la frontera) and inevitably, the first question I get asked by a new client is “What are Google News’ ranking factors? Doing SEO for Google News is a strange beast, but there are plenty of easy things you can do to make your site improve its chances of ranking well. In fact, Google News tells you what you have to do on their blog. Of course, in true Google fashion, they don’t make it easy for you to find all of the info in one place, so I thought I’d help you all out by publishing some of these tips here:
Google News SEO Tips & Ranking Factors:
Update 2/23/11: Google News May Have Problems With Some HTML Formatting
1. Submit Your News Articles As Soon As Possible
You can submit your articles as soon as you upload them on your site. The earlier you submit, the sooner Google can crawl and extract them. The result is that you’ll boost your publishing power, and Google will process your most recent articles more quickly, since they recrawl all News sitemaps frequently.
2. Submit Your News Site Map to Google
Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. Verify your site. If your site is currently included in Google News, the presence of the News Crawl link on the left indicates that the news features are enabled. If your site isn’t included in Google News, you can request inclusion.
3. Include Only Most Recently Added URLs In News Sitemap (Less than 72 hours)
Google wants only the most recently added URLs in your News Sitemap, as it directs Googlebot to your breaking information. If you include older URLs, no worries (there’s no penalty unless you’re perceived as maliciously spamming — this case would be rare, so again, no worries); we just won’t include those URLs in our next News crawl.
4. Include Your Company Web Site When Applying to the YouTube Partner Program
To get started, apply to the YouTube Partner Program. Don’t forget to include the website of your news organization in the “Company Web Site” field on your application form — this is critical to having your application approved. If you don’t already have a YouTube account, make sure to use an email address with the same domain as your website (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) when registering.
5. Keep The Article Body Clean
For various reasons, when crawling an article, Google News checks to make sure it can find the article body. If your article body is broken up by tags, ads, sidebars or other non-article content, we may not be able to detect the actual article body, and reject your article as a result. In addition, if you place the beginning of your article’s body near the title in the HTML, we’ll be more likely to extract the correct title and snippet.
6. Make Sure Article URLs Are Permanent And Unique
If you reuse article URLs, Google’s system may have difficulty crawling and categorizing your stories. In addition, make sure your article URLs have at least three digits that don’t resemble a year (for example, 5232 is ok, but 2008 is not.) You can get around this requirement by submitting your articles in News Sitemaps. Also, please note that session IDs can confuse Google’s crawler, and Google may not realize that two distinct URLs actually point to the same page. You can learn more about some of these requirements here.
7. Take Advantage Of Stock Tickers In Sitemaps
Google News Sitemaps allow publishers to specify stock ticker symbols for companies mentioned in individual articles. Using these symbols helps Google better identify the subjects of your articles. You can read more about the format Google uses for this data here.
8. Check Your Encoding
Google occasionally sees articles that declare themselves to be encoded in one format (say, UTF-8) and are actually encoded in another (say, ISO 8859-1). Don’t do this. It hurts Google.
9. Make Your Article Publication Dates Explicit
In order to help Google’s crawler determine the correct date, please make the actual publication date of your articles explicit. You can do this by placing the article date and time in the HTML, between the title and the body. Also, you can remove other dates from the HTML of the article page, and add the required tag to articles in your News Sitemap. Dates on article pages can be in most common formats, but for sitemaps, Google asks that you use the W3C format; e.g. 2008-12-29T06:30:00Z. Note that the article times and dates displayed on Google News reflect the time at which Google originally crawled the articles, and may not be the same as the publication date.
10. Keep Original Content Separate From Press Releases
If your site produces original content and distributes press releases that you’d like Google to crawl, make sure to separate your original news content from your press releases by creating two different sections on your site. As you may know, Google News labels press releases distinctly in order to alert our users that the article they’re about to read is a press release. If your original news sections have links to press releases, adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute to all links that point to your press release articles will ensure that they’re labeled correctly. You can learn more about this attribute here.
11. Format Your Images Properly
To help Google News identify your images and crawl them along with your articles, use fairly large images with reasonable aspect ratios and descriptive captions. Make sure to place them near their respective article titles on the page and make the images inline and non-clickable. Images in the JPEG format are more likely to be crawled correctly.
12. Include Article Titles In Headline and Title Tag
In order for Google News to crawl the correct titles for your articles, make sure the title you want appears in both the title tag and as the headline on the article page. In addition, don’t hyperlink the headline on the article page – after all, your reader is already there! And it’s always a good idea to have links that point to your articles use the article title as anchor text.
Oops. Just fired the fact-checking department. See comments
13. Don’t Update Your News Article After Posting It
Currently, the Google News crawler only visits each article URL once. If you make updates to the article after they’ve crawled it, they won’t be reflected Google News.
14. News Articles Must Contain Text
While Google will include articles that contain multimedia content, if Google’s crawler cannot find accompanying text content, it won’t include the article. The bottom line here is that Google’s crawler is looking for text articles, so if some of your content isn’t text-based, it won’t be included in Google News.
15. Don’t Make Any Drastic Changes To The Structure Or Layout Of Your Site
Google’s crawler has been carefully tuned to scour the web for news content. If you drastically change the structure of your site or your page layout, the crawler may have trouble navigating the new design. In such cases, the Google Support team may need to update the crawler so that it can find your new content. When in doubt, check out the section in Google’s publisher help center about changes to your site or contact the Google Support team.
16. Upload News Videos As Quickly As Possible
Videos should be uploaded as quickly as possible — this will help them reach the news homepage faster and be grouped with the most recent articles.
17. Each News Video Should Contain Only One Story
Instead of having one video that contains multiple segments covering several different stories of the day, it’s a better user experience (and easier for us to index), when there is one story per video, and the video title is specific (not something generic like “Breaking News”). At the very least, the description of the video should match the first story in the video.
18. Properly Categorize News Videos
If you are providing general news coverage, select YouTube category “News & Politics” (which is YouTube category id 25) when uploading your video. If you have multiple channels, clearly identify each category (politics, business, entertainment, sports, etc.).
19. Provide Detailed Descriptions For News Videos
Similar to the first paragraph of a news article, descriptions of the news video should convey the who, what, when, where, and why of the story in a few sentences — the more detail you can supply, the better.
20. Provide Targeted Keywords For News Videos
Another way to convey the content of the video is using the keyword tags. Providing keywords that might not be in the description gives us more knowledge of what the video is about. Especially helpful are proper nouns: the names of the people, places, companies, etc. mentioned in the video.
21. Make Your News Video Embeddable
Be sure your video is embeddable on other sites since this is currently a technical requirement for being displayed in Google News. Additionally, if your videos are geo-blocked in certain regions, they will not appear in Google News.