That’s the number of clicks Google News gets, as reported in The Atlantic. It amounts to a cool 1 billion unique users per week who are viewing articles that are algorithmically harvested from more than 50,000 news sources across 72 editions and 30 languages.
And you want a piece of that action.
Getting listed in Google News is not automatic (i.e., it’s not like organic search) and it requires some heavy lifting. But the advantages are well worth the effort.
Namely: Increased traffic. Which increases sales.
Your content has a much higher chance of getting read, which …
gives it has a much higher probability of being referenced by other sites (like hundreds – even thousands – of free backlinks), which …
drives more traffic to your site (with new visits ranging from “sizable uptick” to “staggering deluge”), which …
impacts your revenue potential.
It’s a potent, lucrative, and (possibly) virtuous circle.
The goal of this post is to provide the key components you need to have in place before Google will give you a second glance.
But before we begin …
Are you already listed in Google News?
No one wants to spend time re-treading covered ground. To find out if your site is already in Google News, do this:
Go to google.com
Select the “news” vertical
Type the following into the search box: [site:targetURL]
As you can see in the example below, if any results appear, your work is done.
If not, continue reading for the …
5 Tips to Google News Inclusion
Keep in mind that Google News only includes articles that offer “timely reporting on matters that are important or interesting” to Google’s audience.
They generally DON’T include the following:
Strictly informational articles like weather forecasts or stock data
So when identifying what you want to submit, keep Google’s clear caution in mind: Stick to the news – we mean it!
Tip 1: Mind your Ps and Qs
Google News has specific guidelines – general, technical, and quality – that it behooves you to meet BEFORE you submit your site for consideration. Failure to meet these guidelines will likely result in being denied, and you’ll have to wait 60 days before re-submitting.
Because Google is very clear in its descriptions, it makes no sense to repeat the guidelines here. However, to give you a sense of scope and effort, here are key points to note:
Follow SEO best practices. This is golden-rule stuff. E.g., avoid sneaky techniques, write original content, apply good journalistic standards, write what you know (authority!), use keywords and anchor text effectively, include <title> and <alt> tags, etc. If you need an SEO refresher, download SEO 101: The Basics and Beyond.
Use Google News metatags properly. By implementing the “news_keywords” metatag, you can specify the keywords that are most relevant to your articles. Here’s an example:
Separate different content types on your site. Most websites contain many types of content – blogs, eBooks, white papers, press releases, product pages, case studies, jobs, etc. – much of which is not appropriate for Google News. To best ensure you share only your news-specific content, Google recommends you employ a few techniques that help Google best categorize your articles correctly. You can read about that here.
Craft your URLs carefully. Your article URLs must:
contain a 3-digit number (this requirement is lifted when you use a Google News sitemap)
Set up a Google News sitemap. This isn’t required and doesn’t affect your ranking. Nonetheless, a news sitemap will help your content get discovered faster and be displayed more accurately. To set up your Google News sitemap, check out this page. Note that some blogging platforms have modules that create this for you. WordPress and Drupal are examples.
Tip 2: Have original, high-quality content
As pointed out in an earlier post, Google has purposefully triangulated around crappy content with Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird; goal: Raise the bar for content. Trip one or more of these algorithms and your content has a much higher probability of getting hit with a penalty, including being permanently banned from Google News.
The solution? Don’t write crap.
Newsworthy content can span the gamut from helpful, insightful or educational to humorous, entertaining or thought-provoking.
Write stuff like that if you want Google News to carry you forward.
Because nobody likes to click on content that seems promising, only to be served a heaping pile of vapid, error-filled, useless flimflam.
Tip 3: Post on a Regular Basis
Remember those 100,000 clicks per minute (it was the first sentence of this post)? Wanna take a guess at the extraordinary volume of articles Google sifts through every nano-second?
I don’t either, but I’m confident you’re grasping the higher point: Being “seen” by spiders and bots has a few challenges.
To increase the likelihood that (1) your site will be picked up by Google News and (2) your articles will be displayed in the news results, you’ll want to post new (high-quality!) content frequently.
Do you need 10 (or a hundred … yes HuffPo, I’m talking to you) articles every day? Not necessarily. Depending on what your site is geared toward, one new article per day might be just fine.
But do post something new – and newsworthy – every day.
Tip 4: Have multiple authors
From Google’s perspective, numerous authors are a strong indication that your site represents a professional organization, rather than a single-person sole proprietorship. So to the extent possible, try to have a minimum of 3 authors/contributors.
You’ll want them all to be real humans, too. No ghost writers or nameless “Acme News Team” bylines. Google wants to see transparency: pictures, contact information, and (of course) an associated Google+ page.
(Tip: It’s best to also have “about us” and “contact us” pages to further confirm to Google that you’re a professional site with multiple authors.)
Tip 5: Have history
You don’t necessarily need to be a seasoned pro, but Google wants you to have some authority before they list you in their news search. Which means you’ve written at least 100 articles and are receiving regular and respectable traffic to your prose.
And then settle in for a nice round of patience; it can take several weeks for Google to let you know whether your submission has passed muster. But the rewards are often well worth all the effort. Good luck!