Google News Optimization: How to Boost Your Site’s Visibility & Traffic - Search Engine Journal
Posted: 14 Aug 2019 05:37 AM PDT
Google News has changed dramatically since the "beta" version was launched back in September 2002. And many of the best practices for optimizing your news content have changed significantly, too.
But, some of the fundamentals of Google News optimization haven't changed at all over the past 17 years.
The key to optimizing your news content for visibility and traffic is figuring out what has changed and what hasn't.
For example, Google News is still a news search engine despite the fact that Google announced "the all-new Google News" on May 8.
In the announcement on Google new official blog, The Keyword, Trystan Upstill, a Distinguished Engineer and the Google News Engineering and Product Lead, wrote:
In other words, computer algorithms may have been updated, but they still determine which stories, images, and videos appear in Google News results, and in what order.
So, if you conduct a news search, you'll still see "relevant" news, magazine, and video stories as well as press releases in the results.
Ironically, the information about ranking in the Google News Publisher Help Center doesn't mention "relevance." It says:
Does this mean that you don't have to think about the words users would type to find your news content and no longer need to make sure that your news, magazine, and video story or press release actually includes those words within it?
Although the revamped Google News app uses machine learning to adapt to a user's habits and routines over time, enabling it to recommend personalized content in the "For you" section, that doesn't mean it now shows users irrelevant results when they conduct a news search.
In fact, if you conduct a news search for "machine learning," you won't see content about "influencer marketing" – even if that's a topic that you've also used Google News to search for recently.
So, how do you optimize your news content for visibility and traffic today?
1. Conduct Keyword Research to Find News Search Terms People Are Likely to Use
Well, the first step in Google News optimization is conducting keyword research to find 85% of the news search terms that people are likely to use. How do you do that?
If you have the time to plan a feature article or press release on "back to school", then use the Explore tool in Google Trends.
And although "Web Search" is the default setting, use the "News Search" option to discover that news search interest in "back to school" spikes in late July and early August in the U.S.
But, if you need to conduct keyword research on the fly, then use the Autocomplete feature in Google News.
Type in "back to school" and Autocomplete will make some predictions. These predictions are possible news search terms related to what you're looking for and what other people have already searched for.
As I was writing this, Autocomplete showed me that other people had already searched for:
Raise your hand if you've already guessed that these terms are listed in order of their relative popularity.
What about the other 15% of the news search terms that people are likely to use?
Well, in April 2017, Ben Gomes, Google's VP of Engineering, wrote in The Keyword:
So, if you've got a truly newsworthy story or you're launching an exceptional new product, then you can coin your own news search term and discover if you get lucky.
2. Write a Clear, Concise Headline
Despite getting revamped, Google News continues to rely heavily on page titles to determine ranking.
Your news, magazine, and video story or press release's headline is its page title.
For proper indexing by Google News, your headline should be between 2 and 22 words.
And avoid puns or plays on words.
They can confuse humans as well as news search engine algorithms.
3. Use Subheads & Text Formatting for Emphasis
What about subheads? Well, they're a good place to incorporate additional keywords that aren't in your headline.
They also provide early supplemental guidance to readers as they decide whether to continue reading longer news content.
In addition, bold, italic, underlined, and bulleted text help:
So, use them – judiciously.
4. Question the Conventional Wisdom That Says: Keep It Short
Now, I'm often asked, "How long should optimized news content be?"
But, there is no simple formula for calculating how long your article or release should be in order to be optimized for Google News.
But, it's time to question the conventional wisdom that says: Keep it short.
Unfortunately, short content provides the wrong answers to some of the questions that Google engineers use to assess the "quality" of an article, according to a post in Google's Webmaster Central Blog by Amit Singhal, who was a Google Fellow back in May 2011:
To confirm that this advice still holds true, I conducted a news search on July 21 for "machine learning" and "What Is Machine Learning?" ranked higher than more recent articles.
Written by Ben Dickson of PCMag.com, this article is 1,528 words long.
I also conducted a news search for "back to school", and "Missed Amazon Prime Day? You can still find the best back-to-school deals" ranked higher than more recent news stories.
Written by AJ Horch of CNBC, this story is 715 words long.
Finally, I conducted a news search for "GEICO", and "Road Trip: GEICO Says Make It Memorable and Make It Safe" was ranked #1.
This press release was distributed by Business Wire and appeared on Yahoo! Finance. It included an infographic and was 507 words long.
So, conduct your own news searches for a couple of your target search terms and find out just how long your optimized news content should be.
It may vary, but I'd be shocked, shocked to find it was "short."
5. Include Photos & Videos
Although rich textual content is important, so are photos and videos.
Google News displays images associated with articles included in its index, although it sometimes pairs relevant images with articles from different sources.
Here are some tips to increase the likelihood that your images are included in Google News:
Google News also recognizes the importance of video content.
If you have a news site, then Google News can crawl your YouTube channel and MP4 videos embedded within articles on your site.
Google News has a number of guidelines for video content to provide the best user experience as well as to maintain fairness and consistency when determining what content is included.
Before submitting your YouTube channel to their team for consideration, you should review these guidelines from Google:
6. Add Meaningful Links
It's okay to use links in your story or release to direct your audiences to relevant additional content.
By placing relevant, context-appropriate links, you'll drive measurable traffic to this related content and improve the user's experience.
Editorial placed links, which Google calls "natural links", can provide you with an earned media SEO benefit.
But, links that aren't editorially placed, also known as "unnatural links", can be considered a violation of Google's guidelines.
That's why links in press releases in Google News employ "no follow" tags. While these links may not enhance your SEO, they can still drive traffic to your website – and that isn't chopped liver.
7. Measure the Impact of Google News
If you're a publisher, there are two ways to track how your content is performing according to Google News.
If Google News crawls the content on your site, then you can look for HTTP referrer values to separate traffic from Google News from the rest of your traffic.
Incoming readers with referrers of "news.google.com" or "news.url.google.com" are from Google News.
You can use your Google Analytics to conduct further analysis of both your standard HTML and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) articles.
If you provide licensed content via RSS feeds or AMP via Google News Producer, then you can track direct traffic to your site using the news.google.com and news.url.google.com referrers.
In addition, you can set up tracking in Google News Producer that provides more detail and track content that is rendered natively within the Google News Android and iOS apps.
If you're optimizing a press release, then you can use Google's free Campaign URL Builder tool, which enables you to easily add campaign parameters to URLs so you can track Custom Campaigns in Google Analytics.
I did this recently for a public research university that launched a new online program.
We used Google Analytics to get a picture of our users' Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion (ABC) cycle:
I was able to report that the release had driven 301 users to their site, who visited a total of 558 sessions.
These users looked at an average of 4 pages per session, which had an average duration of 3-and-a-half minutes. And 100 users converted into soft leads (clicked on an Apply Now link), while 30 converted into hard leads (filled out a form).
To Sum Up
In closing, I should remind you that Google News is constantly changing.
So, I should probably add a "Best if used by (or before)" date to some of the tips in this article.
But, I should also note that other advice hasn't changed in years.
This means the trick to Google News optimization is continuing to figure out what's really new under the sun and what's old as dirt.
Posted: 15 Aug 2019 06:34 AM PDT
Most businesses will get many of their clients from people who live within the area that they provide their services. Being able to let people within your area know that you provide a particular service or product they are interested in would be a major plus for your business. This is why every business should take advantage of Google My Business listing. This allows the business to appear in location-based searches as well as in Google Maps.
Claiming your listing or creating the listing is only the first step towards ensuring an effective online presence. This guide will teach you how to optimize Google My Business to get the best out of the listing.
Google My Business (GMB) does not just help the business, it also helps people searching online. This free tool from Google enables a searcher to find a business near them and then get vital information that will help them make a decision about whether to contact the business or not. For example, they can see if the business is open at the time they are conducting the search, they can see the address of the business and look at photos of the business posted both by the owner and people who have been there before. They can even see reviews by customers.
This may sound so much like a substitute for a website but it really isn't though it has to be optimized just like you would do for a website. Use this tool to complement your website by creating an informative presence on the most used search engine.
The knowledge card is something you need to get familiar with before you begin to optimize your GMB listing. The Knowledge card is what you would see at the right-hand corner of your desktop or at the top of your mobile screen when you search for a business. The knowledge card contains the following information among others:
As you optimize your listing, you will need to pay attention to a lot of this information. Visitors look at this information and they can decide whether they want to continue to the website or to contact the business, it is therefore important that this information is convincing enough to trigger a positive response.
This information also helps Google to know your business better. If it understands what your business does and where it is located, along with other vital information, it can determine whether your business is relevant to different searches and therefore your knowledge panel along with your website link will appear in more search results. The information is also used in Google Maps.
Claiming Your Listing on Google My Business
For businesses that have been in operation for years, it is highly likely that your business is already listed on GMB but it may not have been claimed yet. The first step to claiming the business is searching for it.
You need to go to Google and enter your business name along with its location. If your business is listed, you will see it in the results and the knowledge panel will also be present. In the knowledge panel is a link prompting you to either claim the business or to own it – it depends on whether you are using a desktop or mobile phone.
Click on the link and you will be on your way to claiming the business. For some businesses, someone may have already claimed the business and that would mean you would need to request them to revert the ownership to you if they are not part of the business. Sometimes you may have hired an SEO company which took the initiative to claim the business in order to optimize your online presence.
Creating a Google My Business Listing
If you are unable to find your business when you searched, and it is not listed then you will need to create the listing yourself. Creating the listing does not take too long. You will need to sign in to your Google account or if you do not have one you will need to sign up. Once that is done you can proceed to the Google Business page and click on the 'Manage Now' button. Follow the instructions and you will be done in a few minutes.
Managing Your Business Information
Once you have claimed your listing, it is important that all the information is accurate. You need to scrutinize the information and make sure everything is correct. Ensure the web address is actually yours and is spelled right along with the business name. Fill in other fields that may be missing like the type of business, location, if you have more than one location, you can include those as well, if the phone number has changed, add the new one that you know will be available and include the operating hours for your business.
It is also important that you indicate if you provide your services at the customer's location. This is common for service businesses like plumbing, cleaning and catering services, among others. You will also need to enter the area in which you operate. Often they may be multiple areas and you will need to include that so people are able to see if you serve their location. Make sure that all the changes you make are saved. You can do that by clicking "Apply" once you are done with the changes.
In order for these changes to appear in the listings, you need to verify your Google My Business listing. You have multiple ways to verify the listing. These include:
– Phone Call: The Google team will call your primary number and provide a verification code
– Email: The verification code will be sent to your email address
– Post Card: A postcard can also be sent to you with the code
– Instant verification
Most experts will recommend that you choose either postcard or email to verify your listing. This is a vital step in claiming your listing because Google uses it to ensure the business actually exists and does what you say it does as well as have a physical address. Google constantly weeds out the fake businesses and you do not want to be mistaken for one of the fake companies out there.
Verification can take about a week and until it is done, your listing will not be visible.
Optimizing Google My Business Listing
So the initial stage is done and you need to get down to the critical stage of ensuring that your listing effectively captures the attention of prospective clients and drives more traffic to your website with the ultimate goal of making conversions.
If you are constantly on the move, it is best that you download the Google My Business App so that you can easily respond to reviews, upload pictures and make any necessary changes on the go, or if you like to dedicate a particular amount of time each day to optimize your listing, then the desktop may be fine.
A great majority of people are convinced about how good a business is based on reviews from other users of the service or product. Google knows this and that is why there is a review section on the listing. Try to encourage as many people as you can to leave reviews about your business. These need to be genuine reviews because you can be penalized for having fake reviews, but naturally, you will want to have positive reviews so make sure your business is making people happy and you will have the positive reviews you want.
It is not a one-way street though, you need to be actively involved in the interaction. If someone leaves a review, be sure to respond, it could be saying 'thank you' or if the review is negative, you may want to address that too without getting defensive. If the fault is yours then own up and provide a solution that shows you care about your clients and want them to be happy.
You need to keep in mind that the more positive reviews a business has, the higher it is ranked and will appear among the top search results for businesses in its category. It should, therefore, be a major goal for you to collect as many positive reviews as possible.
You will also need to be on the lookout for fake reviews, feel free to report such reviews to the Google team. Your competitors may be using underhanded methods to get reviews and you can also report such issues.
Here is a crucial step in optimization. You might find that when you claim your Google My Business listing, there are already photos chosen by Google or uploaded by people who have used the service or product before. It is not enough. You need to pay keen attention to the photos that appear on your listing.
According to research, businesses with quality photos receive more clicks than those without and they will also get more requests for driving directions. It is worth spending on a professional photographer who can take amazing pictures of your business as well as the products or services. Remember first impressions last and the pictures you put up need to be able to make a positive lasting impression.
Choose the profile picture carefully, do not just settle for a logo of the business, let it be something attractive about your business. It could be the foyer or the workspace or for a restaurant, it could be an enticing buffet. Be creative here and ensure you impress.
It is important also to ensure brand recognition so pictures on your listing need to match those on your website and the quality should also be the same. The minimum resolution should be 720 by 720 pixels and they should be formatted in JPEG or PNG.
Just like with SEO for your business website, Keywords are very important. Google still takes note of particular keywords when choosing which listing to show and you would want to have the right keywords in your listing.
Borrow a leaf from your competitors and see how they are using different keywords and then go-ahead to implement a similar strategy. The area for description of the business is a great place to insert some strategic keywords but do not overdo it.
It is important that you accurately describe the category your business falls in and go on to exhaust the other related categories. At the same time though you do not want to include irrelevant categories that have nothing to do with your business
There are a lot of tools you can use for monitoring the performance of your GMB listing. Make use of all the available monitoring tools especially Google Analytics. There is a lot this tool can provide and it will help you make updates to your listing to ensure it is effectively attracting more clients and maintaining the existing ones. You will be able to track the number of people finding you using the listing along with other sources.
It is also possible to see what a visitor did after they found your listing. They can make a phone call to the business, go through your photos, ask for directions to the business location or visit the website. Here you will be able to tell what is the attraction on your listing and what is the poorest performer so that you improve it.
It cannot be overstressed how important it is to get the information you provide on the listing correctly. Wrong spelling, inaccurate directions or false information can greatly affect the impression you make on visitors as well as Google's impression of you. Take the time to go through all the information and make sure it is correct and appealing as well.
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