Google News Optimization: How to Boost Your Site’s Visibility & Traffic - Search Engine Journal
Posted: 14 Aug 2019 05:44 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: 13 Aug 2019 11:47 AM PDT
Google's Search-integrated Google Jobs tool and widget are drawing both support and complaints in equal measure, based on reports about letters sent to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and sources close to the matter.
Complaints about the service and widget generally stem from the placement of the search widget itself.
For clarity, the Jobs tool is a widget-linked service provided by Google that aggregates job listings from across the web. It shows up in Google search when users type in any job-related term and the keyword 'jobs'. Jobs associated with that appear, with links to where users can get more information or file an application.
Clicking on the "Jobs" link or the "more jobs" link in the widget takes that out to its own applet. Like other Google tools, that appears at the top of the page in its own clearly-separated material design 2.0 box.
In the EU German jobs website firms such as Berlin-based StepStone GmbH, StepStone, and others are opposed to the tool. The widget's placement that at the top of the page prevents traffic to smaller sites, the opposition says, making it illegal according to EU antitrust laws.
A full-blown investigation?
The complaints could also lead to the start of a formal investigation prior to Ms. Vestager leaving office on October 31. According to sources said to be "familiar" with the situation, the commissioner had previously been reviewing the company's job tool. Ms. Vestage has prepared an "intensive" handover of that inquiry for the next commissioner to take the office.
The latest companies to have filed complaints against Google include British site Best Jobs Online and German sites Intermedia and Jobindex. The companies are awaiting a response before filing formal complaints, although StepStone is said to be pursuing that route already.
The Jobs tool is not without supporters
Another concern for those opposed to Google's widget-based search tool is that Google will eventually place ads on the page and use the information to redirect any revenue from the tool back to itself. That hasn't stopped the tool from gaining plenty of support since it launched.
Setting aside that Google has continuously improved the tool and bolstered its use to as many as 120 million user clicks in the US in June, the tool is not only made for Google's benefit. As it stands, the Jobs tool acts as a central hub for job search from effectively anywhere, so long as the listings have been optimized for search.
While the associated guidelines are cited as part of the potential problem, that means competing job services do have their listings showcased, sometimes prominently, in the tool. US-based Indeed is noted by the source has having not formated their listings for use in Google's Jobs tool. But the company is showcased on several searches in the tool regardless.
Proponents of Google's efforts to make looking for a new job easy point to those figures when voicing their support. The US-based firm iCIMS Inc, for example, has claimed that Google is just better at matching searchers to jobs. Start their search from Google's Jobs is at least three times more likely to land users the job, it says.
Another US company, Monster Worldwide Inc, has taken the opportunity presented by the tool to bolster clicks on its site.
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