Google News is a service developed by Google that allows automated aggregation of press and news articles from a multitude of information sources on the Web. Google News was first launched in April 2002, in more than 20 countries.
It is only in 2009 that the French part is launched in its beta version. Some figures to illustrate what is currently Google News around the world:
- 1 billion users each week
- 55 000 indexed sources
- 6 billion clicks to the different information sources
This service is therefore an aggregator of news content selected in advance according to several criteria of relevance and reputation, which we will describe later. The Google News ranking algorithm classifies hundreds of thousands of news items according to several topics:
- Science / High-Tech
How does Google News really work? How to improve your Google News ranking? How to appear in Google News?
What is Google News?
The Google News search engine is similar to the classic Google search engine. It crawls via Googlebot, indexes eligible press articles, and then ranks them according to several defined criteria. First, the content must be exclusively dedicated to news stories. The site must therefore have a news tab. For Google News, the instructions related to the quality are also essential under penalty of manual or algorithmic sanction and even of a definitive withdrawal of the concerned site from its index. Quick reminder on the general instructions:
- Avoid any technique to deceive the user in any way; content automation, cloaking, hidden text or links and diverted content.
- Avoid any technique to boost your Google News ranking; artificial links, misleading redirects, satellite pages or keyword stuffing.
- Your website and your content must be primarily intended for Internet users and not for search engines, so banish any deceptive technique such as hidden content or other manipulation to deceive the visitor.
Collecting and disseminating information via Google News
To propose a quality and original content, the Google News search engine has set up a system of collection and dissemination of information.
In order to be visible, you must first submit your application to the Google News Publisher Center via a form if you believe that your website meets all the guidelines listed above. Filling this form is a condition, it is subjected to a validation from the Google News team. In case of refusal, you will receive an answer by email, you will then have 60 days to make a new request having corrected the various negative points.
Please note that the Google teams specify that they cannot comment on each form in detail or in a personalized way. You will therefore have to identify the various negative points of your application yourself.
On all the sources that have been eligible to the form previously filled, Google News uses this “index” of site to select the relevant articles through the crawl of its Googlebot. Each source present in the “index” Google News is thus visited / scrutinized several times per day by the Google robot. Then Google indexes the article and uses its algorithm to determine the topic to associate.
Once Google has captured the information and that it corresponds to a recent news, it will disseminate it. Google News lists more than 500 different news sources, a priority must be issued in order to have a clear and qualitative classification of news. For this, Google sorts according to ranking factors:
- The degree of relevance of the news
- The notoriety of the source; an article coming from Le Monde will have more chances to go up on the breaking news than a regional daily newspaper, for example
- The degree of real-time of the breaking news (time and date of publication)
- Comparison of the flow of information according to the different articles on the same subject
According to these different factors, the Google News engine will more or less well rank the different articles on the web search.
What is the classification of sites eligible for Google News?
To help the robots to classify your site and your articles, it is possible to insert a label that correspond to common terms to define the different types of news categories:
This label allows Googlebot to classify the news associated with a topic URL by subject. For example:
- If you use the label “Sport” at your URL: http://exemple.fr/sport, Googlebot understands this topic and will be able to classify the news accordingly
This label allows you to describe the content of your site and thus improve the visibility and classification of this content.
- If you use the label “blog” for a blog post at http://exampleblog.com/, its classification will be facilitated.
What are the different eligible sites / sources? Here is an exhaustive list:
- Press Release
- Opinion content
Google News eligibility requirements
To be present on Google News, it is necessary to respect the so-called general guidelines in order to be visible in one of the main categories of Google News. These rules concern 3 main axes: the content, the ethics, and the monetization. By respecting the rules stated below, you will have all the cards in hand to be present on Google News.
The Google News content
Priority to news
As indicated by the search engine, the contents present on Google News are related to the breaking news, to a recent event. In other words, it is necessary to process and analyze the information as soon as it is released so that your content is as fresh as possible and provides the most exclusive information. The Giant of Mountain View refuses to include content such as tutorials, readers’ letters, job offers or real estate ads. Priority is given to news stories!
Readability and clarity
Readability is a very important criterion for Google to be in the index. There are fundamental points to respect: spelling and grammar. Your content must be impeccable on these points to improve the user’s reading comfort. The goal of Google News is to provide quality content. The knowledge of English is therefore essential, but not only. In order not to alter the user’s attention, Google recommends using advertising or ads sparingly. Your paid content should not occupy more space than your main content.
A unique and original content
As on its classic search engine, Google is waging war on duplicate content. Your content must be an original and the possible sources of the article must be cited. It is therefore forbidden to copy or compile information to write an article. If this is the case, it is advisable to separate this content from your Google News articles. To do this, limit access to these “duplicated” or “compiled” contents via the robots.txt file.
To conclude, Google focuses on the reader and the user experience. Your content must be thought in this sense, so do not forget the following points:
- The content must deal with a breaking and exclusive news
- Spelling and grammar should be impeccable
- Advertisements and ads should not take up more space than your content
- No duplication allowed
Google News Ethics
On its various search engines, Google attaches great importance to ethics as well as to the quality of the information offered to its users. Google News puts forward 3 extremely important points to be present on Google News. If these points are not respected, you will have little chance to access the news search engine:
- Responsibility of the editors and transparency
- Exclusion of misleading sites
- Advertisers and publicity
The responsibility of the editors
Google favors news sites with a real editorial team, so it is advisable to provide a biography of the editors and their social media. This is to demonstrate their activity and all the content they have written.
The quality of information is the spearhead of Google News. In no case, a site should spread false information, nor hide information about their owner and their main objective.
The preferred sites are therefore the recognized information sites that have a total transparency on their source of information as well as their editorial teams.
Advertisers and publicity
Knowing that the priorities of Google News are quality information and user comfort, the search engine wants to reduce as much as possible the advertising spaces and other pop-ups that could alter the user experience of the visitor. Advertising and other promotional content, AdSense and other promotional platforms are therefore to be used sparingly.
- Your promotional content should not occupy more space than your textual information content
Which article structure should you adopt to get listed on Google News?
As for its main search engine, a site wishing to be correctly indexed on Google News must respect the basic rules of page structure. There are therefore On-page criteria to respect in order to be visible on the news search engine.
The on-page criteria are very important, because they are often the structured data that the different robots of the algorithm will take into account.
Each article must have its own dedicated page
An article must therefore be available via a single, non-duplicated URL that is understandable by the search engines (no special characters).
IDs of at least 3 digits are no longer mandatory in URLs, so you can have a classic URL that is clear and understandable by users. Some pages are to be banned for Google News, such as:
- Pages listing several news items
- Lists of articles that do not point to the page dedicated to each news
- Pages compiling the full content of several articles
- Each subdomain must be submitted independently to the Google News form
- UTF-8 encoding is preferred
- The content must be online for at least 30 days, after this time the article will not appear in the results
- Only one language per page to be specified in the search console and via the hreflang tag if your site is multilingual
- Optimization of images, in order to have a thumbnail next to your article in the Google News search engine
For this last point, you will have to make sure of the following points:
- Image format: GIF or JPEG with the height, width and alt attributes filled in. The PNG format does not allow you to have a thumbnail illustrating your article
- With an illustration, your article will logically have a higher click rate than without
The structure of a Google News article
The article structure is important to appear in the Google News search results. Here are the technical requirements to respect:
- The H1 title must correspond 100% to the Title tag
Example of an article from Le Figaro: https://lc.cx/JXDN
- Display the time and date of publication: an important criterion for Google News, because it allows to see the freshness of your content.
The faster you publish your information, the more likely you are to appear in Google News results. The “Scoop” is a decisive element on Google News.
Is there a minimum number of words to be in the news feed of a trends topic or category?
We observe that there is no correlation between the positioning and the number of words in the article. All these media are sites with a high “source rank”, there is no “minor” media present on this trends topic. The density of the content does not determine the positioning of the article.
- Tag your content with H2, H3, etc.
- The AMP format is strongly favored on mobile, so having the AMP label is recommended to appear on mobile. More information on the AMP project.
The structure not to adopt
When your site has been validated by Google and you are eligible to be published on the search engine news, Google reserves the right to publish or not the article. The structure of your text can be the cause, so here are some tips to improve it:
- Avoid inserting multimedia elements too high in the article such as videos, tweet, or infographics for example. Textual content is to be preferred
- Avoid starting or inserting a bullet list too high in the article
- Give preference to long paragraphs (3-4 lines). Your standfirst, if you have one, should respect this rule.
It seems that all media are not totally on the same footing and that there is a notion of “source rank” which would rank the different articles. Press sites, radio or TV channel sites would benefit from a high “source rank” and would be strongly trusted.
- Publish a maximum of articles daily and regularly on hot topics
- Produce content on related topics, but with different angles of approach
- Publish content on “trending topics” (sub-categories corresponding to the current events)
- The notion of CTR and sharing on social networks is also very important
“Google News is compiled entirely by a computer algorithm that analyzes all the sites in our system. For your content to be included in Google News, its layout and format must be easily readable and decipherable by our robot. In addition, we’ve put some restrictions in place so that our crawler will only include links to URLs that are actually news articles.”
Source: Google Support
The technical structure of a Google News article
We’ve already slightly mentioned it before, but there are prerequisites for being visible on Google News. These include the issue of URL duplication and access to Googlebot, as well as the implementation of a Google News sitemap.
URL and duplication
Each page must have its own URL and its content must be unique. The news aggregators, the pages containing several contents of similar articles or contents having a dynamic URL will be systematically refused by Google News.
The Meta Keywords tag
Any SEO will tell you that this tag is no longer taken into account by Google, and that it is even considered as Keyword stuffing. But for Google News, this tag allows to better understand your topic and eventually include you more easily in a “trending topics”.
The Standout tag
The “standout” tag is deployed in 2011 in the United States and allows sites present on Google News to highlight certain articles of excellent quality:
The “standout” tag must be inserted in the “Head” part, and it is possible to mention a maximum of 7 articles per week. You can also mention articles from external sources that have served as a source of writing.
Google News has its own crawler: Googlebot-News. In this case, the robots.txt allows you to direct the Google robot to the parts of your site that you want to appear in Google and in Google News:
- To prevent your site from appearing in Google News, block access to Googlebot-News with a robots.txt file
You also have the possibility to block the exploration and the indexation to Googlebot-News via the following Meta tag:
The “3-digit rule” still relevant?
Before 2016, in order to appear in Google News, it was necessary to have 3 digits in its URL so that Google robots could recognize that these URLs were to be crawled, and therefore indexed in Google News. Since September 2015 this rule is no longer relevant because the Google News sitemap allows robots to distinguish the pages intended for Google News.
The announcement of Stacie Chan on September 28, 2015, on the end of the “3-digit rule”
Source: Google Forum
Google News Sitemap
In order to be eligible for Google News, it is essential to have this type of sitemap dedicated to Google News; here are the main rules to respect so that this sitemap is understood and taken into account by Google robots:
- Include URLs of all articles published in the last 2 days. It is therefore necessary to delete the URLs of the old articles, all articles will remain in the Google News index for 30 days before dropping out.
- Update the sitemap with new article URLs as they’re published because it is regularly visited by Google robots.
- Maximum 1,000 URLs per sitemap.
- Do not use your Google sitemap generation tool, because it would include URLs not corresponding to the Google News sitemap. Tools can replace the Google tool, see here.
Examples of Google News site:
Google News tags table
Discover without further ado the table of Google News tags to remember to be eligible for Google News.
|Publication||Yes||The tag indicates the publication in which the article appears. It is associated with two mandatory child tags: and . The tag contains the name of the publication. This name must match exactly the name that appears in your articles on news.google.com, without the final brackets and their content. For example, if the name of your publication in Google News is “Journal L’Exemple (subscription)”, you should use the name “Journal L’Exemple”. The tag indicates the language in which your publication is written. You must use an ISO 639 language code (two or three letters). Exception: in Chinese, please use zh-cn for simplified Chinese or zh-tw for traditional Chinese.|
|Types||Use only if the article matches a particular content type||Comma-separated list of properties describing the content of the article: “PressRelease” or “UserGenerated.” Check out the Google News content properties to see the different possible values. To ensure consistency for users, you need to apply the correct labels to your content.|
|Publication_date||Yes||The date the article was published in W3C format, with either the full date (YYYY-MM-DD) or the full date followed by hours, minutes, seconds, and time zone (YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ssTZD). Be sure to include the original date and time that the article was published on your site. Do not include the time the article was added to your sitemap. Googlebot-News accepts the following formats: Full date YYYY-MM-DD (example: 1997-07-16) Full date followed by hours and minutes YYYY-MM-DDThh:mmTZD (example: 1997-07-16T19:20+01:00) Full date followed by hours, minutes, and seconds YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ssTZD (example: 1997-07-16T19:20:30+01:00) Complete date followed by hours, minutes, seconds, and tenths of a second YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ss.sTZD (example: 1997-07-16T19:20:30.45+01:00)|
|Titles||Yes||Article titles. Note: Due to length restrictions, the title may appear truncated in Google News. The article title tag should contain only the title of the article, as it appears on your site. The author’s name, publication name or publication date should not be included in this tag.|
|Keywords||No||No Comma-separated list of keywords describing the subject of the article. The keywords can be partly taken from the existing Google News keyword list but are not limited to it.|
|Stock_tickers||No||No Comma-separated list (limited to five entries) of stock symbols, mutual funds, or other financial entities that are the main topic of the article. This section is most relevant for financial articles. Each stock symbol must be preceded by the stock index it is associated with and must be identical to the one listed in Google Finance. For example, “NASDAQ:AMAT” or “BOM:500325” are correct, while “NASD:AMAT” and “BOM:RIL” are not.|
Google News is a media in its own right, due to its capitalization of visits and its number of daily users. With the advent of mobile and the constant increase of visits on this device, Google is always looking to fully satisfy the user. The release of AMP in 2016 is proof of this, as currently in the United States the results in AMP formats have gone from 30 to 70% of links returned by Google News.
This label will therefore become essential to be present on Google News. The news is strongly consumed via mobile, so it is logical that Google takes this turn and optimizes its search engine to the maximum in this sense.