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Do you own a site full of breaking news and industry updates? Then you could be getting traffic from Google News! But news is constantly changing and evolving, and you can't wait until after you publish an article to make sure that it is optimized for up-to-date search traffic.
Read on to find out how to qualify for Google News, see if your content is already being aggregated, and get your site crawled if it hasn't been already. Once you are sending updates to Google News, keep reading for tips on how to optimize your content.
How to Qualify
First, see if you qualify.
To be indexed on Google News, you need:
- a site, mobile site, or YouTube channel
- multiple authors (listed on a staff or similar page)
- an editorial review process
- news articles that are longer than 80 words on individual HTML pages with permanent URLs
You do not need to be the original source of news (for example, if you use syndicated news), though there is metadata you can include to attribute the original source. Blogs, opinion pieces, and satire can qualify, along with more traditional paid and free subscription news sources.
Does that describe your site? Then for the next step:
First, check and see if your site is already being aggregated by visiting Google News and searching for your URL with the site: operator. For example, if your site was news.com, search for site:news.com (no spaces).
If it's not being aggregated, request inclusion by answering some questions. Make sure you are the best contact person for your site.
Improve Your Results
Once you are being aggregated, you want to make sure you are returning the best results possible.
Craft a great title. Like any search results, the title is going to be the thing that helps readers know that they're looking in the right place. For readers using Google News search, this means being clear that your site is covering the news story they are searching for. A two-part title structure is often recommended so that the news subject takes center stage. (See the example: India v Pakistan World Cup 2011: Tight Security as Ministers Flock to Mohali)
Include a photo. As you can see in the screenshot above, news stories are paired with photos that are also relevant. However, the news stories and photos are completely independent, and clicking on the photo will take you to the article corresponding to the photo, not the title displayed beside it. So if your title doesn't “make the cut” and isn't displayed on the results page, a photo is a second chance to attract clicks.
Make sure that the photo's file name, title, description, alt text, and captions are all naming the news event the photo is depicting. Place the photo near the headline, and large .jpgs seem to be common favorites.
Keep editing. Google News results are re-crawled often, especially in the first couple days after the pages are published, so release your news early and then continue to update your article as more details emerge. Just make sure that your breaking news snippets are long enough to be considered an article: Google's guideline is about 80 words, with sentences grouped into paragraphs. Backlinks still matter, so getting your news out there early will help you become an initial source for other blogs and news outlets.
Get technical. Google has a number of explicitly-stated technical requirements – and following the rules well can help your site rise above the rest. You can submit news sitemaps, make sure your articles are unique HTML pages, and check that Google has access to your site. Google News Help for Publishers is a great place to get started understanding how to work with the Google News algorithm, not against it.
For more strategies to get the most out of Google News, including a few specific WordPress plugins, read SEO Strategies for Google News.