Getting Google News approval can greatly improve your website’s online exposure. The Google News section aims to provide an updated list of the latest events from reliable, authoritative sources. Since most of the links here come from reputable media or news outlets, it can be challenging for smaller sites to gain visibility. However, following the right steps can get your site noticed. Meeting Google’s Webmaster guidelines is the first step to acquiring Google News approval. In this article, I’ll guide you to getting a news listing and a steady source of traffic.
Let’s look at some of the general guidelines upheld for Google News approval. Make certain you’re following these guidelines to get a listing:
- News content – Of course, sites looking for Google News approval must offer timely and accurate reports on important, relevant, and interesting matters. You can ensure that your article appears as a news story by writing it in a public relations press release format. Avoid posting job notifications, how-to articles, advice columns, event announcements, etc. Google will not consider your content as news if you also post strictly informational content like stock data or weather forecasts. If you do post such content, ensure they’re excluded from the news sitemap.
- Journalistic standards – Google News approval requires that sites maintain quality journalistic values, such as honest attribution and original reporting. If you’re going to add syndicated content or original content, then mark it with the syndication-source or original-source meta tag. If you’re going to publish aggregated content, make sure these are not mixed up with your original work. You could separate the two or use your robots.txt file to restrict Google’s access to the aggregated articles.
- Authority – It’s important to exhibit clear expertise for Google News approval. Regardless of the category of content you publish, becoming a strong authority figure in the field will always help your site ranking and reputation. Therefore, it’s a good idea to write what you know best. For instance, Searchengineland.com writes mostly about search engine news and publishes about eight to 10 posts per day.Keep in mind that consistently posting eight to 10 quality posts in a day long-term isn’t feasible with only one to three authors. Make sure your website has multiple authors who can regularly contribute fresh, original posts. If you notice below, Forbes gets most of their content from contributors.
- Accountability – For every news story, include the name of the author. It’s optional to include the author bio, but having one improves your chances of getting Google News approval for a listing. This is because readers tend to value websites that include author biographies. Try to make contact information like email addresses and phone numbers easily accessible. com is one of the most reputable news websites. As you can see below, they’ve included a clear and detailed author bio.
- Readability – Your application for Google News approval will be manually reviewed by a representative of the Google team. The review process will include a verification of your whole website. They’ll also manually read some articles on your site. So, you need to prioritize on improving the readability of every post. Double check that your articles are clearly written with correct grammar and spelling. This will ensure a better user experience, which is great for your site ranking as well. Get rid of distracting ads and disable the auto-load function on your videos. Doing so will allow readers to focus more on your article content, thus improving their experience.
- Finish Your Article Completely – Your article is crawled only once for Google News approval, so finish it completely before you hit the publish button. Any changes made later on won’t show up in the Google News link.
Google News automatically crawls news sites using a computer algorithm. This makes it crucial for you to follow the technical guidelines so that the system can distinguish the articles on your webpages. The following are some of the most important technical guidelines required for Google News approval:
- Article URLs – Each news story you publish should have a unique and permanent URL. For the articles to receive Google News approval, each of the URLs should be unique pages that can’t be replaced by other articles. They should also contain a minimum of three digit post ID number for further identification. For instance,www.example.com/news123.html fits into the criteria set by Google. Take a look below at the unique URL for a news story found on Lifehacker.Note: Google has recently announced that 3 digit unique post ID is no longer required, but URL should be unique and permanent so having a unique digit in the URL is a good thing.
- Article formatting – Your news story should be an HTML article, since this is the only format Google can crawl. If your article is published in PDF format, it won’t be granted Google News approval. Stories with only a video or image won’t appear in the news section either. They’d be placed under “Images” or “Videos” instead.
- Robots.txt or Metatags – Google uses web robots to index the content on websites, so your website content must be able to be crawled and indexed. You can make use of the robots.txt file, which uses the Robots Exclusion Standard, to ensure that the news stories are accessible by these crawlers. This protocol indicates the sections that can be accessed by specific kinds of crawlers.
- Multimedia content – Google News is currently unable to include multimedia content and audio files. However, you can add supplementary text on pages that have this type of content as the search engine will be able to crawl and index text only.
- Google News sitemap – Too many websites make the mistake of not creating a Google News sitemap. Google specifically wants to you to define the content type, name of your publication, language, access (subscription or registration), genre, publication date (W3C format), title, keywords, etc. The Google News sitemap is a great way to further segment your news content.
- Standout Tag – Google introduced standout tag to use if your organization publishes an extraordinary news story and wants it to be highlighted. Using the standout meta tag is the best way to do so. Standout tags can be used on self-published articles or citing third-party original sources. But if you are using it for your own website, avoid using it more than seven times in the past calendar week.
Google keeps a lookout for websites that indulge in manipulative, deceptive, and misleading practices. Before you submit a request in the publisher dashboard for Google News approval, make certain you’re adhering to these guidelines:
- Stick to the news – If your site contains both news content and other types of content, keep the two suitably separated. This is especially important if you have promotional content or paid advertorials. When these are mixed with your news content, Google could exclude your entire website from its news section altogether.
- Be user-friendly – Your website should be designed to provide a good user experience. Even by just following the basic principles of good journalism, you can make sure that your site is unique as well as engaging and valuable for users. Prioritize on getting your content to load quickly. Avoid using URL redirects unless absolutely necessary. These are some basic ways to ensure that readers have a pleasant experience on your site. Design your site in the way of popular news sites, such as Forbes.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Androidcentral.com, and Gsmarena.com.
- Use meta tags properly – Always implement the Google meta tags correctly when you decide to use them in your content. For example, the keywords tag can be used to get your website to appear for certain user queries. When using these tags, you need to use a comma for separating each group of keywords. One article is only allowed 10 phrases, so don’t go overboard. If you’re using WordPress, then Yoast or All-in-one SEO Pack are free plug-ins that can help.
Following these best practices is the key to getting Google News approval. Popular sites like Nbcnews.com, Time.com, Usatoday.com, and the other sites I’ve mentioned get huge traffic from Google News listings. Acquiring approval can be a huge profit to your traffic too. If you have reason to believe that a publisher is violating the quality guidelines provided by Google, you can even fill out a Spam Report. After you’ve ensured that you’re abiding by all the guidelines mentioned above, go ahead and submit your request for Google News approval.
Facing any issues while making your site ready for Google News approval? Get in touch with me in the comments section below!