While Google News Showcase continues to grow worldwide – the new Big G product that pays for editorial publications that publish online news – the old News search engine remains an important organic traffic channel for many sites. Since 2019, the inclusion system in Google News has changed, but the elimination of the mandatory request has not extended the feed to everyone: so here is a series of advice, best practices and guidelines to follow to increase the chances of gaining visibility in Google News with our editorial content.

The value of Google News (and of news to Google)

The Google news section was born in 2006 and has constantly evolved, enriched with other features that appear among SERPs – above all, the carousel of Featured News (Top Stories), which with the debut of the Google Page Experience in May will be open to all sites, even not AMP – or other ecosystem products, such as Google Discover and, above all, Google News Showcase.

This latest initiative, in particular, seems to be Google’s answer to the growing demands of publishers, also supported by legislative interventions in many parts of the world – from Europe, France at the top, to Australia – to allocate revenues to newspapers “in exchange” for the content used on the search engine.

In a few months, the number of countries and publications participating in News Showcase has more than doubled, and in recent weeks the project has exceeded 500 news publications representing a dozen countries, including Australia, Japan, U.K. and Argentina, and was also at the center of a powerful agreement with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp , one of the largest and strongest publishing companies in the world (with publications such as Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Marketwatch and New York Post in the United States; Times, Sunday Times and The Sun in the United Kingdom and The Australian, news.com.au and Sky News in Australia), which will provide for 3 years editorial content in exchange for “significant payments”.

How much it does cost to be on Google News

For an editorial site, appearing in Google News means earning a great opportunity for organic visibility: as we know, Google is the most used search engine (in January reached about 92% of marketshare worldwide, 96% in Italy according to Statcounter) and SERPs can be “a fantastic way to draw more attention to content, thanks to the greater visibility that Google offers to the main articles,” notes Lee Wilson on Search Engine Journal.

In practical terms, the news channel represents an advantageous business opportunity: only at European level, users click on news articles on Google more than 8 billion times a month, with a pace of 3000 clicks per second that the search engine directs to the websites of publishers, and according to a recent study by Deloitte the big news publishers earn between 4 and 6 cents per click on articles from Google News.

In addition, not a negligible element, a search revealed that more than 60% of people trust Google News more than news featured on other news systems.

How to join Google News today

Until 2019, as mentioned, there were several criteria to be met in order to apply for access to the news service – and, even according to them, There was a chance of getting a rejection because the final decision was subject to Google’s ratings – while now the policy is different and, basically, the site no longer has to “do anything”.

To be precise, currently “publishers are automatically taken into account for the Main News section or for the News tab of the Search” and serves only “produce high quality content and comply with the Google News content standards”as the guide to service explains.

However, the practical tips and advice from the past on Google News eligibility still apply today, and Wilson’s article takes us on a journey to discover the best practices to secure a place in this section.

Getting to know Google News to exploit its advantages

Before going further into the practical aspects that can help the appearance in the news section of the search engine, the author makes an overall overview of the News system to describe its characteristics and advantages for publishers.

Google News, it may be useful to remember, is a vertical search engine generated by an algorithmic system that collects and aggregates news and headlines from thousands of information sources around the world. The system displays these contents based on a number of factors, including the user’s preferences and interests, relevance, content update and authority.

Users can access Google News directly by going to https://news.google.com/, but the fastest way to view articles is in the classic main pages of search results, where the Top Stories section is particularly prominent.

esempio di pagina di Google News

A typical Google News home screen – the default view is on the featured News and is determined by the device’s geographical location as well as user preferences – with some features such as:

  • Search bar (typical usage by search engines).
  • Filters (region and type of news, for example modern, classic, titles or compact).
  • Side navigation (quick filtering of arguments functionality).
  • Weather app.
  • Widget information based on location and preferences (display of local news according to preferences and location data).
  • Chosen by the publisher.
  • Main stories (geographical and global area).
  • Suggested for you (user behavior and preference-based data).
  • Sectors/industries.

Google News benefits for sites

At first glance, success on Google News means increasing the scope, visibility and traffic of the brand/expert/service, which could lead to an increase in sales and final results.

The value of people’s trust in News as a source of information should not be overlooked: “When combined with the above-mentioned desired results, it opens up a wider business value outside of traditional search metrics of impressions, traffic, and revenue,” Wilson notes.

Trust, in fact, can “be a key factor of online differentiation between brands and websites, influencing the behavior of users both in the pre-clic (ad) and post-click (website) phases”.

For many companies, inclusion in Google News is another way to maximize the work done on content, current and future, and then to return the investment spent in terms of time, money and resources.

Last but not least, access to the Featured News section can provide a faster access point to highly competitive search results, as also demonstrated by our study on the impact of features in SERPs.

General guidelines to join Google News

There are therefore some aspects to (still) comply with in order to increase the chances of appearing in Google News and to have better opportunities to place their articles at the top.

In particular, one must comply the general advice regarding, among others:

  • Types of content. As you can easily guess, the content must be timely, relevant and of perceived interest to the Google News audience. Content that does not fall within this list includes suggestions and advice, job advertisements or content that is purely informative such as weather or share prices.
  • Originality and readability. The content must be accurate and original, well written and free of excessive distractions such as advertising, video and so on. If a site also publishes auto-generated and aggregated content, you need to differentiate them clearly, because they don’t enter Google News.
  • Expertise and trust. These are two of the cornerstones of the EAT paradigm, and remind us that content has a better chance of entering Google News if they offer a clear opinion, based on expertise and experience in the specific field, and if they are supported by trust signals including a physical address, authority and phone numbers.

Suggestion about the technical front

It is good to know that the inclusion in Google News is regulated by algorithms that detect and scan articles to be evaluated, so there are also a number of technical SEO factors that we must meet, both traditional and more specifically referred to Google News.

Among other things, we must ensure that:

  • URLs and anchor links are unique, permanent and descriptive of the content.
  • The content is provided only in HTML format, because it is not possible to scan or view PDF, Javascript and other types of content; in most cases, multimedia content is not included (Youtube is the occasional exception).
  • The domain on which the content is hosted is accessible to search engine bots.

Indications on quality

Quality is present in every aspect of Google’s philosophy, and even this section is no exception. The author therefore suggests to verify that our contents exceed the “basic requirements such as depth, variation, opinion, competence, trust and statistical data”.

News is limited to news content, so:

  • the attempt to include all the pages of the site, even those not strictly related to the news, is doomed to failure;
  • it is difficult to include content based on marketing or PR, because industry-specific and company-neutral articles are usually preferred;
  • you may not place commercial or promotional advertisements, even if they include quotes and expert opinions.

Suggestions and advice on Google News

According to Wilson, there are numerous other tactics that can be used to try to include and classify content in Google News, and offers a set of guidelines that can positively affect suitability and ranking.

  • Doing the basics right, that is clearly labeling news-like contents, inserting them in a unique subfolder (for example, exampledomain.com/news) and attributing to each article a descriptive URL that reflects the topic of content. New content must be accessible, uploaded quickly and be rich in information, but also have value, be current, supported by facts and independent of commercial tones. In addition, it must be easy to read, share and interact (the more quality signals of the user come from the content, the better) and the frequency and constancy of publication also seem to have an influence: Better an article every week or every day than 10 articles a day and then nothing else for a month.
  • News sitemap. It is also useful to create a separate sitemap for Google News, to be sent directly to Google to discover articles faster and improve content coverage, having more confidence that the crawler scans and indexes all news articles.
  • Pagine AMP. AMP pages. AMP pages are particularly useful for publishers because they are “deprived of almost all types of non-text content that could cause slow loading” and so are ideal for serving news to load quickly to users on the move who use various types of devices and Internet connection levels.
  • Google Publishing Center. Although sending the site is no longer necessary, registration at the Google Publishers Center provides some additional benefits, as described by Google, including content control and branding; monetization opportunities; suitability for positioning. In addition, according to the article, “some publishers reported that they were included in Google News much faster after posting their site”.

Google News eligibility, what one needs in short

In conclusion, we can say without doubt that there are many advantages to being listed in Google News, because it can be an access point to highly competitive search results.

However, we need to create valid news content that meets criteria such as accuracy, originality, timeliness, relevance and interest for the Google News audience.

It is therefore important to follow both the guidelines (general, technical and quality) and the best practices to try to find the right way to increase the chances that the content of our site is suitable for Google News and conquer more traffic.

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