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Let’s set the record straight. Google News optimization is not only for news sites. 

Any website which regularly invests in timely content can reach engaged audiences and drive quality traffic with a solid Google News SEO strategy. 

Google News-driven results send over 24 billion clicks per month to publishers. Here’s how to claim your share. 

Google News aggregates and amplifies story exposure

Google News is an aggregator that offers somewhat newsworthy local and international stories from numerous sources, categorizing content into topics.

I say “somewhat newsworthy” because what Google defines as “news” is now lax.

The publisher no longer needs to be a dedicated news site. You can get in with your blog if you regularly produce high-quality, original and timely content.

You may get in without knowing it, as Google automatically considers any content in its index that complies with Google News content policies for inclusion.

Ranking in Google News can be a game-changer for content visibility. However, audience targeting and reach can vary greatly depending on the placement.

Partnership placements

The Google News Showcase is a content licensing program in which Google pays participating publishers to curate their best content. 

It’s unique within Google News products because the publisher’s editorial team selects which stories to show readers. 

This selection is displayed in Google Discover and across Google News surfaces in a Sources panel. 

Personalized placements

Google personalizes content for each individual user based on their interests, sources, locations and past activity on Google Search and YouTube. This algorithm dictates what is shown on:

  • “For you” tab on Google News Android and iOS apps, plus the browser version on news.google.com.
  • “Suggested sources” in news stand tab.
  • Google News app push notifications.
  • Google News daily briefing emails.
  • “News tab” of the YouTube app on TVs.
  • “Subscribe with Google” module in search.

It can deliver a highly engaged audience if your coverage matches the user’s topics of interest.

Location-driven placements

For videos, Google News offers placements in:

  • YouTube’s top news.
  • YouTube’s breaking news
  • In U.S. local news shelves.
  • YouTube.com/news 
  • The News section in the YouTube app.

Google News articles also have a chance to show:

  • On YouTube in the developing news information panel.
  • In the news tab in search.
  • The headlines section of the app and site.
  • Down into the full coverage reports.
  • The local news carousel in universal search.

However, the ultimate prize is securing a spot in the top stories carousel within universal search. This will also show if you ask Google Assistant news-driven queries such as “What’s the news?”

None of these placements are personalized. Everyone of a qualifying age who shares the same region, language and location settings sees the same content.

For this reason, non-personalized placements have a higher impact potential. Those within universal search can also offer an easier route to display for highly competitive search terms than attempting to rank position one.

So with all that potential visibility on the line, what should you do to appeal to the Google News algorithms?

It’s not as simple as a few bullet points

The bullet points on the “Ranking within Google News” guidelines are too simplistic and offer little tactical guidance. 

Even though Google does flesh them out in the News Initiative documentation, the added value is minimal. 

However, the documents clarify that much of the ranking system used in Google News is shared with that of Google Search.

For example, with usability. This is all about clean, well-structured, cross-browser and cross-device compatible code that delivers on core web vitals. 

Now that Google News no longer requires AMP for the top stories carousel, usability optimization for Google News and Google Search is essentially the same.

From here on, let’s assume that any point shared by both the Google News and Search algorithms is a given, and instead concentrate on specific SEO tactics for Google News that go beyond what you’re already doing for Google Search.

Branding essentials for Google News SEO

When it comes to the Google News algorithm, the conventional signals of relevance and popularity take a backseat to source authoritativeness. 

Think “E-E-A-T to the max” and curate credibility with these four tactics.

Establish a strong presence in Google Publisher Center

It’s not required to submit your site in Google Publisher Center, but it offers clear benefits:

  • Improve discoverability: Become eligible to appear in the Newsstand area of Google News.
  • Branding control: Set a publication name, category, language, location and visual style.
  • Topic optimization: Google News algorithms heavily utilize the topic layer of the Google Knowledge Graph. Publisher Center allows you to classify content into section feeds to exhibit your expertise in specific topics. Ideally, at least one of these sections will be tailored for local news.
  • Grow your following: Readers can follow your publication, greatly increasing the chance your content will be shown in personalized placements. Support this action like you would your social media accounts by adding a Google News follow button linking to your publications on site.
  • Convert readers to subscribers: By leveraging the “Subscribe with Google” paywall.

To control the order of articles on your page in Google News, submit content as a feed rather than a section URL.

Highlight author expertise

Include a byline linked to the author’s page, or at least an author box, in every article submitted to Google News. 

The content must work toward establishing expertise and being recognized as an authority in their field. Ensure bios include:

  • Author’s full name.
  • A professional headshot.
  • A meaningful short bio of 2-3 sentences, including relevant professional experience and awards.
  • Links to professionally used social media accounts.
  • Links to that author’s published articles.

For a real competitive advantage, collaborate with your key editorial team members to have them entered into the Google Knowledge Graph. 

Being associated with Google-acknowledged contributors enhances your publication’s credibility and reinforces Google’s trust in the value of your content.

Provide newsroom transparency

Build trust through an About page. This should include:

  • Information on the publication (i.e., mission statement, editorial policies and standards, a brief history and key achievements).
  • Information on the publisher, company or funding source behind it.
  • Staff information, both editorial and business.
  • Headquarters address.
  • Non-generic contact information, including email address and phone number.

Invest in a strong social media presence

The impact of social media signals on Google News rankings is contentious. 

But at the very least, brands aiming to gain traction in Google News should invest in regular tweeting to become eligible for the “From Buy Twitter Verification” section in “Full coverage” reports and the Buy Twitter Verification carousel in universal search, which appears on approximately 35% of all U.S. news related queries according to NewzDash.

Technical essentials for Google News visibility

While Google News may include your article or video content without you doing any specific optimizations, the only way to see the channel’s full potential is by having the technical basics of Google News SEO in place. This involves four key actions.

Entice Googlebot to crawl faster

Like any Google surface, your content can not be indexed by Google News without first being crawled. 

But speedy crawling is even more critical in Google News as it works off a short-term index and heavily biases fresh content. Making indexing speed paramount to success.

In addition to crawl optimization fundamentals, get indexed fast by:

  • Submitting a news sitemap to Google Search Console and adding the URL to your robots.txt file. Be sure URLs are added immediately upon publication and removed after 48 hours. 
  • Using WebSub to notify Google instantly of new content, else content from section feeds will only update hourly.
  • Submitting news-focused YouTube videos and article content as a section RSS feeds, website URLs or profile links in Google Publisher Center.
  • Embedding videos hosted on external sites (hopefully YouTube to reap the full visibility benefits) in on-site content via an