There are very few things in life that you should embrace without a moment’s hesitation. Getting your website on Google news when the opportunity presents itself is one such thing. Google news, for those of you who don’t regularly use Google and don’t know what I’m talking about (hey, it could happen) is an algorithmic-based news aggregator (or it’s a piece of software that organizes news) that trawls 50,000 news sites and displays stories to users.
Well, the hoops you have to jump through to get in might be one thing you’ll not be particularly fond of. There are quite a lot of things that you need to do right before you’ll be considered. Get it wrong and you’ve got a 60 day cool off period. So dot your ‘I’s and cross your ‘T’s before you apply!
Then Google will look at your website and not with some algorithm either. They will look at it manually. Possibly this is to prevent their algorithm, which isn’t very good at satire, from being fooled by sites like the Onion. Or it could just be quality control. I prefer the former explanation though I’ve got no evidence for it.
Anyway, enough prattle. What do you need to get Google to include you in their news lineup?
They need to be catchy, interesting but at the same time news-like. So no ‘She saw the Poodle and the rhino run at each other and she couldn’t believe what happened next!’ But then hopefully that’s on the way out anyway.
Your news needs to clearly defined categories
They want what is known as a ‘silo structure’. This is where different types of news are divided into different categories, such as entertainment, sports, politics and so forth.
They’ll also be looking that all your content is not provided by just one author. Instead, they want a number of authors, who are all writing about different topics and who have different specialties. Make sure that each of these authors has their own bio page. This will also help with making you look more legit and more trustworthy.
Don’t look like a fly-by-night
This isn’t just the layout either (though that sure helps) but also such thing as an ‘about us’ and ‘contact us’ section. Make certain that your website includes a physical address, an email as well as a phone number.
Show that you’re a functioning website
With this, I mean that you’ve got a business model and some sort of income, like ads, without bothering your visitors. So avoid pop-ups and annoying requests for users to sign up for newsletters. If you don’t have these things then they might wonder how long you’ll be around and if it’s worth including you in their lineup at all.
No duplication and curation
It’s all about original content. If you can’t do that, they’re not interested. And of course, that content has to be interesting and engaging. Otherwise, even if you get selected to be part of Google news, your articles won’t get anywhere. So what’s the point?
You’ve probably noticed how most people have turned into shuffling blue-screen zombies. Apparently somewhere last year they overtook normal people and they’re now in the majority. For that reason Google wants you to make certain your content is mobile friendly so that these strange shuffling creatures can get your content into their brains.
Be up to date with your content
If an article gets picked up by Google news then it will generally stick around for about 2 to 4 days. So if you want to stay there, you’ve got to provide content quite consistently. There also seems to be an unwritten rule that you’re supposed to be putting up at least 2 to 3 articles a day.
With that I don’t just mean that they should have a great internal structure (though obviously that will help). I also mean that they are rigorously categorized and the right tags are applied. Make certain that social media buttons are not obtrusive as well and that your site has images.
The right URL structure
Every news article needs to have a three-digit number in there which does not look like a date. It’s also a good idea to use keywords as well, though this will just serve to boost your traffic once you do get picked up by Google news and isn’t a pre-requisite.
Google needs your Sitemap
Google uses Sitemaps (click here to find out what a sitemap is) to help them search the web faster. For that reason they have some pretty clear guidelines on what they want. There should be no more than 1000 URLs and it should only include URLS that you’ve published in the last 2 days. Check out Google’s own news sitemap page to learn more. Note that they say at the top that you should first register your news page. You might want to wait with that until you’ve sorted out everything I’ve mentioned on this page.
What will not go down well at the Google
I already mentioned curating and duplication, but that’s not the only things that get Google’s goat.
- Don’t include jobs in your news stories. These should be on a separate page.
- Do not use your news stories for content marketing. This might well get you removed from their lineup.
- Do not just use images or videos for any of your news stories. You need at least some text.
- Don’t update your news story over and over. Get it right from the beginning.
Got all that? Go apply!
So if you’ve got all that figured out, then go apply! Visit the Google news publisher center to do so. But let me remind you again that if you get turned down there will be a 60 day cooldown period. That’s nearly two months and that can be a lifetime for a star-up. So before you run the gauntlet, you might want to check that you’re wearing your running shoes.
Images: ”MINSK, BELARUS – May 20, 2011: Homepage Of Google.Com, The Biggest Search Engine. Google is an American multinational corporation specializing in Internet-related services and products./Shutterstock.com“
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