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If you have a website which is regularly publishing news items, then getting indexed by Google News is a crucial source of traffic.
First of all you need to make a request to have Google News index your content, but there are other requirements. So what else is Google looking for?
These technical requirements need to be met for Google to consider your site for inclusion:
- Pages that display the full text of news articles need to have unique URLs so that the Google crawler is able to index it. URLs with more than one article cannot be included on Google News.
- The URL for each article must contain a unique number consisting of at least three digits, and should not resemble a date. Aim for more than six digits to be on the safe side.
- Google News cannot index sites for which the main page URL contains a date, as these dates often change regularly so the crawler cannot identify the most recent version.
Website / content
Some of the things Google is looking for include:
- Content on your news site needs to be original, which makes sense, though a quick search through Google News uncovers plenty of less than original content. And press releases, come to think of it.
- Your site should have more than one author, as well as a page listing them all, with bios. It's a dealbreaker if you don't do this. Articles should also include the writer's name and timestamp.
- Information about your company / organisation should be provided, in the form of 'contact us' and 'about us' pages.
Server response time; Google crawlers will look for pages that they can index quickly, and that will load quickly for users.
Ranking well in Google News
Once your site has been included in Google News, how can you improve your ranking / prominence in the news listings?
According to Google, many of the ranking factors that have been mentioned, such as including images in posts, are myths.
Here are a few factors that may improve ranking:
- Post frequently; adding news articles three times or more daily will increase your chances of getting coverage on Google News.
- Google looking to filter out duplicate content so making the titles of your news articles unique will help to get it ranked. Also, a unique title is more likely to be clicked on by users of Google News.
- Get news out quickly; being the first, or one of the first, to get your news article published should ensure a prominent listing.
We also asked Guava Director Edward Cowell for his tips:
Firstly, don't edit posts once published:
"Google News only grabs a news article once. This is very important because changes to a news article once published and indexed wont then get reflected in Google News. This means publish once and don't go back and edit the title for instance, it will appear with the new title in web search, but not news search."
Also, a news-specific sitemap is recommended:
"Google news sitemaps are different to Google web search sitemaps. They only support 1,000 items per feed (as opposed to 50,000 for web search), so big sites may well need to use more the one news sitemap, and an index sitemap. They also contain <publication_date> and <keywords> tags."