This week Google put out a video to give publishers more information on how Google News works and how best to optimize for it. I pulled out some of the more useful tips, combining information from some of the slides with additional details provided by Google’s Maile Ohye.
Article Ranking Factors within a Story Cluster
While there are a wide range of ranking factors these four were highlighted:
- Fresh and New – Priority is given to articles that are recent, substantial, original and focused on the topic. Articles need to be “objective news” to lead a story cluster (op-ed, satire, press releases and subscription content are not eligible to lead clusters).
- Duplication and Novelty Detection – More credit is given to original sources of content. Google News uses “Citation Rank” to try to determine the original source (i.e. a lot of subsequent articles linking to a particular source or referencing it within editorial text).
- Local / Personal Relevancy – Weighted by section and story; more credit given to local sources. For example the Charlotte Observer is likely to be given more weight on stories about North Carolina.
- Trusted Sources – Trusted sources are given a boost in each edition and section via various signals. This is data driven and not an “arbitrary decision.” For instance Google News factors in how often articles from particular sources are clicked on in determining user trust.
Image Optimization for News Search
- Use large image sizes with good aspect ratios
- Include descriptive captions and ALT text
- Place image near article title (helps Google News to associate the image with the subject matter)
- Use inline, non-clickable images (as opposed to linking them to something else)
- JPG images are preferred (PNG was specifically cited as not being as good)
Google News Optimization Best Practices
- Articles must be on unique, permanent URLs with at least 3 digits – This helps Google News to differentiate articles from static Web pages. Three digit URLs are not required if you submit an XML news sitemap.
- Don’t break up the article body – Articles should have sequential paragraphs; don’t break them up with user comments or links to related posts.
- Put dates between the title and body – Helps the date extractor to establish the correct publication date.
- Titles matter – Create good HTML title tags and on-page article headlines. The title should be “extremely indicative of the story at hand.”
- Separate original content from press releases (and other forms of non-news content) – separating articles in the directory structure helps Google News identify what is specifically news content.
- Publish informative, unique content – Sites are encouraged to produce strong original content as opposed to repurposing or duplicating stories
Some other information:
- Story clusters (i.e. a group of articles on a particular topic) are ranked according to “aggregate editorial interest.” So news that generates a lot of coverage will be given priority on the home page and category pages.
- Using XML news sitemaps is encouraged.
- Articles are now re-crawled to look for updates, typically within the first 12 hours. This confirms a recent discussion in a Google help thread (See Google News Now Recrawling Updated Articles for more information).
- To get your videos into Google News you need to create a YouTube channel. Other video hosters may be included in the future, but for now YouTube is the only way in. Creating textual descriptions and transcripts is helpful.
- PageRank is a lesser factor in Google News, used “delicately” since the linking structure of a brand new article is going to be different from an article published years or months ago.
Here’s the complete Google News video: