As someone once said, “I consider Google News a gift, but newspapers consider it theft.”
There's a time and place for a debate about the effect - insidious or otherwise - of the web's leading news aggregator. And this isn't it.
Except to say that search engines and aggregators continue to be kingmakers for news websites. Something that news publishers know only too well.
So when Google speaks - or, in this case, videos itself speaking - publishers listen. The 15 minute presentation from Google's Maile Ohye offers some advice that you're probably familiar with - and much you're not.
10 Google News Optimisation Tips From Google
1. Don't break up article body
Sequential paragraphs work best, so don't be tempted to pepper the copy with users comments or links to related posts - leave that to the end. And don't post your news article across multiple pages.
2. Spend time on the article title. Both of them.
Make your title "extremely indicative of the article in hand," says Ohye. And we're not just talking about the headline here. Make the html title (ie) the one that appears in the web address, a good one too. Indeed (and this is not Google's advice, you understand), if it's editable you can make it longer and more keyword-heavy than the headline. Just don't game the system with irrelevant link-bait.
3. Submit a News sitemap The News sitemap gives greater control to which of your articles appear on Google News, and helps supply relevant meta information such as publication date and keywords - all of which aids classification. Click here for more on News sitemaps.
4. Use Jpegs
If you want your images to appear on Google News results pages, don't use Gifs of PNG files. Use .jpg.
5. Get a citation
If your news organisation has broken a story or developed new lines on an existing one, make sure others cite you as the source. And that they link back to your original story. Google looks for citations when ranking articles within a list.
6. Don't worry about your PageRank
While Google PageRank matters a great deal for your placing within Google's conventional search, it matters far less for news aggregation. Why? Because the linking structure of a brand new article isn't going to be the same as one published months or years ago. Google News is far more interested in timeliness, local relevancy etc.
7. Use large images
If you want an image to appear on Google News (and images get clicked a lot) make sure it's large, with a good aspect ratio. Also, inline images are preferable to those that are a click away.
8. Keep your opinions to yourself
Google says only news articles appear on Google News - that means no satire, press releases or op-ed will be considered.
9. Put dates between article and body text
This helps Google's date extractor do its work and more accurately classify your work.
10. Don't worry about the content
Only kidding. Every search engine optimisation session ends with the obligatory "create unique and original content" and this one is no different. I guess it makes these traders in the dark arts of SEO feel slightly less dirty.
- Top 10 News Aggregators In The UK
- What Would Google Do? Fail Quietly.
Jon Bernstein is a freelance writer and digital media consultant. He is the former multimedia editor for Channel 4 News.
He also blogs at jonbernstein.wordpress.com
[Picture credit: Spencer E Holtaway]