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Online news consumption, including visitors to websites, apps, and social media, has spiked across all age groups in the U.S. over last two years. To stay relevant to modern consumers, it has become increasingly important for publications to build and maintain strong online presences. One of the best strategies for doing so is getting your content featured in Google News.

In this article, you’ll learn how U.S. news consumption has evolved over the last two years, how Google News can benefit your publication, and lastly, the key ranking factors and optimizations needed in order to succeed within the search engine!

How Americans prefer to get their news

According to a 2017 research study conducted by the Pew Research Center for Journalism and Media, 43% of U.S. adults reported “often” when asked if  they get their news  news from online sources – up five percentage points from 2016.

This same study found that while TV continues to be Americans’ #1 preferred method of staying updated on the news, the gap between it and online platforms is narrowing – from a 19 percentage point lead in 2016 to a 7 percentage point lead in 2017.

Americans’ preference for getting news from their mobile devices has accelerated particularly fast over the last two years. The Pew’s study also uncovered that 85% of Americans currently get their news at least “sometimes” from mobile – up 13% YoY. When data is segmented by age group, 94% of 18-29 year olds reported getting news from mobile devices – up 2% YoY. Perhaps the most compelling result from The Pew Research Center’s study was from the 65+ age group. They discovered that approximately ⅔ (67%) of adults in this age group reported getting news from mobile devices in 2017 – up 24% YoY!

These trends underscore the idea that online media is, and is increasingly becoming, a core aspect of modern journalism.

How Google News can benefit your publication

Getting your publication’s articles featured in Google News can spike your visibility to readerships unlike any other marketing strategy. In May 2018 alone, the domain News.google.com received 551.51 million visits – with 40% of visits coming from the U.S. For perspective, two of America’s top news publications the New York Times’ (363.08M million visits) and LA Times’ (51 million visits), traffic doesn’t even come close.

There are plentiful case studies that support this idea as well. One such study performed by Skyword in 2014 reported that “the month after being accepted into Google News, overall page views jumped 58.96 percent in the first month and unique views increased 61.9 percent.”

Getting featured in Google News can also help improve your paper’s perceived authority from readerships. A 2017 research study performed by global communications giant, Edelman, found that 60% of digital news consumers trust Google News more than the original sources of the content from their index. In other words, getting your publication featured in Google News is like a giant thumbs up from Google that your content is trustworthy and credible.

These concepts combined can help improve the stability and profit of your publication.

How to get your content featured in Google News

For good reason, Google News has strict guidelines for accepting and featuring publications in its index. Whether you are a brand new, local publication, or a well known, international one, gaining a better understanding of ranking factors involved and key elements to optimize for help you achieve the results you want.

*A quick note for those not yet accepted: The first step is to submit your publication to Google Publisher for consideration. It typically takes a few days to hear back, and it is common to get rejected once or twice before getting in.

Google News has unique ranking signals from “regular” Google, making it important to shift your strategy from traditional SEO methods.

5 Key ranking factors in Google News SEO:

  1. Timeliness and originality of article: ensure your article relates to breaking news and that your publication is the original source of story (versus curated).
  2. Authoritative, genuine news: content is well researched, publication specializes in topic, and is, well, news (not just basic information).
  3. User clicks: clicks act as votes for your article within the search engine.
  4. Geography: local news publications are favored for local news queries.
  5. Overall mobile friendliness: consult your website’s search console recommendations to improve this area.

10 Key elements to optimize for:

  1. Submit a Google News XML Sitemap to Google: a well-optimized sitemap will encourage Google to spend more time crawling more of your content – increasing the likelihood that you get featured.
  2. Have unique, static, HTML pages for every article: JavaScript and PDFs can’t be read by search engines.
  3. Include target keywords in the headline, metadata, images, URL slugs, and within the body of the article. Headline puns may be fun for readers, but set you at a disadvantage in Google News.
  4. Showcase author biographies, contact information, and date and time of article posting. Avoid distracting ads or typos site-wide, this boosts the overall authority of your publication and has been known to be especially helpful for publications experiencing difficulties getting accepted into Google News.
  5. Incorporate multimedia resources including video, text, and podcast version of same news story. This improves user experience by allowing more than one way to interact with your publication and more ways to get featured within Google News.
  6. Implement news article structured data and AMP. This provides search engines with more context surrounding what your articles are about and speeds up load times.
  7. Utilize news meta keyword tags astThese are not the same as traditional “black hat” meta keyword tags.
  8. Adhere to GDPR regulations as many of America’s top publications are currently blocked in Europe because they did not comply to the GDPR fast enough, impacting international traffic.
  9. Post fast, and update your article as new news comes in, don’t forget to make a note on your article page of your last update.
  10. Interlink your related posts, news sites don’t have to try very hard to get backlinks from outside sites. Strategic internal linking and anchor text, on the other hand, is hugely important.

Ready to amp up your publication’s app game as well? Check out my Beginner’s Guide to ASO 2018.

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