Google tries to answer publishers questions on visibility concerns in Google News

Danny Sullivan, public liaison for Google Search, explained some frequently asked publisher related questions around Google News. The post covers where news appears in Google, how a site becomes eligible to appear in Google News, how to know if your site is showing in news, how to improve visibility for your site and some more tips.

Applying for Google News inclusion. For the past couple of years, ever since Google launched the new Google News Publisher Center in December 2019, Google discontinued the application process to appear in these Google News. Before December 2019, publishers would fill out a form to apply to be in Google News. You would then get an email accepting your application or rejecting it, you were in Google News or out.

That changed after December 2019 when Google changed the process to be completely automated, without human intervention. Google now can “automatically considered” if your site should show up in Google News and news surfaces in Search. Google said since December 2019, “no application required.”

Google changed it to be automated because it allowed the company “to identify more eligible news content across the entire web, including from sites perhaps overlooked in the past, because they didn’t know they needed to apply.”

But it causes confusion. Not knowing if your site is approved or not approved has caused tremendous confusion in the publisher space. Many reputable personalities in the SEO news space called this new process of automated inclusion a Google failure for publishers. These complaints happen daily and I suspect this is the reason why Google published today’s blog post.

How does Google determine if your site should show in Google News. Google said while the process is automated you need to produce relevant content that’s identified as:

The eligibility details that Google posted actually only apply to Google News, Top stories, and the News tab in Google Search. “These details don’t apply or impact the ability to appear in web results in Google Search,” Google said.

How do you know if your site shows in Google News. The crazy thing is, you would think a site command in Google News would tell you. No, Google said “while you can use the site: search query on Google News or the News tab on Search to see if those pages are indexed, it doesn’t mean that those pages are eligible to appear for news searches.”

So how do you know? You can try searching for stories in Google News and see if your site comes up. But the best way, Google said is to look at the performance reports on Search Console for Google News and Google Search (filtered to the News search type) in Google Search Console.

Google said “these reports indicate if your site is receiving traffic from Google News and news surfaces within Google Search. If so, you know that your content is eligible and relevant to appear.”

Improve visibility in Google News. So how do you help make sure your site and content shows up more often in Google News? Google has its Google News ranking help document, that you can read through. The factors include “relevance of content, prominence, authoritativeness, freshness, location, and language,” Google said.

The Google News Publisher Center can help also, Google wrote. “You can use the Publisher Center to define certain details about your site — RSS feeds, website URLs, videos and more — that can help manage your brand and make it easier for Google to index your site. The Publisher Center can also be used to create a “News source” page for publications, if you don’t already have one. This page allows Google News users – if they choose – to follow the publication and see its latest content.”

Sadly the Google News Publisher Center can help you manage content that’s deemed eligible but it won’t determine your eligibility – that is automated as we explained above.

Why we care. This has been a pretty heated topic in the news publisher world since December 2019. I don’t think this new blog post from Google will clarify or help much in terms of the confusion. It may help publishers understand that the process is automated and there is nothing that can be done manually to guarantee inclusion in Google News. One thing this shows is that Google is not planning on making any new changes to the inclusion process and that automation is the way the company is going (for now) with Google News.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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