Ah, shoot. With blockbuster search terms like ‘Firefox’ or money keywords like ‘LTE,’ at some point it feels like you just start running out of SEO ideas. Sometimes the best site structures, the most beautiful content and even the most sustainable link building, fail to make any headway. With difficult keywords like these, only sheer size counts – whether it be the website or the financial commitment.
News Still Sells
Luckily for us, you no longer have to be chip.de to land the best positions, even with hot topic keywords like ‘Firefox’ and ‘LTE’. So how can a site get ahead – you ask? With a Google News snippet in the Universal Search. Here, even a small regional provider with a cost-optimized production website can hold top positions, as we can see in the image below.
Of course, this doesn’t always work and it requires a certain amount of effort. However, when done well, optimization for Google News can be very helpful in attracting new visitors and generating extra traffic. Whether this has a positive effect on revenue depends on the topic and integration of the news in question. We have some clients who take only a passing interest in news traffic, because visitors from Google News snippets only want to read things, rather than buy them. And then, we have clients who transform this torrent of visitors into valued traffic.
The question that you should ask yourself before you pour all your efforts into this task is, “Does my website have a business model that news junkies can relate to?” If this isn’t the case, then news optimization won’t help you much. After all, since the Caffeine Update last year, even the ‘normal’ organic index shows more current results.
Even so, the whole effort won’t be worthwhile unless the Google News team deems your piece worthy of integration. This is because news items are in fact, selected manually and from the supposed perspective of the news reader. Due to manual delistings over the last few months, a few ‘news’ sites have taken strong losses, while others have gained. After onlinekosten.de was thrown out of the index at the beginning of April, CHIP Business made it into the news with their own stream just a few weeks later. I have included the niche magazine, Online PC, as a comparison.
What can you do to ensure strong performance with Google News? Here is a list of annotated tips:
1. Registration: Before anything else, Google has to recognize your site as a ‘news source.’ You can register here. But first, we should clarify a few criteria. A site should have at least two news pieces a day, with at least three clearly recognizable people producing them and an available XML news sitemap (find out more here). At any rate, it should be clear to Google News that it is dealing with a news search and not a search for press releases or blog entries.
2. The right time I: Google News will only bring in streams of visitors when something is current and new. An important signal that a news-snippet will appear in the Universal Search is when multiple recognized news sites have published something on the same topic. Therefore, it makes less sense to produce news on a topic of your choosing: a news editor follows current events, not the other way around.
3. The right time II: When releasing a news snippet, it is better to be either the first source or the most recent. Whoever reports the publishing of ‘Firefox 6′ first, will enjoy a first-mover advantage for a limited amount of time. Everyone else will be jockeying for content (see below) and freshness. Therefore, it can be helpful to publish all the new news for a certain topic, or to update an existing post, similar to what Spiegel Online does.
4. The right content: The good news is that duplicate content is not a factor in Google News rankings. Even so, we recommend you avoid duplication where possible with a view to later rankings in the organic index. You can also grab a top position with an agency report. However, to do this you have to be extremely quick (see above). It is generally better to augment an existing news story with your own information instead. This what the Robot likes. The Robot likes it even more when a user clicks on a news item from the search results and reads it, and the best way to achieve this is with a good headline. Pure keyword headlines will fail, as will overly enigmatic headlines from overly engaged editors. The most clicks go to factual and informative headlines that hold up an offer of potential knowledge to be gained.
5. The right technique: less is always more with Google News. The less there is to find on a site besides news, the better the bustling Robot will understand the site. The Robot is particularly allergic to headlines, images and text that are not easily recognized as matching. Furthermore, the Robot doesn’t spend much time searching for images, so your best choice is to go for large and simply integrated options wherever possible. In general, the News Robot wants nothing to do with complicated image galleries.
6. The right integration: one last thing about making money with Google News. It might already be clear to you that a news site should look different from an affiliate landing page. However, you need to keep in mind that a news reader is in ‘forward motion.’ This means that you should not interfere while they’re searching for and digesting news. But then, news consumers are also very open to new and attractive content and it doesn’t matter whether they are ‘similar posts,’ a related advertisement or an exciting offer.
P.S.: Who’s writing this stuff? My name is Eric Kubitz and I am one of the co-founders of CONTENTmanufaktur GmbH Anyone trying to reach me can do so via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter. ‘Til next time!