Optimizing sites to appear in Google News, Top Stories, and Google Discover is unique in many ways from the process of earning rankings in the 10 blue organic links.
This is because Google uses a variety of different organic SERP features to display recent or newsworthy content, each of which comes with its own set of ranking guidelines and reporting capabilities.
To make this even more complex, Google only provides dedicated reporting on some – but not all – of these News-related features through Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
This leaves some mystery about precisely where in the search results a given article might be driving traffic and impressions.
Google offers guidelines around how to appear in products like Google News and Discover.
However, these documents are often technical in nature (such as this example of Google’s article that explains technical recommendations for preventing content from being indexed on Google News without affecting its performance in regular Search).
While some guidelines exist, it’s hard to find specific advice in Google’s documentation about how best to structure and optimize content for performance in Google News or Discover.
In order to understand how your sites perform in News, Discover, and related features, it is best to analyze the performance of your own content to see what works and what doesn’t.
In this column, you’ll learn about the various Google SERP features that display recent or trending news and find tips on how to optimize and report on them.
I’ll also include some aggregated data and insights related to my own clients’ performance across these features.
Google News is a news aggregator product available both as a mobile app and by visiting news.google.com in your browser.
Historically, publishers had to manually submit their sites for approval in Google News via the Google Publisher Center, and the approval process was notoriously difficult.
However, Google recently updated its guidelines about which sites are eligible to appear in Google News.
According to Google’s documentation, all publishers need to do to appear in Google News is “produce high-quality content and comply with Google News content policies.”
Complying with Google’s News content policies boils down to not producing content that is violent, hateful, dangerous, or deceptive.
Reading between the lines of these updated guidelines indicates that it is technically possible for content from any site to appear in Google News.
However, that doesn’t happen often for most sites.
Regardless of how frequently a site produces content, Google is strict in its criteria for which publishers to display in Google News.
As stated throughout much of its documentation, News sites must demonstrate good E-A-T: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
In fact, in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, the definition of “YMYL – Your Money, Your Life” content starts with “News and current events” as the first example of the type of site that can affect a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.