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Google News Optimization – How to get your website into the vertical search

Google News is a free service that was introduced by Google in 2002 to enable users to search for global news. The service allows Google to give users the possibility to search for news in a vertical search as well as go directly to specific topics in the search results.

According to Google, the main idea behind Google News is that "users first select a news medium and then proceed to search for interesting headlines. We take a slightly different approach: The goal of Google News is to provide users with news that have personalized options and diverse perspectives."

How does Google News work?

Google explains the provision of news articles in Google News as follows:

_"Our headlines are selected solely by computer algorithms that, for example, consider how often and on which websites a specific piece of news appears. Google News has no human editors who select images or decide which message should be displayed in the top positions in the search results."

news4 Vertical Search Google News

Figure 1: Google News in the United States

The content of all Google News websites is displayed in the vertical search of Google News, as well as directly in the search results, as long as this content suits the current, most searched headlines. Not every topic immediately becomes "news" just because it is new. For Google to also be able to detect news as such, it considers both the timeliness of the publication as well as the general interest in the topic.

Websites that are successfully listed in Google News are constantly crawled and evaluated by "Google bot News". Here, the crawler follows very specific rules. Thus, if a website is not tuned to this crawler and contains content that does not match the news, it is not read by the crawler and, in the worst case, is removed from Google News. It is therefore important that you strictly follow the general, technical, and quality guidelines on your website.

Optimizing websites for Google News

Who doesn’t want their website to appear in the vertical Google News search or directly in the search results as news? However, the inclusion of a website in Google News follows strict guidelines and involves a manual review by Google itself since not every website is suitable for Google News.

How is a website added to Google News?

For a website to be included in Google News, the general, technical, and quality (or content) requirements must be fulfilled. These are manually checked by Google before the website can be confirmed and included.

General guidelines

1. The website must contain content that is related to current events and topics for which there is considerable general interest. Reports, such as weather forecast, general how-to manuals, or purely informational texts without time a time reference, are not included in Google News.

2. The "traditional values of journalism" must be adhered to. This means that the reporting is based on honest sources and must be originally done by an editor. If reports are acquired from different sources, they must be individually separated from each other or Google’s access to the individual sources is limited using the robots.txt file.

3. Based on poll numbers from Google, it is advisable to also provide the biographical data and contact information of the different authors of the respective posts. This not only raises the credibility and authority of the authors but also the likelihood that the website will be successfully included in Google News.

4. Easy readability without spelling or grammatical errors is an integral part of positive user experience. This has a major influence on the inclusion in Google News. In addition, you should also avoid having too much advertising material (e.g., banners or videos) since this adversely affects the user experience. Grammatical errors and advertisements can thus be used as exclusion criteria for Google News.

740x400-GoogleNEws-02 Vertical Search Google News

Technical guidelines

In order to search for current news reports, Google uses its own algorithm to scan through all the websites in Google News. Here, it is important that these websites adhere to the technical guidelines and meet certain requirements so that Google can quickly identify the latest news items and display them in the search results.

Google itself says:

"The news content of your website can only be included in Google News if our crawler is able to easily scan and identify the layout and format of your website."

The technical guidelines specify that:

1. The URLs of the different articles must be unique and permanently accessible. In order to only add new articles, it is important for every URL to contain at least 3 digits.

2. The new articles should be well linked internally for easy accessibility. Ideally, you should place links to new articles right on your homepage. It is important that HTML links are used in order to ensure that the crawler does not have difficulties indexing them.

3. All articles must be in HTML format. PDFs or other formats are not included in Google News.

4. Multimedia content, such as videos and audio data, are currently not included in Google News (except for YouTube videos).

It is also advisable to create a Google News sitemap and add it to the Google Search Console. However, error messages might result in the Google Search Console due to the News sitemap if the website is not taken up in Google News.

Quality guidelines

Google News only publishes news articles. It is therefore important to distinguish between the content types that are not regarded as news from the actual news reports. You should either save content that is not regarded as news on different hosts or in different directories. Furthermore, you must also exclude these directories or hosts from crawling by the Google News bot in your robots.txt file. This ensures that the crawler only reads and indexes the latest news articles.

Example: Excluding the Google News bot using robots.txt:

Useragent: Googlebot-News

Disallow: /no-news.html

In order to strictly separate different content types, such as blogs, satire, press reports, opinions, and news, you should assign specific HTML tags to the different content types. The tags are divided into and and specified in the Google News sitemap for every URL.


This tag indicates how the content can be accessed:

  • Subscription: The content is only accessible at a fee.

  • Registration: The content is only accessible after the user creates a free account.


This tag contains one or more values and indicates the content type. The following types can be specified:

  • PressRelease

  • Satire

  • Blog

  • OpEd

  • Opinion

The user-friendliness and correct use of Google News meta tags play a major role in terms of the quality and hence the inclusion of your website in Google News.

Google News Dashboard

The Google News Publisher Dashboard enables you to subscribe for the inclusion of all websites that can be accessed by the registered Google account through the Search Console in Google News. This then initiates the process of a manual evaluation by Google.

news1 Vertical Search Google News

Figure 2: Google News Publisher Dashboard

Once you subscribe to Google News, you must then fill out a form specifying both your personal details and the specific details of your website.

news2 Vertical Search Google News

Figure 3: Subscription form for Google News

Google News Sitemap

The Google News Sitemap in XML format works much like a classic XML sitemap and provides Google with information about new content, publication dates, language, title, and accessibility or genre.

news3 Vertical Search Google News

In addition, only URLs that are not older than two days are considered. You can thus remove them from the sitemap after these two days. However, all URLs remain in the Google News index for 30 days after which they are then removed entirely from Google News since they have lost both their relevance and interest among users.

“Keywords” meta tag – Still relevant?

In Google News, the Keywords meta tag in the section of the source code is still relevant for the inclusion of the website in search results. You should use this tag to describe news text in order to enable proper categorization by Google. Furthermore, this also helps better clarify search terms.


< meta name="news_keywords" content="World cup, Brazil, Spain vs. Netherlands" >

In the above example, the article could be about any world cup tournament that was held in Brazil where Spain and the Netherlands played against each other. Adding more terms makes the article’s orientation much more clear:

< meta name="news_keywords" content="World cup, Brazil 2014, Spain vs. Netherlands, Football" >


The inclusion of a website in Google News is basically not a complex process as long as the respective requirements are met. In particular, the journalism standards in terms of content must be taken into account and adhered to.

Below are the five most important aspects for the inclusion of a website in Google News:

  • Credibility based on originality, sources, and details of the author

  • Regular and current publication frequency

  • Use of technical features such as the Google News Sitemap and meta keywords

  • Correct HTML formatting and proper internal linking of the news articles

  • Strict separation of news from other types of articles!

If you adhere to these rules, nothing will stand in the way of your website’s inclusion in the vertical search in Google News!

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Published on Jun 20, 2016 by Editorial Team