By Sally Duros
While Google News evolves and learns more about the emerging local news ecosystem, indie publishers might improve search results by revisiting Google’s technical guidelines for News Publishers.
Among the most important are establishing a news sitemap, paying attention to Google technical requirements and understanding the behavior of Google robots. Also make sure that your webmaster has made your site Google friendly.
“So far, Google News has indexed about 35 sites that I pointed them to and I continue to identify sites for them,” said Michele Mclellan, who manages the BlockbyBlock initiative. “Google News is working hard to deepen its understanding of the crazy, ever changing news ecosystem and I feel very gratified that BlockbyBlock and The Patterson Foundation are helping.”
A site’s visibility should improve if you persist with machine-like concentration, evaluating and implementing step-by-step the advice provided by Google. Of course, if you have a webmaster, following these specs should be on his or her to-do list.
You first must register your site with Google News. Then make sure you are using a news sitemap, for which Google provides very specific instructions. Reading through Google’s Technical Requirements will help you avoid some common misconceptions and reading about Robots will help you understand whether you might be unwittingly doing something to keep Google’s crawlers away. Google offers tips on creating a Google-friendly site at the Webmaster Help Center.
Google’s links address just about every problem the Googlers could think of, but then every site owner has encountered mysteries that can’t be easily explained. In that case, you can join a conversation about common problems on a special Google news publisher forum.
Something that sounds promising is the Editors’ Picks RSS feeds, which allows a news site to provide five links to original news in a bid to have it displayed on the Google News homepage. Google has very specific specs for these submissions if you decide to give them a try.
One thing that could make a difference that Google hasn’t implemented yet is tagging by zip code. But Google is quick to point out there’s an easy way for users to request news from a zip code and personalize their use of Google News using Google reader.
Ruffin Prevost, Editor at Yellowstone Gate, weighed in on the BlockbyBlock Resource Page with his experience getting listed with Google News.
“(The week of March 2) two skiers died in an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park. I covered the story for my own site, Yellowstone Gate, as well as for Reuters. If you search Google News March 8 for “Grand Teton avalanche,” the most recently posted story comes up first, then my piece for Yellowstone Gate appears, next to a “local” tag. The links below that story are from Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and other sources, and they’re all versions of the Reuters wire story I also wrote.
“So I’m actually beating MYSELF as a local reporter for my own web site, coming up earlier in the search results (with a thumbnail image) ahead of national media giants using my Reuters piece. It may sound like I’m bragging (maybe just a little), but I’m really just trying to show that Google News gives a preference for local sources on big stories.”
Here’s an image provided by Prevost of how Google News looked that day.