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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Google News Tips: Cleanliness, Explicit Dates & Image Formatting

Posted by @ 7:28 pm

We know some of you write great news articles on your business and industry for your site, but there is just one problem – trying to get Google to index your site for your news can be tricky. But news publishers take note, Google have released 8 tips which will help Google News better crawl your site.

These tips are some of the more frequent pieces of advice they dish out. So although some might sound familiar, it’s always helpful to have a refresher.

Here they are:

1. Keep the article body clean
If your article body is broken up by tags, ads, sidebars or other non-article content, we may not be able to detect the actual article body, and reject your article as a result.

2. Make sure article URLs are permanent and unique
If you reuse article URLs, our system may have difficulty crawling and categorizing your stories. In addition, make sure your article URLs have at least three digits that don’t resemble a year (for example, 5232 is ok, but 2008 is not.)

3. Take advantage of stock tickers in Sitemaps
Google News Sitemaps allow publishers to specify stock ticker symbols for companies mentioned in individual articles. Using these symbols helps us better identify the subjects of your articles.

4. Check your encoding
We occasionally see articles that declare themselves to be encoded in one format (say, UTF-8) and are actually encoded in another (say, ISO 8859-1). Don’t do this. It hurts us.

5. Make your article publication dates explicit
Please make the actual publication date of your articles explicit. You can do this by placing the article date and time in the HTML, between the title and the body. Dates on article pages can be in most common formats, but for sitemaps, we ask that you use the W3C format; e.g. 2008-12-29T06:30:00Z.

6. Keep original content separate from press releases
As you may know, Google News labels press releases distinctly in order to alert our users that the article they’re about to read is a press release. If your original news sections have links to press releases, adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute to all links that point to your press release articles will ensure that they’re labeled correctly.

7. Format your images properly
To help Google News identify your images and crawl them along with your articles, use fairly large images with reasonable aspect ratios and descriptive captions. Make sure to place them near their respective article titles on the page and make the images inline and non-clickable. Images in the JPEG format are more likely to be crawled correctly.

8. Article Titles in Google News
Make sure the title you want appears in both the title tag and as the headline on the article page. In addition, don’t hyperlink the headline on the article page – after all, your reader is already there!

So… what did you think of these tips? Did you find them useful and relevant for your website? Feel free to let us know by leaving a comment below.

Courtney Mills Courtney is an online marketing and communications specialist at ineedhits - a leading search engine marketing firm with over 16 years experience. Courtney has been living and breathing online marketing for over 5 years. She specializes in web and communication marketing, while providing news and opinion to online marketing communities.

View Courtney Mills's profile

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