One of the mainstays of higher search engine rankings is a constant influx of fresh, new content on your website. A prolific news section is one way to achieve this and can lead to extra exposure through inclusion in RSS feeds and online news outlets such as Google News. More than half of us now forgo our morning newspaper and log on for the day’s events, so securing regular placements in Google News or similar is a marketing necessity.
Google crawls, sorts and ranks news stories in a very specific fashion and uses the standard numerical story ID format to identify news as such. If your CMS won’t allow you to denote news pages using at least three digits, you can create a news specific sitemap to help the search engine collate the news on your site and gather it for News purposes.
News sitemaps must be constantly updated in order to meet Google’s stringent guidelines and should only display URLs of news pages from the last two days. Anything older than two days should be bumped off to make way for fresh new content. It’s only worth investing the time and effort in creating and keeping a news sitemap up to date if you have sufficient fresh new stories on your site and have submitted your domain to Google for News inclusion.
News sitemaps will be crawled just as often as the rest of the site so this section-specific blueprint can secure lots of additional coverage within the Google News homepage when correctly applied and maintained.
To create your news sitemap:
1. Ensure your site is included in Google News as a recognized news publisher. If it isn’t, your news sitemap won’t be used. You can request inclusion here: http://www.google.com/support/news_pub/bin/request.py?contact_type=suggest_content
2. Begin in the same way as you would a regular sitemap. The file should be in XML format and start with the standard Sitemap protocol at the top of the page:
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
3. Each news item on the news sitemap should have a series of properties attached to it. These properties are designed to indicate the function of the piece, what genre it is and who can access it. One of the great things about a news sitemap is that it allows you to control the news that Google indexes. If you have subscription-based content, this type of site map allows you to protect that subscription. Including:
<n:access>subscription</n:access> on the sitemap would prompt users to pay to view the content.
<n:access>registration</n:access> denotes content that can be viewed by registering for a free account.
4. To classify content according to type, use a <n:genres> tag followed by:
5. Freshness of news is one of the filters Google applies when sorting and displaying news items within its Google News platform. Therefore, it’s advisable to also include a <n:publication_date> tag before the news story information to show the crawlers how relevant your news piece is. This can help the search engine to index your news more efficiently, which in turn will lead to greater exposure.
6. After publication date, insert a <n:title> tag, followed by the headline of your news story. Following basic search engine optimization principles works best here, so keep stories succinct, unique and relevant. They should also include keywords to allow users searching online to find your news stories. This field will also help Google to categorize and place your news story.
7. Finish with a <n:keywords> tag, with each keywords separated by commas. This field is very similar to the tags option you find on many social media sites. Again, basic SEO principles will help you make the most of this field so place the most important keywords at the start.
8. If your news story is business or finance related, you can also include a <n:stock_tickers> tag after the keywords field.
Follow these tips and you’ll soon have a news sitemap that will help get you more recognition and higher rankings in Google.