Alex Butzbach

Search marketing should be treated as a holistic effort to gain maximum visibility for a brand, and Google News is a great channel for SEOs to target. Realizing this, Google recently announced the Google News Publisher Center, a program ostensibly created to help news sites that have changed the URLs and categories of their website content to be seen by relevant audiences.

This development may be a signal that the search engine is trying to tighten its belt in terms of SERP layout. As Brafton reported, Authorship rich snippets are losing thumbnail pictures, and videos previews are increasingly less likely to show up in regular search results. Drops in the number of sites qualifying as actual news outlets would certainly tidy up SERPs, at the expense of companies that have been writing news content for years.

Getting on the Google News list

It remains to be seen how stringent Google is going to be in terms of which sites it lets behind the velvet rope of its news section. In theory, any company that produces interesting, relevant and original content focused around timely updates should qualify – so brands should tread carefully when it comes to adopting a promotional tone. To be safe, it’s always a good idea to divide a blog section into different content funnels: One for straight news and one for blog entries that are opinion-based, or of a promotional nature.

However, registering with the Google News Publisher Center looks to offer plenty of benefits. Sites can update their categories and areas of focus, fix URLs when site structures change (potentially helping Google crawl content faster) and label subsections for better overall organization. The more information Google has about a site, the more likely it is to index it and possibly display it in search results.

To get registered, brands should use Webmaster Tools to verify ownership of the site they want included. Google welcomes all news publishers, but it isn’t yet clear if there are any concrete criteria for what the search engine considers to be a valid news publisher. The bottom line is that news publishers should really consider submitting content to be considered for this benefit. For everyone else, there’s still a place for timely updates and education in your blogs anyway.