To be featured in the world’s largest news aggregator is what every publisher strives for. Google news has been and is intriguing to publishers ever since it came into the picture. There have been a lot of questions around it and even now publishers find it intriguing and try to crack it open. In this piece, we cover everything you need to know about Google News and how you can increase your chances of getting covered. We will be covering the different ranking types in Google News and also breaking down some big changes that have happened in Google News over the last few years. 

Table of contents

Changes in Google News Categories

What does it mean for news publishers and other publishers?

How to add your site to Google News

Some Big Changes that have happened

Research on News Boxes or Top Stories Boxes

Keyword Inclusion in the article headline

Google News vs Google Discover

Why is my website not ranking in Google News?

Tools for News Publishers

Does Google use the same algorithm for the SERPs and Google News?

There are two main portions to Google News, which is (we'll refer to as Google News) and there is also the ‘News’ tab on the SERP


Generally, we see that publishers get most of their traffic from the SERPs, followed by Google News and then from the News tab.

Changes in Google News Categories

These categories have changed a little bit over time. As coronavirus came into the spotlight this year, Google added that as a category.

Over the years, Google has separated some stuff out, put some stuff back in, and one thing that some publishers sort of gripe about as they look at the categories is ‘There's no politics?’. There are some countries where for example, business and technology are put together and they might have some other different changes.

But this is what it looks like in the US.

Let’s dive into those most visible publishers.

This is a chart from the news dashboard which shows the 10 most visible publishers in Google News. (

One of the publishers to quickly stand out is YouTube.

How is YouTube a publisher? Certainly, they're not actually a publisher. The reason that YouTube has so much visibility in Google News is that a couple of years ago Google did have and continues through today, a pretty big push to get video content into Google News. They know that search users are looking for video content and they wanted to make sure to answer that need in Google News and of course on the wider SERP as well. You see video carousels (an additional video content format) ranking and so the platform that they mainly use to show video in Google News is YouTube.


What does it mean for news publishers and other publishers?

If you have video content, you're traditionally going to have an easier time getting a YouTube video to rank than getting a video on your website to rank in Google News.

For publishers who maybe are thinking about launching a YouTube channel or who are thinking about expanding their YouTube presence or thinking about what kind of videos they want to have on YouTube versus on their site. That's definitely something to consider as you're looking at your video strategy and as you're looking at your Google News strategy.

>Google is actively adding more and more video content on Google News. So if you are struggling with visibility in Google News, you should definitely look at YouTube and revisit your video strategy. 


How to add your site to Google News

Until 2019 December

The process of getting into Google News was actually a manual application process.

You had to sign up for Google News Publisher Center Account in addition to your Search Console Account and actually had to apply to be in Google News.

It was probably a combination of human verification and an algorithm looking at your website, and deciding whether or not you met Google News's guidelines for inclusion.


Starting in 2020

“Publishers no longer need to submit their site to be eligible for the Google News app and website. Publishers are automatically considered for Top stories or the News tab of Search. They just need to produce high-quality content and comply with Google News content policies.”- Google

So, you no longer have to go through the manual submission process. What Google does is, instead it's switched to a model where it is going to consider all websites and whether or not they meet the News guidelines on Google. And if you do meet the Google News Guidelines and comply with their Content Policies, then you theoretically have a chance to rank. It doesn't necessarily mean you will rank or that your articles will appear in Google News. It just means that you're one of the many sites that Google is choosing from and might choose your article to be visible in Google News. 


There is a group of publishers that are approved for Google News. they could be in Google News and then there's a group of publishers who actually are visible in Google News. Their articles do rank in Google News and then obviously the publishers who rank quite often, most of them are pretty large news organizations.

For smaller news publishers, It is going to be a bit more challenging to rank especially for some of those bigger news terms. 


Some Big Changes that have happened

1. Addition of Greater publisher variety

Back in May 2018, Google announced a redesign, changed the user interface, to give users a better experience and they also wanted to make sure that a greater variety of publishers appeared in Google News. Google made these change in response to requests from small and mid-sized news publishers and websites that wanted to appear in Google News. 

2. Emphasis on Original Reporting

The next big change which happened in 2019 was Google’s emphasis on original reporting. Before 2019, stories from local publishers that become national or even international in scope used to get picked up by larger publishers who would generally win out in Google visibility.

So even though the local publisher had done the on-ground reporting, had put the resources towards reporting the story, but Google, instead of showing the original reporting or the original story from that smaller publisher who reported the story first, was choosing to show a large international or national publisher who had actually picked up that story from the local publisher.

This was Google's push to make sure that folks like the Arizona Daily Star or maybe some of these publishers that are in kind of hurricane hit locations, for example, do have a chance at visibility in Google News.

Prioritizing Local Content and Local Publisher Brands - Australia Scenario  

This screenshot of the mobile visibility overall is actually from Australia and what we actually saw as we went into March, is that Google was really reducing the number of times that international publishers i.e publishers who are based outside of the country ranked. It's really increasing the visibility of publishers who are based in the country and that was Google saying – “hey, you really need to see local coronavirus information, what are local authorities saying, the guidelines you need to follow in your local area

Google wanted to show locally applicable information instead of maybe showing you, what the US guidelines are, if you live in Australia, for example. As it came a little bit later in the year, some of the visibility of other publishers returned but we've still really seen a lot less visibility for those international publishers in coronavirus coverage specifically as we've continued throughout the year 2020.


3. Core Web Vitals versus AMP

Up until May 2020, It wasn't necessarily required to have amp but with amp, you definitely had a better chance of ranking in those mobile ranking types. (top stories box and other ranking types on the mobile SERP)

In May 2020, Google announced it will “remove the AMP requirement from Top stories eligibility” so now instead of considering whether or not you have amp sites, you are going to be measured based on the core web vitals score. Certainly, we have a lot of anecdotal evidence from publishers that we've talked to or from what we've seen in our charts. But Google has never actually come out and said this:

If you rank in Google News, you have a 50% better chance of getting that article ranking in the News box or in the top stories box. A better core web vital score will obviously affect your mobile ranking. But it could also affect their Google News rankings. 

If you've already implemented amp, you must track how this change would affect your ranking and make sure that you are meeting the core web vitals guidelines.

Core Web Vitals at its core is very similar to amp because it's talking about prioritizing the user experience - which is speed, readability, and less intrusion by ads. 

Much like you might have considered amp previously to make sure that your mobile pages provide a good user experience from Google's perspective. You would now want to look at core web vitals and in the US, this could have a really big impact.

The two charts show performance on the mobile SERPs of the different news ranking type - AMP versus Non-AMP and what you should see in the amp only chart is the News box trendline.

In the AMP ONLY chart, most of the news articles have News boxes and so, with amp, you definitely have a bigger or a better chance to rank in the mobile ranking types, especially the News box.

>When Google does actually make the change from favoring amp to looking at core web vitals. This graph could really change quite a bit. This is something to keep an eye out for in 2020 and really see how that develops.

Research on News Boxes or Top Stories Boxes

If ranking in the News boxes also helps you rank better in Google News and vice versa. It's definitely best to optimize for both. So when we are talking about News boxes, the most number of News boxes appeared on the SERPs for entertainment keywords.

For the entertainment keywords that we monitored with the, they were most likely to have a News box on both mobile and desktop and the thing that really controls after entertainment is celebrities. 

>Obviously, like every celebrity name has a News box and then everything they do and everyone they're seen with and everything so not super surprising that it's number one and then the fewest News boxes appeared for health. Before the pandemic, health as a section was not covered quite in as much detail by the top news publishers as some other topics.

Keyword Inclusion in the article headline

If you know what keywords or topics you are targeting then the very first question is - Should we put the keyword in the headline? and then where in the headline should we put the keyword? 

This is based on an analysis of the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and France.

We looked across these different countries and we saw more than half of articles that successfully ranked in the News box or top stories box had the exact keyword that they ranked for in the headline. if your keyword is coronavirus, coronavirus is in the headline.

If your keyword is hurricane, hurricane is in the headline

Anywhere from 82 to 89 percent of the articles that ranked in those News boxes had at least one of the keywords in the title. This is maybe a little bit more important for some of those longer tail keywords.

So if you wanted to say something like the hurricane, laura evacuations, that would be a little bit longer of a keyword and you might not necessarily need to use evacuations in your headline. As long as it's somewhere in the story or maybe you have a video about it or something like that. But you would still definitely want to use a keyword like the hurricane Borah in the headlines.

Sometimes you just don't have enough room in a headline for every single keyword and then you have to do the calculation of what's the most important keyword that we are targeting or what keyword has maybe the biggest search volume and could bring us the biggest search traffic.


Exact position?

Those are all things that you want to consider and these are just some examples of exactly where the keyword is in the title or headline of an article that ranked in the News boxes in different countries. Switzerland is the earliest on the 18th character and then a little bit later on the 20th character and then the US and France, the latest at the 22nd character. you can say it's kind of middle-ish.

Put it around the middle, maybe not all the way at the front all the time but try to mix it up a little bit so just to give you a little bit of a quick review of what the mobile News box or top stories box looks like there are three different options on mobile.

if you're looking on your phone, the most traditional is the top stories box. It consists of two parts, the text links, and a carousel, containing the publisher’s name, the picture, and the headline. This particular carousel (in the screenshot) with the little lightning bolt is amp and not all carousels are amp.

Second is Google has rolled out a new top-stories box that has multiple carousels. They have the main carousel and then they have like some sub carousels. Some of them have more than two or three different carousels. Giving you a lot more variety of articles and also more places to rank.

if you're trying to get an article in there and we have this other kind of format that sometimes ranks which we call a News Headline. Basically, it is a combination of your text headlines with your pictures on the side. 

It now depends on the keyword which of these formats, Google will choose. Probably, the newsier that a keyword is or maybe the more people that are searching it, would tend to trigger these types of News boxes.

Just similar to how we looked at the top to ten most visible publishers. Let’s have a look at the mobile News boxes or top stories boxes.

>First thing is that it is not all the same publishers. Just because you rank very well on Google News doesn't necessarily mean you're going to rank very well in the mobile News box. Certainly, some publishers have visibility in both places and some of these are different. That really goes back to the point of not knowing what the interaction is between ranking in the News box and Google News.


Google News vs Google Discover

One of the top things on everyone's mind right now in the news publishing space is Google Discover. With SERP rankings and News boxes what we've seen again with the data is pretty standard. It isn't necessarily responsive to your search history or what you've looked at before. Usually, when you look at a News box, that's going to be pretty standard it can vary a little bit because Google does see like what publishers you look at quite often and you can, for example, choose to specifically follow or hide some publishers in Google News.

Whereas Google Discover is extremely personalized. Google discover is based on what kind of topics have you looked at before, what kind of topics are you following, what websites have you looked at what interests have you shown when you're using Google products, and then Google is choosing to display those types of articles in Google discover.

Different is the level of personalization. What is very similar is, even though Google is looking at the personalization aspect. Let's say, a user is interested in entertainment topics. Google still needs to go find articles that are from news publishers or news articles that are about things that are happening locally or about entertainment.

So it's still using some of those same triggers but it's a very different ecosystem.

Desktop News box

This is what a desktop News box usually looks like it's going to be a little bit more of this format.


Publishers who are visible in the mobile News box might not have the same visibility in the desktop News box. we see traditionally that publishers tend to do a little bit better on mobile versus desktop. Some of that could be just because of the topics that they cover. Some of that could be because they've implemented amp or accelerated mobile pages for mobile, so just to show you kind of the variety of publishers that are very visible in Google News versus mobile.

You may also want to look at the video carousel, just because we've talked a lot about video again. You'll see that many of the videos in video carousels are also coming from YouTube. So YouTube is again the video platform that Google is choosing to display a lot of the results on. So when you look at this visibility chart, the visibility of YouTube is almost comical compared to the visibility of videos from other sites.

Here is the same chart with YouTube gone just so, we could actually look at the visibility of some of the other publishers.

>But you can see that this list is pretty similar to in some ways that list that we already looked at of most visible publishers in the YouTube videos we see ESPN, apple, and NASA. So we see a little bit of the same a little bit differently as well.


Why is my website not ranking in Google News?

If you are having trouble ranking in Google News, it is definitely recommended you first set up your News Publisher Center Account and your Google Search Console Account. These are really the ways that you can “talk to Google”.

Google will let you know if you have errors, it will send that to your search console account. If Google is having trouble crawling your website, if your amp has a problem, or if your sitemaps have a problem. Google will actually notify you about some of those in your search console account so very important that you set that up and that you monitor it.

We've definitely seen some publishers that have had, for example, they've redesigned their website or changed amp or done some different things and for whatever reason, something's broken and they no longer follow Google's guidelines and it does change their ranking. So it does make them less visible, If they're not doing things correctly from Google's perspective.

Also, set up your news or XML sitemaps. Google does often crawl sitemaps. It can come to your home page and crawl through your stories as well But Google is going to be looking for those sitemaps definitely.

You'll find that in the Google News publisher center. It's redesigned. It's a little bit easier to use these days than maybe it was previously. So that's kind of where you can look at all those guidelines and would definitely suggest that you monitor for technical issues, both on your side and on Google's side and that is something like the change between amp and core web vitals.

That's something where you need to measure how your website is performing in core, what vitals and then you need to make decisions about. If it's not performing as well as you would like how you're going to make changes to make it perform better.

  • are you going to make some changes with images and videos?
  • Are you actually going to do a full redesign?
  • Are there back-end things that you need to do?

Some of the things that you would handle on your side. But sometimes Google has issues on their side as well.

  • Even after publishing an hour ago, you still don’t see your content on Google.
  • Google suddenly isn't seeing your stories due to an error on the website.
  • Google also experiences intermittent indexing issues.
  • Google had a problem or they are testing.
  • Google having trouble indexing.

So even if you're publishing articles you're covering your news, keywords you're optimizing correctly everything's right on your site, you still might not see those articles indexed and ranked in Google because there is an issue on Google side.

Before there is a full out panic, It is definitely suggested to check the search engine journal or maybe check Twitter. If a lot of publishers are seeing the same issue, that generally means that Google might be having some issues.

Even for established publishers, there may be things about how a website used to run or how things used to be and they're really negatively affecting how things are, whether that was a site migration, how the site maps are set up, all kinds of stuff on the back end and if you're a new publisher, you want to make sure that you set everything up correctly from the get-go.

So having a developer or development team that you have access to is really important. Even if you have to hire a freelancer or if you know someone who is good at the development you're like - “hey, can you just double-check that everything's good? Are my rich results showing? Is everything implemented correctly?”

>The reality is that you need to keep up with the changes that Google is suggesting and what it is rolling out and make sure that your website performs well from a technical perspective in order to make it rank well.


Tools for News Publishers

>News Flashboard is a free tool that helps you to see, are you indexed or are you seen in Google News right now and kind of what your visibility looks like for those different ranking types. if you've never really considered your website in Google News before then this might be a good place to start to look at your visibility and really kind of kick-off some of those conversations about visibility.


Does Google use the same algorithm for the SERPs and Google News?

The algorithm definitely has to be separate as neither the articles and nor the publishers have the same visibility across both products.

Also, whenever there is a confirmed update on the bigger algorithm, there does seem to be a change in Google News as well But there can be changes in Google News that don't seem to affect the broader algorithm so we do see some overlap for sure.

For things like video, they cross the boundaries but for other changes, like when they rolled out featured snippets, there's featured snippets on the SERP but not Google News.


Convert your visitors into an audience


Sign up on iZooto and start growing and engaging your audience. 2 Weeks Free Trial

  • GDPR-compliant-badge-1
  • Magento_Technology_Partner_Large
  • badge-g2crowd-2024-removebg-preview


Questions icon


Switch to iZooto

Using Push Notifications?


Need a Product Tour?