We usually focus on optimization for the organic SERPs, but there is a lot of traffic to be found in other Google Services as well. For example, if we look at the levels of traffic other Google subdomains are receiving, we will find that even though the numbers drop sharply after google.com, there are still substantial numbers in other services:
(taken from Wolfram Alpha, originally from Alexa)
Specifically, Google News can be a great source of traffic not only due to the volume of searches performed, but also due to perceived authority that listing in the News section can carry. I don’t have any hard data on this, but it would be interesting to compare the conversion rate of News visitors vs. regular search visitors.
In any case, I wanted to share a problem one of our clients had with his Google News listings recently and the way how we managed to solve this problem, hoping that this solution will help other people with similar problems.
We’ve noticed that the number of visitors coming from Google News has dropped sharply in mid-April. Performing a site: search on Google News, showed that the most recent article indexed was from April 18th. Since this specific client publishes several news articles a day, all of which usually get featured on Google News immediately, it was obvious there was a problem.
A quick check of the Google Webmaster Tools of the site discovered a list of news-related errors, the most frequent one being “Title not Found”
Searching for that specific error on Google, led me to this thread on Google News Help forum, which in turn pointed to this page on Google News Help for Publishers section. There are two suggested ways to fix this particular problem:
- Make sure that the title is repeated both in the <title> tag and again in the body of the article in <h1> tags. The suggestion is that these two are as similar as possible, although we found that they do not have to be identical
- Ensure that the <h1> title in the body of the article is not hyperlinked
Prior to the first delisting of this client’s articles from Google News, they performed a number of changes on the website, including hyperlinking the <h1>Title to point back to the original article page. This practice is commonly used to both ensure the link back to the original content from the websites that pick up the articles feed from the website and to tell Google which of the articles is the original one and thus prevent duplicate content issues.
It turns out that this hyperlink was preventing Google News bot to correctly identify the Title of each article and therefore to stop lisitng them in Google News. Removal of this hyperlink got the client’s articles back into the Google News in a matter of minutes.
Quick glance at other Google News listed sources shows that the majority of them do not have hyperlinked Titles. There are those that do (like LA Times for example), but they may be doing something else to ensure the correct recognition of the Title. In any case, if you are planning on getting your site listed in Google News, linking from the <h1> title of each article is not something I would recommend.