Introducing “news_keywords” — the latest, greatest method for keyword optimizing news feeds for Google News. And I’ve got some tips to help you implement this today on your CMS-powered site.
If you blinked, you missed it. Google dropped a powerful new tool into the hands of content marketers who manage news sites. On September 19, Google announced via its official Google News blog that it is now allowing the new meta tag “news_keywords.”
Does this affect everybody?
No! Google News and the standard Google search results are very different. You have to manually apply for inclusion in the Google News search results and meet a series of strict technical requirements before the Google News team will accept your site into its system. So if you are running a blog or site that is NOT included in Google News, then this does not apply to you. You can check to see if your site is being included in Google News by going to news.google.com and searching using the “site:yoursite.com” tool.
What this means for content marketers
We now have a way to give Google News important signals as to the content of the news article without having to keyword load the titles and headings. This means we can write to our audience — not to search engines.
Imagine actually writing a title that is engaging and exciting without having to cram your keywords into it. Exciting times, folks!
What you should do about it
If you write for or manage a news site that Google News publishes, you need to put this information into the hands of someone who can get your meta information updated. Either you can manually add the meta tags to each post, or use my technique, which I outline below.
Proceed with caution
As exciting as this new tool is, I advise moving forward slowly. The Google News team admits this is but one signal used to understand the content of a news piece. I wouldn’t jump right into super catchy headlines like, “You’ll Never Believe This!” just yet.
I’d love to see somebody run a few pieces with short headlines that don’t include keywords but do contain the news_keywords meta and see how they perform. But until we have some objective data, it’s best to proceed with caution when making changes to your meta data to account for this change.
Implement News_Keywords right now!
If you’ve got an IT team, it should be able to add a form for you to add keywords in a straightforward manner. If you’re like most sites, though, you use the tags in your CMS to describe the content of the article. Enter my technique:
(Note: the following is rather technical, so if you get squeamish when looking at code, I encourage you to look away for your own safety.)
<!– Start Techie Speak –>
I’ll use an example for WordPress because a vast majority of sites use it to publish their content. In WordPress, we have a nice little function called get_the_tags that will allow us to call the tags for a given post. So, injecting the following code into your header.php where your other meta information is will work wonders on any page with tags assigned:
The above code will produce comma-delimited keywords that look like this:
For the techies in the house, you know what I’m talking about. But if any of you are lost, no need to worry — just hand this code off to your admin folks and tell them to get to work… please.
If you don’t use WordPress, you should still be able to take this script and modify it to your needs. Drupal, Joomla, and others all have fairly straightforward methods for calling the tags for a post.
<!– End Techie Speak –>
This could signal (pun intended) a significant shift in how we can publish news content. That’s not to say keywords in titles and headings aren’t important over the long-term life of an article; but I, for one, am thrilled to see Google making an effort to give us more creative liberty without the technical constraints.
Want more content marketing inspiration? Download our ultimate eBook with 100 content marketing examples.