Do you remember the good ol’ days when you could stuff your keyword meta tags like a Thanksgiving Turkey and then site back and watch your site climb to the top of the search engine rankings, it felt like your site was just riding on the wings of angels? In those days, it seemed like webmasters with the most keywords were always the winners. Obviously these days, between overly ambitious SEO’s and of course your spammers galore, the practice was being abused and something had to give.
Today, stuffing your meta tags is not only ineffective and pretty much pointless, it’s now more like committing SEO suicide. Today your website will actually be penalized if you go overboard with your keyword meta tags, and some shrewd SEOs even go as far as recommend that you leave them alone altogether in favor of focusing on the quality of your websites content.
Now, in a throwback to the old school move by Google, meta keywords have been reintroduced for Google News users. It’s different code with a different look and different rules, of course. But, a shade of the 90’s SEO is still present. Let’s take a look at this new add on and how you can use it on your site’s news articles.
The “News Keywords” Metatag
The new meta tag is designed for Google News writers, but it is nevertheless it’s still remarkably similar to the first keywords metatag. The major change is that this new metatag is referred to as “news_keywords” and it allows publishers the ability to cherry-pick a small amount of connected keywords that most accurately describes the news post that they’re submitting to Google News. The words don’t have to be in your title or H1 tags – it’s purely metadata that Google can use to correctly classify your article.
It is worth mentioning that Google News must approve your post first before your content can actually show in the listings. However, once you’ve got passed that challenge and you are officially an approved Google News publisher, you can start working on newsworthy content that will add to the discussion in your specialized niche and showcase your website in the process.
So, what’s the point of this new tag? The answer to this question is actually pretty basic – yes, it assists Google classify content, but its main goal is to make it possible for publishers to get larger reach with their content. Google is frantically trying to up the quality aspect it has its hands in, Google News is no exception. Creative freedom with no worries of keyword stuffing is a great way for webmasters to get news out without creating something that reads unnaturally or fake.
Here’s a piece from a Google help page that explains the new keyword tag:
The information in Google’s help section also explains that you can use keywords to disambiguate between closely related phrases or words. The article gives an example of separating World Cup for soccer from the World Cup for rugby:
<meta name=”news_keywords” content=”World Cup, Brazil 2014, Spain vs Netherlands, soccer, football”>
When you do this you should place your keywords within the metatag and then separate them with a comma. Google allows 10 keywords for any one post or article, so make sure your prudent when picking your words. It’s also important to note that each keyword carries the same weight, and the order doesn’t affect the significance at all. The strength is equal for each and every keyword.
Best Practices for Google News Exposure
The ultimate goal of Google News is to provide users with unparalleled access to as many kinds of diverse news sites as possible. That’s why properly classifying your content using the new metatag will help you get found. One major caveat, however: Google has become picky. Very picky. If you’ve followed the algo updates as reported here on Site-Reference or elsewhere, you know this fact better than anyone.
There are rules surrounding the quality of the content you submit for Google News inclusion, and the closer you adhere to them, the better your chances of getting found.
First requirement: If your article is in the form of a blog post, is a satire piece, or is a press release, you must label it as such. Tag your content and provide a visible label for the end user. You can find more information and a list of mandatory tags here.
A few other requirements to keep in mind:
Everything that I’ve read so far about this new tag tells some cautionary advice: Google has made it pretty clear that this metatag by itself isn’t going to help you rank or get more hits on Google News. It’s simply just one small piece of the SEO puzzle, and you must conform to all of the additional guidelines to get a shot at the bigtime.
So, in the end is it really worth the headache??
Personally I feel that it is worth it, but only if you’re using a combination of web marketing strategies that doesn’t just depend on Google and Google News.