Managing Universal Search Temporal Verticals
by (Tin Foil) Terry VanHorne
Pew Internet released a study called Understanding the Participatory News Consumer which indicates the role of Internet News with internet users.
Six in ten Americans (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.
According to PRWeb 80 million people turn to the Internet for news daily
So it seems with so many users getting news online the news in Universal SERPs must be real click magnets. Note that blogs, article and Press release archives are also accepted for inclusion in Google News.
Temporal is geek for time sensitive. The following Search Verticals are Temporal Elements in Universal SERPs:
- News and Press Releases
- Realtime Search
Google News: Real News, Press Releases, Article Archives and Blogs
Google News provides a promoter amazing distribution via a high traffic site and News syndication network. The Submitting Your Content: Google News will guide you through the registration. Note single press releases etc. are only accepted after a review by a Google staffer so either use a aggregator or the email address (on the page above) for human review. If your site is a news, press release or articles archive/aggregator or topical blog with lots of good content then you may meet the criteria for inclusion in Google News.
Inclusion in Google News as a "Source" and one step closer to breaking imto the Universal SERPs. Google News is also a major News distributor across many sites. The distribution depending on the number of sites displaying your category or geo location. In the past there were problems with Google News requiring urls formatted in a specific way. The new Google News Sitemap removes this problem.
The best way to ensure complete indexing and fast pickup of your content is to register your News Sitemap in your WebmasterCentral account. Many of the popular CMS's provide plugins or scripts for generating a Google News Sitemap.
Google News Algorithms You Must Consider for Search Engine Optimization
Google News has a few algorithms that are new to many optimization professionals. Another consideration for news optimization is that the aggregators no longer pass much if any PageRank to press releases from the home page so most SEO link benefits are from secondary sources. Be prepared to build links to the release and deal with scrappers and content theft by setting up Google alerts on the Title of the release.
A Google paper which Bill Slawski covered in his post Google News Personalization provides some insights into how Personalization works for News. I was not going to include this info, however, recent chats in the SE0 Dojo made it clear that as we searched the same Universal SERP we were getting differing results, in particular, the news and blogs contained different results and looked to have been using more personalization then we had seen in the past. That said, for the most part the Positions of Universal Paks were very similar.
There is a lot of new "IR lingo", for me in describing the methods at play. The best layman's version of the methods I could find was an explaination of covisitation counts. Bill provides a great overview of the implicit signals Google is using to Personalize News. David Harry and I are very interested in explicit signals and while doing a search on "the Masters" Dave found explicit signals in the SERP.
Dave found a Starred result at the top. The explicit signals in Google Personalization are outlined in a google blog post Stars make search more personal. I think we can assume to some extent that all or most of both implicit and explicit signals in the Personalization of News will/are at play for RealTime Search, blogs and videos as well.
Universal SERP News Paks
Universal News Elements or as I cmll them News Paks are a combination of links to news often accompanied by an image related to the story. These results show 3 or 4 news articles from a cluster or topic. Note a story can have multiple clusters with varying angles on the same story.
Optimization of Press Releases:
Optimization of News and Press releases is complicated as many of the considerations are out of the control of the SEO. You can build your own News Source but most will be using aggregators. A major portion of the Google News algorithm is the source and other characteristics of the article such as named entities so careful consideration and analysis of the topics/story clusters and aggregator you use for distribution will play a role in your ability to break news into the Universal SERP.
Bill Slawski has an excellent overview of the "Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles" Google patent in his Google News Rankings and Quality Scores for News Sources. If you are building or maintaining a news/press release/articles archive or blog there are a number of signals included in the "Source Rank" algo that should be considered for building trust and "Source Rank".
- Number of non duplicate articles
- Length of Articles
- Breaking news score: How Fresh is the news and the Source's ability to break news
- Metrics about the Source for instance: circulation, number of employees, international offices, number of topics covered, named entities and more (these definitely seem to favor the major new sources)
Under The Hood: Google News & Ranking Stories explains the clusters or News Paks often found in Universal Search SERPs. Danny Sullivan wrote this article with direct input from Josh Cohen of Google. One ranking factor mentioned in the article is that Google News uses click analysis within the News Paks/clusters. It is apparent that between News Personalization and this cluster click analysis that one of the reasons for the mystery around News rankings is the use of both explicit and implicit ranking signals. How Journalists Optimize for Google News is an excellent story with definite tips and tools on how to optimize breaking News stories.
News and Press Release Distribution
When optimizing Press Releases there are other considerations beyond the usual distribution factors. "Source Rank" is a "Trust Factor" for news sources determined by the the sites record for frequency of; quality of and ability to break new news being very important. Your ability to break news into the Google Universal SERPs starts with the distribution service you use or your ability to persuade a Google reviewer to include your press release in Google News by an email request. A major consideration is the source where the Press Release is found/submitted to Google from help the release break into the Universal query space. Alexa Traffic Stats for News sites will give you an idea of the importance of Google News and the traffic of the others.
Wire Services and Paid News Aggregators
There are 2 major online Wire services with many Paid Aggregators leveraging their content and news contacts. The PR Newswire and Businesswire Services are the only real online Newswires. The others may have the ability to reach a small niche set of traditional contacts. IMO, PRWeb are the best Source to submit to because of the distribution, bookmarking, RSS Feed and stats you get about the releases distribution.
Free press release and article archives have been a well known SEO tactic for what seems like forever. Like all manipulative SEO link techniques these are long in the tooth and near useless especially those that provide only citations not actual links. This is not just a characteristic of News Aggregators but almost all "user generated" content has little if any link integrity without keyword rich inbound links.
The Future is RSS Feeds
RSS Feeds is one way to leverage a press release. Many of the big and small aggregators are providing RSS Feeds of your press releases so piping these feeds into Google's SubPubHubBub and others along with your blog, Twitter and other playgrounds in the Social Neighborhood is a great strategy for content discovery and content distribution.
Press Release Strategy
The days of doing the occasional press release in the hopes of coverage and links has been replaced with more frequent media rich press releases with promotion using bookmarking/tagging, Social Network sharing and blog posts to corroborate the news value and freshness. IMO, the way into the Universal SERP with news is to do a co-ordinated Press release on a Trusted Source using all the corraborating sources of blogs, Realtime Search to validate the freshness and newsworthiness of the content.
Getting a grip on the News Uni
With 59% of Americans getting news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day it makes sense for Google to include news in as many query spaces as appropriate. It is also an excellent strategy for sites that qualify register to the News Feeds of the major Search Engines.
For Members of the SEO Training Dojo we are preparing a Universal SERPs PDF which will cover all the elements and include not only the previous 3 posts but the chat sessions with Laurie Sullivan on prospecting Media and Nichola Stott's powerful chat on Publicity and Press Release Distribution. The PDF will also include tools for free press release distribution and a list of sites.
About the author; Terry is an old school SEO geek that works out of International Website Builders and the founder of SEOPros.org - You can also hook up with him on Twitter.
Parts I and II of Understanding Universal Search SERPs
Universal Search for Digital Asset Managers
Google Universal Search: A Mystery and Some History
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