I recently wrote a post for Write Right Words bemoaning the difficulty of writing good copy and writing content that will be received well by search engines. It turns out that this isn’t a problem unique to me.
Journalists have been having a hard time getting copy placed into Google News because their headlines are written to draw people in rather than to be found in search. Rand Fishkin and Joost de Valk encourage writers to make targeted keywords the first words of a headline, first words of an article and incorporated into the page URL to increase their search visibility. While this is an effective strategy from my experience, it is oftentimes impractical to make an article appealing by doing this.
I thought Google was over keywords?
Google has diminished or eliminated meta keywords from inclusion in their algorithm, but recently reintroduced the news_keywords tag, to allow for writers to write compelling headlines and to inform Google about the specific topics in the metadata of the post. From their announcement:
“The goal is simple: empower news writers to express their stories freely while helping Google News to properly understand and classify that content so that it’s discoverable by our wide audience of users. Similar in spirit to the plain keywords metatag, the news_keywords metatag lets publishers specify a collection of terms that apply to a news article. These words don’t need to appear anywhere within the headline or body text.”
They are quick to point out that the tag is just one component of the signal, and I suspect that there may still be preference for traditional SEO formatting, but it is a great tool to try to appease search engines while compelling readers.
It’s important to note that this notation will only work if you are a publisher for Google News – information regarding that can be found here.
Google News Metadata for WordPress
So, the good folks at Topoftheburg have created a WordPress plugin that creates the news_keyword meta data for your Google News site. One of the things that I love about WordPress is that creative people come up with helpful solutions. And it’s free to download from their site (disclaimer: though I am unaffiliated with these folks, I also have not tried the plugin).
If you are publishing news worthy material and are having a hard time balancing good copy and SEO, this might be a solution to get Google to take notice. And if not, you can talk somewhat intelligently about the news_keyword meta tag at your next social event.