Google News Gets A New Ranking Signal, And It’s A Keywords Meta Tag

By: Chris Crum - September 22, 2012

Google announced the news_keywords metatag for publishers in Google News to help Google better identify and understand content that is related to things that are in the news.

Do you think this is a good direction for Google News? Let us know what you think.

Here’s what it looks like:

<meta name=”news_keywords” content=”World Cup, Brazil 2014, Spain vs Netherlands, soccer, football”>

If you use it, use commas to separate phrases. You can add up to ten phrases per article, and each keyword is given equal value.

The company says it’s a way to empower writers to express stories freely, while helping Google News propertly understand and classify content. In a blog post, Google News product manager Rudy Galfi explains the thought process behind the feature:

The day after the historic 1929 stock market crash, Variety bannered their front page with these words: “WALL ST. LAYS AN EGG.” It’s a great headline: pithy, catchy, and expressive of the substance of the story as well as the scale of its consequences. It’s also worth noting that Variety’s editors had a full day to write the headline—millions of readers weren’t trying to search for the story within seconds of hearing about it.

The Web has transformed both how news organizations report information and the way users find it. Imagine if “WALL ST. LAYS AN EGG” were used as a headline today by an online news site. Since the headline is a sequence of text that’s only readily understandable by a human, most machine algorithms would probably attach some sort of biological association to it. In turn, this would make it difficult for millions of curious users who are using or Google News to find the best article about the stock market crash they just heard about.

With the news_keywords metatag, publishers can specify specific keywords that apply to news articles, basically like the classic keywords metatag.

The whole thing is pretty interesting, considering that Google has downplayed the regular keywords metatag. In fact, earlier this year, in a Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts said, “You shouldn’t spend time on the meta keywords tag. We don’t use it. I’m not aware of any major search engine that uses it these days.”

Of course, this is a different tag, and it’s specifically news-related, though news results often appear in regular Google results. Cutts did say in a tweet:

Google is careful to note that the tag will be only “one signal among many” that its algorithms use to determine ranking.

“The news_keywords metatag is intended as a tool — but high-quality reporting and interesting news content remain the strongest ways to put your newsroom’s work in front of Google News users,” says Galfi.

Keep in mind, Google still frowns upon keyword stuffing (unless that’s going away in an upcoming version of its Webmaster Guidelines, which is highly doubtful).

In case you need a refresher, here’s Google’s quality guidelines for News:

News content. Sites included in Google News should offer timely reporting on matters that are important or interesting to our audience. We generally do not include how-to articles, advice columns, job postings, or strictly informational content such as weather forecasts and stock data.

We mean it — stick to the news! Google News is not a marketing service. We don’t want to send users to sites created primarily for promoting a product or organization.

Unique articles. Original reporting and honest attribution are longstanding journalistic values. (If your site publishes aggregated content, you will need to separate it from your original work, or restrict our access to those aggregated articles via your robots.txt file.)

Authority. Write what you know! The best news sites exhibit clear authority and expertise.

Accountability. Users tell us they value news sites with author biographies and clearly accessible contact information, such as physical and email addresses, and phone numbers.

User-friendly. Sites should load quickly and use URL redirects rarely. Clearly written articles with correct spelling and grammar also make for a much better user experience. Keep in mind that we can only include sites that follow the Webmaster Guidelines.

Do you think this new keywords meta tag is a good signal for Google to be using? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • bob

    Black black black

  • tham my vien

    I think this card should not have

  • nang nguc

    I think it is necessary, it helps a lot for web pages

  • nang nguc noi soi

    google has changed a lot recently

  • Nick Stamoulis

    It’ll be really interesting to watch how the search results evolve with this in place. My question is does it only work if the site is a trusted news source? Anyone can report on breaking news today, will this only make it easier for big news sites to rank well?

    • Chris Crum

      I’d say building on your trust factor will remain more important.

  • Ridiculous

    Google news is dead, since google fresh has been released i can only find news from 2007-2008 in the search results.
    Just type “hdmi recorder” to realise that the first result is from 2008… second is from 2008…
    Hey what no hdmi recorder was released since 2008 ???

    Google is a dying search engine (ooops sorry, ***ad engine*** ) , as a matter of fact bing is gaining market shares everyday, i have tried bing and i was amazed by the quality of it, you guys should give it a try.

  • Darren Greenaway

    Everything Google does seems to have only two real winners. The SEO guys who can charge again for doing the same work as they did the previous months because ‘Google’ changed something and those with big budgets of money or time that can work diligently at getting their pages high up on Google. I agree it is very important that the real winners should be the end users but can any algorithm really punish the ‘wolf in a sheep’s’ coat? But at least the good news is Google are trying.

  • Todd Herman

    I’m with Nic, this will this only make it easier for big news sites to rank well. All the power to them.

  • masum multimedia

    Good update.

  • Ramki from Digital Marketing Analytics

    New Meta Keyword Tag “news_keywords” for news publishers to keep them happy? –

  • Mike Budd

    I find it interesting and will use it for sure. We’ll see if it helps 😉

  • Danny

    This is interesting!

    As the article mentions, it’s similar to the old “Meta keywords” approach, which should help to properly align the content(body)being provided with the “content topic ” being alluded to by the post(article) title….(so the content topic(and post title) is/are not misunderstood)

    The same post title writing approach goes on all thee time, outside of Google news(out in the web-o-sphere….

    Most news sources use titles that have zero connection(or a very low %) to the topic……

    Also, out in the world of SEO, and within the general web away from the all those news sites, people use “eye candy” or “Attention grabbing” words within the post titles(often not related to the topic) often combined with words that are topic related…

    For the most part it works, though, can be a major “put off’ when you keep ending up on sites(posts) that have nothing to do with the information you were seeking….

    Though, it can be annoying when you go to read about one topic, and find yourself now reading

  • Terri

    Any pressure exerted upon Google – eg people using Bing instead – will force them to reconsider all the changes they made. I am, for one, pleased the metatag is back… still a long way to go, but all this page ranking BS really undid Google for me.

    • AngersAusomeAussies

      I agree w/Terri here. Any pressure put on Google is good for them . All those changes they made & R still making, they R hanging themselves.All that page ranking BS really turned me off to Google, not that I ever was a fan or their’s.

  • Vladimir Tretyakov

    I am not interested in growing sales, but saving a time is of interest. I mean here “saving a time for business people to realize their undetermined future” — undermined because whole civilization is without the future as not reacting to the threats of humanity’s extermination and self-extermination, that is why my site has name “intentact”, i.e. devoted to INTENTIONAL ACTIONS.
    I do strongly hope that Google new initiative helps to finish with it. An affair demandind some decades, should be well long ago begun.

  • http://google Ademar Alves da Silva

    é a melhor coisa que o google estar fasendo com sertesa todo mundo vai gostar aproveito para pedi ao google que mim ajude mim dé um site editado realise meu sonho

    • AngersAusomeAussies

      Write ur comment in ENGLISH, that’s what we speak in AMERICA.

  • Netscype Gino

    Google is Back. I like this (new) system. But you have to keep in mind, That A lot of websites are badly (crap) made​​, and That people need to focus on building a well writen website. Big sites have the money and good scripters. My Conclusion Build your website is like a pro, if not learn it good, and all will go well.

  • West Boca News

    Interesting, but how does one implement the new meta tag in WordPress? I’m guessing there’ll be a plug-in any day now.

    I find Google News’ quality guidelines mysterious. I comply with all that you listed, but so far have not been accepted. I see other sites in my niche that use aggregated content, and don’t have author attribution or clear address/contact information. Yet those sites are in Google News. Frustrating.

  • West Boca News

    And sure enough, someone has already posted code for making this work on WordPress:

  • Stories Trending Now

    I Think its a welcome idea that needs to be appreciated.

  • jared

    And many said that meta keywords were dead, looks like they are being brought back to life.

    • Frank Gainsford

      Those who have said this are mostly from the Social Media Networks, where they have no access to the META DATA and META TAGS of their posts. This puts them in a position of the blind leading the deaf across a dance floor with lazer lighting and smoke effects.

      If they were true SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) specialists they would know the truth, and not ask the blind to lead the deaf, but supply a cane and a guide dog for the blind and neon lit signs as well as hearing aid for the deaf.

      Google has never said that META TAGS of any sort are useless or redundant, but has stressed the fact that many are used in other places besides your pages rankings. Understand what is written by reading carefully and and completely, instead of jumping to conclusions half way through a speech or video, other wise you will be acting like a blind person at a lazer light show. (what am I doing here!)

      Think about this and then decide for yourself what tools Google (and other search engines) use to determine the “ABOUTNESS” of your page as well as the intent of an end users search query, then how these are matched to supply the SERP’s (Search Engines Results Page / Position)

      Any body that ever said META KEY WORD TAGS were useless needs their head read.

      • Coversure

        I think your right, but it doesn’t help when a certain Matt Cutts says:
        “You shouldn’t spend time on the meta keywords tag. We don’t use it. I’m not aware of any major search engine that uses it these days.”
        I know from experience that meta tags DO have an effect.

  • Martin

    Google is surely changing a lot in the past weeks/months. However, I find this really interesting and I will make sure that I will use this in the future.

  • Sudirman

    relentless innovation

  • Dorizonline

    thank you for sharing, very useful

  • Enviro Equipment Inc.

    This really isn’t a new ranking signal for Google as even Google’s Matt Cutts has said it will not apply to webpages, just to Google News.

    Nevertheless, we’ll certainly added to our pages that deal with company news announcements.

  • Steve

    If Giggle is doing it then it surley is bad news for someone. After theeir popularity contest idea they forced sites to get links in order to rank high on thier search. Then they poenalized people who got a lot of links. Granted the links where junk but… Then their is G+ which is a totral mess. Now they want to add keywords? How are they planning to contole that old idea that they refused to be involved in to start with? First they will puch webmaster into it. Then they will penalize or even blacklist sites for doing it.

    My opinion is Bing It. When giggle grows up and become a real search engine maybe someone might want to use it. Even Yahoo is starting to look good and that is very bad.

  • Raka

    license copy

  • Lawn Care

    Who will benefit from the meta tags for news? The publishers? No, if you go to their site (the news publisher) for the news you will find what you want. It benefits Giggle. It makes the news they deliver to you more accurate. So you see ads that Google benefits from and not the publishers.

  • Mazhar

    Thnaks for sharing useful information