Google Comments Offers New Opportunities for Communicators

October 30, 2007

 Google News 

One of the goals of our Business Wired blog is to provide readers with better tools for communicating their messages in the ever-changing media landscape. Today we are happy to highlight a service we’ve been following with much interest that we and our friends in Google News thought would be of value to Business Wire clients.  

Earlier this year Google News launched a comments feature that allows individuals or organizations that are mentioned in news articles to add their own comments. Comments are then served up alongside those articles on Google News.  

Josh Cohen, Google News’ Product Manager explains: “Google News has always tried to present as many sources as possible to give our users a wide spectrum of views on the news.  Comments is an experimental feature that we believe will continue this goal by letting readers see exactly what people in a story think about current news.  We think this will help us increase the number of diverse and meaningful points of view on the news.”  

So how is this different from any comment section or discussion board? Well, on Google News only persons or organizations who are specifically mentioned in the story can comment. Google News then contacts the person submitting the comment or others in their organization to verify their identity. As a result, each story is expected to have only a handful of highly relevant comments that give readers a more in-depth look at topics in the news. Cohen adds: “their insight will both help readers understand the news, and cover views that may not be well-published or well-understood within the current coverage”. 

For PR professionals and marketers, this is an excellent opportunity to provide greater detail or clarifications when their press releases receive media pick-up. Also, it creates a new channel to follow-up on a press release with updates, success stories, or links to other relevant stories. Finally, it is another form of reaching out to your audience and participating in the conversation. While these comments differ from commenting on blogs or engaging in social networks, they can be a valuable part of the new communications mix.  

So how can you comment on a story that is relevant to your company or client?  According to the instructions on Google News you should send an email to news-comments@google.com containing the following information:

  1. Your comment (hyperlinks allowed, but no attachments)
  2. A link to the story you are commenting on
  3. Your contact details: name, title, and organization
  4. A way to verify your email address

Verification is one of the central components of Google’s comments feature. Therefore it is highly recommended to provide as much information that Google News staff can use (for example adding contact details of persons who can verify your credentials, or, if you are submitting a comment on behalf of a client, demonstrating that you are indeed authorized to speak for them). Keep in mind that Google News will not edit comments once the sender is verified, so they will be posted exactly as you emailed them. 

So the next time your press release or related articles are shown on Google News and you feel you have more valuable input to share, this can be a great new outlet. Please look at the Google Comments instructions page for more details. 

As usual, we’re happy to hear what you think. If you’ve already used Google Comments or would like to share your own thoughts about it, feel free to comment below.


“The Older the Berry, the Sweeter the Link Juice”

October 30, 2007

1996 Business Wire site logoQuite a bit of nattering lately regarding the advantages of youth and exuberance versus age and experience in the organic context of social media. I won’t take sides, but suffice to say I agree with Bill Sledzik who noted: “The older you get the more you appreciate how much more there is to learn — and experience.”Business Wire 1997 site graphic

Along those lines, it turns out that when it comes to websites, older is better.

 Yep, that’s right. The fourth most important overall factor in SEO is the Business Wire 1996 Site Today's News on the NetAGE of your site, says a 43-page report titled “Search Engine Ranking Factors V2,” and issued by seomoz.org.

According to this exhaustive document, the age of your site commands “exceptional importance.”

“Young sites must prove themselves before they can start ranking for much anything important; middle-aged sites are left to fight it out on their own; and well-aged sites enjoy a halo I wish I experienced in my personal life,” said Caveman, a renown SEO consultant and search engine marketer. And how about this quote from Todd Malicoat:Business Wire website “The older the berry, the sweeter the link juice.”

Since Business Wire was the first wire service to launch a website, wayBusiness Wire website back in 1995, I guess that gives us some SEO street cred.

The seomoz.org report collates the collective wisdom of 37 organic search engine wizards. The report claims to relate 90 – 95% of the knowledge available about the 200+ ranking elements for Google and other search engines. Give it a read.


Yahoo! Finance Debuts Business Wire XHTML Feed

October 19, 2007

Today is a very satisfying day for many of us at Business Wire and we think it’s also a good day for investor relations. After several years of development and more than a year of working with our downstream partners, Business Wire’s XHTML feed is now being carried on Yahoo! Finance.

Why is this important? XHTML (eXtensible HyperText Markup Language) enables us and IR professionals to break a decades-long limitation in how earnings tables are transmitted, presented and re-utilized. Limitations in data feeds and ANPA and ASCII languages and technology have meant that tables could be no longer than 70 characters in width, could not support underlines, bold text or bulleted lists. This means tables are often difficult for humans to read and harder for computers to parse in today’s automated times.

Earnings Tables that are Easier for Humans and Computers

Enter XHTML. With XHTML, we present tables that closely mirror how they appear in their original spread sheet format. Wider, with underlined headers and numbers. And they are more easily readable by humans and electronic systems. For humans, the benefits are obvious.

Look at these two examples of tables:

Each element of the Business Wire NewsML press release in XHTML is tagged – the content within the headline, body copy, tables, contact information, etc. so that systems can find and utilize the exact data they need. This ultimately helps news organizations to speed the reporting of earnings results and further levels the playing field for access to corporate financial data.

This is a very big “next step” in our ongoing efforts to change the way media, syndicates, financial information services and consumer sites handle content. Our patented Internet “NX” delivery system is the backbone for this system. We have spent countless development hours and invested millions of dollars in building a smarter system to simultaneously deliver rich content to end users. We’re working on getting more systems online with XHTML in the near future.


Shorter Headlines Can Lead to Google Juice

October 10, 2007

Google juice

Lock up your long-winded headlines. Google alerted us this week that press release headlines should not exceed 22 words. That’s eight words shorter than what we were told months ago. “An ideal headline should be between two and 22 words,” advises the search engine giant.

While there are no guarantees, certain practices maximize your chances of getting Google juice. Having something to say, for example–something that is “news,” not “olds.” Writing clearly is a good bet. Keeping it brief is also advised.

Unlike most of Business Wire’s distribution which is pushed out via our patented NX system, there’s no such thing as a “feed” to Google. They are invited in to spider our news and do so every few minutes. And, because of the amount of fresh content we post daily, Business Wire is considered an authority site.

Every now and then, a release fails to post to Google News. The reasons are a mystery. Google deliberately protects its algorithms, the instructions written by programmers for the robots that match web content with search queries. Presumably, this secrecy serves democracy, accuracy and as a deterrent to hackers gaming the system.

So, even with best practices and timely technology, guaranteed Google juice doesn’t exist. With Business Wire, your chances of being indexed by Google are extremely high. But, a random bullet point, a link in the headline, a formatting glitch–can sometimes keep your release from being scraped into the news bucket.

Any wire service that says otherwise is not being honest.


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