Shorter Headlines Can Lead to Google Juice

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.

13 Responses to Shorter Headlines Can Lead to Google Juice

  1. Dana Todd says:

    Did you know? Business Wire’s PR Optimization Tool, Newsforce, will help you optimize your releases and prepare them for Google News and Yahoo News? In the wizard interface, the Headline field will show you where to cut off your headline to show best in Google. We suggest that you keep it to 60 characters or less.

    Thanks for the post – there are frequent changes to the “search engine rules” which impact their algorithm. Nice to know Business Wire customers are in the know…

    Dana Todd
    Newsforce

  2. Cynthia says:

    Thanks for the great advise. We’ll implement it immediately!

  3. [...] This week, Google alerted Business Wire 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. Read more at BusinessWired. [...]

  4. Hi,

    Thats heads-up cutting edge information.

    All we have to keep in mind is the ’22 words’ stipulation.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Courteously — S. Kumar

    http://www.learnhomebusiness.com

  5. Noah says:

    does this include sub-heads?

  6. monikamaeckle says:

    Hello Noah,

    You’re not the only person to ask this question. I turned to our VP of web services, Mark Wehrmeister, who has spoken to Google and here’s what he says:

    “It doesn’t include subheads that are actually sent out as subheads in the release (they can’t be part of the headline separated by a semicolon, but need to be below the headline like actual subheads are). Google sees subheads sent as subheads as part of the body of the release.

    Remember that Google simply scans the full text release looking for something that could be a headline. Since they believe that the headline is almost always under 22 words, they will find the first string of text near the top of the page that looks like a potential headline and use it. If they don’t see a string of text near the top that meets this criteria, they do not accept the release because they think their scraper has made a mistake or the content is not actually a news article.”

    So…to play it safe, seems one should keep those headlines brief. And, as stated before, there are no guarantees, even if you do.

    Wish I could be more definitive but those algorhythms are super persnickety.

    Monika

  7. [...] BusinessWire recently passed on a note from Google – press release headlines should be kept under 22 words. [...]

  8. [...] also the need to make your headlines recognizable to Google in the first place and for that the less than 22 words criteria comes into [...]

  9. [...] Business Wire’s post, “Shorter Headlines Can Lead to Google Juice,”  [42 characters with spaces]. you’ll see that Google warns that headlines of over 22 words [...]

  10. [...] Shorter headlines can lead to more Google Juice. These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  11. Andy says:

    Oh, and did not know about it. Thanks for the information …

  12. Deputat says:

    Interesting article. Thanks.

  13. [...] Shorter Headlines Can Lead To More Google Juice Published March 7, 2009 asides , technology Tags: asides, Google, juice, technology Shorter headlines can lead to more Google Juice. [...]

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