How to Keep Your Press Releases From Getting Rejected by Google News

For this edition of SEO Tip Jar I revisited the data sources from my popular post about getting rejected from Google News in order to see if anything had changed in the past year or if I could possibly discover any more tips for ensuring your releases are compliant with Google News’ automated system.  It turns out that there are still things to learn from Google News if you look at the data.

The most interesting departure from past conventional wisdom is that it appears that repeating keywords from the headline in your links in seemingly works against you in Google News.   (See #1, below.)  Until now, we’ve understood that redundancy has a positive impact;  apparently too much works against you.

For my study, I looked at reports we receive directly from Google News over a period of two weeks in January of this year.   This first post will look at releases rejected due to structure or contents of their headlines.  Google currently reports this error as “Title Not Allowed” or “Title Not Found” in their recently revised and expanded list of news rejection reasons, with the explanations of “The title that we extracted from the HTML page suggests that it is not a news article” and “We were unable to extract a title for the article from the HTML page” respectively.

Google goes into further detail and provides the following reasons which apply to your press releases distributed on a wire service such as ours (I’ve omitted those that are irrelevant):

  1. In your article page, avoid using the article title, or a substring of the title, as an active hyperlink.
  2. Don’t include a date or time in your article title.
  3. Ensure that your article title includes at least ten characters and is between two and 22 words.

Previously, Google’s only explicit condition was that headlines be between two and 22 words, so it’s nice to see the rules laid out in more detail.  However, do Google’s rules match reality? Let’s take a look.

Over the two-week period, our reports show 141 releases rejected due to “Title Not Allowed” or “Title Not Found”.    Of these,  88% (124) had headlines with 23+ words, violating rule #3 up above.  An additional  5% (seven) headlines included dates or times and 2% (three) did not appear to run afoul of any of Google News’ stated guidelines.

However, my most interesting finding came from looking at the remaining seven releases.  Granted, seven of 141 releases is a very small sample size, but all of these releases included anchor text links in the release body which used between 25% and 56% of the keywords from the release headline.

This would lead me to tentatively recommend optimizing releases to focus only on top one or two keywords within their headlines and use longer headlines as well.   Additionally, it’s probably a good idea to ensure your anchor text links within the body or your releases use less than 25% of the words in your headline.

Confused?  Here’s an example of this recommendation in action.

Headline (15 Words): AcmeCo Announces New Version of Widget Which Improves Factory Production Efficiency by up to 300%

Links in Body: AcmeCo , New Widget , Improves Efficiency

Outcome: Probably not good.  Links in the release body use 33% of the keywords in the release headline.

Recommendation: Eliminate two headline keywords from the body links or add five-six words to the release headline.

9 Responses to How to Keep Your Press Releases From Getting Rejected by Google News

  1. This is tremendously helpful. I’m going to need to begin press releases for my book and I find the whole process overwhelming. Thank you for this great article.

  2. [...] @beataw på Twitter fångar vi upp följande artikel ur Business Wire med 3 handfasta tips för att ditt pressmeddelande ska publiceras av Google [...]

  3. Melina says:

    Hey Joseph,

    A lot of blogs out there recommend that headline length be limited to 65-70 characters. You say make them longer, like 22 words. Can you shed some light as to why longer is better, as opposed to what other SEO blogs recommend?

    Thanks!

    • Joseph Miller, EON Product Manager says:

      I recommend UP TO 22 words if getting into Google News is a priority. This only really applies to news content like press releases which historically have longer headlines. Nothing wrong with short headlines though!

      • Melina says:

        Hey Josh,

        Still confused. In your last example Acme’s headline was 15 words long and you recommended they either remove keywords from it…or…lengthen the headline.

        Here’s my question: Many folks like Hubspot suggest an 80 character max, because, then the full headline will be seen by G-news and it’s easy for them to pick those up…as in they don’t get truncated and then become unintelligible.

        Would you agree or disagree with them? If you agree, then I imagine it’s quite hard to keep the percentage of that headline used for keywords quite short no? (the last acme example had an 83 character headline)

        Also another question: Do you think character length vs. number of words is better or worse way to assess the length of your headline for optimal pick-up in Google?

        Thanks again!!!

        best,
        Melina

  4. Phil Dennison, Senior Marketing Specialist, Business Wire says:

    Hi, Melina —

    I’m answering on behalf of Joseph, as he’s moved on to other pastures from Business Wire. As you know, SEO is an inexact science, and with Google constantly changing its algorithms (what Panda update are we up to), it’s increasingly inexact.

    Joseph’s suggestion that his AcmeCo example increase the length of its headline would allow the issuing company to use more keywords from the headline as link anchors without running afoul of an apparent 25% penalty. But, as you indicate, other companies in this field indicate a character limit.

    At some point it becomes a matter of trial and error, perhaps even trying A/B tests with different headlines and seeing what the results are. And it always depends on what your goals are — showing up instantly in Google News, being indexed for more long tail searchers, or some other result.

    And, of course, as always, researching, choosing and deploying your keywords wisely ahead of time — especially by finding out what your customers are searching for — is always the first step for a strong SEO strategy. An interesting stat I ran across recently while attending Content Marketing World, courtesy of David Meerman Scott:

    – For web searchers looking for short phrases, 32% will click on the first result. For searchers looking for longer phrases (i.e. four or more words), only 14% will click the first result. You’re better off being #6 or #7 for a long-phrase search than you are being #2 for a short-phrase search.

    Given that, and given the probable competition for short search phrases, instinct tells me that number of words is probably better over the long term for search, but indexing in News might yield a different answer.

    This many years into the internet era, we’re still all constantly adjusting strategies. Try a few different ones, and be sure to let us know what your results are!

  5. [...] out more press release optimization tips here. You can also read up on why your press releases might not make it into Google News. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  6. [...] @beataw på Twitter fångar vi upp följande artikel ur Business Wire med 3 handfasta tips för att ditt pressmeddelande ska publiceras av Google [...]

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