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):
- In your article page, avoid using the article title, or a substring of the title, as an active hyperlink.
- Don’t include a date or time in your article title.
- 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.