Huge Changes with Google Publisher Center

Google Publisher Center

As of April 25, Google no longer allows publishers to add their own publications to Google Publisher Center. Previously, publishers could create an account on Google Publisher Center. Once approved, they could then create their own publication page on Google News and push content to it via RSS feeds.

Publication page on Google News
An example publication page on Google News created via Google Publisher Center

From now on, Google will instead use its algorithms to determine if a site qualifies as news and will automatically create a publication page for them and automatically determine if a news story should appear in any Google News surface. The announcement from Google also said that existing publication pages will transition to automatically created pages later this year.

How does this affect publishers?

Google News is a big source of traffic for many publications. For some, Google News can drive up to 30% of their traffic. Creating a Google Publisher Center account and Google News page was a significant tactic that news publishers used to help get more visibility.

But having a Google Publisher Center account and page on Google News was never a guarantee that your content would appear in Google News. Danny Sullivan, Google’s search liaison, clarified this recently on X:

Content is automatically considered for Google News and news surfaces, as has been the case since Dec. 2019. That hasn’t changed.

Publisher Center offered a way to create source pages manually, which did not somehow get content overall considered for Google News and news surfaces.

Other SEO experts, like Lily Ray, expressed concern:

We saw good results with Google Publisher Center.

Not pleased that Google will now be adding sites automatically.

Who is eligible? Something tells me small/mid size publishers won’t be included. Just a hunch.

Personally, I have seen great results by getting publishers into Google Publisher Center … as long as they had the right kind of news content and were executing well on digital media fundamentals.

But I have also seen a lot of publications in Google Publisher Center / Google News who should have never been there. Google News is for news not hobbies and lifestyle content. I’ve also seen a lot of abuse by companies who aren’t even media companies. To them, Google Publisher Center was just another SEO tactic.

Going forward, if you’re NOT a news site, don’t expect to show up in Google News.

Does this impact Google News Showcase?

Google News Showcase is an extension of Google News that is managed through Google Publisher Center. It’s an invitation-only program where Google actually pays participating publishers to curate articles in special panels that Google promotes throughout its news products.

The good news is that, according to a Google News Showcase representative, the changes to publication pages will not impact existing Google News Showcase relationships.

Example Google News Showcase Panels

What should publishers do now?

This isn’t the end of the world for publishers. It’s just another situation where we need to adapt.

If you want your site and content to appear in Google News (and Search and Discover for that matter), you must follow Google’s Helpful Content Guidelines, follow the basic principles of E-E-A-T (expertise, experience, authority and trust), and have a great user experience on your site.

Chris Andrews, a friend of mine and one of the only Diamond-level Product Experts for Google Publisher Center, gave some excellent recommendations on the GPC support forum for how publishers can continue to appear in Google News. I’ve expanded on his recommendations and added a few of my own:

  • Create quality news content – If you don’t have timely, unique, well-written and newsworthy content that actually meets the needs of your readers, then forget about getting into Google News.
  • Show that you are trustworthy / transparent – Trust is a big issue with readers and thus with Google. Make your physical location, staff information, bios, article bylines / datelines, non-generic contact info, ownership info, mission statement, editorial polices, etc. easily discoverable and navigable.
  • Follow the Google News content policiesGoogle has published guidelines for the content expectations, advertising expectations, and transparency it expects from quality news sources.
  • Follow Google’s best practices for article / news pagesThese guidelines cover Google’s expectations for everything from URL redirects and structured data, to publication dates, titles, images and more.
  • Create a good user experience on your site – The UI/UX of your website is critical. It must be a good user experience on both desktop and mobile, but especially on mobile since Google indexes sites mobile-first.
  • Ensure your site is fast, stable and secure – Google calls this Core Web Vitals. This can get technical, but bottom line, Google likes sites that are fast, secure, and don’t shift around as content or ads load.
  • Submit your search engine and news sitemap to Google Search Console – Every publisher should use Google Search Console to understand how Google sees your website and is driving traffic to it. If you’re a news publisher, you should submit both a regular sitemap and a news sitemap to Google Search Console.

All of this goes back to one mission … serve your readers. Create great content that is unique and meets the needs of your readers, demonstrate trustworthiness and transparency for your readers, and give your reader a great user experience on your site.

If you do these fundamentals well, Google will still find and surface your content to the right people. You may actually be surprised to see your traffic from Google News increase.

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