Google news raises the bar
Google news is apparently tightening up its criteria for entry in an attempt to maintain its standards and clamp down on sites trying to take advantage of its more winnable searches. As well as raising the bar for new sites, the changes have apparently led to existing sites getting binned.
A spokesman for Google confirmed to Search Engine Land, a well-regarded blog, that a number of sites have been removed from the index. Apparently Google is worried about spammy sites spoiling its search results.
Google news can be fertile ground for sites looking to make headway on highly-competitive terms. The news index contains far fewer pages than the universal index, meaning valuable searches are often more winnable.
When it comes to searches for news-worthy topics, top news results are often given prominent positions on universal results pages, which can earn sites links ahead of millions of competing pages.
News is no longer the reserve of traditional media outlets and when it comes to niche topics in particular commercial organisations and non-profits are often well-placed to produce targeted and engaging articles.
Sites regularly publishing relevant news stories ought to be able to get indexed in Google news and should have nothing to fear from tighter rules. It could mean that it takes longer to get approved, but once in, sites should find fewer spammy competitors outranking them and turning off users.
In our experience, sites that push their products and services in and around their news articles always run the risk of getting rejected from Google news. But it is worth remembering that well-optimised news stories have benefits beyond Google news inclusion. They can, for example, provide a great way to naturally include target keywords and to attract valuable links from third party sites.