Recently Google emailed webmasters to remind them that they can apply to have their site listed in Google News. There is a tickbox check list, where you describe what your `news’ site is about, add author info – links to G+ author profiles are good too – and link to a `Contact Us’ page.
But is it worth it? Will it boost your page rank for your target keywords?
Hmm, that’s a tricky one and the short answer is `It probably will help your SEO, but the cost in manpower, cash and time might not be worth it.’
Brands Don’t Always Need to Be Publishers
That’s the first thing to remember. Global companies selling mass market products and services like Nike, Virgin, Pepsi, Samsung, TUI travel or VW cars need to publish because they have stories worth telling. Blogs, You Tube and Vimeo videos, social media channels and old fashioned press releases and news features – yep, all on the check list.
But some brands don’t need to try and be `news channels’ and hire content creation teams of editors, video specialists, presenters, event bloggers, tweeters and more.
For example, if you were Rolex, would you need to produce lots of news, so that you always had something in Google News’s 30 day-ish archive?
No, you would not, because your target customer isn’t trawling the web looking for Rolex bargains, or a new franchise hut opening up next to Nando’s at the retail park. Your Rolex buyer is on a yacht somewhere, planning the downfall of a business rival using secret surveillance, table dancers and a tame journalist on the Sunday Mirror.
Besides, you have about 800 luxury lifestyle bloggers in the UK alone desperately recycling any Rolex content they can in order to generate web traffic, plus 50 watch magazines, upmarket business titles and newspapers etc all covering any snippet of Rolex related news that appears on the horizon.
All you need is a clever PR agency, not an army of news editors located in a Swiss bunker creating daily content.
Brands That Offer News Should Tread Carefully
It’s one thing hiring journalists, bloggers and photographers, but you need to make sure they are SEO trained, and understand how to walk the line between PR spin and useful, accurate product infomation.
Once you start out trying to create `something that goes viral’ you’re sunk. Follow old fashioned news guidelines; who, what, why, when etc. Tell a succinct story, stick to the point and always – I mean always – add at least three superb copyright free photos, or a professionally produced video clip.
Once you skimp on production costs by outsourcing, then your brand suffers by association. Your news channel looks cheap, then so does your product.
Finally, always remember that Google doesn’t archive news stories for long, so all that cash you spend on editors, writers, photographers etc could be for minimal coverage.
You might be better off investing in making your website more interesting, interactive or doing more special offers, competitions or dealing with customer complaints better on Twitter and Facebook.
Don’t forget Google Plus too – few people use it in the UK, but it has a disproportionately large effect on your site’s page rank and overall visibility.
Using G+ is like harnessing an SEO tidal surge – all your boats will rise.