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Apple News, Google News, Google Newsstand: What marketers need to know

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Apple News, Google News, Google Newsstand: What marketers need to know


Apple News, Google News and its subsection, Google Newsstand, can drive significant traffic for publishers and content creators. Each platform has its advantages and shortcomings. Getting familiar with how these services work can help you maximize your opportunity for visibility.  

What are Apple News and Google News?

They are syndication platforms with a strong emphasis on mobile. They allow users to search for articles based on topics or publishers, and they give publishers ways to monetize via ads and tools to measure performance. Both platforms can drive more traffic to your content (via search or their “top stories” sections) and generate ad-based revenue for your brand.

Google News is available on Android, iOS and the web. Users can access content within the “for you” and “headlines” sections, as well as by following or searching a particular topic or publisher.    

Google Newsstand is a tab within the Google News app, not a separate platform (a revamped Google News app replaced Google Play Newsstand in 2018). It displays an edition of your content for mobile and tablet from your RSS and media feeds, YouTube channel, social stream, and other sources.

Apple News is only available on Mac and iOS. Users can access content in the “today” section or by navigating to the channels and topics that they follow. Unlike Google News, search results are presented as channels or topics, meaning that, even if a user searches an exact article title, the results won’t lead them directly to that article.

redbull_apple_news_search_results

Apple has also launched a paid subscription service called News+, a service that offers digital subscriptions to participating magazines and newspapers for $10 a month. We will dig into News+ further as the service matures. It’s not a syndication service and publishers can’t currently register for it.

The biggest differences between Google News and Apple News for publishers

An important distinction for marketers to be aware of is that Google News is intended for news publications and content — not general content marketing. Having a website is a prerequisite, and outlets that want to be included on Google News must undergo an approval process.  

Having a website is not a requirement to be included on Apple News, making it a more viable option for brands and content creators that don’t have a strong news slant.

Bodybuilding.com presence on Apple News (left) and Google News (right).

Google News auto-plays video previews, while Apple’s videos play on click.

An Apple News or Google Newsstand account can be a more appropriate option for content marketers who aren’t publishing news and for publishers want more control over their branding and monetization options.

Tripadvisor’s Google Newsstand edition.

Getting started

Apple News. Go to the News Publisher app. Sign in using the Apple ID associated with your business or publication. From there, you can customize your branding with a logo and cover image, assign user roles and link to your CMS.

The final step to getting your channel in front of users is submitting at least three articles to show the Apple News team the kind of content you publish. You can draft articles directly in the interface, upload them from your computer or import them from your CMS. Once approved, you’ll be able to push your content to Apple News via RSS or using Apple News Format (ANF).

Google News. Go to the Google News Publisher Center to verify site ownership and request inclusion by entering your website details (such as news section URLs). It can take up to three weeks for the Google News team to review an inclusion request.

Google doesn’t provide specific feedback regarding inclusion but offers information for applicants on the Google News Help Community. Rejected sites are eligible to re-apply after 60 days.

Google Newsstand. By signing up through the Google News Producer Tool, publishers can create an “edition”. This is similar to Apple News “channels”. Creating an edition gives you more control over branding, the ability to serve ads and even paywall options. It is not necessary to create a Newsstand edition to register for inclusion on Google News. Editions appear in the Newsstand section of the Google News app. There are templates available, and you can add slideshows, videos, maps and other types of content.

How to publish content

Apple News. When you create your channel, you’ll be asked whether you want to publish using RSS or ANF. If you’re already publishing on your website, then using RSS is the simplest option to deliver your content to Apple News. This can get your articles to users faster, but it does mean that you’ll miss out on some nifty customizations and options.

ANF allows you to access richer analytics and take advantage of Apple’s CDN for faster loading. It also facilitates a more immersive experience by enabling publishers to incorporate effects, animations, galleries, pull quotes and dynamic text sizing for accessibility.

Once you’ve selected between the two, you can author content directly from the News Publisher app, via the Apple News API, or through your CMS with the help of a plugin. Plugins are available for WordPress, Drupal, Craft, and Squarespace. 

Google News. Google News surfaces content from publisher feeds primarily, but also by crawling the web. You can facilitate the discovery process by creating a Google News sitemap with news-specific tags and submitting it in Google Search Console

Google News now automatically renders the AMP versions of your articles when available and can be rendered. However, you should also provide an RSS/ATOM feed of your content as well. That will ensure readers can access your content if they are offline or using older software versions. It is possible to opt out of AMP rendering within Google News Producer, if you choose.

Google Newsstand. Newsstand publishers can opt to send content via RSS or AMP.

amp-play-newsstand

AMP articles allow for greater control over your content’s visual elements and allows traffic to be tracked within your AMP analytics.

Feed-based and AMP traffic will appear in Google analytics as news.google.com and news.url.google.com referrers. You can set up tracking in Google News Producer to get more details and track content that is rendered natively within the Google News Android and iOS apps.

How to optimize for Google News, Apple News

First and foremost, adhering to proper ethical and journalistic standards is the basis for creating quality content, regardless of where you choose to publish or syndicate. Take these standards into account to maximize your chances of getting featured. They include (but are not limited to):

  • Ensuring that your content is original.
  • Writing accurate headlines.
  • Using credible sources and fact-checking.
  • Respecting privacy rights.
  • Applying correct publishing dates and other metadata.
  • Publishing with regular frequency.

Apple News. Users are prompted to select a few publications to follow the first time they use Apple News, so optimizing for discovery starts with uploading a logo and cover image. 

Apple News discover section: Make sure that your cover image is 600x600px and your logo is legible.

Within their respective channels, publishers can divide content into different sections. Many publishers make the first section their “all” or “top” stories section. You can also “promote” articles that will appear in the “more from” section after someone reads one of your articles.

You can add a canonical URL linking back to the website version of your article. When the link is shared with non-iOS or Mac users, this will direct them to the website version. If you don’t add a canonical URL, those users will be asked to view the article using the Apple News app.

Within your channel,  you can group your articles into sections, but Apple News only pulls content from the first section when it generates a user’s “for you” feed. Make sure you’re publishing your most relevant content to that first, default section of your channel.

Apple’s top stories are curated by real people — the Apple News Team. That means you’ll need to publish well-written, informative content and establish a positive reputation to increase your chances of being included in their curated stories.

Google Newsstand. Since Google Newsstand editions use RSS feeds to pull in content, it’s important to ensure you’re properly configured. Enter your Google Analytics credentials to track how your content is performing within the app.

You can nominate your edition to appear in the featured content of Newsstand. Before doing so, ensure that all your content is up to date, nothing is duplicated, and that all videos and images are optimized. The Featured tab is available in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, and India at this point.

google_newsstand_featured_section

If you’ve met the criteria above, you can email news-promotions@google.com to be considered for promotion. Google’s own support section states, “We’re happy to consider promoting your sections for major events in your applicable country (e.g. major elections, award shows, sports championships, etc.).” It may be worthwhile to seek opportunities where your brand’s content overlaps with such events.

Google News. Much like its search engine, algorithms are largely responsible for what populates a user’s Google News feed. These algorithms take into account the following factors when ranking content:

  • Freshness of content.
  • Originality of content.
  • Rich textual content.
  • Diversity of content.
  • User preferences for topics and publishers.

The algorithms also personalize users’ “for you” and “favorites” sections based on their past Google activity and preferences.  

The Google News Curation Team can add temporary topics to help users follow popular news stories around high-interest topics such as major events or the latest development in a personal interest. It will create a structure, such as sub-topics and related items, for these cases, but the stories featured still get pulled in algorithmically.

As is the case with Newsstand, being the first to cover breaking news or a trending topic may increase your odds of getting featured in these topics.

Advertising options in Apple News, Google Newsstand

Both platforms offer ways to monetize your content via display ads and both are compatible with Google Ad Manager (although some features aren’t supported on Apple News), enabling you to designate a target audience as well as track campaign performance.

Apple News. Publishers who sell their own ads get to keep 100% of the revenue from them. If Apple backfills your ad inventory, it takes a 30% cut of the revenue.

Google Newsstand. By default, Google-managed ads will display within your content. You can elect to turn off ads, manage them yourself, or display a mixture of your own ads as well as Google’s. Ad placement, however, is optimized by Google.

As mentioned above, the right choice for your brand depends on the content you’re creating and your goals. For example, if your brand maintains an industry news blog, getting included in Google News might be the best way to increase your traffic. If you’re a content marketer looking to entertain audiences and increase exposure for your content, Apple News and Google Newsstand can be effective ways to get your content in front of readers on-the-go.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.



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Leaning into SEO as Google shifts from search engine to portal

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Leaning into SEO as Google shifts from search engine to portal


Google’s SERP is almost unrecognizable compared to what it looked like just a few years ago. The changes aren’t just on the surface, either: Google is becoming less search engine, more portal, said Jessica Bowman, CEO of SEO In-house  and Search Engine Land editor at large, during her keynote at SMX Advanced this month.

This evolution is fundamentally altering the customer journey from search, with Google owning the process by enabling users to bypass clicks to websites to get information, take action and even transact. This will have repercussions for just about every company. Bowman offered several plans of action for SEOs preparing for these changes and said investments in SEO will be more important than ever.

Build and train your SEO army

“When I evaluate an organization, I find that every role has activities they do that affect SEO, and SEO needs to be integrated into those activities,” Bowman told Search Engine Land, “The SEO team has to figure out what those are and then train people to do that.”

Larger companies should incorporate SEO into their daily vernacular, said Bowman. This way, you can conscript dozens, if not hundreds, of staff members into your “SEO army,” get them advocating for it, quoting best practices, involving the dedicated SEO team and flagging missing requirements on a day-to-day basis.

Although non-SEOs aren’t expected to be authorities on the topic, their 20% of effort stands to make 80% of the impact on your brand’s overall optimization, Bowman said. It will be up to your main SEO team as well as upper management to empower them.

Expand writing competencies

Product information, news stories, how-to guides and various other types of content may receive higher visibility on SERPs if they appear as a knowledge panel, within a carousel or as a featured snippet. Your writers, be they bloggers, copywriters, social media managers or anything in between, need to be creating content that is comprehensive and authoritative enough to compete for organic visibility, said Bowman.

Writers across the company need to master concepts such as SEO-friendly JavaScript, schema, writing for the long tail, rich snippets and the “People also ask” section in the search results. As with any process, regularly reviewing copy and providing feedback can help assure quality and enable you to get the most from your efforts.

Master Schema and JavaScript for SEO

Understanding and correctly implementing schema on your site can help crawlers make sense of your content and, consequently, increase the odds that it gets displayed as a featured snippet. Featured snippets and other rich results, of course, illustrate the double-edged sword nature of Google’s portal-like interface: They increase your content’s visibility and yet users may not click through to your site because the information they need has already been presented to them.

Event, FAQ, speakable content and much more — Google now supports dozens of markups for various content types, making schema a valuable tool for modern SEO. If you’re using WordPress’ CMS, Yoast has revamped its schema implementation to streamline structured data entry, but it’s still important for your development team to be able to verify the quality of your code.

With Googlebot’s latest update, it can now see more of your content than ever. However, limitations still exist and brands should be cognizant of JavaScript issues that may hinder indexing. Before coding JavaScript, your teams need to be discussing what content search engines will and won’t be able to see. It’s also worth keeping in mind that other search engines may not be as equipped to render your content.

“Particularly for large, global companies, they need to think about these smaller search engines that are less sophisticated than Google but still drive a decent amount of traffic in international markets,” Bowman emphasized.

Monitor and study mobile SERPs

“The problem is, a lot of us work on our computers, and so we’re checking things out on the desktop interface,” Bowman pointed out. Beginning on July 1, all new sites will be indexed using Google’s mobile-first indexing, with older sites getting monitored and evaluated for mobile-first indexing readiness. Since the majority of searches now happen on mobile, brands need to closely examine the mobile SERP and account for updates and changes in order to create content that’s optimized for the devices their audiences are using.

“I think the reason that we, as an industry, have not been talking about this is because of that — we’re not really studying the search results on a mobile interface to truly see they’re [Google] taking it over, and as mobile takes over, they’re going to gobble up some of our traffic. I think once they’ve got it [the mobile SERP] mastered and they know it’s a strong user experience, it’s only a matter of time before they do that to desktop as well.”

Take advantage of big data

“Hiring a data scientist is better than hiring an SEO to study the data,” Bowman stated simply. Data scientists are better equipped to identify commonalities and trends that you can use to improve your optimization efforts, inform your content strategy and enhance user experience (UX).

During her keynote, Bowman also recommended that brands make use of the Google Chrome User Experience Report to compare site speed to the competition as well as reference UX metrics from popular destinations across the web. You can then be more proactive.

Google’s search results interface has changed dramatically, but brands and agencies that can shake the inertia, rally their staffs and reorient their processes will be the first to spot new opportunities and novel ways to reach their audiences.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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Yoast, Google devs propose XML Sitemaps for WordPress Core

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Yoast, Google devs propose XML Sitemaps for WordPress Core


The inclusion of XML Sitemaps as a WordPress Core feature has been proposed by a group of Yoast and Google team members as well as other contributors. In addition to a basic XML Sitemap, the proposal also introduces an XML Sitemaps API that would extend functionality for developers and webmasters.

The proposed XML Sitemaps structure. Image sourced from Make WordPress Core.

What it’ll include. The proposal states that XML Sitemaps will be enabled by default, allowing for indexing of the following content types:

  • Homepage
.
  • Posts page
.
  • Core post types (Pages and Posts)
.
  • Custom post types
.
  • Core taxonomies (Tags and Categories)
.
  • Custom taxonomies
.
  • Users (Authors)
.

It’s worth keeping in mind that your WordPress site’s automatically generated robots.txt file will also reference your sitemap index.

What it won’t include. Although the proposed feature will include the majority of WordPress content types and meet search engine minimum requirements, the initial integration will not cover image, video or news sitemaps, XML Sitemaps caching mechanisms or user-facing changes such as UI controls that exclude individual posts or pages from the sitemap.

The XML Sitemaps API. Here’s how the API will let you manipulate your XML Sitemaps:

  • Provide a custom XML Stylesheet
.
  • Add extra sitemaps and sitemap entries
.
  • Add extra attributes to sitemap entries
.
  • Exclude a specific post, post type, taxonomy or term from the sitemap
.
  • Exclude a specific author from the sitemap
.
  • Exclude specific authors with a specific role from the sitemap
.

Why we should care. Sitemaps facilitate indexing by providing web crawlers with your site’s URLs. If implemented, this might mean one less third-party plugin that brands and webmasters have to rely on for their SEO efforts. As a WordPress Core feature, we can expect wider compatibility and support than we might get from third-party solutions.

Poorly optimized plugins can also slow down your site, which can have a negative impact on your organic traffic. This default option from WordPress may not replace plugins like Yoast SEO because they often include other features in addition to XML Sitemaps, but its availability has the potential to provide us with more flexibility over which plugins we install.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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Yoast SEO 11.4 adds FAQ structured data, UX improvements

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Yoast SEO 11.4 adds FAQ structured data, UX improvements


Yoast SEO’s latest update enhances its FAQ blocks by automatically generating structured data to accompany questions and answers. The update also introduces some UX improvements and addresses issues with AMP pages when viewed in Reader mode.

How to use it. Yoast’s FAQ structured data implementation is only compatible with the WordPress block editor (also known as Gutenberg; available on versions 5.0 and newer). Webmasters can get started by selecting the FAQ block, adding a question, inputting the answer and an image (if applicable) and repeating the process for all frequently asked questions.

The Yoast FAQ block.

The corresponding FAQpage structured data will be generated in the background and added to Yoast’s structured data graph, which may help search engines identify your FAQ page and figure out how it fits into the overall scheme of your site.

A new action and filter were also introduced to make this integration more flexible. The wpseo_pre-schema_block-type_<block-type> lets you adjust the graph output based the blocks on the page and the wpseo_schema_block_<block-type> filter enables you to filter graph output on a per-block basis.

Other improvements. Yoast has also linked the SEO and readability scores in the Classic Editor and relocated the Focus keyphrase field to the top of meta box and sidebar to make it easier to find. And, they’ve resolved issues with AMP pages when viewed in Reader mode.

Why we should care. At this year’s I/O conference, Google announced support for FAQ markup, which may mean that searchers will be presented with FAQs as rich results more frequently. Being able to easily and efficiently equip our FAQ sections with structured data can yield better odds of earning prominent placement on SERPs.

For more on Yoast’s structured data implementation, check out our coverage on their 11.0 (general schema implementation), 11.1 (image and video), 11.2 (custom schema) and 11.3 (image and avatar) updates.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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