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Google+ Hangouts - Office Hours - 17 February 2015

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JOHN MUELLER: OK. Welcome everyone to today's Google Webmaster Central and Google News office hours Hangouts. We have Stacie with us, who's going to present something to you and help answer your Google News specific questions.

STACIE CHAN: OK. Great. Thanks so much, John. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everyone, depending on where in the world you are. The Google News team is very excited that all of you are joining us. And again, we thank the Webmaster Tools team for letting us be a guest appearance again in your Office Hours. For those of you who did join the first one where Google News presented, that was much more of an introductory overview. Today's presentation is primarily going to focus on the new Google News Publisher Center, which is a very exciting tool for our team to enable publishers to glean a lot more information about how their information is being used by our Google News team. So John, could you bring up the presentation? Excellent. All right. So like I said, today we're going to be focusing on how to use the Google News Publisher Center. I'm Stacie Chan. I'm the community manager for Google News. And there's my Twitter handle if you feel so inclined to tweet during this presentation. OK. Great. Next slide, please, John. All right. So what is the Google News Publisher Center? We developed this tool back in August because we had heard from publishers that they felt that we weren't being as transparent as we possibly could. So this tool is really the one-stop shop for publishers to manage their accounts in Google News. So you can do things like quickly and easily updating your site's information, and we felt that this tool is extremely important to help us better improve the discovery and classification of your news content. Barry's saying that you guys can't see the presentation. OK. You guys can see it now. Great. Thumbs up from Barry. So largely since August when the Google News Publisher Center launch, we've gotten really great feedback. We've seen a lot of usage from over 60,000 publishers who are in the Google News database, because the Publisher Center is now available in every language and country that Google News is in. So one testimonial from a publisher was, "Before the Publisher Center I had no idea what new sections Google News was crawling from. Now I'm assured that my articles are crawled and in the proper place." And that's a sentiment we hope that every publisher has. If you haven't checked out the Google News Publisher Center, please do. I will go over those steps and how to do so in the following slides. Next slide, please. So here's the URL. Hopefully you guys are watching on a browser where you can open another tab. Please check it out. This is the screenshot that you'll first see when you open up this link, whether or not you're in Google News. So as you can see, I am the owner of, for example. This is the screenshot that I see. I have been a verified owner of However, because that site is not in Google News, it's clearly not a news site, you'll see that there's a button where I can actually request inclusion in Google News. And you'll see more than one site if you own more than one site in Webmaster Tools. And if your site is in Google News, you'll actually see different buttons under that Details and Sections column. So next slide, please? This is what you see actually when you click on the Details button. That image on the left will show various pieces of information. The four most important components to be a site in Google News are your name, your site URL, your country, and your language. And the country and language are really important for us to determine which edition in Google News you should be. So, for example, an edition is the Canadian-French edition, or the Canadian-English edition. It's always a combo of your site's country and language. Now moving to the right side, this is what you see when you click on the Sections button in the Publisher Center. Your News sections are the different URLs where your news content lives. Usually those are just subdomains of your main site. Next slide, please? Another thing you can do in the Publisher Center is apply relevant labels at the source level and at the section level. What the source level labels tell us is what type of site as a whole your new site is. So, for example, if your site is a blog you'll usually see a blog label there, or if you're a satire site like "The Onion," that would get applied to your whole site. Over on the right side, your section labels start getting a little more granular. You apply labels to your news sections. So you tell us if that FIFA World Cup site is a sports site. So it can help us better classify your news articles within the sections in Google News. And if you see at the top of that image, there's a little button that said Add Editors' Pick. I'll go over what that new feature is. Next slide, please? So Editors' Picks is a very, very cool feature, we think, on the Google News home page. It's actually my favorite section because it's the one widget on the home page where editors have complete control over what articles appear in their Editors' Picks. So that's why we call Editors' Picks your can't miss stories. Our team doesn't provide any editorial judgment on what appears in that widget. Those are completely selected by your publications. And it's up to five articles that you think deserve to be there. What we've heard from publishers is that these stories tend to be the Evergreen stories, or the stories that you thought would have gotten a lot more traffic yesterday, and you want to get more clicks out of that story. So you put that in your Editors' Picks. And we say potentially can appear on the home page because every home page, for every user, looks different. Especially as more and more users start to personalize their home pages. So, for example, this is a screenshot of mine. "The New Yorker," for me, is a preferred source because I love reading them. And so as a user I've made "The New Yorker" a preferred source, so I'm much more likely to see "The New Yorker's" Editors' Picks on my personal home page. Next slide, please? So now that I've explained what Editors' Picks feeds are. How do you go about creating one? And how do you go about submitting one through the Publisher Center? So it's a very simple. It's just a standard RSS feed to create this Editors' Picks feed. We even have a template in our Help Center that you can just copy and paste, and then substitute out those five links to your articles. And again, it's five handpicked stories. The only requirement that we ask is that they're journalistic articles, that they're not ads or spammy articles, or anything like that. And so I don't know if you can copy and paste that link from a slide, but there it is. Or you can just visit the Google News Help Center and just search for Editors' Picks feed. And you can take a look at the standard RSS feed template. OK. Next slide, please? So how to submit this. So, again, going back to that screen shot from within the Publisher Center you would just click on the Add Editors' Pick button. And you'll get either one of two messages after you copy and paste your RSS feed's URL. You'll get, congratulations, your Editors' Picks feed has been submitted successfully. And there's really nothing more you have to do on your end. You'll see your Editors' Picks feed listed as one of your news sections. Or if you submit your RSS feed and there are errors you'll get the message, unfortunately, there are errors which will prevent your Editors' Picks feed from displaying. And then below you'll see a list of various errors that could possibly be wrong. OK. Next slide, please? And so I just wanted to share a case study from one publisher who did implement Editors' Picks. The Gawker Team owns nine different properties and the created an Editors' Picks feed from "Gizmodo" to "Gawker" to all their other publications. And you can read the article there. I included the link, but the most intriguing thing for our team after they did this case study completely independently. They just shared it with us and we thought it was really neat. There was an obvious increase in traffic, so quantitatively that was a huge benefit. But also in the quality side they said that the traffic they were getting from the Editors' Picks was much better. They found that a lot of these readers were new readers to their site. And that these readers spent 60% longer reading their articles than their other readers who did not come through Editors' Picks. And the way we do that is once you create the Editors' Picks we'll actually append the CGI parameter for you at the end of all your Editors' Picks article URLs. You'll see the direct traffic coming from these five stories. Thank you, Barry, for listing the help [INAUDIBLE] link to, I can't remember which article I just mentioned, to the Editors' Picks feed. OK. Next slide, please? So the second part of the presentation is now that I've told you all these great things you can do within the Publisher Center, how do you access this? So you go to that link, like I had mentioned in the other slide, check it out. And the first step, next slide, please, is to make sure your site is in Google News. You can still access that link, as I showed you. I, as a personal individually, I'm not in Google News, but I could request inclusion for if I wanted to. If you're not in Google News, go ahead and apply. The second step is, next slide, please? You to verify ownership of your site in Webmaster Tools. You just go to that link and you'll see the different sites that you own. So you can see there, that would be a screen shot if I hadn't verified ownership of There's a neat little blue link and the Webmaster team is very great about walking you through all the steps to verify ownership. The two methods that Google News prefers are one, the domain name provider method, or secondly, the HTML file verification method.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: But just the HTML verification, it's not the same as the first one, right? Because when you submit your original websites in the Webmaster tools you get that HTML verification. It won't override the other one that I have in the FTP, right?

STACIE CHAN: That's a good question, Barry. So we prefer the domain name provider method because, in a sense, we want you to prove ownership at the highest level. So you can prove ownership of, but we really prefer you to prove

ownership of and then everything that falls below that a subdomain level, you would then have access to. So, yes, those aren't exactly the same. We prefer in order that first one, the domain name provider method.


STACIE CHAN: Mhmm. OK. And number three. And then you just have to log in with the same email account that you used to prove ownership of your site in Webmaster Tools. So please check out the Publisher Center and for the most part it's a very self-serve tool. We hope to start overlaying many, many more features in the Publisher Center. It's really the foundation of how we view our communications with all the publishers that are in Google News. So we have more features coming down the pipeline. Nothing I can announce publicly yet, but stay tuned for more. And I believe I have one more slide, John. Ah, OK. And there's a few more help resources in case you guys have any further questions, or you want to do a little more light bedtime reading. The Help Center is a treasure trove of information. I highlighted those two sections that have information specifically about the Publisher Center that you can read more. The Google News help forum. You can find me on there, as well as our Google News top contributors, who are our experts. They're daily answering many of your questions, as well as just having lively discussions, too. Feel free to post anything about Google News. You can suggest product improvements, or feature suggestions, pretty much anything. And then finally, last slide, I believe. Just want to give a quick plug for our Google News Newsletter. We actually sent out the inaugural newsletter last month in January, which featured an introduction to the Publisher Center, much of the same information that is actually in this presentation, but also product updates, like, we'll actually crawl your off domain images now. We talked about Editors' Picks. And we're actually getting ready for our second Google News Newsletter, which we're sending out probably in Q2, early April, around there. So we highly suggest that you read it. There are a few ways you can get it in your inbox. The first one is to, one, make sure your site is on Google News, and to actually get it to your inbox you have to prove ownership of your site in Webmaster Tools, similar to the step that I detailed about getting access to your Publisher Center. And don't worry. Even if your site is not in Google News we post the Newsletter in the Help Center and the forum, so you can still read all of that information. The last Newsletter that we sent out in January was only in English, French, Italian, and German. This newsletter, we're going to try to translate into many, many more languages so we can reach as many of our publishers as we possibly can. [INAUDIBLE], you want it in Russian. All right. We'll try to do Russian as well. OK. So that about wraps up the presentation portion, so we can open it up to questions, but I did get a great question from a publisher in Vancouver that I quickly wanted to go over. She was asking, and John can probably help me out with this, she was asking about the errors that you see in your Webmaster Tools account. This is probably the go to place to determine if one of your news articles wasn't crawled. We'll actually list the specific URL and what error it generates. And she was asking if we could surface those errors in a more timely matter. But, in reality, those errors are surfaced in pretty much as real time as it gets. We generate those errors based on the articles that you submit in your site map. So we really can't get those errors much faster. John, did you have any other comment about those errors?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I think the Site Maps team this is really good at processing the Site Maps files and finding errors in the Site Map files. And bringing that up, essentially as quickly as possible. So that's kind of a great place to get that information.

STACIE CHAN: Oh, and John actually mentioned a good point to me and our Google News team. You could have an error on every single one of your articles. That doesn't penalize or do anything of that sort to your site as a whole, right, John?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. So this is a common question we get from Webmasters, in particular, is I have 10,000 crawl errors on my website. Is this a problem or not? And in general, if these are crawl errors for URLs that you don't want to have indexed, then that's perfectly fine. And that won't negatively affect the rest of your website's ranking. So just because you have some parts of your site with errors, those are specific to those individual URLs. They wouldn't be affecting the rest of your site's ranking.

STACIE CHAN: Great. Thanks, John. OK. So I think that was the only question that I got personally ahead of time. So happy to open it up. I think, John, that's where you manage the questions.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. I think there were some Google News questions that were submitted in the Q&A. Let me try to run through them. I don't know if I will surprise you with these. We'll see. Does Google News use markup in any way?

STACIE CHAN: How do you mean? Can you clarify that question in any way? During the extraction and crawl process?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. So Let's see. The rest of the question here, is my observations indicate that it doesn't. I see article two long errors and news box crawl errors even though the title, headline, actual article body are marked by So using structured data markup to essentially define which part of the page the article.

STACIE CHAN: That's a very good question. I think it really varies article by article. I'm not sure who asked that question, but happy to take that offline and work with you individually, and take a look at your site.

JOHN MUELLER: That might also be something, I guess, that he could post in the forum and--

STACIE CHAN: Yes. I would actually be great. Thanks for the reminder, John.

BARRY: There's also content, specifically my site, that I specifically do not include in the site map for the news feed because I don't like getting recaps. And they also come up in the Google News site errors, crawl errors as RO fragmented or have problems with the article. I specifically do not want them to be included in Google News, but the Google Webmaster crawl errors page shows news errors for it when it shouldn't be included. Is there a way to exclude content from Google News where it doesn't show up in Google Webmaster tools?

STACIE CHAN: Is there a way to exclude Google News content so it doesn't show up on Webmaster Tools? So really where we're crawling from are those new sections that you list in the Publisher Center. I think what publishers sometimes forget is that we'll crawl almost everything on the page. So a lot of publishers think that, well, I listed the home URL on, but there's a lot of other links on that that may not be a news article that we'll attempt to extract. So I think publishers should be very careful about what articles they include in each section, but that's why you can also use robots, because we realize a news section isn't going to be 100% news articles. We want the page to be very robust with all sorts of content. And we completely get that. So robots is a very safe way to exclude that non-news content that you don't want showing up in Google News. Or you could always use site map only crawl, which is also equally accepted.

BARRY: Site map only crawl?

STACIE CHAN: Yes. Instead of listing all of your news sections in the Publisher Center you can tell us that you only want us to crawl articles from your site map, not news sections at all. And you can actually do that through the Publisher Center by contacting us because then we'll have to then note that you want to only be crawled from your site map. You can submit a site map through your Webmaster Tools account I we'll crawl that in addition to your news sections, but if you're really concerned that we're crawling non-news content, I would suggest submitting a site map and letting us know that you want us to only crawl the articles from that site map.

AUDIENCE: Will do. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. Can a press release be picked up by Google News?

STACIE CHAN: Yes, a press release can, but only if the press releases lives on a site that is in Google News. And we do accept press release sites. You even saw from a screenshot on a slide during the presentation. That is a label that we have for sources. So the short answer is yes. We don't allow individual articles to be crawled though. So if you're a PR agency that is trying to get a press release circulated on Google News you have to actually have a website that is first accepted.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. Here's one about the site maps. The unknown new site error in news XTML Site Maps tab keeps popping up for several of my sites and disappears when I resubmit. All the site names are matched to their names in the Google News database. Is this a known bug?

STACIE CHAN: No, it's not a known bug. We do get this error a lot of times from publishers. I would have to take a look at your exact site, but we did address the main cause of this for most publishers is that the name doesn't match the name that we have in our database. But the great news is with the Publisher Center it's so much easier for you now as a publisher to check what name we have on file for you. You log into the Publisher Center. You make sure that the name in our database matches the name on your site map. The URL also has to match exactly. The URL of your site map also has to match exactly. So even a discrepancy in the www will make a difference. And it'll say that the name on your site map doesn't match the name that we have in our database. The other two things that have to match exactly are your language and country. So those four criteria have to match exactly what's on your site map and what's in our database. That's the most common error. Other than that, if you're still finding the error, please write in to our team and we can take a look at that.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. Let's see. We have one here. In the Google News Publisher Help it suggested that publishers don't use date or time in their headlines. Is this referring to numeric digits or an actual date/time? Is a year or a monetary digit in the title OK? Is the issue with digits to the URL?

STACIE CHAN: Interesting. I'm trying to pull up that page to see the exact verbiage. We don't have any editorial guidelines. The last thing we want to do is tell you how to write your headlines. From a user perspective, I see the year in headlines all the time. "The Top Stories of 2014," I've seen that in Google News hundreds of times. So that's definitely not a problem. Having years or dates in the URL should not be a problem in terms of article extraction. In fact, we do require that you have a unique set of at least three digits in your article URLs in order for us to crawl it. That's what we call the three digit rule. So if you wanted to ping, I think I closed the chat. Where did it go? If you would like to add the URL to that Help Center article I can take a look at it. Or again, write in to me, write into our team, and I can provide some further details on that.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. That kind of leads into the next question. Here we go. How do you write in to the Google News team? How do you contact you guys?

STACIE CHAN: Excellent question. So within the Help Center there's a tiny Contact Us button in the top right corner. And then it just leads through a series of drop-downs so we can help categorize your issue. And myself, or a member of our team will get back to you. But really the quickest way to get an answer is through the forum. Our TCs, shout out to our wonderful top contributors who are our product experts, will probably get back to you a lot faster than my team or I would in absolute candor. So you can also try the Google News Help Forum. Let me actually just put a link in the Hangout chat box. OK. So that's the Google News Forum link.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. I'll copy the URLs into the video description afterwards.

STACIE CHAN: Oh, great. Thank, John.

JOHN MUELLER: So that they're kind of visible there. Oh, wow. The questions keep bumping around. Could you please clarify why my website was rejected in Google News? We're working very hard to make it one of the best bitcoin news websites of the world. Where can I get help?

STACIE CHAN: The old, why was my site rejected question. Obviously, it's very much a case by case basis. And just as the news industry is involving in what it considers a news site. Google News is closely monitoring that, making some really tough decisions on what sites are included and which sites aren't. Probably not the exact venue to go over your specific site, but for those specific questions actually, the forum is really the best spot to get specific advice. For kind of policy reasons, the Google News Team doesn't provide very specific advice because we found that in the past publishers would latch on to the little details that we suggest and then say, OK, well I fixed that or edited that. Now I can be accepted into Google News? It's a ton of different criteria that goes into accepting or rejecting a Google News site. But in the forum the top contributors and anyone really can chime in and provide some really, really detailed solid advice for how to improve the quality of your site, and possibly get it accepted into Google News.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: But brands can get accepted if they want to, right? If they have some really serious journalistic authors, or, let's say, helping small businesses and so on. Would that be something? I mean, can a site like that get accepted?

STACIE CHAN: Did you say brands? I missed the first part of your question.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Let's say a brand has a blog, right, which you can accept. Can a brand also be accepted? [INAUDIBLE]

STACIE CHAN: Right. And a lot of times we find that there are companies or brands that are very much experts in certain fields or industries. And that they do provide fantastic quality news content. So what we'll do is we'll accept their news sections. And we really ask that publishers respect that, that they don't add their, I don't know, sales page, or other non-news sections to the Publisher Center. And there is frequent checks to make sure that only news content is crawled and indexed in Google News.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: OK. I mean, it's news, but at the same time I'm still seeing some news kind of act like blogs. I mean, it's not necessarily news.

STACIE CHAN: Baruch, this is a fun back and forth. I think you ask every single person in this Hangout what is news, and whether a certain site should be accepted into Google News, you'll probably get 11 different opinions. And that's what makes my job so interesting but also really challenging. We accept blogs in Google News. We think they're great sources of information. They may not be defined as a news site for you, or for me, or for another member on my team, but blogs, we found in this day and age, in this stage of Google News, that they provide valuable information to readers [INAUDIBLE] Google News.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Thank you so much for the question. Thanks.


JOHN MUELLER: All right. Barry, you had a question.

BARRY: Yeah. So on that topic about sites that might not consider to be news, using the Editors' Picks for that, I'm always cautious about ever even using it because I don't think that the average people are interested in if John's saying that link building should be dead, or alive, or whatever, I don't think, even though it's a huge topic for the search engine marketing community, it's something that average people don't really care about when ISIS is out there and stuff like that. So what do publishers that are covering a very niche topic, should they stay away from using the Editors' Pick? Or what do you recommend?

STACIE CHAN: I always hesitate to give editorial advice, but I can speak more on the quantitative side, what we see in terms of traffic, if you want potentially more traffic to your site, we recommend using Editors' Picks. If you like potentially converting new users to your site, we recommend using Editors' Picks. And that's why I wanted to use the case study of Gawker. They're a pretty big media organization. They still found a lot of new users coming to their site. And what we tell publishers is that the best way to get in front of new users is to do Editors' Picks. The best way to build a more loyal following amongst your existing users is to create an Editors' Picks and then educate people on how they see the publishers Editors' Picks more often. How you do that is you personalize your Google News homepage. So I used myself as an example. I love "The New Yorker" so I personalized my homepage to make "The New Yorker" a preferred source. So that every time I log into Google News on my home page, I am much more likely to see "The New Yorker's" Editors' Picks widget. So it's really another feature you can add to your editorial strategy. We know there's a lot of those out there, not even from Google or Google News, but we think that it really does provide a lot of value to our publishers.

BARRY: Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Mihai, I think you had a question, too, right?

MIHAI APERGHIS: Yeah. Hey, Stacie. I'm working with a fairly big publisher in the United States and before the Google News, the dashboard, basically the publisher has a news section and a reviews section. And although the reviews are usually of products in their niche that are a review, so they cover a review of products recently bought, for example. They decided not to implement those in the news site map, just to be sure there weren't any issues with Google not accepting them. So we only added the news section covering events and such relevant to the niche. So when the-- what was it called? The dashboard, the Google News--

STACIE CHAN: The Publisher Center.

MIHAI APERGHIS: Publisher Center. OK. So when the Publisher Center was launched I noticed that the website was included and the news section was the one that was featured in the section. Well, not really an issue, but what I noticed was that the Google News bot was also crawling some of the reviews articles and featuring them in Google News. So those were outside the news section. And I really didn't know what to do exactly. I asked on the help forum. So I decided in the end to also add the reviews as a section in the Publishers Center. I guess this also is related to what is action news, but since most of the reviews are related to new products, so it's basically op-ed pieces. Is that fine? And what's also, as a separate different question, would it be necessary to include a separate site map for each section, or would a single site map be sufficient.

STACIE CHAN: That's a great question. So the first part, the reviews question is very tricky. Again, I think if you asked every single person, is a review news, I think it depends on a lot of factors. I think if it's a very timely review of the iPhone 6, I think a lot of us would agree that that is news. I actually just found a link to the forum discussing this very topic. And I think for the most part people agreed that reviews, if timely, are news. It's a very tough question. You did mention the op-ed tag. I think if it's a review, that would definitely be an opinion piece. And applying the op-ed label would be very appropriate to that. To your second question, can you submit a site map, yes. You can submit as many news site maps as you like. You would just do that through your Webmaster Tools. But keep in mind if you want us to do a site map only crawl, where we only pull articles from your site map-- I have to see if we would be able to crawl more than one site map if it is a site map only crawl. But you can submit as many site maps to your Webmaster Tools account.

MIHAI APERGHIS: Well, currently we added reviews section in the site map as well. But my question was really if a publisher notices that some of the articles that weren't included in the news site map were featured on Google News, should he go ahead usually in Publisher Center and add that part of his website as a section? If he notices that Google already features some of the [INAUDIBLE] from that section.

STACIE CHAN: Yes. You can add that section. I think unless you find that there's so many articles on that section that are not news, don't add that. But you should add that section and appropriately apply the op-ed label. And that's where we really do use those labels. A question that we get from publishers is, well, didn't Google News already know how to classify my articles? Yes and no. I think adding that section to the Publisher Center and applying that op-ed label to your review section will really help the product better classify your news articles.


ROBERT: Stacie, does Google follow the RSS feeds to find some of that news?

STACIE CHAN: Yes and you can add RSS feeds. I haven't thought about those in a long time. But yes. You can add RSS feeds to your Publisher Center.


JOHN MUELLER: All right. There's still some Google News questions. Does a text versus HTML code ratio affect Google News? Like if you have more text or more HTML code on a page, does that change anything for Google News?

STACIE CHAN: Versus images or things like that? Sorry, I don't where the questions are appearing.

JOHN MUELLER: So more like if you have a lot of markup on your pages, and very little text, or if you have a lot of text and very minimalistic markup, does that change anything?

STACIE CHAN: I can only speak in terms of extraction. That's hard to say, more or less. We do have certain rules for the minimum amount of text that you should have and the maximum amount. That is listed in our Help Center. Let me just ping the page on the chat window. It's such an ambiguous definition of more or less than I probably can't quantify it, but I will ping some definitions that'll be helpful in answering that question.

JOHN MUELLER: OK, here's another one from India. Recently I get approval for our tech news website. Since its country is India, but our team also covers US tech updates, but our website never gets ranked in the US edition of Google News. So is there something that they could do there, or that they're basically stuck in India.

STACIE CHAN: Very good question. I went over in the presentation two criteria that are very important for us to determine which edition your site is in, the country and language. If you do feel that you have a very big US audience, or a big French audience and you want to change that country, you would actually have to apply for inclusion for that specific site. And you would have to have a separate URL for that because we can't extract articles and say, oh, this should go in the US edition, or this should go in the India edition. So your site could be and And you would have to have two separate accounts in Google News with us.

MIHAI APERGHIS: And does your targeting in Webmaster Tools affect that in any way, or is it just useful for normal search results?

STACIE CHAN: Mihai, are you asking would you have to do anything differently in Webmaster Tools if you were to do that in Google News?

JOHN MUELLER: I think the geo-targeting setting is only for web search, not for Google News. So it doesn't select which edition it's shown in Google News.

MIHAI APERGHIS: Since you talked about the minimum and maximum amount of text required for inclusion in Google News, talking about those op-ed pieces or reviews, some of them can usually go fairly long, so what's your recommendation about that? Should we maybe break it up into multiple articles or just not bother with it?

STACIE CHAN: I'm just looking at our page. We actually don't have a word count limit for article too long. I don't know if I've ever seen an op-ed piece that was so long that we couldn't-- I can imagine op-ed piece just as a reader being that long where Google News couldn't extract and index it. You could break it up into pieces. As a former journalist I often do that with a lot of my articles, just because it was a better reader experience. Without seeing a specific article I can't really comment on a max word length, if or if not it could be crawled. We do have a word count minimum, that you do need. Yeah. Your articles have to be more than 80 words, but that's really our only concrete word count requirement.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Last time I checked, the NASA articles, they're around 600, 700, so.

MIHAI APERGHIS: I was asking because I think I did get a few errors that the article, there was too much text on that page. That the article was too long. And it wasn't the news site map, and I think I got the error displayed right there, if I remember correctly. So can see that [INAUDIBLE]. The article was too long.

STACIE CHAN: One thing that we do see is that the article too long error will often get generated because of user comments. It's not necessarily the words, or the text that's too long, but it thinks the whole page is too long, not necessarily the content of your article. And so there are a few things that you could do. You could isolate your user comments. You could put them in an iframe. That's the easiest recommendation that we have, but most of the time, it really isn't about the text of your article that's too long.

MIHAI APERGHIS: So the Disqus commenting system, would you have recommendations for that? I'm not sure how Google manages crawling.

STACIE CHAN: That's a good question because I know a lot of publishers do you Disqus. I would have to take a look at that. I haven't seen an article recently that generated that error from Disqus comments, but good question. I'll get back to you on that.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Olaf has a question.

OLAF: Hi, thanks. My question is about dates in articles. There's a recommendation in the Help Center that it says you shouldn't have more than one date in the HTML code. It's here. And now our editors are more and more often update the information in articles. Maybe something like a live blog, where you are live blogging the whole day or longer about very special events. And so they want to make visible for our readers when they published it, and when they edited it. Is that a problem for Google News?

STACIE CHAN: I see what you're saying. So now it's actually in the HTML code. Just quickly scanning that article. We really ask publishers to include the date when the article was first published. I do see what you're saying because in this day and age with internet you can constantly update information to that article. And so we get a lot of questions, should we put the date of the most recent edit? We're still asking to put the date when the article first appeared on your site. Putting more than one date really does confuse the bot and that's why people will ask us, why does my article say, crawled two, three hours ago. It's not exactly when my article was first published. It's just a very tricky thing to get exactly right because the life cycle of an article is constantly changing. So to reduce confusion for the bot we ask to include the date of when the article was first published.

OLAF: OK. Thanks.

STACIE CHAN: Usually, I remember what I did as a journalist. I would just put it in the text of the article, like updated at this time and this date, but really messing with the HTML code or editing it can potentially get confusing for the bot.

OLAF: By HTML code, do you then meet what's in the header?


OLAF: OK. So it's not regarding the body.

STACIE CHAN: I mean, that's more of an editorial thing, right? We will never tell you when you should write, and update, or edit in the body article. But in your header you should really put when the article was first published.

OLAF: Sure.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. We have a question from Jane. Is it better to have the title and the H1 content be different, so the H1 heading? Google News indicated no, but some SEOs yes, they should be different. Is this just a matter of the algorithm being different for Google Search and Google News?

STACIE CHAN: I can only speak to Google News. John, you might be able to speak more about Google Search. Consistency is key. One thing we always try to get right is extracting your headline. And if there are different places on the page that point to different headlines, that's very confusing for the bot. And that's why we get publishers sometimes writing in, like, oh, you guys got my headline wrong. And we'll say, well, because there's different parts of your page that say different things. So really trying to be consistent is the best way for us to correctly index your headline. And then that snippet below. I can't comment on the SEO stuff, but if you're trying to signal to us that your article is about certain things, I believe we have things you can add in the meta tag. Is it key words? I believe you can still use the keywords tag if you wanted to signal other topics that you article was about, but please for consistency's sake, I would ask that the titles and the headlines remain the same wherever you're pointing to on your page.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. That kind of leads to the next question. Can you provide any additional guidance on using the news keywords tag, specifically is it used for direct query matching, or is it also used for classification? Any advice around that?

STACIE CHAN: And I mentioned the keywords tag. And I probably shouldn't have because I'm not super expert on that. We do have a Help Center page about that. Let's see. We don't explain explicitly. I can actually dig more into that and see if there are any updates to the key words Help Center page, and then I'll post that as a comment to this recording of the Hangout.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. We have one about duplicate content, which we always kind of have. I'm concerned about duplicate content, both cross-channel between our subdomains and external as applied by news agencies such as Reuters, AFP. At this point a rel canonical is not feasible to pull off, so what would you recommend in a situation like that.

STACIE CHAN: Darn it. Stole my suggestion. That's a very complex question. We get that from publishers a lot, but it's such a complex network now with news now living on the internet. Really the rel canonical tag is what our team currently believes is the best way to handle all that. And I don't know what contractual agreements you sometimes have with your syndication partners. It really depends, but the best way is just to pick that main publication that should deserve the credit for their reporting or their article, and point to that news site.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Another one about news. Is it necessary to occasionally use third-party standouts in order for your own standouts to carry any weight?

STACIE CHAN: Oh, great question. Yes. The standout tag is built on the ecosystem of publishers using the standout tag. So in a sense you can build up credibility using a standout tag and referring to rather than always referring to your site The only thing we ask is that you use the standout tags for your own site only seven times per week, but really you can link out to as many other third-party sites with a standout tag as frequently as you would like. In fact, we encourage it.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. There's a bunch of stuff in the chat here. I don't know. Do any of you guys have any news-related questions left?

MIHAI APERGHIS: I have one about news site maps. Can you clarify if you use news site maps on anything other than allowing Webmaster to check for any errors? Since I noticed you sometimes crawl outside the news site maps. So is it used for anything else than updating the Webmaster if it has any issues?

STACIE CHAN: Not that I can think of. John, if you wanted to add anything, but it's acts like another news section, at least to the Google News bot. The only time it's very important is if you decide to do a site map only crawl. Then that's exclusively where we're pulling articles from.

JOHN MUELLER: So I guess just from the site map side, that's almost the fastest way to get content to Google, in the sense that if we see it in a site map, you tell us about the change in your site map, and we pick that up, then we can jump and go to the server. And pick that up directly and see what happened there. What changed, which pages are new, and follow that up directly. So I've seen situations where Webmasters submit a site map file, and after two, three minutes the URLs are already indexed. So that's really fast track way into Google's index almost.

STACIE CHAN: Gotcha. OK. That's [INAUDIBLE] speed. Yeah, that is a big benefit of submitting a site map.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Are we allowed to talk about [INAUDIBLE] for a minute? It's about mobile.

JOHN MUELLER: I have the next normal Webmasters Central Hangouts lined up next. So I'd recommend deferring it until there because we don't have much time left. And I think there's still some questions here. [INAUDIBLE] has a question about company press release sites, English and French. Do they need to register twice?

STACIE CHAN: Yes, if by registering you mean apply to Google News. So again, if at any point your country or language is not just one country or one language, then yes. You do need to apply to Google News.

MALE SPEAKER: But the URL is the same for both.

STACIE CHAN: Was that a comment or a question that I heard.

ROBERT: Stacie I just wanted to add just for the viewers on the keywords you mentioned a while ago, the tag for the meta tag, don't get them confused with the old meta keywords tag. It's a News keywords tag.

STACIE CHAN: Robert. I just saw your-- Robert, I appreciate that. Yes. I'll provide some education and language about that when I get up to date. Oh, OK. So the clarifying question was the URL's the same for both countries. Yes. So we'll actually need then a separate URL. So, again, you'll need and

JOHN MUELLER: OK. Here's a quick question about site map index files. Chris uses a site map index file that has a Google News site map within it. It shows on Google News as submitted and the website submitted, but it doesn't show them as indexed, though they show up in Google News. So if the index count in Webmaster Tools for Google News site map doesn't show up, is that a problem?

STACIE CHAN: John and I were just discussing this before the Hangout actually. The index count isn't always accurate for Google News specifically. It's just a different beast, I would say. News articles are being indexed so much faster than a lot of regular sites that it's very hard to accurately capture that. So the best way that we recommend to see which articles are being indexed is just a simple site search in Google News, and then you'll see which articles are being crawled and which ones aren't.

BARRY: I have a question about the video channels sections in Google News Publisher Center. For some reason it says that I have a YouTube channel in my source. And the only way I could change it is to contact support. Do you guys handle YouTube URLs for sources for--

STACIE CHAN: Good question. Yeah. So because is not technically owned under your domain, you can't add that section to your Publisher Center. So to add a YouTube channel you still need to write in to our team.

BARRY: And that would link my site to that YouTube channel, and it'll be on the same publisher? That's how it works?

STACIE CHAN: Yeah. So it would show search and round table for any videos that appear in Google News once your YouTube channel is linked to your account.

BARRY: Cool. Thanks.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: So then it would be treated like a blog, or whatever, right? So if you--

STACIE CHAN: No. I mean, it wouldn't be treated any differently than an article on your site. The placement would be different. So your videos would likely appear in the media strip below the text articles, but you would get the same name. We don't have a label because it appears in the media strip. And it wouldn't say anything like blog by the video. It would just be the name of your publication.


JOHN MUELLER: All right. Looks like we're out of time. I bet we could go on for hours. Lots of good Google News questions here. Thank you all for your time so far. And thank you, Stacie, for all of the details, and answers, and the presentation.

STACIE CHAN: Absolutely. And to hold me accountable, I would love to host another one soon. So I'll work with John to hopefully get another guest appearance spot on your guys' Office Hours. These are really fun and, I think, hopefully informational and educational.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Thanks a lot. And with that, I wish you all a great day. And maybe we'll see you again next time, Stacie, or another time.

STACIE CHAN: All right. Thanks, everyone. Bye.


MIHAI APERGHIS: Bye. | Copyright 2019