These are exciting times for local journalism. Google and Bing, the world’s biggest search engines, have rolled out their respective initiatives to support local news publishers. Last week, the tech companies announced system updates and enhanced features that help local publications significantly extend their reach and boost readership.
Google: Ranking System Update
On Feb. 9, Google announced that it has upgraded its ranking system to prioritize “authoritative, relevant local news sources.” This means there could be an increase in visibility and traffic in organic search results and Google News Showcase, Google’s global content licensing program that pays participating publishers to curate their content.
For regular search results, Google is aiming to serve more high-quality local news content to searchers, which could see local news sites appearing next to national news publications for Top Stories.
Meanwhile, for the Google News Showcase panels, the ranking system update allows publishers who are part of the program to decide which content appears in the local section of Google News. Additionally, participating publishers can now view how readers interact with their news stories in real-time. This access to user behavior empowers publishers to adjust their content according to emerging trends, add related panels to popular articles and supply more details to news stories as they crop up.
Bing: PubHub Migration
Microsoft has integrated Bing News PubHub into the overall Bing Webmaster Tools console, making it easier than ever for local news publishers to submit their sites to the Bing Publisher Network and dramatically increase their reach.
In case you missed it, Bing News PubHub was a portal launched in 2016 where news publishers could submit their sites. Since last week, Microsoft has moved Bing News PubHub from its microsite to Bing Webmaster Tools, allowing easy access to its features.
Essentially, PubHub is a way to help high-quality news sites get discovered by millions of new readers by showing their content more in search results.
“As a publisher, when you submit your content through the Bing Publisher Network, you are expanding your reach significantly, giving your stories and outlets even greater exposure.”
To be added to PubHub, news publishers need to register on Bing Webmaster Tools, verify their news site and then sign up for Bing News PubHub. To be verified, they must pass four metrics: Authority, Originality, Newsworthiness and Readability.
No one in the search community is surprised that both updates from Google and Bing focus on authority, relevance and quality. With these conditions in place, the tech companies are helping publications as much as they’re delivering high-quality journalism to consumers. It’s a win-win.
Ultimately, this means more opportunities for local news publishers to even the playing field and compete with national media brands currently dominating Google News and Bing News. So, continue optimizing and publishing high-quality news stories – let Google and Bing handle the rest.
More SEO News You Can Use
Google Is Testing New Mobile Search Feature “Buying Guides”: Google has confirmed to Search Engine Land (SEL) that it’s begun testing “Buying Guides,” a feature for mobile search results that gives readers more options for learning more about the product they’re searching for. These options appear in a drop-down menu that presents users with information relating to brand, price, type, etc. The company believes the new feature could assist in buying decisions by helping shoppers explore relevant attributes of a product. The drop-down menu would also show editorial content relevant to the query, so it’s more reason for eCommerce brands to double down on their content marketing efforts. That said, nothing has been revealed about how content is ranked, and there are still some kinks to iron out before its official release.
Google Chrome’s Search History Made Smarter With “Journeys”: Google Chrome users can now revisit their browsing sessions according to topic or intent. The new feature, called Journeys, will group past searches based on the subject matter. So instead of having to dig through a long list of previously visited sites, arranged chronologically, you can type the topic into the search bar and be shown all related pages in the last few days or so. According to Google, users can turn off the feature and delete specific sites from their Journeys. The history is also limited by device; none of it is stored in your Google account, which means your search history on desktop and on mobile will be kept exclusive, at least for now.
Google Says Above-the-Fold CTAs Don’t Hurt Ranking: Google’s John Mueller has confirmed in a Reddit thread that putting call-to-action (CTA) buttons above the fold isn’t bad for Google search ranking. The Reddit question was, “Does Google recommend removing CTA buttons from above the fold?” to which Mueller replied, “Google Search doesn’t say anything about CTA buttons.” SEO expert Barry Schwartz and a handful of other SEOs were unsure as to what could have led to the notion that CTA buttons could adversely affect rankings. Schwartz posed the theory that it could have stemmed from the old page layout algorithm that perceived large CTAs as ads. Regardless, he reiterated that “normal CTAs are fine.”
Yelp Launches New Feature “Keyword Boosting”: On Feb. 8, leading online directory Yelp introduced Keyword Boosting, a new feature that allows Yelp Ads clients to optimize their ads based on preferred keywords to reach higher-intent prospects. Advisers can choose keywords they want to boost from the default list used by Yelp to match ads to searches. Keyword Boosting is great news for paid search specialists who have been running keyword campaigns on Google Ads and would like to achieve the same efficiency in their Yelp Ads campaigns.
Survey Reveals Marketers Are Wary of Privacy-Related Changes: In an annual benchmark report by SparkPost, it was found that 74 percent of marketers are worried about future privacy-related challenges. Given the volatility of privacy regulations, consumer behavior and emerging tech from giants like Google and Apple, marketers recognize the need to supercharge their digital marketing efforts. And that includes aligning all their marketing strategies into one cohesive methodology, following data privacy best practices and bolstering engagement with their target audience across all available channels. The survey concludes that marketing teams globally are preparing for a more privacy-conscious future and working toward a customer-privacy-first approach. You can download the full report here.