The Google News feed in the Google app has some websites scrambling and others rejoicing in the potential it provides for content marketers and others who are trying to rank in Google for a particular set of keywords.
Of course, like any change in Google, there is a good, bad, and ugly side for content marketing and SEO as a whole.
The good side is this: you can jump on relevant and trending topics to get traffic to your site, and you and your brand under the eyes of new users and potential customers.
The way it works is simple really: as soon as users open the Google app they will see a list of topics that Google thinks will be of interest to them. These could be based on previous searches or specific topics that individuals have set themselves in their settings.
For brands this means a few things. First, if you have relevant content on your site or the ability to create it, you can potentially rank on the new Google news feed. This once again proves the concept that content is king. Without it, your brand has nothing to share.
Besides your own website content, users will also see more content that mentions your business provided it is relevant. So, in addition to being mentioned on your site, you need to be actively building authoritative links to your content as well.
These are all good aspects of Google news. Proper positioning of your content has the potential to pay off in a huge way.
Of course, with every good change at Google comes the bad too, and here is the hard truth of the matter: even if you have spectacular content, you may not rank well on Google News for certain keywords simply because there is already a lot of competition out there.
For instance, if you are looking to get traffic to your site, political posts might seem like the answer to get some organic traffic if that is appropriate in your niche. After all, everyone is watching and reading political commentary and opinion, right?
Absolutely. This is a rich time for political websites, and it might seem like if you could only get a little piece of that pie, the one related directly to your business, you would be happy. However, the same topic may be covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN. Beyond that there are thousands of little websites trying to be big news sites and competing for that same traffic.
So even if your site has high authority, it probably won’t outrank the larger players, and may have trouble standing out from the crowd. At the same time, even if you do rank for one thing, you might only rank for that one story. It may not lead to an increase in traffic at all to the rest of your site, and so does you no good in the long run.
The bad of Google in general is that everyone who is in your business niche is trying to rank for the same limited set of keywords, and often those keywords are frequently searched and the ability to rank for them is difficult and expensive. This effort may or may not be worth it, but it does not change what brands are trying to do.
This is made even more challenging in Google News: then entrance is narrower, but the number of people trying to get in is the same. Think of it like evacuating a stadium. If you only have one gate for people to exit from, it needs to be as large as possible. If you narrow it, you get gridlock. Only a few people at a time get through.
You can think of this in Google as a problem, or as simply a tension to be overcome. Either way, the downside of Google News is the challenge associated with breaking in and staying relevant.
Okay, so here it is. In any SEO game, people are going to try to scam the system, and Google News will be no different. The reason is simple: there is big money in Google rankings. The click through rates between a top ranking on Google search and second place is near 100%: the number one ranking (below the ads) usually gets a 66% click through percentage.
How many of those turn into converts and customers depends of course on your website content. Whether we like it or not, there is still black hat SEO out there, and those companies are trying to get those coveted number one spots even if only for a few hours.
Think back to the election and all the “fake news” sites out there. What were they after with their attention grabbing yet clearly false headlines? Click thrus and traffic. Why? Ad revenue.
The game was simple. Using a domain name search tool, they would look for a name that either looked like it had authority or could steal traffic from more legitimate sites. Remember the Denver Guardian Post article about the Clinton campaign killing an FBI agent? That site has nothing to do with any real newspaper in Denver and the story was a complete hoax.
For a while, sites tried to use names like washingtonpost.co.com or usatoday.co.com, but those were quickly discovered and the practice went out of fashion.
NPR caught up with the owner of the Denver Guardian Post and several other spoof news sites, and interviewed him. At first, he claimed his motives were to make people think and research on their own, further questioning revealed that those sites make between $10K and $30K per month in ad revenue.
Those sites will continue to try to grab top news spots, and many times will simply change their names and reappear elsewhere if they are found out or even penalized by Google.
Every time Google makes a change, there are good, bad, and ugly aspects to it. There are ways to make those changes pay off for your business, but there are downfalls as well. Only time will tell if the good, the bad, or the ugly come out on top in this case.