How to tell the Big G exactly what you're on about…

…by using the Google news_ keywords tag.

Do you use Google News for marketing? If so, you’ll be pleased to hear about the search engine giant’s news keyword meta tag.

Of course keyword meta tags are nothing new. But because Google’s search algorithms didn’t take them into account, search engine optimisers ignored them in their original form.  Now they’re back, in a new format designed to improve the Google news user experience.

What is it for?

Google’s new news_keywords meta tag, according to their News Product Manager Rudi Galfi, is designed to “empower news writers to express their stories freely while helping Google News to properly understand and classify that content so that it’s discoverable by our wide audience of users.”

In other words because the keyword_news meta tag does it for them, writers can write perfectly naturally without having to worry about crowbarring key words and phrases into their headlines or body copy. And because it’ll help the search engine deliver more accurate and relevant results, the end user enjoys a better Google News experience.

Good news for quality content

It’s good news for quality content. It’s a challenge dreaming up cool link bait-style headlines when you have to build them around key words and phrases, especially when they’re not natural header material. And it’s soul destroying having to include clunky, lumpy and sometimes downright odd phrases just for the sake of SEO.

The new tag is also useful for distinguishing between similar key terms, where your intentions could otherwise be ambiguous. From now on news publishers will be able to make it 100% clear to the big G whether or not a story is relevant to a similar topic.

Can you use it for other stuff, or just news?

If your item isn’t news, there’s no point adding a news_keywords tag. Google will just ignore it.

What is ‘news’?

Google has a strict definition of what is news and what isn’t. ‘How-to’ guides, advice, job openings and content that, if you’re honest, is actually information rather than news, won’t cut the mustard. Nor do the vagaries of the weather and the money markets. It’s mostly common sense, but it’s a good idea to read Google’s news accreditation guidelines to avoid causing offence and losing your accreditation.

What about playing the system?

Obviously it’s open to abuse. But Google is on the case and manipulating the new tag won’t do you much good.

How do you create a news_keywords meta tag?

Instead of using them in your header or body copy, simply plop your key words and phrases into a news_keywords tag (in the meta data at the top of your doc, at code level), separating each with a comma.
You can include up to ten  news keywords and phrases, all of which are given the same value – the order doesn’t matter.