Top 10 Most Important Google News Ranking Factors

The following are the most important factors for gaining high rankings in Google News as judged by the respondents:

The Top 10 Most Important Google News Ranking Factors:
1=strongest factor; 10=weakest

OpEd Commentary:

“I think the algo is far simpler than search. If you have a unique article, it will rank. If you’re competing for identical stories, the major news publishers will dominate”. –Christopher Angus

“Category Authority is a very important ranking factor. If you keep writing optimized stories about a specific topic (TV show, Sports Team, etc) and you get clicks/traffic, you will become an authority on that topic (Category) and you will gain even better rankings.” – John Shehata


  • Dan

    I don’t understand how the use of a Google News XML Sitemap is ranked last in the “Most Important” list, yet not having one is the third most important issue in your “Negative” list. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • Mike

    Dan, to your point, not having a sitemap could mean you never have a chance at getting indexed, much less have a chance at ranking. The other factors impact ranking of articles once they have been indexed, but just a sitemap isn’t really a “ranking factor” (it merely makes it possible for the content to be ranked, if that makes sense). I think the #10 ranking is fair, as its more of an indexing issue than a ranking one.
    As with non-news SEO, if you have your site no-indexed,no-followed, you can’t rank for anything. However making your site index,follow isn’t a ranking factor, it just makes it possible for content to be ranked. Other attributes, like title tag, internal/external anchor text, and content relevance, are the actual ranking factors of the content.

  • Kevin Sablan

    Thank you for this. I have one question about the Shehata quote. He says that if you “get clicks/traffic, you will become an authority on that topic.” Is he talking about clicks from within Google News and other search engine results pages (as indicated in the chart), or just general traffic not related to search engines? Does site traffic in general contribute to the algorithm? I’ve never seen it listed as a contributing factor, but these algorithms change so frequently that something might have changed.

  • Andrew Shotland

    Kevin, John’s answer was in response to a question about whether or not Google News uses website traffic data (e.g. via toolbar data, ISP data, etc.) as a ranking factor.

  • Andrew Shotland

    Couldn’t have put it better myself Mike

  • Andrew Shotland

    See Mike’s response. We’ll need to work on how we present the data to make this point a bit clearer next time.

    And thanks Mike for being our very first commenter!

  • Kevin Sablan

    Thank you, Andrew. Do you have an inkling of where website traffic falls in the list of ranking factors?

  • Michael Kharwin

    Thanks for great job Andrew. However, I have one question, let’s say for example I am doing a SEO for a website in a very small niche (#cell phone jammers). We have a blog and try to post unique and interesting posts here. Despite the fact that our niche is very small we are an experts here. So the questions is do we still have any chances to appear in Google news ?

  • Andrew Shotland
  • Paul Gailey

    This is an excellent resource overall. I spent months getting a client to successfully qualify for Google News inclusion and whilst the goalposts have moved a lot since then I would reiterate as expressed in some sections that the practice of self linking and a low external link ratio is a definitely negative factor. You may interpret that as ‘poor quality content’ ultimately.

    There is a Google assessment as to the utility of your site to other users. If you view the submission exercise as an SEO tactic, then go away and lie down and think about it.

    Regarding site speed I contrasted a significant number of other sites that were included a couple of years ago and made sufficient speed improvements until Firebug Site Speed Analysis returned a page speed score of 80+. The threshold may be relative to other sites but the point is your site needs to perform very well.

    Finally I recommend you contest any likely first round rejection with dispassionate evidence in your case and iterate until you exceed their cited criteria.

  • Andrew Shotland

    Excellent points Paul.

  • Castle Ink

    What about author score? It seems like that would carry a good amount of weight, especially with rel=author tags coming to fruition….

  • Andrew Shotland

    If you check out the Authorship Factors section you’ll see that the group’s take on these. I think most of the participants felt that “author score” made a difference but not as much as the top factors. My personal view is that this kind of metric contributes to “Category Authority”.

  • Seo Jaipur

    Despite the fact that our niche is very small we are an experts here. So the questions is do we still have any chances to appear in Google news ?

  • Tom @ Double Decker Bus

    Very interesting post. Do you think that some of this has changed since the latest algorithm updates?

  • Janusz Omyliński

    Thanks for this list, very helpfull!

  • only_vermont

    authority is first? then why do wikipedia pages always turn up first or among the first five? they are not authoritative, in many cases they are outright full of errors or misconceptions. yet they rank way above britannica or other reference works.

  • Andrew Shotland

    You are confusing “authority” with “authority as determined by Google’s error-prone algorithms”

  • only_vermont

    oh, i see now. my bad.

  • Nabil Stendardo

    Authority is a misnomer in that case. I generally use prefer the term “popularity”.

  • Pitt Goumas

    10 golden tips!!! Thanks!

  • Jeff

    Would love to see an updated version of this. Like all things Google, news has changed considerably over the past 2 years.

  • Andrew Shotland

    I’ll think about it Jeff. Thanks.

  • Jeff

    Thanks for the response. I know these things require effort. For some of us there is a lot of value in it.