We’ve known that a content marketing strategy is a powerful communications tool for attracting a specified audience and helping to drive profitable action. But the fact that Google is now onboard demonstrates that this strategy is needed now more than ever.
Google news first launched the new way of viewing news on mobiles in 2019, but it has been rolled out to desktops more recently. Many brands are now finding that news articles appear top in search results rather than their content. Google has put the focus on useful and relevant content from third parties rather than from brands themselves.
Principles of a Great Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing has rapidly become a core discipline of forward-thinking marketers and brands. Rather than pushing products and services in an outright plug for the brand, content marketing exists to support customers with relevant, insightful and consistent content to help them solve their issues. The result is far more engaging, and it builds that all-important brand loyalty, a marketing panacea. But content can also drive sales for a business, and the best part is that it is a cost-effective approach that works for both large and small brands.
Of course, there are different ways of using content marketing in a PR and communications strategy. Whether it’s lead generation or brand awareness, having the right content show up in the right places can be extremely powerful, no matter the size of brand.
Content Marketing and Google
There are many common themes between the way that we approach content marketing for brands and the way that Google selects which news to feature in Google news. Brands should think of themselves as ‘content publishers’. They are creating and distributing valuable content that will insight and inform their desired readers. Choose your platform carefully, whether it is your brand’s own blog, a third-party website or social media. If you’re consistently leading your industry as a thought leader, the chances are it will boost your chances of being picked up by Google. This will help with maximising exposure and your chances of resonating with even more readers.
And it’s not just the news search function in Google that will display Google news, or News.google.com. The Google App, discover page and even YouTube also has Google news coming through as breaking news topics.
So How Can My Brand Appear in Google News?
Firstly, let’s look into how Google decides which news articles to display. This article provides a good explanation about Google news article rankings and how they are determined algorithmically. It explains that the following factors are taken into consideration:
- Relevance: whether the story is relevant to the user’s query. This factor is key to determining what users see in query-based experiences such as in Top Stories.
- Interests: the interests that are defined when a user sets up Google News, coupled with the user’s reading behaviour, will determine the content that appears on both Google Discover and the “For you” section in news.google.com. Google ignores political or ideological perspectives when ranking content.
- Location: this factor helps to surface stories relevant to the user’s geographical location in the “Your local news” section. This setting also factors in regional nuances in search queries, allowing a query such as football to return different results in different countries.
- Language: the audience and how they consume news content is important to tailor for that particular language result.
- Prominence: this reflects both the number of articles a publisher is producing on a certain topic — with more being better — as well as whether the topic itself is trending.
- Authoritativeness: Google’s algorithm is set up to search for authoritativeness and trustworthiness signals to prioritise the most reliable sources. This system is designed around feedback from search results, click-through rates (CTRs) in search engine results pages (SERPs) and backlinks.
- Freshness: recent articles that provide additional information on an evolving story have a higher chance of surfacing than older articles.
- Usability: Google considers how usable and accessible a website is when presenting search results. Loading speed, responsive design and cross-browser compatibility are key requirements.
Prominence, Authoritativeness and Freshness
Prominence, authoritativeness and freshness of content is valued highly by the Google algorithm. They are also the common denominators of any successful PR or communications campaign.
News hijacking and thought leadership has long been an effective way of getting your brand noticed. It allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding on topical events going on within your sector by sharing views and opinions within relevant publications and news outlets. Articles based on topical events increase the ‘shareability’ and credibility of a brand and help to build a reputation.
When it comes to getting noticed; being quick to get your comments out there and keeping them brief and on topic will increase your chances of them being picked up, not only by a news outlet but also by Google news. The effect of this could be incredibly advantageous for a brand.