The internet provides information quicker than ever before, but as many business owners know, search engines aren’t instantaneous. Algorithms have gotten faster at adding new website pages to search listings but it’s about to get even better. Google has announced specifics about a program where content publishers can have their newest contest shown almost instantly.
Google is testing a new “Happening Now” feature for Google Search. The pilot program for the Google Search live carousel is similar to what Google recently did with the live feed from Twitter. Just as now there are live tweets in search results, websites will be able to have their newest content show up in the live carousel if it relates to something being searched.
“As a publisher, you can participate in the Search live coverage carousel pilot to notify Google when your breaking content is available,” the company explained in a post announcing the requirements of the program. “Google can then surface content more quickly than is currently possible with a standard crawl on your website. With the Search live coverage carousel, users can find content about live sports, elections, and breaking news as soon it’s available on your site. Breaking content can include live blogs, full length articles, videos and more.”
This pilot program is clearly beneficial for content creators and website owners who are always publishing content about breaking news and current events. Having access to search carousel would mean that smaller content publishers would be able to compete with the major news outlets (which search engines tend to surface more frequently than smaller websites) for getting news to the public first.
However, not everyone will be able to have their content shown in the live carousel by default. In order to ‘tell’ Google that there’s something new on their website and what it’s about without delay, website owners will have to make significant changes to the structured markup to their site and be eligible for the program by Google’s standards.
Here’s what Google said about the requirements:
In order for your content to be considered for inclusion in the live coverage pilot, it must meet the following criteria.
Content must be published using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
By publishing your content with AMP, you’ll enable your pages to be loaded nearly instantly to users’ devices. Read about how to Use AMP HTML in the AMP public developer docs.
Your AMP pages must include structured data markup for the content itself
Structured data markup enables the preview for your live coverage article on the Search page and also helps Google better understand the context around a piece of content. Find out more in the Introduction to Structured Data.
Content must be pushed to Google using an Atom XML feed
When you send your content to Google, you should use an an HTTP POST request in an Atom XML feed that contains your AMP page content as soon as it is published on the web. This allows Google to more quickly index your content.
This isn’t an insignificant amount of work, but for certain kinds of content publishers, it will be worth the effort. It’s not just for websites with traditional news articles. To illustrate, a blogger who publishes fantasy football predictions and analysis would benefit from having their latest content show up in the “Happening Now” carousel when people search for “fantasy football” on Google.
For publishers who are interested in being a part of the pilot program, there is an interest form from Google they can fill out.
For more recent information about Google updates and changes, read this article on some big upcoming changes to mobile SEO.