It’s been about 60 days since Google came out with its ‘news keywords’ meta tag for publishers of news. How is it turning out? Why didn’t Google utilize the regular meta keywords tag? The company is still mum on this, but it did provide a bit more light recently on how the tag can be used.
Google first launched the news keywords tag in September 2012, and was intended to be a way for publishers of news to get around the fact that the key search terms that they want their stories to be found for are not always in the headline.
There are two reasons for this. It can be difficult and awkward to get the most relevant search terms in a headline. Also, there are many journalists who do not understand that they are writing for online publications. The headline is very important to get readers to that page via a Google search.
A good example is this story from the NY Post. ‘Escrowyou too, judge!’ is a snappy, unusual headline that is based upon the content of the story, and it works great for a print piece. But when you see that headline in a Google search, there is little context provided, so the searcher may just skip over that story. Without the context of the article right there, the headline is a puzzle. People may not find that story in Google.
For a good Google search placement, you usually need to have the key terms that people are looking for in your HTML title tag, which is very often the text used in the headline. This is why in the case of the story above, that it does not come up in Google for the phrase ‘argentina bonds,’ which is a key aspect of the story. Lots of other news stories come up in Google but not this one. Those other stories used the keywords in their title, so they rank well.
This is where the new news keywords tag comes in. It is there so that publishers can still have clever headlines and still be found for key search words. From the Google help page about the new tag, here is an example of how it works:
<meta name=”news_keywords” content=”World Cup, Brazil 2014, Spain vs Netherlands, soccer, football”>
So, for the ‘Escrowyou too, judge!’ story involving Argentina bonds, you might use the new tag in this way:
<meta name=”news_keywords” content=”argentina, bonds, escrow”>
Note that the news keywords tag is only for publishers that are accepted by Google News.