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Various SEO consultancies have recommended that to get a site included in Google News, the URLs have to conform to a rather strict, and non-obvious format namely that they have to:

Display a three-digit number. The URL for each article must contain a unique number consisting of at least three digits. For example, we can't crawl an article with this URL: http://www.google.com/news/article23.html. We can, however, crawl an article with this URL: http://www.google.com/news/article234.html. Keep in mind that if the only number in the article consists of an isolated four-digit number that resembles a year, such as http://www.google.com/news/article2006.html, we won't be able to crawl it.

However, there a number of news publishers who are listed in Google News, and don't have a unique, non-year number in them (i.e. The Guardian, which uses URLs of the form http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jul/08/article-name).

Has anyone had any experience of getting sites listed with URLs such as this, and did they have to go through additional steps with Google to get them listed, or was a simple submission enough?

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2 Answers

If you create a News Sitemap that rule is waived. It is likely that those other publishers did that.

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+1 Been there, done it, got included. –  Colonel Sponsz Jul 9 '10 at 17:43
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There are clearly other factors at work, and for a new site starting out, following the guidelines laid down by Google will probably help.

This question arose because a client I was working with kept being told that they needed to rework their URLs to include this unique number even though they were successfully listed in Google News.

The client was a well established print publication that had maintained an online presence for some years before this, and we were working on a rebrand and update to their site.

The other important elements we included on the article pages were:

  • Clear titles
  • Standfirsts that matched the page description
  • Author bylines
  • Publication dates, with the year and month replicated in the URL
  • Unique and meaningful urls (of the form /yyyy/MM/article-title-here)

The only additional piece of work that was required was submitting the site to Google News - once this had been correctly completed, the site was included quite happily.

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