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Working with the News Sitemap in Rank Math

Important Note: Only the posts/pages published in the last 2 days are included in the News Sitemap as per Google’s News Sitemap Guidelines.

Ever since the mandatory requirements of applying for Google News was lifted and all websites were equally considered for the search results, there has been an explosion of new websites that want to appear in the search for news. It is a lucrative opportunity for sure. Especially since Google Discover, Google News, and push towards rich and time-sensitive content is becoming more common.

As you probably know, websites that want to appear in Google News have to fulfill some guidelines set by Google. One of those guidelines is having a compliant news sitemap. The good news is that with Rank Math, you can create fully compliant news sitemaps and also configure additional data for your post, which is essential to appear in Google News properties.

In this post, we are going to show you all the settings and how to configure them.

Guidelines for Appearing in Google News and Google News Sitemap

Since every website can now qualify to be in Google News, your website has to follow the guidelines set by Google to be considered. Here is the link to the guidelines, and there are other helpful articles on similar topics there as well. The guidelines are nothing extraordinary, just the basics about what type of content is acceptable in Google News properties.

Also, there are specific guidelines on how the news sitemap needs to be structured, and it does impact your posts. Hence, it is important to clarify and understand them. Here are some of the things to keep in mind.

First, the posts that you publish are placed in the sitemap for just 2 days, then they are removed. Yes, that is a Google guideline. However, Google may keep the post in their index for up to 30 days.

Second, the sitemap needs to be updated with new posts as soon as it is published. Rank Math takes care of that. But, there is no forced indexing. That means Google will crawl the news sitemap as often as it indexes your website.

Third, the sitemap can only include 1,000 URLs. For more URLs, the sitemap needs to be divided into multiple sitemaps. Again, Rank Math will take care of it.

There are a few other, less important rules to follow, but they are not something you should be concerned with. If you would like to learn about them, though, here is the link to the complete article that lists the guidelines.

Enabling the Module

The first step in utilizing the News Sitemap option is to enable the module inside Rank Math. To do so, navigate to Rank Math > Dashboard > News Sitemap from the WordPress menu. Once you see the News Sitemap option, enable it.

Enable The News Sitemap Module

Once you enable it, you’ll be able to access the news sitemap global options inside Rank Math. You’ll find them under Rank Math > Sitemap Settings > News Sitemap. Here are all the options that you should see inside the settings.

All Options In News Sitemap Global Settings

Important Note: We change the Schema to NewsAticle for all posts/pages you have marked as “News” even if they are set to Article or BlogPosting in the Titles & Meta Settings. Enabling all posts types in News Sitemap can create an issue on websites that use a different Schema than NewsArticle.

As it is with Rank Math options, usually, the settings you configure from inside Rank Math settings are global options. You set them once, and then the settings are inherited to each post type that you set it on.

For the news sitemap specifically, you’ll need to configure the following.

Sitemap URL

This option is not editable and is only present for informational purposes. It is the URL of your news sitemap. Google recommends having a specific news sitemap, and it has to follow the news sitemap guidelines. With Rank Math, you don’t have to worry about following the guidelines, as Rank Math takes care of that while you focus on publishing content. There is nothing to configure in this option.

Google News Publication Name

Here you need to enter the name of your publication as it appears in Google News. For example, if we named our publication “Rank Math,” we would enter that here. Please note that you have to match the name that appears in Google News, exactly.

Default Genres

This option lets you pick the genres that your content or posts fall in. As we explained, these are global settings, and these settings will be inherited by your posts, but you’ll also be able to customize them on every page. Select all the genres that apply and save your changes.

News Post Type

This option lets you select the post types that the news sitemap should be enabled on. Click the ones that you want to use the sitemap on, and save your settings.

Save Your Changes

Once you’ve configured the settings as per your needs, don’t forget to save your changes by clicking the Save Changes button on the bottom right of the page. If you navigate away from the page without it, your changes will be lost.

Saving All Global News Sitemap Settings In Rank Math

Once you do save your changes, you should see a success notification on top of the screen, confirming that the settings were saved.

Global Settings Update Confirmation Message

Configuring News Sitemap on a Post

Now that we’ve covered the global options let us see what settings we have access to from inside the post itself. Remember, the settings will only be visible on the post types that you enable from the global settings, so check them accordingly.

Let us open a post and check out the settings available.

As expected, you’ll find the settings for the news sitemap next to other Rank Math settings; inside the Rank Math Menu. But, it might not be visible by default to you, and you might see a “+” icon instead. Click the “+” icon to reveal additional options.

Click The Icon To See Additional Settings

Once you click the icon, you should see a gear icon next to it. Click it to reveal the settings for the news sitemap.

Click Gear Icon To See News Sitemap Settings

And, you’ll see all the settings available for the news sitemap.

All Post Level Options For News Sitemap

Googlebot-News Index

This option lets you choose if you want the Google News bot to index and distribute your content in Google News. Ideally, you’d want all your content to get the maximum distribution possible, but there might be cases where you want to take matters into your own hands and don’t want the big G’s help. In those cases, this option will prove helpful.

The options are simple to understand. Use Index if you want Google NewsBot to index and distribute your content, and choose No-index if you don’t.

Please note that this setting is only applicable to the Google NewsBot, and not Googlebot. Choosing Index or Noindex here will have no effect on the indexing and distribution of your content in Google SERPs.

Genres

The Genres option lets you choose what type of content your post is. Although it is not confirmed by Google, you can safely assume that this option is probably used to deliver more personalized results to the user when Google is distributing the content.

Configuring this is pretty easy. Simply check all the types of genres your content or post applies to, then save your changes. As of this writing, here is the list of genres supported.

  • Blog
  • Press Release
  • Satire
  • Op-Ed
  • Opinion
  • User Generated

Keywords

The keywords field is where you get to establish some relevance for your article. Here, you can add a list of comma-separated keywords that describe the topic of the article.

Now, you might be wondering, can’t Google figure this out on its own? The answer is yes, but you should still do this for several reasons. The first reason is that Google News is not limited to the regular Google SERPs. News articles are being distributed on Google Explore, Google Discover, and a bunch of other places by Google. With the advent of smart devices and also Google Home devices, new distribution inventory is being created quickly. Whenever that happens, Google’s rules are not as strict; they are for the SERPs. Hence, your content has a much higher chance of being distributed by Google in various places.

The second reason is speed. We see Google as the almighty company that can do anything, but in reality, Google does have its limitations. This is especially evident with indexing. Although Google does index news content almost instantly, it does take time/resources/computation resources to take an article and establish all the various keywords that it is associated with. Why not help Google by giving the list of keywords yourself?

You can also compare this scenario to structured data or schema. Can Google figure out all the different variables that it displays in rich results? Possibly? Will it produce better quality results? Maybe? Will it be resource-intensive? Absolutely.

That is why, instead of spending tons of resources to do it themselves, Google asks site owners to include structured data on their website to make their job easier.

Stock Tickers

You’ll need to use this option only when you’re writing business-related articles primarily. If your article mentions any publicly traded companies, then you should enter the comma-separated list of their stock tickers in this field. Technically, you enter the tickers for indexes here as well. Here is an example.

Example Of Stock Ticker Configuration

PS: FB, AMZN, AAPL, NFLX, GOOGL represent Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, respectively.

Save Your Post Settings

When you make any changes to Rank Math’s settings, including the news sitemap settings, it is recommended that you save your post by updating it, or saving your post as a draft if you don’t want to publish it. This will ensure that all the changes that you make are not lost.

Saving Post Level News Sitemap Settings In Rank Math

Important Things to Know When Using the News Sitemap

As easy it is to configure the news sitemap with Rank Math, it is important to keep a few things in mind. This is especially important to remember, as Google News has constantly evolving rules, and it is better to be compliant.

The first point is regarding the Keyword Property property. If you check the news sitemap from the link in the settings, you’ll notice that we don’t include keyword property in it anymore. That is because it is no longer required by Google.

The second point is regarding the Genre and the Stock Ticker options. Technically, Google removed them from their Google News specification a long time ago, but Google has not outright confirmed that they don’t want publishers to add this information in the sitemap. Here is a Twitter thread about it, if you’re interested.

Also, it is now also possible to appropriately label or tag your content from the Google Publisher center. That is why the presence of these options inside the settings can become redundant. Since Google has not offered a clear direction yet, we’ve kept both the options inside Rank Math. But, things may change, and we remove these options when the time is right. Here is a link to a related help document if you want to read about it further.

Conclusion

I hope it is now clear to you how you can use the News Sitemap feature in Rank Math to publish compliant content and enjoy additional distribution with Google. If you have questions, feel free to create a support ticket on the Rank Math forum, and our team of helpful experts, who are available 24×7 by the way, will help you out immediately.

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